What are the US regulations for the minimum meters per person and per child for a coworking space with onsite childcare?
Hello! Thanks for your question about the US regulations for a co-working space with onsite childcare. The most useful sources I found to answer your question are the General Services Administration (GSA) reports, LA Business Journal, Childcare Resources Inc., Global Work Space and the Common Desk. The short version is that the US work space standard as set by GSA is 135 square feet per person. Since coworking spaces are a relatively new phenomenon, there are no separate GSA standards managing them at this time. Coworking spaces are the same as regular workspaces in the eyes of the law. The regulation regarding space for onsite child care center is a minimum of 25 square feet per child indoors and 75 square feet per child outdoors. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
Coworking space is a communal office space which provides the members with basic amenities like furniture and WiFi connection and handles simple administrative tasks like providing snacks and maintaining the internet connection.
Space Allocation Rate is ratio of the Total Usable Square Feet (USF) of work space to the total personnel working in the work space.
Coworking as an industry is fairly new on the scene, to the point that "there is no legal framework that fits with its model, characteristics and needs." As a result, it's up to coworking spaces to follow relevant existing regulations for work space allocation until coworking-specific regulations are developed. Different cities might have different categories and licensing terms for coworking spaces, so the space would fall under the regulations for that type of business.
Some basic regulations for all buildings, like handicap accessibility, fire safety, and business licensing, will still apply and should be considered when looking at a location for a coworking space. Like business licensing requirements, these will also likely vary slightly from city to city, so it's important to check with local experts when considering locations for a coworking space.
Since these regulations can vary, and since there are no coworking-specific regulations on the books at this time, I'll list the general standards for a workspace in the US. All standards regarding work space sizes are given by the General Services Administration (GSA) agency of the US government. Instead of strict regulations, the GSA provides just standards that can be followed. The GSA standard is 135 square feet of work space per person. But the actual Space Allocation Rate differs across industries. The average Space Allocation Rate across industries is 192 square feet per person. A detailed research into the US government laws and regulations showed that there are no separate regulations by the GSA for co-working spaces. This is evident from their report on Workplace Standards Bench-marking which includes co-working practices like hoteling and free-address as work space trends, rather than a separate type of work space.
For a fairer idea as to how much space is allocated per person at a co-working space, one may look to other co-working businesses and use the industry average as a benchmark. While the industry average was 250 square feet per person 5-10 years ago, the current space allocation rate of co-working spaces is 50-75 square feet per person. But such smaller personal spaces come along with larger common areas like conference rooms, lounge areas, cafes and restrooms. For example, Common Desk in Dallas comes with 2,000 square feet of conference rooms and 800 square feet of lounge spaces.
As for childcare centers, there are strict government regulations. To get any space licensed as a child care center, there needs to be a minimum of 25 square feet per child indoors and 75 square feet per child outdoors. This licensing is required when 3 or more children are cared for in any building other than a residential space. Co-working spaces would fall under this category.
Incorporating onsite childcare centers has been difficult for co-working spaces. Few have been successful like Nido. The main reasons for challenges in operating such a co-working space are the high cost, myriad of government regulations and negative perception of people regarding a childcare center within a co-working space.
I have not included the cost of opening and operating such a co-working space because the cost of per square feet of real estate varies from region to region. Also the cost would depend on how much space is allocated to areas like conference rooms, lounge areas and restrooms.
To wrap it up, the GSA standard for work space is 135 square feet per person and the regulation for onsite child care center is a minimum of 25 square feet per child indoors and 75 square feet per child outdoors. There are no separate GSA standards with regards to co-working spaces. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!