How to right-size your office space: learn more about space planning
Have you ever been to Lower Manhattan in New York or La Défense in Paris? Most of us have seen pictures of fancy business districts with tall and impressive office buildings. At the same time, people talk about founders who started out in a garage. There are as many types of offices as there are business concepts. How do you know which office size is right for the company? In the following guide, we will explain how to design a cost-effective office.
An office space for the modern workforce
New work models have emerged over the past decade, and the need for innovative office layouts have increased.
Due to the pandemic, the hybrid and remote work model saw an increase in popularity. Employees were given more autonomy and daily tasks were carried out in the comfortable home office.
When the pandemic was officially over, some employees returned to the office, whereas others favored remote work. For those who turned down the daily commute, work life balance improved and they could enjoy a more flexible work schedule.
As a result, the utilization of office space plummeted and companies had to face unnecessarily high overhead costs. Historically, real estate has played an important part in attracting skilled professionals and strengthening the business brand. CEO:s focused on renting large and fancy offices in the city center to make them accessible for both employees, customers and vendors.
Naturally, a spacious and comfortable office accommodates guests well and increases employee satisfaction. But is it necessary to have the same size as before, with the risk of empty desks and hallways?
Some business sectors struggle more than others to adapt to the new normal. On the other hand, organizations that already have flexible and remote employees do not have to walk the extra mile when considering new office layouts.
The amount of office space needed depends on the type of work processes, work tasks and work culture. If people only need a laptop and a headset, chances are it will be easier to design the office layout. On the other hand, some work tasks require the employees to be present physically in the office.
An optimized office space - what are the benefits?
These days, downsizing is the number one priority for facility managers. Here's why:
- A right-sized workplace increases productivity and work satisfaction.
- Expenses such as rent, maintenance and heating are kept in check.
- Increased energy efficiency , which is good for the environment.
Keep reading to find out how you can set long term and sustainable goals when planning the office size and layout.
How much office space is needed?
There is no exact answer to this question. It all boils down to the type of business, the number of employees, occupancy rate and work processes. It can be difficult to provide a spacious and inviting office while sticking to a budget.
However, there are a number of parameters, which makes it easier to design the perfect office.
Open spaces have been around for a while and you will find people who appreciate or dismiss this type of layout. The pros are that an open plan arrangements create transparency and prevents people from working in silos. Information is shared easily and employees will get a better sense of the workplace culture when interactions take place in the open.
On the other hand, some might argue that an open space gets too noisy and makes it harder to focus. Therefore, it is common to offer a combination of both.
A good idea is to hire an interior designer to make sure the office layout will meet your goals.
Space per employee
When deciding how much office space is needed, try to consider what types of preferences your employees have and how much space they need.
A law firm or an office with specialists, health care professionals and consultants appreciate a more spacious office, since they might have many visiting customers and meetings that require privacy.
An office which mainly consists of customer support could be more dense, since people usually sit at their desks and use headsets to communicate.
The average sized office usually has a mix of different employees and teams where they might use a desk but also gather in smaller meeting rooms to collaborate.
Besides space per employee, you could also take common area space such as break rooms and lounges into consideration. Some companies find it useful to provide several meeting rooms, lounges and conference rooms to boost creativity and flexibility. If the company receives a lot of guests, vendors or patients daily, you might need a larger reception area as well.
Today's complex work tasks require continuous learning, and rooms for training sessions with whiteboards and projectors could come in handy. Other spaces worth considering are server rooms or storage.
Square footage REQUIRED - an overview
Feeling confused? Let’s break down the numbers.
- A high density office has 80 to 150 square feet per employee where there is open seating with rows of small desks.
- An average density office has 150 to 250 square feet per employee and consists of open cubicles and private offices. This is quite a traditional solution.
- A spacious office has 250 to 500 square feet per employee. Where each office usually belongs to a private business owner or consultant.
The work culture highly influences the space needed per employee. The company’s values and mission statement should align with the working environment and work processes. After all, the well-being of your employees is crucial if you would like to increase productivity and strengthen employer branding.
If the company wants to be defined as a place where it is easy to focus on work and get things done without interruptions, one idea is to design an office with a large number of smaller meeting rooms.
Questions to ask during your office space planning:
- How many employees work remotely during a normal work week?
- How many employees prefer the hybrid solution and when are they present at the office?
- What are people's work styles?
- Do people prefer to use a desk or do they prefer to move about during the workday?
- Are there employees who work part time?
- What are the number of interns and trainees?
Data plays an integral part in office planning. At Flowscape, we offer workplace analytics with FlowAnalytics. With the help of sensors collecting workplace utilization data, you are able to base your strategy on insights.
FlowAnalytics makes it possible to see not only the amount of people present in the building everyday, but also where they are and what seats and rooms they occupy. Ghost bookings are detected and different types of data can be easily compared over time.
Employee surveys and interviews
Besides the activity tracking, you can also conduct surveys to get a grasp of the office space needed to work efficiently.
In addition, always try to consult the different departments and managers. How will you make sure that they can operate properly in the office?
A combination of data and personal feedback is preferable when designing an office space.
What does the future hold for office spaces?
When deciding on the size of the office space, bare in mind what the future might bring. The aim of most companies is to increase growth over time, which means hiring new employees and streamlining the work processes.
Make sure that the office size is big enough to meet both current and future needs. Your 10 Year Plan should also include the rise of new technology, social changes and state of the market.
If you are unsatisfied with the current lease, don’t hesitate to negotiate with the landlord and make it clear that there are other options. They might also struggle with the current situation, due to a reduced interest in large and spacious office buildings.
If you take our suggestions into consideration, you have taken the guesswork out of office planning and are one step closer to a solution. Plan for growth, but be realistic.
Read more from our blog
- How can Smart Offices Foster a Culture of Innovation and Collaboration?
- Understanding the hybrid work model: What is hot desking policy?
- What is a hybrid workforce
- Gear up for Teamwork: Strategies for Balancing In-Office and Remote Collaboration
- Is the new office layout worth it? Measure your workplace ROI