For those looking to rent an office for the first time, it can be hard to determine how much space is actually needed – especially when there’s so much riding on getting it right. 

Too much, and you risk over-spending and ending up with a space that feels empty and soulless. Too little and you could find yourself with a cramped, unpleasant working environment where employees feel stressed and undervalued.

Deciding exactly how much space you need will depend on a range of factors, including a minimum square footage required per person, and making sure your company has room to grow. You’ll also need to think carefully about what kind of workspace design suits your industry, and what will be conducive to its success. Here, we take a look at some essential considerations to help you settle on the perfect office size, once and for all. 

Rough office size guide – square footage per person

Before you get into considering factors like meeting rooms and how open plan and spacious you want your office to feel, it helps to calculate the minimum square footage you’ll need. You can then add space to this depending on your specific requirements, but it helps to have a starting point to work with. While the legal requirement stands at 40 square feet per person, this is considerably lower than the current UK standard and wouldn’t offer a particularly pleasant working experience for your staff.

If you plan on searching for an open plan space where the majority of workers sit at desks next to one another, calculate at least 70-80sq.ft. per person for an office that errs on the cosy side, or 100-150sq.ft. per person for a roomier feel. If you’re in an industry where people will mainly sit within their own private offices, you’ll need to look at spaces of at least 150sq.ft – 300 sq.ft. per person. 

Rough office size guide – square footage per room

Next, you’ll need to consider the other spaces needed in your office, and add these onto your overall square footage:

  • Add 150sq.ft. for each medium sized meeting room (4-8 people) or 100sq.ft. for a smaller meeting room. 
  • Add at least 300sq.ft. per conference room or boardroom. 
  • Add at least 100-300sq.ft. for any kitchen spaces.
  • Add between 150-300sq.ft. for any additional private offices, such as managers’ offices or directors’ offices. The size of these will depend on whether you want them to include things like coffee or meeting tables and how much seating they’d need to have.

Giving your company room to grow

It’s crucial to make sure your office is large enough to accommodate new members of staff over the coming years – depending on how often you plan on moving spaces. For example, for particularly rapid periods of growth and expansion, it’s natural to look at additional or larger offices. But when it comes to growing on a steady, year-by-year basis, you’ll need to calculate how many staff you expect to join (vs how many are likely to leave), and factor this into your current office search. Make sure you think carefully about the levels of seniority of new staff too. If you plan on growing your junior departments you may need to factor in less space than for more senior employees who might require their own private offices. 

Considering company culture

Deciding on office size is complex because it’s about so much more than the basic amount of room provided per person. Considering your company culture and ensuring your office space reflects this is key. It’s no longer enough to provide the minimum requirements for staff, and long gone are the days where a water cooler and sandwich trolley were enough to attract top talent. Now, companies are considering their employees’ wider wellbeing as a matter of course, and providing places to relax, recharge and get creative is at the forefront of this. 

For best-in-class collaboration, employers need to provide a collaborative workspace – one that inspires, engages and encourages team bonding. For a company that sees itself as innovative and forward-thinking, the space needs to feel exciting and ahead-of-the-game. These are the things that will mean the difference between an office that produces consistently exceptional work and one that struggles to retain its staff. And when you think about it that way, striving to make the space the best it can be really is a no-brainer. 

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