Studies have shown that employees are happier and more productive when they have their own space. You want your employees to be happy and efficient, but office space costs money. How much space do you really need to help your employees be productive while minimizing costs to your business?

Calculate Office Space Based on Current Needs

Start calculating your office space by looking at your current needs. According to a survey of 500 corporate real estate executives by CoreNet Global, businesses are looking for about 176 square feet per worker on average. That number is expected to shrink over the next few years. Look at this graph from NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association:

An average isn’t a hard and fast rule though. Ask yourself:

  1. How many employees do I have?
  2. Do my employees collaborate or work mostly independently?
  3. Would having more space make my employees more efficient and offset the cost renting more space?

This handy office space calculator from TheSquareFoot can help get you started.

Consider Other Spaces in Addition to Offices

Remember that employees need more than a space to put a desk. They may need a break room, conference space, or a planning area. At very least, they’ll need restrooms. If you expect to have clients visiting your office, you may need to plan for a lobby or reception area.

Receptionist Desk

All of this adds to the total square footage.

Plan Office Space for Future Needs

Your business grows and changes over time. What worked for you last year or even six months ago, may not work today. Adding new employees or changing the way your business operates can mean that you’ll need more space in the future or that you’ll need less space as more employees work from home.

Ask yourself:

  1. How many employees do I expect to have in one year, in three years?
  2. How will the new employees fit into the current office structure?
  3. How quickly is my business expected to grow?

Though some companies claim that their employees are happier in large open spaces with multiple desks and lots of “opportunities for collaboration,” the data disagrees. A study by Oxford Economics found that the ambient noise of an open concept office, distracts workers and makes them less productive.


So if you were thinking you can just make employees share office space as your company grows, you might want to think again.

Keep Your Office Space as Flexible as Possible

Flexible office space provides a solution to unpredictable growth. Instead of signing a three or five year lease, consider executive office suites that allow for shorter leases of one year, six months, or even month to month.

With this more flexible office solution, you can add more space as you need it, or let spaces go if the number of workers on location decreases.

Office spaces that rent this way often provide break rooms, conference space, and of course reception areas and bathrooms.

Ultimately, the amount of office space needed will be different for each business, but staying flexible is good advice for everyone.