MacRo LTD Blog

When It Comes to Leasing Commercial Office Space: Know Your Size

Many factors determine the amount of square footage a tenant will actually need.

Duringknow your size 022317.jpg the last 2 quarters of 2016, the commercial leasing market displayed an upward turn.

Much of that increase has occurred in Frederick’s office market.

Whether this trend will continue with the new administration in Washington is yet to be seen. One thing we do know is that small business operators are growing out of their basements and garages and looking for a more professional office setting. That being said, not everyone is going for the 1960’s goal of a “corner office with a view”. Many business owners don’t realize how much space they actually need—or don’t need.

So, then, what is the best way to determine how much office space you actually need?

I receive at least one call a day from someone looking for office space. When I ask the size (the amount of square feet they are seeking), I either receive the response of “I don’t know” or a figure that may end up being way too small or way too big.

I recently had someone tell me–wishing that this process would be as easy as selecting a house size–“You call a Realtor, tell her how many bedrooms you want and boom! You are presented with a list of houses to select from.”

Well, I have a secret: it can be that easy for some.

While the average individual office size in the U.S. is 150 SF, things are trending smaller. In fact, OSHA only requires by law a square footage of around 35 SF per workstation. Now, I am not suggesting you make all your offices 35 SF. That would save money, but it would make the office just a little bit snug.

An Example Scenario

Let’s say you need 6 offices, a reception area, a kitchenette, and a restroom.

Automatically, you will think you need a pretty significant amount of space because 6 individual offices seems like a lot these days. Most people that have a requirement similar to this believe that they need about 3,000-5,000 SF.

Before selecting the size range, however, it is important to think about the space on a smaller scale.

You want each of these individual offices to be 120 SF, or a total of 720 SF. The restroom to be about 70 SF (a rather nice sized bathroom). The kitchenette should be about 100 SF. The reception area and interior hallway about 200 SF. Adding that all together, we would be just shy of 1,100 SF.

Another way to do this would by ne using this Office Space Calculator.

The above example is a lot less than then the 3,000-5,000 SF range. Based upon this example, you would only need a space that is 1,100, right?

Not So Fast: Here’s Another Scenario

While careful calculation can often help shrink SF needs, there are other factors that can increase it.

Many forget that when looking at office space there is the difference between RENTABLE Square Footage (RSF) and USABLE Square Footage (USF).

I recently took a prospect to a space advertised as 2,400 SF. The prospect needed to take measurements of the space for their corporate office. When they took actual measurements of the space, they ended up with 2,168 SF.

Confused, they asked where the other 232 SF were hidden. Ironically, “hidden” was quite the opposite description. The “hidden” 232 SF was for a proportionate share of the building’s common area.

To sum it all up, take a look around the room you are currently in. Often the size one actually needs is much less than the OSHA requirements.

Help yourself and save on costs. Sit with a commercial leasing real estate representative and study the individual sizes you need for each office or area in your space.

You may find that you have overestimated or underestimated your actual requirements. But don’t forget, RSF can be very different form the USF. At the end of the day, just make sure you find space that works within your budget and your real space needs!


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Ashleigh Kiggans, Sales & Leasing Associate, joined the MacRo team in 2015. She plays a key role within the organization, assisting the leadership team across a wide range of initiatives, including market research, data analysis, client communications and marketing while assisting with the sales and leasing transactional process.


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