Office Space FAQ

Determining your office space requirements in the UK

  • Offices need to allow a bare minimum of 11 cubic metres per employee
  • Assuming average ceiling height, this equates to 4.6 square metres of floor space per employee
  • Furniture and clutter will necessitate more office space
  • Business owners will need to factor in additional space for meeting rooms, reception areas, storage space and breakout areas
  • The average range of office space for businesses in the UK ranges from 14 to 28 square metres per person
  • Business growth outlooks, hybrid scheduling and office layouts will affect space requirements

Finding the ideal office space to run a business can be challenging

In many UK cities, such as London and Manchester, the commercial space supply is tight and new developments are scarce. This is particularly noticeable for office space and, as a result, quality space is in high demand and commands high rental rates.

Because of price and availability constraints, it's essential to have an accurate idea of how much office space is needed before starting to make enquiries. This will save you time and money, as you won't end up paying for unnecessary space.

When deciding on office space - Location, location, location

  • High density population centres such as London have tight supply and high rents
  • It's important to have a clear idea of space requirement before taking the plunge
  • Knowing exact space requirement ensures you won't pay for unnecessary space

So, how much space is needed to run an office?

Every business has unique requirements. But there are some guidelines to help you calculate the square footage needed to set up a comfortable and efficient office.

What are the UK Office Space Guidelines?

Some of these guidelines come from a health and safety point of view

For example, Health and Safety Executive regulations establish the minimum space per person in office premises. According to Regulation 10 of the Workplace Regulations of 1992, offices should allow a minimum of 11 cubic metres per employee. Assuming office ceiling height is within normal parameters (approximately 2.4 metres), this means that the minimum floor area per person is 4.6 square metres.

Office size calculations need to account for other factors

It should also be kept in mind that these figures represent the bare minimum, and that the total space required needs to be increased depending on how much room is taken up by furniture or unusual office layouts.

You should prioritise avoiding cluttered spaces and ensuring that there's enough room for office workers to move around within their workstations and the rest of the office.

In addition, office staples like reception, meeting and breakout areas need to be factored in

What we've mentioned so far only applies to work areas and can be used for initial calculations of workspace needed. However, you'll also need to take into account other areas and add them to your space considerations.

For example, you may need space for a reception or waiting rooms, common areas like kitchens or break rooms, storage rooms, meeting facilities, bathrooms, and additional space to accommodate employees with disabilities.

What are the actual space requirements for ancillary office needs?

Even though there's no specific square footage established for the areas mentioned above, most office-based businesses have 1 meeting room for every 10 employees. Additionally, reception areas can usually take up 100 square feet (9 square metres) per person whilst break rooms and storage (filing) areas take up 75 square feet (7 square metres) and 200 square feet (20 square metres) on average respectively.

All things considered, the minimum amount of office space needed will range from 150 to 300 square feet per person (14 to 28 square metres per person).

The exact place that your office sits on this scale will depend on the following factors:

  • Whether your business operations are better run from an open-plan office or would benefit from space-intensive layouts
  • Whether your level of staff is affected by seasonal trends
  • Whether your team uses individual or shared workstations
  • The stage your business is in. If growth plans are on the horizon, you should usually calculate an additional 5% of square footage per year
  • Current or future arrangements for part-time or remote work

Back to the Office Space FAQ Index