Here at Boxpod, we are noticing many businesses looking to move offices at the moment. This may be due to restructuring during and after the pandemic, changes in the way that companies are conducting their business, adapting to new business models – or just a need for a change of scenery.
For businesses that are looking to rent an office space, ensuring that you get the right space for you is fundamental to the long-term success of your business. There are, of course, many factors involved in choosing the best office unit to rent, including its location and accessibility, its facilities, its green credentials, and its overall suitability for your business, but if the size is wrong, most of the other factors pale into insignificance.
Office layout and Office Culture
When you are looking at office size, it is important to look at your office layout and culture. For example, if your workplace is one of collaboration, where staff need to be able to communicate all of the time and work in close proximity to each other you will almost certainly require less space than if your workplace needs to consist of several individual offices or booths so that staff can work without distractions, for example.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “Workrooms should have enough free space to allow people to get to and from workstations and to move within the room, with ease. The number of people who may work in any particular room at any one time will depend not only on the size of the room, but on the space taken up by furniture, fittings, equipment, and on the layout of the room. Workrooms, except those where people only work for short periods, should be of sufficient height (from floor to ceiling) over most of the room to enable safe access to workstations. In older buildings with obstructions such as low beams the obstruction should be clearly marked.”
The HSE also stipulates that the total cubic area per employee should be 11m³ (388ft³). On average, office space is normally counted at around 14m² (150ft²) per person using the space (with an average ceiling height). However, this can be more, or less according to the type of work that is going to be carried out as well as the kind of office that you are hoping to create.
We are seeing more and more businesses following the flexible working model. This is a model whereby not all staff are in the office at all times. Some may be working remotely or some may be working different hours, being present in the office at different times. Some businesses also include hot-desking into the practice, meaning that employees can either ‘book’ a desk at a certain time or come in and choose which desk they would like to use.
For businesses that incorporate the flexible working model, it means that potentially fewer desks can be needed, and, therefore, a smaller office is required. If your business is planning on doing this, however, it is important that you consider whether there will be any times when you need to have the entire workforce in together.
Individual Offices and Conference Rooms
The calculations above refer only to an open-plan-style office. If you are planning on having any individual, private offices, these take more space and should be a minimum of 14m² (150ft²). Likewise, conference or meeting rooms are rooms that are meant to be able to hold a number of people, so you will need to decide on the size of the room according to what you are planning on using it for and for how many people.
Depending on the nature of your business, as well as the number of people that you are having inside the business premises there are other amenities that you will need to consider.
According to the HSE, the number of toilets, urinals, and washbasins should be as follows:
Number of toilets and washbasins for mixed use (or women only):
Number of people at work
Number of toilets
Number of washbasins
Toilets used by men only:
Number of men at work
Number of toilets
Number of urinals
Although it is not a legal requirement, most businesses like to have a kitchen in their workspace. Businesses must allow for an area where their employees can have a break, away from workstations, where it is possible for them to eat.
You may also wish to consider separate break-out areas, receptions, and server rooms.
COVID-19 Social Distancing
The COVID-19 pandemic has bought the importance of social distancing when it comes to the transmission of germs – not just the coronavirus – to attention. It has made many of us realise that in terms of the spreading of diseases, having a good space between us is essential. Not only are there still guidelines around the spacing of people within the workplace, but it makes common sense for businesses to try to mitigate against entire workforces getting ill at the same time.
For this reason, it would be good business practice to try to create as much space as you can when you are looking at office sizes.
Choosing the best size office is essential when you are looking to buy or rent an office space. Not only do you need to consider the number of employees that will be using the space and their necessities, but also the kind of office culture that you are trying to create.