Why is it important to get the office size right?
You need the right sized office space to allow for your business plan without breaking the budget. Sometimes it can feel complicated, but if your team is likely to change in size regularly or you’re in for a period of rapid growth, flexible workspace is the way to go.
If you’re expecting to remain roughly the same headcount for 2+ years – or you have some money in the bank and would rather sort your real estate worries in one fell swoop – and get your own branded workspace in the process - you should consider a lease direct with a landlord.
Space and time
Size is about more than square footage. It’s also about flexibility. If you’re growing, you don’t want your office space to hold you back. This has been a big driver for the explosion of flexible workspace offerings, which allow upsizing or downsizing on short notice, as well as meeting rooms and project space for contractors.
Depending on the size of your business, you might consider taking a lease directly with a landlord, but these are likely to demand minimum lease lengths of two to five years. The size and most of the costs are fixed for this period.
Bear in mind, if you take a lease the process is likely to take minimum 4-6 months – if you need an office fast, you can get into a flexible workspace in a matter of days.
How to size up the office
If you’re taking a flexible workspace, it’s easy to work out how much space you need. They tend to charge by the desk, so you can base it on your expected headcount. Because your reception, meeting rooms, kitchens etc are outside of your space, you don’t need to worry too much about the total square footage.
Taking a lease is more complicated. You need to allow space for the extras beyond the desk. Decent quality offices generally allow you 1 person per 107 sq ft. Using 100 is a good rule of thumb – so 10,000 sq ft is a space for 100 people, incorporating a kitchen, reception area and a few meeting rooms.
How to benchmark pricing
Most lease spaces are marketed with overly complicated pricing, which doesn’t take into account the total cost of occupying the space. The only way to compare this with flexible workspace pricing is to make a series of assumptions on the variable costs associated with taking on your own leased space. In flex space, these are all rolled into the per desk pricing. The main cost items are:
- Service charge
- Fit out
- Gas, electric, water, wifi
Bear in mind that fit out and furniture are a substantial upfront cost – so you’ll want to get your Financial Director involved early on.
You should also make sure to budget for a fit out period, during which time your team won’t be able to move into the new office. This means you’ve got double property costs for that period.
Kitchen, Toilets, Storage, IT rack space, Dog-Friendly offices
Don’t worry about these finer details just yet. Once you’ve compared the costs of your options, you can get on with viewings. The properties will all have their own character, with different levels of service.
So if your team needs bike spaces, showers, extra-large break out spaces or a terrace, make sure to come to the viewings armed with the right questions so you can report back.