How Much Office Space Do I Need Per Employee?

One of the first questions that is asked when planning a office fit out or refurbishment is ‘how much space will I need per person’? 

It's a great question, and one that has no easy answer. Let's first look at what's legally required. 

Regulation 10 of the Workplace, (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that  “Every room where persons work shall have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare” 

It goes on to state that “The figure of 11 cubic metres per person is a minimum and may be insufficient if, for example, much of the room is taken up by furniture etc.”

So one thing is clear – the position of the law is a little ambiguous.  It may be difficult to visualise this in the context of your office, so here are a few facts and figures to help you decide what your requirements will be:

The 2013 Occupier Density study published by the British Council for Offices (BCO) found:

…a mean density of one workplace per 10.9 m² net internal area (NIA) (equates to 117.3 sq ft). Of the sample properties 38% fall within the range 8–10 m², while 58% fall within the wider range of 8–12 m²….. the lowest and highest densities are in the Corporate (13.1 m² equates to 141 sq ft.) and Financial & Insurance (9.7 m² equates to 104 sq ft) sectors'

Of course, the study above doesn't take into account circulation space or ancillary spaces such as meeting rooms and breakout area.  So while the trend on personal space is reducing, as the whole dynamic of our workplaces is evolving, we recommend working on an allowance of 150 – 400 sq ft per person.  But as the report cited above shows this will fluctuate depending on your industry sector and head count. 

A shift towards an agile workspace, or any form of smarter working will have a significant effect on the amount of office space you may require, and substantially reduce the sq ft / person.

Wondering how much your office fit-out could cost? Our new calculator tool has  the answer.

Working Out Your Total Office Space Requirement

As we have shown above, estimating the total office footprint based on headcount can be a bit tricky.  But by breaking it down into several, logical steps, you can start to arrive at a reliable number — and quantify how much your office fit-out will cost

  1. Assess your current situation:

    1. How many employees do you currently have?

    2. What are your storage requirements?

    3. How many private meeting spaces will you need?

    4. How much equipment do you have to accommodate?

    5. What style of office do you currently occupy? (cellular, open plan etc)

    6. Does each employee need their own desk or should agile working be considered?


  1. Map out what your expectations are for the growth of your organisation over the next few years.

    1. What will the staff numbers grow to over the next 3-5 years

    2. What impact with any growth have on the workplace (are the staff desk-based or field-based)?

    3. What style of workplace would best support your organisation?

    4. How many meeting spaces will you need?


  1. Use the table below to calculate the numbers for your proposed space


10 staff on open plan workstations   740    sq ft

One manager in separate office        88.8    sq ft

10 storage cupboards                           60       sq ft

4 filing cabinets                                       60       sq ft

12 person meeting room                     264    sq ft

Single floor with 2 doorways              30      sq ft

Plus managers doorway                       15      sq ft

                                        Total                 1258    sq ft

Add 10% =                   Total                 1384    sq ft

Equals 125.8 sq ft per person

1 employee                                                   50 sq ft

1 desk with a flat screen                          12 sq ft

1 reading/writing surface                        12 sq ft

Add 20% to above for own office

1 storage cupboard                                    6 sq ft

1 filing cabinet                                            15 sq ft

Meeting room (Per person)                    22 sq ft

1 doorway                                                    15 sq ft Then add 10-20% to allow for corridors, receptions, tea points etc.


Trying to calculate the cost of a new workplace based on how much office space you need per employee, is not an easy task. Why not take advantage of our project team and office cost calculator tool to assist you?  This leaves you free of distraction, and clear to focus on what is more important in your business. 

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