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The Realities of the Shrinking Office Space

Are you confused by all the numbers that get thrown around about how much space you should allocate per office worker? Do the recommendations seem to have little association with the reality you see in your own business? You aren’t alone. If you want to understand what’s really going on, set aside 20 minutes to really dig into the “Estimating Office Space per Worker” research paper by Norm Miller (Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, San Diego University). It’s surprisingly readable and highly informative.

Miller explains differences in how facility managers and commercial real estate professionals calculate office space as well as the other factors that lead to vastly different space usage estimates. He also talks about “shadow space” and how this can contract sharply when office leases expire and businesses can downsize their footprint. The paper covers trends such as hoteling (desk sharing), e-commuting, shrinking cubicle size and other methods employers are using to reduce or outsource their office space needs. He also discusses additional changes businesses may make to bring the space per worker from the actual average of 340-370 square feet down to the elusive 200 square feet many companies are aiming to reach.


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