Like almost every industry, the legal profession has encountered numerous difficulties during the global pandemic brought about by COVID-19. Some of these challenges include transitioning to remote work, converting to remote litigation, and facing higher competition for talent.
Finding or searching for the correct amount of office space is critical for businesses.
How much space is required is dictated very much by the direction and strategy of an organisation, and should be considered as such.
All too often, organisations see their physical space as less important than their mission and overall strategy, yet unless the physical space is fundamentally aligned with this, businesses leave themselves open to large amounts of wastage and risking a negative reflection on their corporate image.
There are 7 key factors that determine the amount of space an organisation should look for:
Number of staff
Obviously, this is the most straightforward indicator. Rule of thumb for office space is to allow for anywhere between 10 and 17.5 square metres per person in an office. For example, if you have 25 staff, you should look at between 250 and 450 square metres. But that’s still quite a variance, right?
Role of staff
Not only does the number of staff impact the size of the space, but also their role within the business. A telephone operator, for example, may only need 10 square meters allowed for, whereas a HR manager may need additional space to cater for contracts, payroll and other additional paperwork, so may need the full 17.5 square metres.
Business growth plans
As your business grows, naturally you will need more space. So the question is, what is your best case, worst case and average scenarios for business growth over the next 5 years (or whatever your potential lease term is). Are you going to cut yourself short, or will you end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on rent for space that you will never use? You should also consider the roles of the people that will be joining the organisation over the next 5 years as this could play a part in the amount of additional space required.
Along with the growth plans, you need to look at the costs to lease the space that will allow you to grow into it. If lease costs are high, it may be better to claim first rights over another space within the building than to pay for space that you may never actually occupy.
Impact of flexible working
Would there be co working or shared office space in your building that you could occupy beyond your lease term? Once again there is no advantage in leasing space that you aren’t sure that you will need over the term of the lease.
Office space uses
Some organisations like to also utilise their office space to hold client functions or to hold training for their clients. If this is the case, naturally, you will require more office space. Likewise, if the office is only a secondary office space, with no reception or external meeting rooms required, then you will be looking more towards the 10 square metres per person range.
Depending on your target market, and how often or if your clients come to the office at all, will dictate how much public or front of house space you will require. This depends largely on your image. If you are a high end organisation, you will need to ensure you have an almost oversized reception area, large boardroom and many meeting rooms. Alternatively, if you deal with many direct clients, such as an educational services or a job searching organisation, you will also need a large reception area and many common meeting rooms to cater for the clientele.
Therefore, there are multiple factors to consider when identifying how much space to look for. In summary, you can always allow for the average of 14 square metres per person. However, each factor needs to be considered very carefully, and carefully aligned with your strategic business plan.
The concept of flexible working is here to stay. As a result of COVID-19, every organisation has been thrust into a position where they will