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Property definitions

This list of key property definitions provide consistency around terminology use across Government property.

Area types

Net lettable area

Net lettable area (NLA) is also referred to as rentable area. The net floor space under the control of the tenant, in square metres, as defined by the measurement guide adopted by Property Council New Zealand.

The Guide for Measurement of Rentable Area can be purchased from the Property Council New Zealand.

Guide for Measurement of Rentable Area 2013 – Property Council New Zealand

NLA is used to calculate rentable areas in office buildings and can usually be found specified in the lease. Essentially it is the area within the internal surface of the windows, and generally includes:

  • workspace including collaboration areas and kitchen and utility zones
  • columns
  • lift lobbies unless part of the building common area
  • toilets, if not located within egress stairwells
  • cleaners and other storage cupboards.

It doesn't include:

  • building plant areas
  • risers
  • electrical cupboards
  • lifts and egress stairs
  • areas dedicated as public spaces or thoroughfares such as foyers, atriums and building service areas.

The Government Property Portal uses the total manual area of groups in square metres against a lease to calculate NLA.

Net office area

Areas used primarily for undertaking desk or administration focussed activities and associated facilities and amenities such as meeting spaces, storage, kitchen and breakout, amenities, circulation and reception areas. The net office area (NOA) is used to calculate the occupancy density in government office buildings.

It generally includes an agency's net lettable area identified in their lease, but excludes public interface areas and carparks (including carparks within the building footprint).

The Government Property Portal categorises these areas as office in order to calculate NOA and is in scope of the Government Property Group mandate.

Operational areas

Areas that are not primarily used for undertaking desk-based activities. The primary purpose of the space/building is not related to normal office work. This includes associated areas that support non office functions, for example:

  • residential facilities
  • correctional facilities
  • District Health Boards
  • gym and changing facilities for the benefit of the workers
  • workshop space – for example, specialised areas for manufacturing or repairing items used by the organisation
  • public library
  • airport terminal scanning areas
  • vessel storage areas
  • special storage facilities
  • court rooms
  • police stations
  • laboratories.

These operational spaces may also have meeting rooms, reception areas, kitchen, toilets, lifts, staff rooms etc, but the primary purpose is not office activities, as defined under net office area.

The Government Property Portal categorises these areas as non-office. They are excluded from scope of the Government Property Group mandate.

Public interface areas

Public interface areas (sometimes referred to as front-of-house) are used primarily for face-to-face interactions with clients and the public, for the purposes of delivering government services.

These areas generally do not include workpoints, unless they are also used as meeting areas for workers to interact with the public, for example:

  • customer service centres (not including contact or processing centres)
  • Te Hiranga Tangata Work and Income branches
  • Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation visitor centres.

These public interface areas will also have dedicated meeting rooms, reception areas, kitchens, toilets, lifts, staff rooms, etc but the primary purpose is for interacting with the public or clients.

The Government Property Portal categorises these areas as public interface and they are in scope of the Government Property Group mandate.


A workpoint is an area for doing office-based activities, either individually or as a group. Some examples of workpoints are workstations, collaboration spaces, quiet focus areas and meeting rooms. Table and chairs in kitchen areas aren't considered workpoints, unless they're intended to be multipurpose collaboration or meeting areas.

Workpoints may or may not have ergonomic settings. Those that don't are intended to be used on a short-term basis throughout the day, for example high tables and booth style meeting spaces.

Calculating the number of workpoints

Capacity is used to calculate the number of workpoints. For example, a six-person booth style meeting space would be six workpoints, while a one-person phone booth would be one workpoint.


A workstation is an area for undertaking desk-based activities and can either be assigned, or unassigned (in a flexible working environment). As a minimum, a standard workstation typically includes ergonomic settings, along with the following equipment:

  • self-adjustable desk and chair
  • monitors
  • docking station, power, data
  • keyboard, mouse and any other equipment which supports the agency's ICT requirements.


Headcount is the estimated number of personnel whose primary places of work are within the net office area. Headcount includes all personnel who are accommodated within this area, whether they are part-time or full-time, contracted, seconded in or temporary workers. Headcount excludes personnel seconded out, on long term leave and unfilled positions.

If an agency's human resources can confirm two full-time equivalents (FTE) are sharing the same role without overlap in occupying the office, then it can be counted as one person for headcount purposes.

Each employee is assigned an FTE value between 0 and 1 depending on the proportion of full-time hours worked (however defined by each department). For example, an employee working full-time equals 1 FTE while an employee working 60% of full time hours equals 0.6 of an FTE. The FTE values of all employees are added up to give the total number of FTE employees in an organisation.

Government Property Portal (GPP) uses Headcount to calculate occupancy density of net office area. Headcount can be recorded against any areas of space within GPP.

Occupancy density

The proportion of net office area per headcount. Occupancy density is used to monitor how efficiently office space is being occupied and used, and contributes to the reduction of the total lifecycle costs of a building.

Government has set a target of a portfolio-wide, occupancy density ratio of 12 to 16m² per headcount.

Occupancy density calculations

The office density is calculated by dividing the net office area by the headcount.

The formula used is: net office area / headcount = office density ratio.

As an example, an office with a net office area of 7,204m² and a headcount of 592 would have a 12m² office density ratio.

Workstation and workpoint ratios

Workstation ratio

The proportion of workstations to headcount. The workstation ratio is used to determine the capacity of workstations per person, whether they be regular, quiet or collaborative workstations.

Workstation ratio calculation

Workstation ratio is calculated by dividing the total workstations by the headcount and applying a percentage.

The formula: total workstations / headcount x 100 = workstation ratio.

For example, a workplace with 160 workstations and a headcount of 200 would have a workstation ratio of 80%, or 8:10.

A good starting point is 7 workstations to 10 people. Note that a typical fixed working environment with traditional assigned desk model will have a static workstation ratio of 10:10 (10 workstations to 10 people).

Workpoint ratio

The proportion of headcount to workpoint in a flexible working environment. The workpoint ratio is used to determine the capacity of workpoints which reflects the maturity of an agencies’ workplace strategy in meeting government expectations.

Workpoint ratio calculation

The workpoint ratio is calculated by dividing the headcount by the total workpoints.

This formula: headcount / total workpoints x 100 = workpoint ratio %

For example, a workplace with a 180 headcount and 150 workpoints would have a workpoint ratio of 120%. It's recommended that the workpoint ratio shouldn't exceed 130%.

Ergonomic settings

Work settings that include ergonomic furniture or equipment designed in a way that makes it comfortable and effective for people who use it for their work.

Working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements

These arrangements help support a flexible and adaptable workforce. Providing a policy and process where an employee and their people leader can establish an informal or formal arrangement, normally a documented agreement stating a change in expected hours or days they work. Flexible working arrangements are made in line with an agency's flexible working policy.

Guidance: Flexible-Work-by-Default – Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission

Hybrid working

Workers adopt a flexible working model where employees work partly in the physical workplace, and partly remotely – at home or from another workspace.

Guidance: Hybrid working  Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission

Remote or mobile working

Workers predominantly work away from the office and are not tied to a physical location. Mobile working is mainly adopted by workers who do a lot of travelling or work in remote locations. Mobile workers rely heavily on technology to connect with clients and other workers, or to the services and networks required to do their job effectively.

Workplace design models

These design models explain how the workplace can support different ways of working.

Fixed working environments

Any physical designs are likely to only include desks and meeting rooms, which allows for a contained selection of choices for work settings that enable a wide variety of activities.

Traditional assigned desk

Generally, managers have their own offices and workers have their own assigned workstations in arrangements that mirror a set hierarchy.

Hot desking

Hot desking is the practice of sharing or allocating desks on an as-needed basis rather than each individual owning a desk. This is an office organisation system which involves multiple workers using a single workstation during different time periods. The term is no longer widely used.

Flexible working environments

A flexible design uses the workplace as a whole by providing a variety of work settings to support different types of activities, that is, focussed or uninterrupted work, collaboration with others, regular process activities, or project workspaces. Rather than being confined to only workstations and meeting rooms, workstations are unassigned, and anchor (assigned) workstations are an exception.

This allows workers the freedom and flexibility to organise and decide where and how to work, who you might collaborate with and what information and tools you need for the job. New behaviours, leadership styles, culture and work practices are needed for the space to be successful.

Sometimes referred to as:

  • Activity-Based Working (ABW)
  • Agile working

Occupancy models

Co-working or co-sharing

Co-working is a style of work that involves a shared workplace, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office, those co-working are usually not employed by the same organisation and the space is rented on a short term or as needed basis.


Multiple agencies sharing the same tenancy. The lead agency is responsible for managing both the lease and the operational aspects of the tenancy. Co-location can also be considered as a workplace model.


Single agency

Single agency is where one agency occupies their own tenancy and does not share space with any other agency.

Lease and tenancy models


A contract between a landlord and tenant to exclusively occupy a defined tenancy area for a defined period is described as a lease or deed of lease. There are a variety of lease types, including government standard leases (available from the Government Property Group), and Auckland District Law Society Deed of Lease.

Lease templates for mandated agencies


Where multiple agencies share the same tenancy. The lead agency is responsible for managing both the lease and the operational aspects of the tenancy. Co-location can also be considered as an occupancy model.



In a co-tenancy, multiple agencies are located in one building but each manages their own individual tenancy (and lease) with the landlord. Some areas may be shared, such as large meeting rooms. Co-tenancy can also be considered an occupancy model as a single agency.