Hubble Help Guide: How much office space do I need?

Tushar Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO
Tushar Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO|Updated June 5th 2019

Sometimes you can’t rent office space by the desk

When deciding on the right type of office space for your company, you may realise that flexible office space  (whether it’s coworking or a shared office) just isn’t right for your company. If you’re in it for the long haul, you may find that your business is in the right position to take on a conventional lease for 3-5 years, allowing you to fit-out the space so that it matches your company brand and culture.

If this sounds like your current situation, some of the following questions are likely to arise.

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Why is conventional office space advertised in square feet?

Unfortunately, the commercial property industry deals almost exclusively in “square footage” when it comes to advertising, leasing, and buying office space. For the majority of us, this is unfamiliar territory and can lead to confusion and suspicion over whether or not we’re getting ripped off.

measure how much office space you need

Approximately how much office space is needed per employee?

The most commonly accepted rule in London is that 100 sq.ft. per employee is ideal. What this means is that the actual desk space measures about 50 sq.ft. and the other 50 sq.ft. makes up the kitchen, meeting rooms, and other communal areas.

High rents in London mean many companies opt for the more cost-efficient ratio of 70-80 sq.ft. per person. They are able to do this is by adopting space-saving solutions like minimising storage facilities and replacing individual desks with benches.

In areas with lower rents (e.g. outside of main cities), the opposite trend can be observed: much larger offices tend to pop up.

meeting room office london

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What are the office size guidelines for specific areas such as the kitchen, board room and meeting room?

Whilst keeping in mind the ideal 100 sq. ft. per employee, you may also have specific amenities in mind for your office space.

Below is a guide to approximately how much space is needed for areas like meeting rooms, kitchens, corner offices etc.

  • Small Meeting Room (2-4 people) – 100 sq.ft.
  • Large Meeting Room (4-8 people) – 150 sq.ft.
  • Board Room (15 – 20 people) – 220 sq.ft.
  • Training/Conference Room (20 – 30 person) – 300 sq.ft.
  • Kitchenette – 100 sq.ft.
  • Small Server Room (1 server rack) – 40 sq.ft.
  • Large Server Room (4 server racks)  – 120 sq.ft.
  • Manager’s Office – 100 sq.ft.
  • Senior Manager’s Office (with small meeting table) –  200 sq.ft.
  • Director’s Office (with four persons meeting table) – 250 sq.ft.

A few other things to consider

1. Shape of office space

how much office space you need

When gauging your need for office space, it’s important to remember that square footage is not always “square”. Some office spaces will have awkwardly shaped floor plans where a proportion of the space is unusable as a desk area. There may also be parts of the office space that are far from windows or natural light and could thus negatively impact team morale. As well as considering how large a space is, you should also be looking at ceiling heights, especially in loft offices where the roof may be too low to accommodate desks.

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2. Pros and cons of open plan offices

triangle office space floorplan

It’s important to note that the 100 sq.ft. rule only works for open plan offices where you’re expecting everyone to sit next to each other in quite close proximity. If this doesn’t match the culture of your business, then it’s worth planning for around double the square footage per person to allow cubicles or more isolated work stations. Of course, you could also adopt a hybrid of both styles.

3. Room to grow

If your current headcount is too small for the space you’re moving into but you’re hiring for more, you have three options:

  • Give everyone in your office more space in the beginning and then gently reduce space as the company expands. Taking space away from your employees every 3 to 6 months is, however, not great for morale.
  • Set aside space for new employees and close it off. Gradually begin to fill the space as you hire.
  • Set aside the space for new employees and licence out (or sublet) your empty space on a desk-by-desk basis on monthly rolling contracts. This means you can earn income from your spare desks as they sit empty. You can give notice to the individuals or companies sitting on your spare desks as to when you will need the desks for your new hires. We’re happy to help you rent out spare desks.

The way we work is changing how we use office space

coworking on rooftop

The way that companies occupy space varies from company to company and has changed over the years. We are currently seeing a workspace evolution. Formerly, it was considered best for people to work in their own private offices. Employees had large desks to handle cumbersome CRT monitors. A need for lots of physical storage meant that the average office would occupy up to 120-180 sq.ft. per person.

Over the last 5-10 years. many aspects of how we work have changed. The consensus is that open plan offices lead to more innovation and efficiency as employees work off of each others’ energy. However, a lot of people have strong opinions against open plan office space.

Most companies are cutting down on their physical storage needs by putting much of it onto the cloud. Additionally, external storage units (oftentimes outside of the city centre) have become more popular.

Office space inspiration from tech companies

A few tech companies have enjoyed stratospheric growth from their days as startups into some of the world’s most valuable companies. All of them talk endlessly about the effect of their office space on company culture, employee retention, creative thinking and innovation. Here are a few examples to inspire you:

Facebook’s Menlo Park campus

The world’s largest open floor plan fits 2,8000 employees, with Zuckerberg’s desk right in the middle. The space is 430,000 square feet total: that’s just over 153 square feet per employee.

Facebook Menlo Park

Facebook Menlo Park

Apple’s new ‘spaceship’ campus headquarters

Apple Park is an extravagant, multi-billion dollar campus in California. The company’s 175-acre campus will welcome 12,000 employees when completed. Apple tends to favour secrecy over open-plan working and thus provides its employees with more space.

apple-infinity-loop-cupertino-office-space-image

Amazon’s crystal jungle office

Three gigantic glass spheres in Seattle will soon be home to 800 Amazon employees. The tallest of the glass and metal spheres will rise 90 feet and be more than 130 feet in diameter. Features include over 400 botanical species, tree-house meeting rooms, a river and waterfalls–all set to a temperature of 72 degrees.

amazon-domes-seattle-office-space

Google’s new office in Kings Cross

Google’s new UK headquarters will take up over 67 acres behind Kings Cross Central, formerly made up of warehouses and scrubland.  The building will be up to 10 storeys high, consisting of mainly open-plan offices but also neat add-ons like massage rooms, staff cafes, games areas, and even a swimming pool. A stunning roof garden will also be installed, featuring a turf lawn, wooden decking, wild meadow, big trees, and a running track.

google london headquarteres

Need more help with your office space search?

Check out our office help guides, continue browsing for office space in London or send an email to help@hubblehq.com.

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