How much space do I need to allow for my office fit out?
How much space do I need per employee or staff member for our new office? What workspace ratios or square meters per person that I can use to work out what we need to accommodate in our new workplace?
That’s a question we get asked from time to time from some of our valued clients and there are some basic guidelines that can help you with this.
The minimum space per person as defined by the building code is 10 square meters per person. Secondarily to that, there’s another rating that needs to be applied that can contradict the first, which has to do with the air conditioning being able to provide sufficient fresh air. A lot of systems are designed to accommodate for 13 sqm per person. This means you may need a bit bigger tenancy to fit in the same amount of staff. One loophole we often use is, if the windows are operable, this allows for fresh air intake and allows you to avoid this regulation. You might see offices with lots of opening windows; they’ve don’t this so they don’t have to meet those other criteria. Most high rise buildings have fixed glazing so you can’t bring in the fresh air that way, which means you are restricted to the minimum of 10, 13, 14, 15 sqm per person as determined by the total capacity of the air conditioning system.
We also need to look at the acoustic mitigation strategies. Do we need to provide more physical separation between teams? This allows for the sense of teamwork and collaboration, but without the sound being oppressive and preventing people from doing their best work.
In addition to that, we consider prevention of burnout strategies relating to placement that can impact on space. We might require more space to allow for things like quiet zones, maybe meditation spaces etc. There is also biophilics, which incorporates various strategies around nature, fresh air, natural light, product selection & material selection, stones, timbers, plant life, water features, lots of things that go into that that can add to the overall accommodation requirements in terms of square meters.
Considerations of the actual specifics of the operation such as the need for large training facilities are a major factor in spatial discussions. Can we create an effective space without increasing the total flow and demand? Can we utilise operable walls? Does the budget allow for that? These are the sorts of things that we need to look at to make sure that your design will accommodate the amount of people that you need to fit on the floor.
Absolute minimum, 10 sqm per person, however you must take into account that most air conditioning systems are designed to 13 square meters per person, and you will need to allow for different requirements for acoustic mitigation, biophilia and how the teams will work together.
We have worked on some council projects that have got down to 13 sqm per person, but typically larger scale operations would work on 20 sqm per person. So if you have 50 employees, you would allow for 1000 sqm, which gives us some buffer for say 20- 25 people that are hot desking, itinerary, field workers, consultants that are based from your office, but they don’t require a full time position.
We analyse all this and more to get a deep understanding of what your company needs and how many sqm per person this equates to, to ensure that your new relocation is going to satisfy the current and future demands.