In a world where hybrid work has become the norm for many, the traditional model of each employee having a dedicated office space is no longer practical for many businesses.

So, the question is: Do we need as much office space per employee as we once thought?

The rise in hybrid work arrangements means organizations should rethink their physical office space strategies. In this article, we explore whether a more flexible approach to office space allocation could be the key to optimizing office resources and fostering a more agile workforce.


Quick Summary: Current guidelines suggest providing 125 to 225 square feet — or an average of 175 — per hybrid employee.


Hybrid Employees’ Impact on Office Spaces

Although the height of the pandemic was several years ago, its effects on work environments are still being felt. Many employees may have returned to the office, but attendance is still 30% lower than before the pandemic.

Today, only 22% of employees work full-time from the office, while 62% have opted for the hybrid model. The traditional method of having a permanent desk for each employee doesn’t fit this new working model. Instead, there’s been a move toward more flexible and dynamic office layouts.

hybrid employees vs in-person

A flexible work culture comes with advantages, like reduced office space costs and more productive employees, but there are challenges, too. One of the biggest ones is determining how much office space each employee needs. With only a fraction of the workforce in the office on any given day, many companies are finding themselves with excess space and dealing with unnecessary costs.

But reducing office size isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. It’s difficult to gauge exactly how much space is needed for an employee who is only physically present part of the time.

How Do You Decide How Much Office Space Per Hybrid Employee You Need to Provide?

If your employees aren’t in the office as much but still need it, how do you decide how much space is necessary? Here’s a list of things to consider when calculating how much space to allocate to each hybrid employee:

Individual Needs

Each employee has unique needs, depending on their role at the company. For example, an engineer might need dual monitors and a quieter space for focused work. A salesperson, on the other hand, might need a smaller workstation but more access to meeting rooms for client calls.

Recognizing individual requirements is crucial for creating a productive work environment and a positive workplace experience. Tailoring spaces to fit job roles means understanding that in the modern workplace, one size doesn’t fit all.

Work Patterns

Hybrid employees often have different work patterns, with some coming into the office more often than others. Knowing these patterns can help you predict the need for desks, meeting rooms, and other resources.

For employees who spend most of their time in the field or working remotely, hot desking or implementing shared spaces are good options. They’re an efficient use of office real estate and free up space for employees who spend more time at the office than others.

Collaborative Spaces

With the office being an environment meant for collaboration, it’s important to design spaces that foster teamwork. This might mean investing in versatile furniture and technology that can adapt to different group sizes and types of collaboration, from brainstorming sessions to formal presentations.

Balancing Privacy and Openness

In addition to collaborative spaces, offices need to provide quieter, separate spaces for focus time. There should be a balance between private and open spaces to cater to concentration and group work.

For example, incorporate privacy pods or soundproof areas for focused work and open-plan areas for teamwork.

Accounting for Future Growth

Planning office space for hybrid employees isn’t just about meeting current needs; it’s also about looking ahead. As your business grows, so will your team — and this could mean having more people in the office and needing more space than you did before.

Consider having a flexible office design with modular furniture and movable walls. You can then easily adjust the office layout without doing a full-fledged renovation.

factors for allocating office space

Current Recommended Amount of Office Space per Hybrid Employee

No one-size-fits-all solution exists for the “ideal” amount of office space. How much space you need to provide will depend on your company and employees — specifically, whether the latter work hybrid, remote, or in the office full-time.

However, there is research to guide you.

In the late 1990s, before the shift to open offices, each employee was allocated about 250 square feet of office space. The move to open offices aimed to reduce this to 150 square feet or less, mainly by replacing private offices with shared spaces, hot desks, and collaboration rooms.

Now, the shift to a hybrid office model allocates more space per person. This doesn’t mean a return to private offices but an updated layout with more space.

This suggested amount of office space per hybrid employee is backed up by research from OfficeFinder. They suggest 125 to 225 square feet — or an average of 175 square feet — per person.

work quote

In addition to these guidelines, keep these two considerations in mind when calculating how much office space you need:

  • The space allocation approach: Allocate space to individual employees based on their needs and requirements.
  • The average square footage approach: A standard average square footage per employee is used to determine the overall space allocation.

Planning Office Space for Future Employees

McKinsey’s modeled scenarios indicate that by 2030, the demand for office space could be 13% lower than it was in 2019 for the average city. In an extreme scenario, it could be up to 38% lower in the most heavily affected cities.

To stay ahead of the curve and use your office space as efficiently as possible, look toward the future and plan accordingly. Here are some considerations to make as you think of how you’ll allocate your office space.

Plan for Flexibility and Scalability

Research predicts that by 2025, the need for corporate workspace will flip from 70% individual workstations and 30% collaborative space to 30% individual workstations and 70% collaborative space.

This estimate emphasizes how important it is to invest in flexible, adaptable office space. The nature of work is becoming more team-oriented, with a larger focus on collaboration and creativity. Flexible office spaces can accommodate this shift without extensive renovations, helping your company grow with minimal disruptions.

office

Consider Remote Work Trends

Remote work shows no sign of slowing down, with an estimated 32.6 million Americans (22% of the workforce) working remotely by 2025. What’s more, employees are happy with this setup.

With more employees working remotely, the traditional model of assigning a permanent desk to each person is becoming less relevant. This means less demand for physical office space and more money to spend on creating a collaborative office space your employees will love.

Designing a modern office space shows your employees that you are invested in creating a flexible work environment that supports their well-being and productivity. This can attract and retain even more top talent.

Click here to read more about the most expected hybrid work trends for 2024 and beyond.

Managing Hybrid Employees With OfficeRnD Hybrid

Adapting to a hybrid work model requires flexibility and strategic resource management. OfficeRnD Hybrid offers a sophisticated yet user-friendly platform to help you achieve just that.

The platform is designed to streamline how you use your office space, catering specifically to hybrid teams. With abilities to manage work arrangements such as hot desking, desk hoteling and office resource booking, OfficeRnD Hybrid allows your employees to reserve workspaces as needed. This minimizes unused office space and ensures your resources are used effectively.

To learn more about how OfficeRnD Hybrid can improve your office space management, book a live demo with our team. Alternatively, click here to start for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid.

FAQ

How Do You Work Out the Desk Ratio For Hybrid Work?

The desk ratio for hybrid work depends on factors like the size of the team, their roles, how often they spend time in the office, and the projected growth of your company. Unlike traditional offices, where each employee might have their own desk (a 1:1 ratio), a hybrid team needs a flexible approach to desk sharing.

First, you need to determine how often and how many employees are coming into the office. For instance, if employees are in the office two or three days a week, the desk-sharing ratio might be higher, such as 2:1 or 3:1. This means that multiple employees share the same desk but at different times. For more info on office space requirements, check out this article.

What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Working?

For employers, hybrid working offers benefits like increased flexibility and reduced office space costs. It can also help boost productivity and retain talent. Furthermore, employees can benefit from an improved work-life balance, more flexibility, and increased job satisfaction.

How Do You Manage a Hybrid Office?

The best approach to managing a hybrid office is with a hybrid workplace solution technology. OfficeRnD Hybrid is an all-in-one solution that can help optimize office space and boost communication and collaboration. You can see who’s coming into the office, manage desk bookings and meeting rooms, and lots more from a single platform.

How Much Office Space Do I Need per Employee?

The amount of office space needed per employee varies based on the type of work, office layout, and additional facilities like meeting rooms or common areas. Generally, planning guidelines suggest an average of 100 to 250 square feet per employee for a conventional office setup. For more open or flexible workspaces, including coworking or hybrid models, this requirement can be lower, reflecting the shared use of space and amenities.

Asen Stoyanchev
Senior Content Marketing & SEO Specialist | OfficeRnD
Asen is passionate about flexible working and the future of work. He firmly believes that work flexibility directly impacts one's health and well-being. When he's not writing, Asen spends his time devouring business literature, hiking, and parenting.