How Much Space is Needed Per Person in an Office?

how much space is needed per person in an office

Finding the right sized office space for your business can be tricky. Estimating too large an area can leave you footing a hefty bill each month and lead to extra room in the office that makes the space feel sparse and uninviting. On the other hand, purchasing too small a space can prevent your business from growing as it needs and forces your staff to work in confined quarters, causing discomfort and disorganization. Thankfully, there are a few general rules of thumb to follow that can make you feel confident during your real estate hunt.

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What is the Average Size of an Office?

On average, each employee should have about 150 square feet of space. This number can increase to as much as 400 square feet for members of your management team, if you choose to give them their own offices. However, you have more leeway with open concept plans, where all employees are stationed at tables within the same general space. Adding an extra desk is less cumbersome without the walls of cubicles or private offices to contend with.

Nevertheless, many companies may prefer the professional appearance and privacy of locked offices. Typical offices also include space for conference rooms, lunchrooms, mailrooms, and filing rooms, which can vary between 200 and 400 square feet each. With business growth in mind, add a few hundred square feet as backup, but not too much that it leaves the empty space appearing useless.

The following office spaces typically offer the following square footage per person:

  • Small office: 80 to 150 sq. ft.
  • Medium office: 150 to 350 sq. ft.
  • Large office: 350 to 500+ sq. ft.
  • Open offices: 60 to 175 sq. ft.
  • Administrative rooms: 125 to 200 sq. ft.
  • Conference areas/lunch/break rooms: 15 to 25 sq. ft.
  • Halls/Corridors: 20% to 30% of total area

How Much Space is Needed Per Person in an Office?

Though 150 square feet is the average starting point when determining space per person, that number can increase or decrease as you move up and down the business hierarchy. To keep your employees satisfied with their positions, they need to feel respected and appreciated, not like cattle stuck in an overcrowded pen. Whether you choose an open concept plan or a plan with private offices, each employee will need an area to fit their computers, paperwork, and other office essentials.

Depending on the demand of your employees’ workloads, you may find your business expanding and adding more staff. As most leases last about three to five years, consider how much your business might grow in that time. How many more people will you take on? The cost of breaking a lease to find a new and larger office can be avoided by paying for some extra space upfront. However, be realistic in your expectations. Not all businesses grow at the same rate, and yours might already be at an appropriate size.

Some common allocations of office space for different employees are as follows:

  • President/Vice-President: 200 to 400 sq. ft.
  • Mid-level Executives: 125 to 200 sq. ft.
  • Operations staff: 125 sq. ft.
  • Salaried employees: 125 to 200 sq. ft.
  • Non-salaried employees/temps: 80 to 125 sq. ft.

How Do I Figure Out How Much Space I Need?

The amount of space you will require depends on what type of work your company does. A business with predominantly in-house clerical work will require less space per employee than one that offers high-end services, such as a law office. While apportioning 150 square feet of space per employee is a good rule of thumb, managerial staff and engineers will require more than administrative staff. You may let some employees telecommute to save on office space.

You’ll also need to factor in any unique needs of your business, such as the room required to store printers and miscellaneous office supplies or to safely operate large machinery. If any of your employees have special needs, or if you service clients with them, you may want larger waiting rooms, hallways, or bathrooms. In addition to the space you know you need for your existing employees, you will also want to take into consideration potential growth.

While it may be tempting to try to cut down your costs by choosing a smaller office, you may be short changing yourself. Tighter spaces can lead to lower productivity overall and unnecessary conflicts around the office. Choosing the right space now can save you time and money in the future. By giving your employees enough space to effectively do their jobs, you also give your business room to grow.

In addition, the cost of moving and interrupting your business is costly. You’ll face direct expenses related to the old and new lease and moving costs. In addition, indirect expenses due interruptions in operations and client inconvenience present hidden costs that many forget to factor in when looking for a new location. Take these into account before your next move to save yourself time and money.

    Gidget Graham

    GIDGET GRAHAM has over 25 year of real estate experience, from commercial investment properties (sale, lease and management) to residential and commercial development projects, land planning and zoning, to servicing her real estate clients providing the maximum return for investment and long term strategic real estate asset planning. She is current the President of Berg Builders; Managing Member / Broker of Crown Point Commercial Real Estate NV and Managing Member for Crown Point Realty Az. In addition, Mrs. Graham also holds management/ownership in several other entities and serves on Boards as an advisory Director.

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