How much office space does your business need?

It’s one of the first questions you will ask when setting up a new business or moving into a new building: how much office space do I need?

When it comes to office workers, the Building Code of Australia requires a minimum of 10 sqm per person.

But this is simply based on the total floor area – and this might include corridors, furniture etc – divided by the number of employees.

For office workers, the Building Code of Australia requires a minimum of 10 sqm per person.

It is vital that when planning your own office space, you take into account other key issues as well.

Colliers International Manager of Office Leasing Adam Davy says that while the needs of every business are different, there are some common factors when working out how much floor space you need.

“Before you get caught up with the search for a new office – or perhaps before you get too far down the line with those refurbishment plans – it is important to assess the future of your business,” Davy says.

“Commercial leasing decisions should be considered with a medium to long-term mindset, with most leases running for three years or more. Property decisions should take into account your company’s future requirements as well as today’s needs.”

Read more: Moving your office: it’s more than just packing boxes

Davy says there are some key factors to consider.

How much space do you need?

·         Is your business growing or shrinking?

·         How many, and what type of, employees will you have in the future?

·         What will your technology requirements be in three, five, 10 years’ time?

·         Should your data centre be located off site or in a co-location facility?

·         Are you considering acquiring, or merging with, other firms?

·         What are your brand values?

·         What are your preferred work settings?

·         Should alternative work settings, such as non-assigned seating and activity based working, be considered?

·         What effect will moving have on your customers and staff?

Davy says the type of business will help dictate the amount of floor space needed.

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“For example, for a call centre, as a general rule of thumb you can tentatively work from a floor space ratio of 1 person per 10 sqm or less, whereas in a general office set-up, this ratio is generally estimated at around 1 person per 12-14 sqm.”

Colliers International National Director of Tenant Representation Simon Crouch says law firms usually estimate 14-20 sqm per person.

“However, this trend is gradually reducing and becoming more efficient as law firms move to a regular office size or do away with offices all together,” Crouch says.

Law firms usually estimate 14-20 sqm per person but this is reducing as law firms do away with individual offices.

He also points out that all buildings differ when it comes to floor plates and efficiencies, and one size does not always fit all.

“For example, you may require 500 sqm to accommodate your staff in one building whilst another may be able to house them comfortably in only 400 sqm,” Davy says.

Charter Build design director Jane Bright says there is not a per-square-metre-fits-all solution when it comes to office space.

She says while it’s possible to work out a “guesstimate”, there are many variables at play.

“A good designer should be asking ‘what type of work is performed at their desks’, ‘what materials will they use at their desks’, ‘how often will they be at their desks’, ‘how much storage will they need at their desks’ before determining how much space you actually need,” Bright says.