4 Steps to Determining Your Office Space Needs

February 23, 2012

Office rental space

Being a business owner can be exhilarating and daunting. There are so many hats you have to wear that you can't possibly be an expert at everything. That's why being informed is the best way to make decisions. When it comes to finding office space for your business, some business owners are new to finding office space, while others have new considerations such as expansion due to company growth.

It can be tough to determine what all you need to consider when choosing your office space. By following these 4 Steps to Determining Your Office Space Needs, you can be sure you're on a solid path for success.

Step 1: Determine how many square feet you need

This is an important question that must be properly researched and answered before signing a lease, whether you are launching a new company or you are an existing one who is considering an expansion or relocation.

If a mistake is made and you lease too little office space, you could end up needing more space before your lease expires, or you could face a possible lease default if you exceed the buildings parking ratio. Lease too much space and you end up being stuck paying for more space than you need for the duration of the lease term.

As a general rule of thumb you will need 175 to 250 usable square feet per person; however that depends on the type of space you are leasing, building parking ratios, the space efficiency, your ideal layout, and any other special needs you may have. For an accurate determination of your space needs, it's a good idea to engage a professional office space planner.

Step 2: Estimate the number of employees you'll have in the next 3 years

This is the primary factor in determining how much space you need. How many employees do you have now? How many do you estimate you will hire over the next 1, 2, or 3 years? Do any of them work from home? You don't want to sign a 3-5 year lease agreement based on the number of employees you have today without considering your growth needs. If you're planning to increase your headcount by 5% year over year, then you'll want to factor that in to your office space needs.

Step 3: How do you want your space laid out?

You'll need to consider how many offices you'll need vs. cubicles vs. open space. The more offices you have, the more space you'll require. If you want a more collaborative office, then open layouts might be best for your business. They also tend to provide more flexibility, allowing more room for headcount now and later.

While the general rule of thumb is to allow approximately 175 to 250 square feet per employee, this can change depending on if you are looking for office, retail, medical or warehouse space.

Step 4: Determine the number of people who require parking

Office buildings parking spaces are in limited supply so most buildings have parking ratios that only allowing tenants XX number of occupants per XX number of square feet. For example, average parking ratios for Austin Office Space buildings are 3.5 to 4 people per 1000 square foot. What that means is that each tenant is only allowed to have 4 occupants for every 1000 square feet that they lease. If you lease 4,000 square feet, you are only allowed to have 16 employees occupy that space. Questions you might want to ask your employees to estimate how many parking spaces you will need: How many drive to work each day? Do any ride public transportation? Do any carpool?

By following these 4 Steps to Determining Your Office Space Needs, you'll be well on your way to finding the best office space needs for your business.

Topics: Operations, Featured

Jennifer Smith

Austin Tenant Advisors

Jen Smith is the go-to source for smart, savvy Facebook marketing and advertising. Equal parts tech researcher and social media maven, Jen brings over 15 years of online marketing experience to the table, helping her clients connect powerfully with their consumers – and injecting serious know-how into their brand's social presence on Facebook. Jen gives businesses the tools to use Facebook to grow their bottom line and whip their customers into an excited frenzy, while making the Facebook marketing process "like"-able for everyone She is also the owner, along with her husband Nathan, of Austin Tenant Advisors, an Austin commercial real estate firm that specializes in tenant representation. In addition to being an active commercial real estate advisor, Jennifer also brings more than 15 years of marketing and sales experience in the high tech industry to the Austin, TX. 

After living in Austin for 15 years, she is also a self-proclaimed Austinite and loves everything about Austin from shopping to eating at trendy restaurants to catching a live music show.
Read more articles from Jennifer Smith

Guide to Business Borrowing

Learn what banks are looking for when they prepare to make loans. Our guide covers what business owners need to know when they prepare to borrow.


Download eBook