How Much Office Space Does Your Business Need?

Jan 12, 2023

With many organisations still working at defining what their office needs to be, there’s a lot of discussion in the business world about the amount of office space that is now needed in order to maintain efficiencies.

Between hybrid working and the pressure to downsize, the way that we all work has changed dramatically in the space of a few years.

While permanent office-based work was once considered standard, we’re now seeing a significant shift for businesses looking to create a hybrid-friendly working environment. And, of course, the pandemic has massively accelerated the shift towards digital storage (rather than physical, paper storage) and reduced our dependence on printing – both of which took up a chunk of office real estate.

So, this poses our titular question:

How much office space does your business need?

By law you need to provide 11 cubic metres per person at a minimum. 

11 cubic metres is not a great deal of space. However, by partnering with office design specialists, you’re able to creatively assemble a space that is both economical and inspirational.

Bear in mind that this 11 cubic metresminimum figure also includes furniture; your desks, chairs and more, so this must be taken into account when planning your office layout. 

We highly recommend going over the legal minimum if possible, as a larger, more comfortable space is proven to be highly beneficial for both wellbeing and productivity. However,  the amount of space required varies greatly depending on sector and job role. 

For example, your sales team may spend relatively little time in the office, and only need roughly 75 sq ft of space each, whereas staff in project management could easily appreciate around 100 sq ft (this amounts to 50 sq ft for their desk, and another 50 for communal, collaborative areas). 

How much office space do your facilities require?

Intelligent rationing of space can help you make the most out of a smaller area. On average:

  • Small kitchens require 100 sq ft
  • Large meeting rooms require 150 sq ft (for 4-8 people)
  • Server rooms between 40-120 sq ft
  • Manager’s office between 100-200 sq ft

How often are your 10-person board rooms being filled? Could they be better used as two smaller meeting rooms, or repurposed as a break-out space or communal working area?

We highly recommend taking the time to assess exactly how your space is being used, and what you can do to improve efficiency across the board. 

Need help doing this? Talk to our office space specialists at Rhino

Aim for inspirational design.

Unintelligent design makes for inefficient space usage; the best workplaces have a ‘flow’ which moves you effortlessly from one space or zone to another, with little wasted space. 

The way we are currently using space helps with this – businesses generally operate using smaller departments with more break-out/informal working spaces. These changes allow for a more interesting and engaging layout.

Inspiring design does exactly what it says on the tin. In order to get the most out of your space, you need to ensure that your office is designed with the end user in mind at all times. Consider:

  • Carefully planning the circulation routes. This is essential for fire exit strategy, but this is one of the key areas of wastage in an unprofessional space plan.
  • Appropriate desk sizing & spacing according to users (planned around daily, frequent and occasional users)
  • Non-assigned desks for focus work
  • Encouraging natural light 
  • Using planting & biophilia for screening & acoustic control
  • Team adjacencies – avoid putting introvert & extrovert teams in close proximity
  • Specialist storage/print areas etc 

Should you downsize?

Imagine you’ve got 260 staff, and only 60 are permanently in the office. What are the odds that you’ll have every single member of the team in at once? 

As a result, we recommend that you should size your business to roughly 70% capacity. Again, this will vary depending on your unique use case, but use this as a general rule of thumb. 

While this may seem drastic, it’s a fantastic way to cut down running costs and emissions in one fell swoop, as you’re no longer heating, cooling and lighting a mostly empty building.

How can you make sure your business works in a smaller space?

The first step is to ask yourself:

How confident am I in my hybrid strategy, and can it persist?

If you are, great! A robust hybrid strategy means that you can plan for attendance in your workspace – no need to accommodate everyone when they’ll rarely be in. If you’re not, and most of your employees frequent the office, then downsizing may not be the best idea. 

Am I growing?

If your business is rapidly growing, then downsizing might be wrong for you. If your team is holding relatively steady, then carefully consider your needs and how your space is being used by those in the office. Gather opinions of those using the office every day & see how they suggest you improve. 

Your office needs to be future proof. 

Future proof for some means moving to a smaller space and cutting costs.

Future proof for others means having a larger building to support a growing team.

It’s not an easy decision to make. We highly recommend getting in touch with workspace specialists if you’re struggling to decide what size of office is right for your organisation. 

What’s the average size of an office based on industry?

It can be hard to nail down average sizes based on industry, but there are some trends we’ve noticed:

  • Sales & customer support (high density) – Offices in these industries often have the highest density, with between 75-100 sq ft per employee. You’ll often see open plan rooms with rows of desks, with a handful of private meeting rooms.
  • Creative agencies and developers (medium density) – Many agencies enjoy 100-200 sq ft per employee, and often feature larger meeting rooms, communal areas and collaborative working areas.
  • Financial offices and law firms (low density) – Averaging anywhere from 200-500 sq ft per person, financial offices and law firms regularly offer large offices for individuals, with extensive, impressive board rooms. 

Don’t worry if you’re above or below your industry average, what matters most is that your people are happy, comfortable and productive.

Remember: your office is a tool that your employees use to succeed. You wouldn’t give a surgeon a Swiss army knife, so why would you provide your employees with a poorly optimised workspace?

Office design & build support from Rhino Interiors

Office design & build is an art that’s difficult to get right. 

Fortunately for you, our friendly team at Rhino Interiors have been creating quality workspaces for decades

We draw on over 45 years’ of workspace design and implementation experience. We deliver workspaces that meet your employee and business needs, boosting productivity, attracting the best talent and improving communication across the board.If you have any questions, or would like some tailored advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. 

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