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How much Office Space Do You Need?

by Lynn Blakeley

If you are planning an office move, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself (and the first one everyone else will be asking) is how much space do you need? If your answer is "I don't have a clue", don't panic.  A few simple guidelines should be enough to get you started. The initial goal is just to come up with  a ballpark figure to work from so that you or your broker can select potential sites that might  fit the bill. If you already have an office, this is a great place to start. How many square feet do you have now? Do you need more (or less) space? Does it function well or do you want to change the way people interact and work?  If you want to stick with the same basic layout, your job may be as simple as to measure the offices or work areas that you want to add or delete and then adjust the square footage accordingly.  

If you are starting from scratch, or making very large changes, here are some average sizes to consider, along with the square footage for each:

Small office (10 x10): 100
Standard office (10 x 15): 150
Large office: (15 x 15): 225
Executive office (15 x 20): 300
Large workstation (8 x 8): 64
Medium workstation (6 x 6): 36
Small workstation (3 x 5): 15
16 seat conference room  (15 x 25): 375
8 seat conference room  (10 x 25): 250
4 seat conference room (10 x 10): 100
Large reception area (15 x 25): 375
Small reception area (15 x 15): 225
Large work room (15 x 15): 225
Break room 8-10 seats (15 x15): 225
File storage  20 linear feet (15 x 10): 150
Closet (4 x 4) 16

Once you have added up the square footage required for all your necessary rooms, you will have arrived at your net square footage requirement.  But you're not done, because you also need to account for hallways, spaces between workstations, and other circulation space.  This can vary depending on your office design, but the typical approach is to account for circulation space by adding 35% to your net square footage total.

Once you have included your circulation space, you will have an estimate for the "usable" square feet that your office requires (meaning the space the office actually occupies).  But there is another wrinkle that needs to be considered.  In the typical office lease, the Landlord will also expect you to pay for your percentage share of common areas in the building, such as lobbies and hallways.  This add-on is called the "Common Area Factor" and usually ranges between 15 and 25% of the "usable" square feet.

Most Landlords will market lease spaces by the "rentable" square foot total (meaning the combined total of the usable footage and the common area factor).  This needs to be kept in mind when determining whether the space will work for you.  


Questions about Office Leasing?

In the posts below we address many of the issues that routinely come up in office leasing. Check out the posts or just give us a call to discuss your specific concerns: 210.349.6111.

How Tenant Rep Brokers Get Paid

Rentable Square Feet and the Common Area Factor

Types of Commercial Leases

The ABC's of Building Class

It's All about the Base

Lynn Blakeley represents tenants in office lease transactions. Call Lynn at: