Are Workspace Allocations Shrinking Dramatically?

by CoyDavidson on April 12, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Office

There has been considerable commentary recently on the trend of shrinking office space allocations per employee among corporate office space users. A recent article in Buildings Magazine citing the International Facility Management Associations “Space and Project Management Benchmarks, IFMA Research Report #34”, indicates the average individual workspace allocation assigned to employees is shrinking for most position levels.

The downward trend is attributed to the pressure to reduce real estate costs by corporate users, new technology reducing required desk space for employees, a growing trend of unassigned workspaces and changing demographics as younger workers enter the workforce.

While I believe this to be a clear trend that will continue, looking at the data it would appear the more dramatic decreases in space allocations took place in the period from 1997 to 2002.

Source: Buildings Magazine

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  • Nice synopsis, Coy. Ah, the good old dot com days of 1997-2002: shrinking office space, beer bash Fridays, company Hummer’s for the employee of the week to drive, stock options galore, millions of dollars spent on tenant improvements by companies that only had 5-10 million in funding, which strangely enough was “required” at the time just to recruit top late teen/early 20’s talent from going to competitors in order to be first to market with whatever zany product was in the works… what a crazy time. Can’t wait for it to return!!

  • Coy Davidson

    Thanks Sean, we had some of the craziness in Houston but nothing to the degree you guy’s had in the valley.

  • Jim


    Thanks for these references. I think we are getting to the point where space per person is becoming a problematic metric. The implication in the data that my space is getting smaller may actually be an indicator that we are all doing a lot of work in other places. The ratio of the number of employees to the amount of corporate workspace is therefore increasing.

    Your graphs are interesting, implying that we’ve come to a new baseline of, apparently, diminishing returns. I don’t want to be an apologist for the unsustainable consumption of real estate, but I think there may be an inflection point based on your term “assigned” to employees.

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