A question we are often asked is what size office should we lease?
A quick google search for the term threw up literally tens of calculators and hundreds of sources, articles and comments on the topic in the last year alone.
The true answer is – there is no one single answer to this question.
It is, however, a fundamental question when you are searching for new premises. It is why it makes so much sense to engage your Office Design and Fitout Company before you start your property search.
You may think that you only need “your office design and fitout guys” when you’ve signed your lease but nothing could be further from the truth.
With many commercial leases in Australia starting at 3 years and in some cases extending to 10-year leases – wouldn’t you consider that getting space/workforce ratios correct before you sign on the dotted line would be critical?
Good Office Design and Fitout experts will have years of expertise and a myriad of different clients and scenarios as well as excellent technical know-how when it comes to calculating the space required.
There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when determining the space you will require for your office fitout and therefore many questions that an office design expert will ask before offering an answer.
Below we’ve created a list of some of the information we will need. The list is by no means exhaustive but it gives a good idea of fundamental “need to knows”.
How many staff do you have now?
Basic right? The follow-up question though, is the most important in this equation; how do you see your company / organisation evolving over the next 5-10 years?
This will give us the scope we need to consider for growth. There is no point leasing office space to suit your “now” needs when those needs are projected to double within a year. Allowances and plan have to be created and assessed.
How large are your workstations?
Do your current workstations fit your requirements? In a perfect world, would you prefer larger workstations or could they be smaller? Are your staff hours becoming more flexible or fixed and therefore do you need less workstations to suit only the hot-desking needs of flexible staff or more desks in total?
How many meeting rooms and what size meeting rooms are required?
Do you conduct staff meetings once a week where you need space for 4 or for 20? Do your clients always meet at your office or would it be more cost effective to have less meeting rooms as you are usually meeting clients on their premises? Do you need a conference or training room as part of your meeting room plan?
Could meeting rooms be substituted with private meeting pods that allow flexibility outside of meeting times.
How many offices are required?
Are you wishing to move towards a less hierarchical workplace? Do you need less offices or more offices? The office to workstation ratio is very important as offices take up much more space than workstations.
What is the size of reception and waiting area
Is a reception area required in your office? If so, how many people will occupy the reception desk at any one time? Does the reception desk require multiple computers and phones?
Does your office require a waiting area? Does that waiting area need technology such as television or screens? Do you need executive lounges for your customers, clients or guests or will standard seating suffice?
Size of facilities and common areas
How many toilets are required? Accessible toilets and staff ratio? How big will your kitchen, facilities, common area be – are you looking to encourage socialisation over mealtimes with bench seating etc or do your staff usually take the opportunity to be outside the office at mealtimes.
The shape of the building.
Design and fitouts are far more economical in square or rectangular buildings as the geometry allows for little to no unusable or wasted space. Circular and triangular buildings, whilst being architecturally interesting and a talking point, mean that there will be a great deal more wasted and unusable space within the office area.
Actual usable office space vs Net Lettable Area
The actual space available to fitout. The NLA (net lettable area) often differs considerably from the actual usable office space.
For example, you actually pay for the space occupied by structural columns, and the space used by window sills all the way to the face of the external glass.
Again, by engaging your office design and fitout company before choosing a property, you will be able to utilise their extensive experience in accessing and measuring the actual usable office space available for your fitout.
Your company may have standards already set in place. If you are from the government sector, a multinational or a state division of a National corporation then you almost certainly do.
Hopefully, you now understand the complexity of that seemingly simple question. There are so many factors that affect the amount of space you need to lease and each company, fitout and client requirement is different.
The most salient answer would be to engage your office design and fitout company before you speak to property managers or agents. They will be your staunchest ally and ensure that you lease the best property to suit all of your existing and future requirements.