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When is the right time to find more office space?

Our company is growing to the point where our current office space is filled. 1 per cube/office. We are still growing and I want us to maintain productivity as we grow, but I don't want to move too early either. And at past compaines, moving to a larger space has frequently (not always, but enough) been the harbinger of doom! That is, when we move, we move into something that is big enough to accommodate growth, but also empty feeling, spreading out employees so that communication diminishes greatly, and at the same time leaving us with a much higher bill monthly, much of which is for space we're not using.

So a few questions: when is the right time to move? When you're just filling your current space, or when you're doubled-up everywhere and sitting on top of one another? What is the target "load", or square footage per employee, both before the move (i.e. at maximum capacity) and and what should we target for after the move? Are people using their own wits and resources to find space (given how much is available these days) or do you recommend using a commercial real estate broker? Are sub-leases worth the extra layer of hassle? Thanks.


Topic Expert
Gabe Burke
Title: Corporate Real Estate Specialist
Company: Cushman & Wakefield (formerly DTZ)
LinkedIn Profile
(Corporate Real Estate Specialist, Cushman & Wakefield (formerly DTZ)) |

Jeff, your question hinges greatly on the industry that you're in. For example, a law firm will require a much larger ratio of sqft/person, many are around 300-350 sqft/person while a tech firm may be closer to 100-150 sqft/person.

It revolves around the type of environment you're trying to create (e.g. open and collaborative or need for privacy), how you attract and retain talent, and how real estate is aligned with your compensation plans (e.g. private offices vs. cubes).

No one can tell you the right time to move, however, as you've already learned, it's important to move forward cautiously. I strongly recommend engaging a workplace solutions expert to help maximize your current space utilization. You might be able to grow withing your current space.

Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

Speaking as a CFO, I prefer the "move when it's actually killing us" model. I was recently with a huge, global tech company and my group was moved from a full, bustling floor of a building to two floors of an empty building on our campus (big campus!). It took the life right out of the BU. It was amazing, but overnight the energy level sank. There is much to be said about the positive energy created by people working directly together in shared space. Obviously you have to grow and move sometime, but I would recommend holding off as long as possible for a)the "energy effect" I note above, and b)to make sure you're really going to need that extra space.

When you do move, make sure you keep the folks who most need that joint energy together. Maybe it's the product and engineering teams, or the sales and the marketing team. Keep them together if at all possible b/c they feed off one another.

Topic Expert
Joan Varrone
Title: CFO
Company: Cloud Cruiser
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Cloud Cruiser) |

I think maximizing where you are is the way to go first and the use of a space planner as suggested is a good idea. Re space per person it depends on how you want to configure your space. If it is an open office environment then 100 to 150 sf can work. I have seen even less at tech companies where people sit side by side at long tables. Re a sublease you need to look at the direct rate as you eventually will be dealing with the landlord when the sublease is over. I have used a sublease and has not been a problem band saved a great deal of money.


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