We explore square footage, conference room size, and general office space standards per person.
Office math can seem harder than calculus. You’re faced with some of the most permanent decisions a company could make looking into a new office. 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?
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.
Questions to ask to forecast the right amount of office space per person:
- 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 employee 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?
- Figuring out standard office space square footage per person
The North American average is currently 150-175 sq. ft per person. Open office spaces for tech companies typically use even less at 125-175 sq. ft. per person. International offices get even more efficient at around 100 sq. ft per person.
We found office space calculators 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.”
The magical standard conference room size
There are traditionally three sizes for meeting rooms:
- Large Conference Rooms
15×25 sq. ft.
Style could be boardroom, war room, team specific, classroom, theater or a modular configuration to meet various collaborative or training work environments.
- Medium Conference Rooms
10×25 sq. ft.
Style is most often a standard conference room setup with table and chairs.
- Small Conference Rooms
10×10 sq. ft.
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.
A few tips to find the right conference room size and quantity for your office space
- 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 general rule of thumb is 1 conference room for every 10-20 employees.
Find the ratio that works for the environment you’re creating.
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.
–Architect Ned Fennie, Jr.
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).
How we set up our office conference rooms
Extra rooms or spaces you could 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.
- Kitchen: everyone needs a minimum caffeine intake
- 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: encourages healthy commute options via biking or jogging, or lunchtime runs
- Wellness: supports new moms with a private space
- Library: encourages employees to continue education in an affordable way
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 per person and the type of environment you build. The good news for those of us who are responsible for the bill is that everyone prefers a smaller personal space in exchange for more common spaces, which means lower square footage per person.
If you feel like you built your space efficiently, but meeting rooms still seem unavailable — see how you can maximize the conference room space.
This is part of our series of posts around Building the Office.