How Big Should an Office Be? Tips for Planning Your “Class A” Office Construction

Are you ready to venture into the world of building ownership? Whether you’re remodeling an existing space or starting from the ground up, one of the first questions you’ll likely have when planning a Class A office construction is, “how big should my office space be?”

Correctly calculating how much space you’ll need is incredibly important. The size and layout of your Class A office will fuel its design and function and play an important role in whether or not the space meets your business needs.

This article will help you answer this important question and more.


Decide on an office layout first

Space requirements vary based on a number of factors, and your preferred office layout style is at the top of the list.

On one end of the office layout spectrum is the traditional cubicle or hard-wall floor plan, with employees sectored off behind closed office doors. On the other end is the open floor plan design, where everyone sits together in the same room. Then there’s the popular hybrid layout — a mix of both private offices and open workspaces.

The layout design of your office will play a big role in the size of your space. For example, an office where the majority of employees require private offices will need to be much larger than one where everyone sits shoulder-to-shoulder, collaborating together in the same room.


Factors that influence a Class A office floor plan

The right floor plan for a business will depend on a number of factors:

  • Industry — As a Class A building, there are certain stylistic standards to meet based on the business industry occupying the space. For example, law firms will likely have a focus on private, closed off areas (offices, meeting rooms) as well as a generous lobby to help make a good first impression.
  • Day-to-day use — Consider the specific work that will be completed in the space and how the floorplan needs to accommodate that work. Factors to consider might be whether or not the space will host clients/customers, number of meetings per day, size of meetings, storage needs, and so on.
  • Growth opportunities — Your layout should be one that accommodates business growth. Don’t create a space that fits only the exact number of employees currently on your payroll. If every employee needs a private office, your floor plan should include some additional unused offices to give yourself room to expand.

Learn more about choosing the right floor plan for your business.


Questions to ask when calculating office space

After your layout style is more or less determined, there are a few more features to evaluate before calculating physical dimensions.


Nature of the work

You’ve already considered the industry and day-to-day use of the space to determine a floor plan style. Now you should examine these factors through the lens of amount of space needed.
As an example, if employees will spend most of the work day out in the field visiting clients, then a smaller overall space will be sufficient. Conversely, if your company meets with multiple clients and customers in-office day in and day out, your space should be large enough to comfortably accommodate your employees as well as a steady flow of visitors.

Specific things to think about…

  • Where will employees spend the majority of their day? (Desk work, in-office meetings, field work, etc.)
  • What type of equipment is needed for each employee to do their job? (Expansive desk space for paperwork and files? Computer and keyboard only?)
  • How much privacy does the work entail? Do employees need lots of space between desks to ensure visual privacy?
  • What about call volume? How far away from each other do employees need to be to avoid disrupting others with phone calls?


Corporate culture considerations

Keep in mind that employees may have different space allocations (and needs) based on their level.

For example, some companies operate in a way where those in higher management roles require large, private offices. Whereas a junior employee might be given a small desk in an open work area.

In this type of work environments, calculating the same amount of space needs per employee will result in an office that’s too small and doesn’t’ meet your needs.


Total number of employees and people in the space on a daily basis

Of course, another important consideration will be the total number of people in the building at any given moment. Calculate the number of employees as well as how many non-employees will be in the space on any given day.

In accordance with fire safety standards, you also need to calculate the maximum occupancy of your space and individual rooms. Generally speaking, the maximum occupancy for a specific room or building will be determined by the available exits as well as the intended use of the space.

You’ll need to coordinate with your local Oregon fire marshal to determine the exact number. Learn more here.


Safety and ergonomics

Every worker should have enough space to complete his or her job responsibilities safely and comfortably. To ensure these two factors are met, you should consider things like…

  • Reach & sequence of use – Equipment and work materials need to be available in order of importance and frequency of use
  • Working height – Equipment and activities need to be situated at a height that allows for comfortable visual and physical access
  • Movement within the area — The employee needs appropriate arm and leg room
  • Communication needs — Enough space to easily access a phone, headset, or other communication device


Average workspace guidelines & requirements

Now comes the fun part — calculating the physical dimensions needed for your Class A office.

Start by calculating the individual working space size needed for each employee and work your way out to find the total square footage required. As you do this, keep an eye on all the considerations we’ve covered so far in this post to ensure you end up with the right amount of space.

Below are some average space requirement estimates to reference as you make your calculations. These numbers should be used as a guideline only — you may want to expand or shrink the size depending on all the factors we’ve considered above.


Private offices

  • Executive (President/CEO, Vice President) — 200-400 square feet
  • Managerial level — 150-250 square feet
  • Other — 90-150 square feet


Cubicle workspaces

  • 125-175 square feet, depending on job duties and space needs


Open space workstations

  • 60-110 square feet per person is average. However, roles that deal with a lot of paperwork (data entry, accountants, clerks) may need up to 125 square feet)


Group spaces and meeting areas

  • Conference room — 50 square feet to start, plus 25 square feet per person seated
  • Work room — 125 square feet
  • Lunch room/kitchen — 75 square feet to start, plus 25 square feet per person seated
  • Reception area or lobby — 100-200 square feet to start, plus ad additional 10 square feet per person waiting


Other types of office space dimensions:

  • Print or mail room — 125-200 square feet
  • Storage room — 200 square feet)
  • Halls and corridors — 20% to 30% of total usable area


Get help designing a Class A space sized to fit your needs

As you’ve learned, there’s a lot to think about when figuring out how big your office space should be. Partnering with an experienced construction professional will ensure no sizing consideration is overlooked. You’ll end up with an office that meets safety regulations and perfectly fits the needs of your business.

At BnK Construction, we’ve built out hundreds of thousands of square feet of Class A office space throughout the Portland Metro area. We know exactly what sizing factors need to be considered and how to calculate the right size, layout, and design.

We’re ready to put our 75 years of combined industry experience to work for you. Contact us today to learn more.