How to Calculate How Much Office Space You Need in The Hybrid World

Definition of hybrid office - moving between a home work space and a traditional office building.

 

Let me start by telling you about the International Olympic Committee (IOC): in 2019, the IOC opened its new headquarters, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Costing around $150 million and taking six years to construct - within nine months the space was almost empty as the staff at IOC, like many workers around the world, were working from home.

 

Now, this may be an extreme scenario but you could be in the same boat, trying to avoid buying/developing too much office space as there is this shift to 'hybrid working'. There may seem no point in you buying a large building to house your workers, when typically, your workers could work from home 60-80% of the time and come to the office 20-40% of the time. Not only would it be a waste of time, effort and resources to create a traditional office, but it would also avoid catering well for your staff and their hybrid needs. However, if you have spare space within your office, which maybe you're saving for future expansion, an idea could be to rent out this office space which would help generate a bit of extra income on the side - which is always helpful!

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Of course, offices will not be entirely abandoned, as they could become a culture space, providing workers with a social anchor, facilitating connections, enabling learning, and fostering unscripted, innovative collaboration. Over the years, the needs of your staff will have also changed, requiring less space between them as the large desktop computer and monitors have swapped for the compact and easy-to-manoeuvre laptop. In a process of 'densification', the amount of space required in the office, for workers has gradually decreased. Especially, as the popular trend for open plan offices has reduced the need for each employee having their own office, giving each worker a specific space rather than the need for a whole office.

 

We know how to plan for a workplace where most full-time employees have an assigned desk. It is true that pre-pandemic, many progressive, forward-thinking organizations were already experimenting with things like agile working, hot-desking and non-assigned seating. But the adoption of hybrid working at scale is another thing entirely and a clear outcome of 15 months of forced remote work.

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Rather than a simple maths formula to calculate how much office space, the answer would be that it depends on, your needs as a business, what works best for you and what kind of space you want. With hybrid working becoming more popular, many business are turning their offices into cultural centres which have different spaces to stimulate creativity and innovation, and have reaped the benefits with high employee satisfaction and wellbeing. Different facilities such as a kitchen or tea stations, booths and collaboration spaces make great socialising areas which will help encourage employees to use the office to its best ability.