How Much Space Do You Need to Start a Small Business?

May 5, 2020 | Small Business Tips

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When searching for a new office, whether starting a small business and looking for your first office or relocating to a new workspace, you must start with one vital step – correctly estimating the amount of space that your company needs. Why is this important? The wrong size of space can severely affect your business or make it difficult to operate. Having too little space could reduce your employees’ productivity, while too much space may not be financially responsible.

How do you choose a perfectly sized workspace when starting a small business or relocating to a new office? Below are some important points to consider.

How to Approximate How Much Office Space You Need

In most cases, the commercial property industry uses square footage to measure office space. While this might be a familiar and seemingly easy concept for many people, particularly to a person starting a small business renting office space for the first time, it can still get confusing. This is because square footage is less important than the number of workstations. In the 90s, when private offices were transformed into open office concepts with multiple workstations, the idea of 100 sq. ft. personal offices became a thing of the past. Now, workstations are typically 35 – 50 sq. ft. per person. Therefore, when trying to estimate how much space you need, think in terms of the number of workstations. From that point, your type of business will determine the amount of space each workstation will require. For instance, a lawyer will likely need more space in order to store many files.

To approximate the amount of space, start by looking at the legal space requirements. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, every employee should have at least 40 feet of desk space and around 100 sq. ft. overall space – including the meeting room and break room.

Another thing to think about is the type of office you intend to use. This is because the meaning of floor space differs significantly when comparing a commercial lease and other workspace solutions such as a business centre. The floor space in a business centre only defines the space used by the employees as workstations, excluding the reception, common areas, corridors, meeting space, break room and other areas. When trying to decide between a commercial lease and a business centre, you will only need a fraction of the space in a business centre as the common areas are shared.

Ultimately, your decision will depend on how much space your employees will need and your budget. However, you should also be aware of the legal requirements (especially after the Covid-19 pandemic) and the potential for expansion and flexible arrangements.

Guidelines for Communal Spaces and Meeting Rooms

With the understanding that every employee requires around 100 sq. ft. of overall space, you can then factor in the amenities you require. Below are some common office amenities and the space each amenity occupies to give you an idea of how much extra space you’ll need.

  • Small meeting room for 2 to 4 people – 100 sq. ft.
  • Large meeting room for 4 to 8 people – 150 sq. ft.
  • Boardroom for 15 to 20 people – 220 sq. ft.
  • Conference room for 20 to 30 people – 300 sq. ft.
  • Manager’s office – 100 sq. ft.
  • Kitchen – 100 sq. ft.

Other Key Considerations

Apart from the number of workstations you need and the actual measurements of the office, there are other considerations to factor in when deciding how much office space you need.

The Shape of the Office

The majority of office spaces are not entirely rectangular, and the square footage is not actually “square” due to the irregular shaped floor. This makes some of the floor space unusable as desk space. On top of looking at how large an office floor plan is, you should also consider ceiling’s height. For example, loft offices may not accommodate desks as they may be too low.

Additionally, some sections of the office might be too far from windows and natural light, meaning they may not provide ideal permanent desk spaces.

Open Plan or Cubicle Style

Over time, office layouts have become more flexible and accommodative of modern working arrangements such as hot-desking and coworking. However, the open-plan layouts, which are popular with people starting a small business or running a small and medium-size business, may not be ideal or cost-effective to all businesses.

With the traditional cubicle style layout, you need to determine the spatial requirement of each cubicle, and how many can fit in the space. On top of that, you must also strategize on how and where to position the cubicles to make the most use of the space available, particularly in a space that is not entirely rectangular, without making the office feel cramped.

Open plan layouts, on the other hand, tend to be more flexible than cubicle layouts. This is mainly because you are not restricted by workstation sizes as with cubicles. Instead, you have the liberty to arrange workspaces and desks as you see fit. Also, it is important to note that businesses with a flexible working model such as hot-desking or remote employees can rent less space.

Room for Growth

If you are just starting a small business, and you have the need to move into an office space, it means your company is growing and expanding. The same thing applies if you are seeking a new office. It is a sign that you need extra space. In this case, it is also important that you remember that the company will not stop growing after moving into the new office. As such, you need to factor in potential future growth when choosing your new office. Otherwise, you will need to relocate after just a couple of months – and relocating isn’t easy or cheap.

To accommodate the potential future growth, rent an office with more space than you need currently. This will prove to be a smart investment in the long run. In the case of a shared workspace, most providers offer flexible and short-term agreements that allow you to scale as need be within short notice.

Considering Shared Office Space for Your Small Business

If you are just starting a small business and have been looking at affordable office space solutions, you must have come across the term shared office space and coworking. Much like social media and ridesharing, coworking is now a part of our everyday life, and it is hard to imagine life without it. Therefore, it is no surprise that people who are starting a small business or looking to relocate to a new office automatically consider shared office space a viable alternative. However, like everything else in life, coworking has its pros and cons. Here are some key considerations to help you decide if shared office space is the ideal office solution for your small business.

How Many Employees Do You Have?

The number of employees you intend to have in an office will determine if a shared office will be more cost-effective than a traditional office, along with the cost of office space in your area. In some markets, it is only cost-effective to have a shared office space if you have 20 or fewer employees. More than this may mean that a traditional office would be cheaper.

How Stable is Your Business?

Starting a small business, regardless of how well prepared and knowledgeable you are, is always a gamble. If the office space you are considering offers 5 to 10-year leases, you need to give serious thought to how your business will do in that time. Perform a realistic and objective assessment of your business's long-term viability before you commit to a long-term lease. If you have any doubt, shared office space could be the ideal solution for you in the meantime.

How Much Will You Use Your Office Space?

Again, this will depend on your type of business. If your business employs, say, for instance, programmers that grind out 80-hour weeks, a private office space makes sense. On the other hand, if your business requires you to be constantly on the move, attending conferences, seminars and networking events, it is not financially practical to rent a space that will be empty for most of the year.

Will a Coworking Space Be Safe After Covid-19?

Yes, it will be. Provided you follow accepted protocols for Covid-19 management, such as increased cleaning, temperature checks, wearing protective equipment when necessary, adding barriers, assigning direction to hallways, and creating distance between workspaces, a coworking space will be just as safe as a private office. When businesses are allowed to fully re-open, Officescape will have private offices available, and our staff will be disinfecting flex offices after each use.

For an entrepreneur or a business leader who is starting a small business, a coworking office space can be the best solution. With no 5 to 10-year lease commitments, personal credit guarantees, start-up, or renovation costs, a coworking office space is compatible with the unpredictable nature and budget restrictions that go along with starting a small business. On top of that, coworking workspaces offer small businesses access to the most desirable real estate that would otherwise not be accessible to them due to the minimum size requirements and the prohibitive cost.

Find A Great Office for Your Small Business with Officescape

How Much Space Do You Need to Start a Small Business?

Finding the right-sized office space at a manageable cost and in a desirable location can be especially hard for small businesses. However, it is clear that small businesses have a lot more to gain from coworking office spaces than from traditional office spaces. If you are starting a small business or looking for a new office for your small business, look no further than Officescape. We have a wide range of different sized, fully furnished and serviced offices available for start-ups, small and medium business, and even large corporations. Talk to us today and let us help you find an ideal new office for your company.

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  • I can’t go with any other choice...

    When I started my engineering business 4 years ago, I was looking for a space where it’s cost effective and at a prime location. It was a challenge! This is the best I could find, close to my home so the driving was faster, also the reception is exceptionally good. When you walk in the office, the welcoming atmosphere, the options I have here, I can’t go with any other choice.

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    Valluvan AlagirisamyInspar Inc.

  • You have the necessary simple structure which allows you to focus on your day to day job.

    We’ve been doing this for almost 8+ years on a full-time basis, and I’ve been with Officescape for just over 5 years at this point. Pretty much the length of our practice, we’ve been part of a certain shared office center. With Officescape, you get the advantage of amazing office space, professional staff to greet your clients, and not worrying about unnecessary procedures. You have the necessary simple structure, which allows you to focus on your day to day job.

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    Purvish ShahAdian Professional Services

  • It’s very professional and they don’t even know that its not our office!

    We started using Officescape primarily because we needed an address for mailing purposes and for our product. I use them for meeting rooms as well, when I bring my buyers in. It’s very professional and they don’t even know that that is not our Maxell office. It’s important for us to keep our profile image. Having a company in Canada for 16 years, our buyers are coming into our offices all the time, we still needed a space to have that place for our buyers to come visit us and vice versa.

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    Lynn LangMaxell

  • My experience has been very positive!

    I chose Officescape because the staff are really friendly, I found them really helpful and really resourceful. I also find the building to be really clean and really bright, I like some of the architectural design. They always greet my clients very friendly, always offer them coffee, tea, water and always say goodbye to them when they leave. My experience at Officescape has been very positive!

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    Ellen BradleyIntegrative Counselling Services

  • This is the perfect facility...to run your business

    I had the opportunity to use the Officescape location in Markham while working on a consulting project. Dave provides a top notch facility with excellent offices, boardrooms, connectivity, service and yes... great coffee. This is the perfect facility in Markham to run your business, meet your clients, and brand your company. Congratulations Dave on providing a much needed service to the business community.

    Mark FriedbergCognovative Business Services

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