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How Much Office Space Do I Need?

Updated January 18, 2018

Small businesses and startups face daunting challenges every day, from slim margins and ever-growing competition to staffing issues and physical space. Fortunately, the latter of those doesn't have to make small business owners feel like they're constantly taking a shot in the dark when looking for new office space.

As always, a fully informed approach can drastically improve your chances for finding the ideal office space for your organization. Of course, any such search should begin with a careful examination to determine just how much office space your small business needs, both now and shortly into the future. To that point, TenantBase is here to provide you with 3 simple but important things to remember to help you narrow the field and find space that can absorb a growing organization, keep your team members happy and productive and, most importantly, help you establish a foundation for a successful future. We're here to help you finally answer, "how much office space do I need?"

Use the Office Space Calculator

Determine Your Needs 

Just like searching for a new house, wants aren't necessarily the same as needs when it comes to office space. While you might have a list of items that are absolute necessities – perhaps a break room, conference room, proximity to elevators, or any other number of items – you'll probably have a separate list of other factors that would be nice to have but certainly wouldn't be the end of the world if not provided.

For instance, for a small company that has 10 team members that will be sharing the space, most of the members – perhaps even all – would say they prefer to have their own office. It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that approximately 3,000 square feet of total space would be needed to accommodate those 10 separate offices. This, of course, is a great example of those aforementioned wants versus needs. Although every team member wants their own office, it's likely only senior leadership actually needs it.

By providing separate offices only to particular managers and shared common space for your other team members, you could potentially reduce your square footage needs by 40 - 50%, obviously enjoying the accompanying reduction in monthly costs as well. To that point, placing everyone in the open area while preserving to dedicated conference rooms could save you as much as 40% on costs.

This example perfectly embodies the importance of allowing needs to drive your search for new office space rather than wants. Be realistic and economical with your demands to drastically increase your chances of finding the ideal space.

Search Based on Your Needs 

Suffice it to say, your small company’s specific needs should be the primary criteria used in your search for office space. To identify those needs based on your current team, be certain to take into account the number of cubicles, desks, seats – as well as the type of seating – you will need as all will significantly impact the amount of space you require.

Likewise, determine the number of meeting rooms, call rooms, conference rooms, and any other designated areas you will need to properly estimate the square footage required to comfortably house those needs. Be careful the type of space you deem as a necessity, however, since non-core areas like kitchen and reception space can take up as much as 30% of your entire rented space.

For example, a small office space may have the same amount of used space as a larger office that is tightly packed with supplies, materials, and employees. Such an environment could prove to be an impediment to safe evacuation in the case of an emergency as staff is more cramped and has far less room to move than they would have otherwise without non-core areas accounting for so much of the total space.

Prioritize Your Wants

While your small company’s needs should always take precedence when determining how much office space you'll need, life is short and often stressful so any number of amenities – the infamous wants in this equation – should still be taken into account. Happy workers are much more capable of breeding success than miserable ones so, if feasible, prioritize your wants and try to work them into your plans when appropriate.

Some of those wants might be utilitarian in nature, including storage for servers, office equipment, copiers, security, and parking spaces. Other wants, however, speak more to the general contentment of your staff like reception and kitchen space, individual offices, views, and accessibility factors.

Download Office Space Tour Checklist

No matter the nature of the wants, they play a secondary yet still important role in determining the amount of office space your small business requires. Take these three tips into account next time you are searching for new space, keep an open but realistic mindset throughout the process, and you'll significantly increase your chances of finding office space that suits your organization well.

Now that you should have a good idea of your office space needs, be sure to use our Office Space Calculator to estimate how much square footage you will need.

As always, TenantBase is here to share our expertise, specialized insight, and best practices along the way. With TenantBase, you have a partner that will grow with your business and always provide you timely, pertinent information to help you find the office space that works well for you, both today and tomorrow.


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