How to Choose the Right Office Space for Your Team

Managed by Q
July 18, 2019

As companies compete for top talent, the office experience can be a differentiating factor when it comes to employee recruitment and retention. To ensure a great office experience and a productive, engaged workforce, companies have begun to take a hospitality approach to setting up and managing their office. With increased expectations for the workplace experience from both employees and employers, the physical space of the office is more important than ever. As a result, when you are searching for new office space, selecting one that supports your mission and goals is crucial for the future of your business.

“Office space is one of the top three cost drivers in your business, along with people and technology,” says Project Manager Kevin Dempsey. “However, if planned correctly the office should fundamentally increase a company’s productivity.” Dempsey, who has years of experience in commercial real estate, has worked with startups including Grovo, DailyMotion, Justworks, and Glossier to identify, lease, and build out office spaces that support their mission and growth.

Searching for a new workspace can become less daunting when you know the goals for your office, how much space you need for your team, your relocation schedule, and budget requirements. When you consider these, you can find a space that will best support your team and is the best value for your company.

Determine your office space budget

Before beginning the search for a new office space, work with your finance and operations team to create a budget that includes one-time and monthly costs for finding, preparing, moving into, and maintaining your space. This will enable you to effectively work with your broker to evaluate the costs and benefits of different office spaces.

Your budget should include:

  • Monthly lease
  • Total renovation and build-out cost
  • Moving budget

Set your schedule

Defining your schedule for building out and moving into your new space will help your broker evaluate available spaces and find ones are a fit for your timeframe.

To create your schedule:

  • Work backwards from your move-in date to set a schedule for selecting a space, signing the lease, completing a build out, and moving in
  • Secure a space at least three months before your move
  • For a detailed relocation timeline, consult Managed by Q’s Office Moves Made Easy guide


Evaluate your office space needs

Before jumping into the search, work with your leadership team to define your needs and expectations for your office space. This will make it easier to assess whether a potential space is right for you and understand if its features will enable you to meet your goals.

Dempsey explains, “Productivity goals are different for each company, whether it's recruiting or retaining employees, promoting a company culture, facilitating internal technology, or impressing clients. Thoughtful space and real estate planning should achieve a balance between productivity improvements and costs.”

To understand your needs for your office space:

  • Determine the key functions of your office, such as:
    • Recruit and retain employees
    • Hold client meetings
    • Host public events
    • Laboratory for product development and testing
    • Retail space
  • Headcount and space requirements by team:
    • Break down your employee count by team
    • How many executives need private offices?
    • Which teams need the most space to work effectively?
  • Common areas
    • What do you require for amenities and common spaces such as a kitchen, lounge, or storage space?

Consider your office space layout and density

Once you have defined your goals and requirements for your office space, you can determine out how much space you need. The square footage of your office will vary depending on how you plan to use it. For example, if you will be hosting events regularly you will need a larger office space that can accommodate public gatherings. "You need to think about planning your space by team," says Dempsey, "and consider the present and the future of your company and how you are going to accommodate your growth."

When envisioning a floor plan, Dempsey advises companies think of their office space as “neighborhoods,” which are organized around function and team. In terms of square footage requirements, based on an open plan office for 104 employees, Dempsey presented three options:

  • Dense office layout
    • 120 square feet per workstation
    • 12,500 square feet is a minimum requirement for 104 employees
  • Medium office layout
    • 150 square feet per workstation
    • 15,600 square feet total for 104 employees
  • Large office layout
    • 200 square feet per person
    • 20,000 square feet for 104 employees

Dempsey notes that some types of companies might need even more space—for example, law firms that require offices for each partner and file storage could require up to 300 square feet per office space.


Mind the details

Before jumping into your office space search, create a list of design and feature requirements and questions to ask about each space to help determine if it will be a good fit for your needs. Getting information about functional details of each space up front will help you evaluate the total cost before you commit to a lease. In addition, it will ensure you're not surprised by additional expenses after you move in.

  • Details to consider include:
    • Power, internet, and phone access for each workstation
    • Building hours of operation and access
    • IT requirements and storage
    • Security requirements
    • Electrical setup to accommodate headcount
    • HVAC system maintenance and operation cost
    • Certificate of Occupancy: maximum headcount and legal uses of the space
    • Wellness room for nursing mothers and employees with medical needs

Clarifying your needs and goals for your new space will help simplify your search, enable you to have an informed conversation with your broker, and more effectively evaluate potential spaces. For expert guidance and help navigating the process, Managed by Q can help you evaluate office spaces, analyze your commercial lease, and plan and manage your office move.


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