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Feeling Cramped in the Office?

Have you ever noticed how food manufacturers sometimes shrink the size of your favorite candy bar or bag of chips? The price stays the same, of course, but you just don’t get as much.

Well, offices have been getting smaller for a long time at the same time that prices have been going up. The Dallas Morning News reported last month that the average amount of work space per person was 225 square feet (SF) in 2010 and only 7 years later in 2017, the average had fallen 33% to only 151 SF. That’s a shocking drop in such a short period of time.

I’m not sure I believe those numbers. Not because I have data to dispute the numbers, but because I have seen reports from other sources that show a drop, for sure, but not nearly that dramatic.

There is no doubt that office densities have increased. Just in my own practice as a tenant rep, I have seen clients reduce the number of offices and increase the number of people in cubes. That reduces the average SF per person which increases density.

However, there is no standard for all companies, industries, or even within an industry. Each company has its own culture and office configuration is a part of that.

I did an analysis of the leases for One of my clients recently. They had acquired 3 companies with offices within 5 miles of each other. The average SF per person went from 126 in one to 229 in a second and 269 in a third. We are now combining those offices into one which will require some deft management since some people will be going from an office to a cube and a smaller work space. They will also be moving most of the offices to the interior of the space with the cubes on the exterior windows as many companies are doing these days and that will be a shock to some of the old guard.

So while I don’t necessarily agree with the exact numbers of the article. I definitely agree that densities are increasing across all industries and that is only expected to continue.

Bob Gibbons is a Real Estate Advisor & Tenant Advocate (also known as a tenant rep) with REATA Commercial Realty, Inc. which is a tenant advisory firm based in Plano, Texas. Bob serves companies in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Richardson, Addison, Dallas and the surrounding areas and specializes in companies which lease or buy office and warehouse properties.

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