Whether you are right-sizing or downsizing your office space to support a hybrid working model, there is no easy answer for how much space you’ll need. If we’ve learned nothing else from the pandemic, it’s that we can’t predict the future. An office that supports hybrid working should allow for the flexibility to adapt and change as your needs evolve.
It might feel tempting to downsize your square footage to support a hybrid workforce but downsizing and right-sizing are not the same things.
Hybrid Workspace Guidelines
Prior to the pandemic, open design had replaced cube farms which years ago replaced enclosed large office designs. Companies pivoting to hybrid working models are faced with modifying their open office designs to support more collaborative and flexible workspaces.
A recent HqO report forecasts that by 2025, the need for corporate workspace will flip from 70% individual workstations and 30% collaborative space to 30% individual and 70% collaborative space. The hybrid office design will transition existing office space to flexible desk layouts and hot-desking areas, lounge areas, and meeting rooms designed for videoconferencing with remote working staff, clients, and partners.
Large conference rooms are like dinosaurs in the hybrid office and are being swapped out for more sensible alternatives such as Zoom rooms, huddle rooms, phone booths, and private workspaces that can be made available on an hourly or daily basis.
But that doesn't necessarily mean less space.
Average Square Footage Approach
Prior to the pandemic, organizations would multiply the number of employees by the rule of thumb needed per individual to estimate how large their offices should be. But this calculation no longer works.
Today, you may only have 30% of your staff in the office at a given time. A simple 1:1 ratio of desks or square footage per employee is no longer a useful calculation for hybrid office space needs.
Space Allocation Approach
The Space Allocation Approach is based on how space is used and is more suitable to help estimate the amount of “usable” office space required for your hybrid workspace. Each organization will require a unique blend of these collaborative and individual space elements to support their hybrid working model.
Note: Any common area load factors (typically between 10% and 20%) will need to be added on to determine the "rentable" area.
The Pirates Code
Estimate your office space size requirement by the Space Allocation Approach. Then, make sure that you are accounting for planned growth. Make headcount projections for the expected term of the lease. Then, lease space so that around 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through the term you start reaching the occupancy limit.
Keep in mind that no two spaces are alike. Look for spaces that are more efficient, like rectangular spaces versus angled corners of a building. No two spaces with the same rentable square footage are the same. Load factor, floor plan and layout matter.
These space allocations are mere guidelines. While there are definitive trends in hybrid office design, every organization is different, and you will need to determine the best mix of flexible spaces, collaborative spaces, and private workspaces for your needs.
“The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”
– Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean
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