How Much Office Space Does My Small Business Need?

An important question that needs to be addressed before launching your new small business is how much office space you will need. This same question also applies to established small business owners who suddenly find themselves needing to expand. Although there are a host of books and Web sites devoted to the topic, you may still find yourself scratching your head even after reading all that great professional advice.

If you make a mistake in the early planning stage and select a location that is too small, you’re sure to have major space problems down the road. Conversely, if you choose a location that’s too large, you’ll end up with a lot of wasted space and unnecessarily high utility bills.

While finding the right solution can be tricky, thinking about these key issues beforehand will help make the process run more smoothly:

  • Number of employees. How many employees will be physically located in your new facility? Will it be feasible for any of them to telecommute and work from home? How many employees do you have on the payroll at the present time, and what are your projections for the next two years? Ask yourself these questions to get a better sense of the kind of space you will need.
  • Size of your budget. If you are not careful, you could find yourself spending more money than you expected to. Make a detailed budget that includes every item, and don’t be swayed or influenced by those employees who view this as an opportunity to ask for every piece of office equipment they have ever dreamed of. A wise business owner thinks twice before spending any of his or her hard-earned cash.
  • Parking options. Take into consideration the parking options available at the location you are considering, for both employees and customers. Figure out how many of your employees drive to work each day and how many ride public transportation. Do any of them carpool? (Watch out: If your employees are accustomed to free parking where you are now, and you move them to a location were there is only paid parking, make sure to avoid a mutiny by giving them plenty of advance notice.)
  • Building features. Determine which building features are really necessary and which are not. Brainstorm ahead of time and include your employees in the planning process. What do you really need in your office space? What do you really want in your office space? With your final list in hand, start costing out each item to see what is financially feasible.
  • Layout and design. Today, the trend in office design is toward a more open space with fewer enclosed offices and a higher density of employees per square foot. Although square footage per employee will vary from industry to industry, you need to factor in such things as how many employees you have and whether or not customers will be coming into the office. There are many Internet sites devoted to office layout and design, so do some research beforehand. If necessary, hire a professional space planning consultant.