A large office space with one person working at a computer.

How much office space per person?

Sometimes it seems as if the whole world works from a laptop. Stories of digital nomads and world travellers give the impression that all you need is a laptop and a beach chair to be productive. If only that were true!

For most of us, working from a dedicated office space is a necessity. But whether this is working from home, or using a dedicated hybrid office or collaborative working space, you need to have enough room to work comfortably and effectively.

Even so, knowing how much office space you need per person is about more than simply being productive. Studies have shown that your office environment can affect your wellbeing. No one wants to work in a cramped, dimly lit space when a larger, lighter environment can be more beneficial for you and your work.

The World Green Building Council, based in the UK, has identified protecting and improving health as their number one principle. From their website:

"Considered building design can reduce stress, improve mental health, and positively impact comfort, well-being, and happiness…"

The American Society of Interior Designers also has something to say on the matter. Their 2017 study on the impact of design in the workplace noted the importance of ‘Spatial Quality’. In this study, the size and access of an office environment were considered the most important indicator of a physical workspace by 100% of respondents.

But what does this mean in practice? And how does this translate to the world of UK offices?

How much space per person do you need in an office in the UK?

Statements like those from the studies quoted above are helpful in principle, but short on actual details. Fortunately, if you are trying to work out how much office space you need per person you don’t need to guess.

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive provides a helpful FAQ which summaries the key elements of Regulation 10 of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

The general guidance is for workplaces to have enough free space to allow people the freedom to easily move around the room. This must consider the number of people in the room, as well as furniture and equipment.

These days, thanks to well-established digital working practices and newer, lighter technology, there are fewer bulky monitors, fax-machines and printers to worry about. Bluetooth and WiFi technology has also meant fewer cables to trip over too.

UK regulations about office space per person

The Health and Safety Executive requires 11 cubic metres of space per person. This includes vertical space, but only up to 3 metres high. Anything above three metres is ignored in the calculation.

How to work out the office space you need

The calculation of 11 cubic metres of space per person is based on an empty room.

  • Begin by measuring the total volume of the room, ignoring anything above 3 metres high, then divide this by the number of people you will have working there.
  • For an office measuring 6 metres wide by 9 metres long, and 2.4 metres tall, you would multiply 6 x 9 x 2.4, which equals 129.6 cubic metres.
  • Divide this figure by 11 to see how many people you fit into the space. 129.6 / 11 equals 11.78 people, so you can comfortably fit 11 people in this room and stay within the recommended guidelines.

Meeting rooms need less space per person than an office

This guidance provides an exception for meeting rooms, so if you are only gathering for a meeting, you may be able to get by with a much smaller space as the attendees are likely to all be sitting around a table in discussions, rather than spread out trying to work.

Find the right space for your business

Electric Works N7 has a range of flexible and coworking offices available. Our available office spaces in Islington and Holloway can be listed by size and rent, so you can find the perfect flexible working space for your needs.

Resources

The Health and Safety Executive provides a free guide on workplace health, safety, and welfare issues.

Local area

There is more to discover in Islington and Holloway. When your working day is over and it is time to relax with the team, there is plenty more to discover locally. Find out more in the Local Area section of the Electric Works N7 blog.