Sizing up that perfect office space

Johnny Duncan
May 1, 2019

Today’s office looks much different than those of a generation ago. Just like the technology we use, offices today have dramatically evolved from those of even 10 years ago.

Rather than tackle all changes that have happened over the past decade or two let’s focus on the changes to office size and help you plan for the perfect sized office.

List Constraints and Needs

When planning out an office move it’s important to make a list of both the constraints and the needs your organization has. You need to make sure you are accounting for all operational and personnel requirements, so don’t forget about your team’s expectations.

Let’s start with the constraints, your list should include:

  • High cost of real estate.
  • The number of employees that will work in the space.
  • The amount of tools/machinery required to be on premise. This could be a server room or anything else that applies to your business.
  • The demand for conference rooms. How many complaints have come in the past few months for overbooked conference rooms?
  • What is available in your market. Building an office with a private gym may be possible for parts of California, but is nearly impossible for those of you in Manhattan.

Next, it’s best to list out the wants your office has. These wants should include:

  • The amount of non-work related space desired (like places to eat).
  • The amount of private offices required. Can the executive team be seated in an open office environment?
  • The amount of fun space needed.

The North America Trend

North American offices were projected to average 151 square feet per worker in 2017, down from 176 square feet in 2012, and down even further from 225 square feet in 2010 (according to data collected by CoreNet Global).  This reduction is happening all while economic research is showing an increase in employee productivity during the same time. You might conclude that less space is more productive then, but the shrinking spaces trend has its limits. In fact, additional research has found productivity drops significantly when square footage drops to 120 square feet and below.

Eden’s Recommendation

When planning for your team’s new office space remember that going too small can mean lost productivity, while going too big can mean unnecessary costs. From all our experience working with successful companies the magic number seems to be between 140-150 square feet per employee. This size seems to be optimal for working without distraction, keeping conference rooms available, allowing for that mid afternoon “pick-me-up” ping pong match, and getting the most productivity from physical facilities budgets.

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