What Are the Different Types of Office Space?
Updated February, 2018
Office space for lease comes in all shapes, sizes, and building classes. Even as many industries increasingly favor open floor plans and office space that accommodates them, there are plenty of types of office space that can fit your company’s needs. Here’s a quick overview of what’s available.
Traditional Office Space
For financial services, hedge funds and law firms, the classic office layout is usually best. Traditional office spaces give employees quiet, private areas to work and handle clients and confidential information, as well as collaborative, shared space. Common features of a traditional office include:
Reception | Boardroom | Bullpen | Private Offices
Most traditional office spaces require a multi-year lease (the industry norm is 3-5+ years).
Creative Office Space
Recently, creative office space has become synonymous with open-plan office space. Though they can vary drastically in style, decor, and layout, creative office space layouts tend to share a few common traits.
- Wood floors
- High ceilings
- Large windows
- Wet pantries
- Fewer walls & private offices
These layouts emphasize collaboration, on both a functional and symbolic level. With fewer barriers between departments and desks, they promise more transparency, communication and collaboration between employees, managers, and leadership.
Creative office space also tends to be more space efficient (depending on how it’s defined). As it pertains to square feet allocated per person, you can fit more employees at tables or rows in open space than you can at individual cubicles or private offices.
Typically, startups, tech companies and creative agencies have favored open office space, but large enterprise companies and even financial institutions have begun exploring this type of space to encourage and facilitate communication within and across teams.
Contiguous Office Space
Multiple suites on the same floor of a building that are combined and rented to a single tenant is “contiguous” space. Alternately, contiguous space can refer to suites located on multiple floors of a building that a single tenant rents.
What is Coworking Space?
Coworking offers flexible terms for use of a number desks in an open office space and usually includes meeting and break out rooms. They primarily serve small companies and startups in need of work space for indefinite periods of time. Coworking space can be secured by desk per day, all the way up to one year terms. Shared amenities, spaces, and appliances help keep costs low. Longer commitments will ensure lower rent prices, but depending on your situation it may be worth paying a premium for the flexibility.
In addition to the flexible lease terms and collaborative work space, coworking spaces often encourage social interaction between tenants in the form of organized events, panel discussions, and happy hours.
As is the case with any open office space, what you gain in flexibility, cost and socializing you often lose in privacy. Furthermore, as a company grows, the need for exclusive work space often emerges.
Executive suites can come as fully serviced work space nestled within a full floor of space that has been leased to another company. You can often secure executive suites as a sublet with flexible terms. Most private office suites will offer month-to-month rent or terms in 3, 6, 9 and 12 month increments.
On top of coming fully furnished and pre-wired for phone and internet services, the perks of an executive suite include access to a common conference room and break room, and a reception area with a receptionist.
Understanding Types of Office Building Classifications
Building classes serve as signals of a building’s amenities, architecture, location, and of course, cost to rent.
Most office buildings fall into one of four categories: Trophy, Class A, Class B, or Class C. However, this classification system is far from an exact science. There’s no industry-wide standards or benchmarks of what makes a building one class or the other — the distinction varies by market, and by what other buildings are in the neighborhood.
The common factors that decide what class a building falls into are building age, location, curb appeal, historical significance, maintenance, ownership, building infrastructure IT, HVAC, plumbing, etc.), and construction awards (such as LEED certification).
Building classifications aren’t set in stone — a commercial property can move up or down the classification tiers based on market trends or renovations.
What is Class A Office Space?
Class A office buildings are among the largest and highest quality office spaces on the market. These are available in a mix of vintage, historical buildings and new constructions that offer premium location, top of the line technical infrastructure, reputable ownership, and a variety of tenant services such as a maintenance team and lobby concierge. Class A buildings command high rent prices and attract firms with budgets to match.
What is Class B Office Space?
Most Class B office buildings are older properties but still offer reliable amenities and property management services. They usually attract smaller tenants and earlier-stage companies. Tenants can find Class B office space in prime areas, but enjoy cheaper leases than in a Class A building because there are fewer amenities and services.
What is Class C Office Space?
Class C office buildings tend to be Class B properties with fewer tenant services, such as no lobby attendant and only a superintendent for basic upkeep. There are very few Class C office buildings on the market, because they struggle to compete with higher-quality office spaces. Class C buildings often undergo renovations or are converted into residential units.
Not sure which of the different types of office space is best for your company? No need to worry — this will vary by your company size, budget, and growth plans over the next few years. Your best option is to start by comparing vacancies with a licensed tenant broker.