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Moving to a New Office? Determine the Right Office Space Size

planning for a new office, determining office size, two professionals
The Robin Team
Published on

Office math can seem harder than calculus. You’re faced with some of the most permanent decisions a company could make when looking into a new office. With that, comes a lot of questions: How much square footage do I need? How much office space per person? What’s the typical meeting room size? How many meeting rooms do we need?

Let's explore square footage, conference room sizes, desk space needs and general office space standards for your teams.

How Much Office Space Do You Need?

Depending on your lease, these decisions are usually in place for a minimum of 2 years, if not up to 10 or 20 years. So, as you’ve probably already realized, it’s important to think through all of the possibilities.

  • What kind of growth is the company expecting? In terms of both dollars and headcount?
  • What lease length would then be appropriate? And how much future growth would the lease need to support?
  • What type of office environment do you want? Do you want a completely open environment where no one has a private office? Or do some of the employees need a private office?
  • How many people are going to be in the office part time? Permanently? How many remote employees will you have?
  • How many people are going to be in meetings daily? How many people will be heads down in focused work?

Answering these kinds of questions will help you determine office size and how much office space per employee you need.

Before making any big space decisions, consider what your office needs are and plan from there.

What is the Standard Office Size in Square Footage per Person?

The North American office size average is currently 150-175 square feet per employee. Open office spaces for tech companies typically use even less at 125-175 square feet per person. International offices get even more efficient at around 100 square feet per person.

We found office space calculators to be the best way to measure this so you can map out the entire office more visually and not just calculate the per person number. Austin Tenant Advisors also adds, “Lease office space so that you reach your occupancy limit at about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through the term.”

How Much Space Do You Need for Conference Rooms?

The average office space requires a handful of meeting spaces so employees can take client calls or get together in-person to collaborate with their teams.

The Magical Standard Conference Room Size

There are traditionally three sizes for meeting rooms:   

  1. Large Conference Rooms 15x25 sq. ft.16-20 seats. Style could be boardroom, war room, team specific, classroom, theater or a modular configuration to meet various collaborative or training work environments.
  2. Medium Conference Rooms 10x25 sq. ft.8-10 seats. Style is most often a standard conference room design with table and chairs.
  3. Small Conference Rooms 10x10 sq. ft. 4-6 seats. Style could be a standard conference, huddle, phone, interview, wellness, brainstorming. As these take up the least amount of space, you can get creative and experiment with different room styles to meet different styles of work.

There isn’t one magical conference room size, but instead, three categories that you should use in different combinations depending on your office’s work style.

Tips to Find the Right Conference Room Size and Quantity

So what should you consider when determining the number of meeting rooms in your office and the total square footage of each?

Here are some tips for workplace leaders making these decisions.

Workplace leaders should consider a variety of factors when redesigning their office or moving into a new location.

The best meeting rooms come in small packages.

Many workplace surveys indicate similar statistics to this one from CBRE that says, “59% of meetings involve only two to three people.” That means, over half of your conference rooms should be on the smaller side.

Our most popular conference rooms in the office are our smaller rooms Aussie West and Aussie Central (we like timezones). The advantage of smaller spaces is that they can also be used as private offices or quiet rooms as needed.

The general rule of thumb is 1 conference room for every 10-20 employees.

Find the ratio that works for the environment you’re creating. Remember: a traditional office layout also accounts for open areas of collaboration. Meeting rooms aren't the only option for people looking to catch-up, remember to also encourage the use of other spaces.

According to architect Ned Fennie, firms operating in predominantly open office environments tend to need more rooms for private meetings between staff, both for small personnel meetings as well as large team or group meetings. This ratio can range from one conference room to 10 employees in an all open office environment to one conference room per 20 employees in a private office-rich environment.

Based on those two tips, for a company of 100 people in a mostly open office environment, you could have 7 rooms (1 Large, 2 Medium, and 5 Small that range in style).

The data doesn't lie.

Consider how conference rooms are currently used in your office. By looking at your workplace analytics, you can get a feel for meeting room utilization and come to some useful conclusions.

Maybe you notice that the bigger rooms are being used more often or maybe spaces with the right conference room technology are in high demand. Use the data to determine pattern in meeting room utilization and make better decisions for your future spaces.

Considering Desk Space for Office Space Planning

Meeting rooms aren't the only thing to consider when planning for your workplace. The average office space needs to have dedicated desk space set aside for employees, whether you assign employees desks or you employ the use hot desking and flexible seating arrangements.

If employees are coming into the office 5 days a week, assigned seating makes sense. The formula for determining how much desk space you need, in this scenario, is pretty straightforward. Generally speaking, you will need one desk per employee. It's usually a good ideas to also set aside some desks to account for future growth as well.

Factor in desk spaces when planning for the size of your office.

For flexible seating arrangements, it's important to understand the amount of time your staff members anticipate spending in the office on a weekly basis. Once you have this information, you can determine a ratio for sharing desks. For instance, if you expect employees, on average, to be in the office for 3 days per week, this would correspond to a desk sharing ratio of 6 desks for every 10 people.

Nevertheless, there are certain factors that need to be considered when calculating this ratio. Anticipated employee growth or reduction, days of peak occupancy (when more people than average are expected to be present), and the desired level of activity in the office will all influence whether the desk sharing ratio should be adjusted upward or downward.

Additional Spaces to Account for in Your Office Space

You may have checked off a few in toying with the office calculator linked above. The answer to this lies in a combination of characteristics usually unique to each company.

It depends on the type of work employees are doing, the company culture you want to create and maintain, the perks you want to recruit and retain talent with, and the brand you want to emulate through your office space. Here are some additional areas to consider:

  • Kitchen: a staple for any office space, dedicate an area for food and coffee breaks.
  • Lounge: great for all hands and reception style guest seating.
  • Storage: for any company that needs file or server storage if you aren't cloud-based.
  • Showers: encourage healthy commute options via biking or jogging, or lunchtime runs.
  • Wellness: support new moms with a private, personal space.
  • Library: encourage employees to continue education in an affordable way.
  • Front desk: a reception area to welcome visitors and guests.

There’s a lot of focus on the future of work and how employees’ work styles are evolving. Flexibility and forward thinking are key when determining how much office space you need per person and the type of environment you build.

Get the right stakeholders involved with your planning.

Better Office Space Planning for Better Business Outcomes

Employers focus should be on providing employees with the space and resources they need to do their best work. When moving to a new space or optimizing an existing office, you need to consider a wide spectrum of factors.

Space management is a critical part of this process. With the right workplace analytics, you can use data from your current workplace to determine your actual square footage needs in a new space. Interested in learning more about how to optimize your workplace? Let's explore how Robin can help you.

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