The final frontier: how much office space do you need?

Daniel Walsh

03 Mar 2021

Blog April LP How Much Office Space

When it comes to choosing a new business premises, selecting the right size is paramount. As the hub of all your business’ operations, it needs to be big enough for all staff to feel comfortable and safe, as well as spacious enough to comfortably house any specialist equipment, appliances, and stored documents your business needs.

Deciding just how much office space you need is not always as easy as it sounds and it can be a high-pressure decision.

After all, if you made the wrong call you could be faced with safety, productivity and even budget problems. Key factors to consider when making these decisions include the industry you operate in and what equipment your business needs in order to function, any ambitions for growing your business in the near future, and crucially, how many people your business currently employs.

Here at Hunts, this got us thinking - just how much office space is needed per employee, what is the most effective and efficient way to space an office, and is there a minimum space allowed between office desks? For the answer to all these questions and more, read on.

How much office space do I need per employee?

If you know exactly how many staff currently work for your business, as well as a rough idea of what this number could rise to if you are planning to expand in the near future, one way to help you decide on the perfect-sized office space is by knowing how much room you need per employee.

Although this method is far from an exact science, and other factors such as specialist equipment, community areas and other facilities you wish to be included in your office space need to be accounted for, it can still act as a good starting point. All you need to do is decide if you want to prioritise efficiency or give your staff a more generously spaced working environment. To do this, you’ll need to ask yourself a series of questions, such as :

  • On average, how many employees are going to be using the office at one time? I.e. how many are permanent/part-time/temporary and how will this affect the average number of staff you need to accommodate?
  • Do you want to maximise the space each worker enjoys or do you want to fit as many employees in as possible for efficiency reasons?
  • What will the layout of your office look like? WIll you use lots of individual offices, cubicles or workstations, or have an open-plan layout?
  • Does each worker require an individual desk or is ‘hot desking’ possible?
  • Can any employees work remotely and, if so, how frequently will these employees need to work in the office?
  • Do different departments require different amounts of space to function properly?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can then decide on what you want to prioritise when looking for the perfect office space and how much of it your business needs per employee. There are three ways of looking at this based on the plan you have created.

High Density

Space per employee:

75-150 sq ft per employee

Suggested Layout:

Open-plan seating with rows of desks/workstations. A limited number of individual offices reserved for management only.

Example Workspaces:

Call centres, Telephone marketing, customer services industries, etc.

10 Hunts Office Axa Redhill

Hunts Office X AXA Insurance - Redhill

Medium Density

Space per employee:

150-250 sq ft per employee

Suggested Layout:

Mixture of open workstations, cubicles and private offices.

Example Workspaces:

'Traditional office space' - medium/large-sized sales-based businesses, design companies, advertising/marketing businesses, etc.

20181128 Pa 02

Hunts Office X PA Consultants

Low Density

Space per employee:

250-500 sq ft per employee

Suggested Layout:

Large space consisting primarily of private offices and storage areas.

Example Workspaces:

'Spacious office space' - law firms, accountancy firms, insurance brokers, etc.

25 Hunts Office Proper Food Drinks Company

Hunts Office X Proper Foods

What is the minimum space between desks?

When planning for an office that requires multiple banks of workstations and desks, although ensuring you use your space efficiently is important, it is also vital that you consider the comfort and safety of your employees, as well as the practicalities of their day-to-day jobs. It’s recommended that a minimum gap of 2,000mm (200cm or roughly 80 inches) is left between desks.

Naturally, the size of this gap may need to be increased depending on the size and style of your office chairs and desks, as well as the nature of work being performed at each desk. When planning your office layout and the positioning of desks and workstations, it’s also important to consider the location of power sources, such as plug sockets, as well as the desks’ proximity to any emergency exits or pathways.

How to use your office space effectively

The key to functional yet affordable office space is efficiency when it comes to planning. With the use of cleverly designed office furniture and expert help with office layout, you can achieve a sophisticated and highly functional office space without needing to break the bank. With this in mind, there are three key things to consider when looking to use office space as effectively as possible:

1. Think about layout.

If your office needs to house multiple workstations, thinking about layout is key to efficiency. Consider utilising traditional horizontal rows of office desks, which allow for more staff to comfortably fit in your office, while also incorporating modern, ergonomically designed furniture that still offers employees the space needed to properly function and remain comfortable throughout the day.

2. Choose smart storage units to save space

Sophisticated storage solutions are perhaps the most important aspect of efficient and effective office planning. The ability to keep documents, equipment and other office essentials organised, while being able to maintain a clean and clutter-free office space, is half-the-battle when it comes to running an efficient office, so purchasing suitable, cleverly designed storage furniture is key.

From bespoke built-in storage units to ergonomically designed storage items that double-up as desks, workstations and studio benches, there is a wide range of solutions. The key is simply finding the best items to suit the space available to you.

3. Purchase quality office desks and chairs to save space

In order to use the space effectively, finding clever furniture that perfectly fits is vitally important. Office desks that can be extended to create useful meeting/brainstorming areas can save you the need to have separate meeting rooms, for example, while stackable office chairs can save a great deal of space and allow you to transform a cluttered office into an open space with ease.

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