Companies often miscalculate how much office space they need, which can significantly impact their businesses (and finances!)—and it’s pretty safe to say that the pandemic has further complicated this.
The rise of hybrid working has led many businesses to rethink how they approach the office. How should we repurpose it? How big should the office be? What will be the office space requirements per employee?
Whilst there’s no exact science, this blog and our handy calculator can help you predict how much office space your company needs to create a positive and productive working environment.
If you don’t have time to read the whole article, you can estimate how much office space you need with the click of a button with our handy office space calculator.
A quick note from Hubble:
Since relaunching as the world’s first hybrid workplace platform, we’ve helped businesses decrease their office footprint by finding them the right balance of working from the HQ, on-demand workspace and home—or a combination of all three.
If you’ve got any questions about the new workplace options available to your business— from part-time offices to smaller offices where you can take extra coworking passes for your wider team—give our advisory team a call on +44 20 3868 6470 or head to the link below to find out more:
Approximately how much office space is needed per employee?
The most commonly accepted rule in London is that 100 sq.ft. per employee is the ideal amount of space per person. This allows for roughly 50 sq ft for desk space and another 50 sq ft to accommodate room in communal areas, like breakout spaces, meeting rooms and kitchens.
High rents in Central London mean many companies opt for the more cost-efficient ratio of 70-80 sq.ft. per person. This allows for more efficient use of space and many companies adopt 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: with more bang for your buck, employees can enjoy more desk space.
What are the office size guidelines for specific areas such as the kitchen, boardroom and meeting room?
Whilst keeping in mind the ideal 100 sq. ft. per employee, you also need to accommodate for specific facilities, like meeting rooms, kitchens etc. Below is a guide to approximately how much space is needed for these extra facilities:
- 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 a small meeting table) – 200 sq.ft.
- Director’s office (with four-person meeting table) – 250 sq.ft.
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.
Other things to consider
1. The shape of the office space
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 workspace is, you should also be looking at ceiling heights, especially in loft offices where the roof may be too low to accommodate desks.
2. Pros and cons of open-plan offices
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 team doesn’t fill out the space you’re moving into but you’re expecting to double your headcount in size, 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 can best advise you on how to rent out your spare desks, speak to a member of our Customer Success team.
The way we work is changing how we use office space
The way that companies occupy space varies from company to company and has changed over the years. Formerly, it was considered best for people to work in their own private offices, but the consensus today is that open-plan spaces foster creativity and efficiency as the openness encourages employees to engage. Although, many people oppose this new way of working.
In the past, employees had large desks to handle cumbersome CRT monitors. And the need for lots of physical storage meant that the average office would occupy up to 120-180 sq.ft. per person.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating changes even faster than usual. Coming months and years will tell what this means for the world of work, but there are a number of new workplace options on the market already for those looking to adapt their working practices in a cost-effective way.
A few tech companies have experienced stratospheric growth from young startups into some of the world’s largest, most valuable companies. All of these giants 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 your next office move:
Facebook’s Menlo Park campus
The world’s largest open floorplan 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) and the rooftop the new facility includes a 3.6-acre rooftop garden.
Google’s UK headquarters
Google’s huge UK headquarters is a ‘landscraper’ with a rooftop garden with a running track. it has been dubbed a ‘landscraper’ for being as long as a skyscraper is tall. The main 11-storey building will provide some 80,819 square metres of space(!).
Apple’s new ‘spaceship’ campus headquarters
Apple Park is an extravagant, multi-billion dollar campus in California. Its circular design and extreme scale have earned the structure a media nickname “the spaceship”. The building spans a whopping 2,800,000 square feet and houses more than 12,000 employees!