How many computers does a network need?

Determining the number of computers needed for a network is an important consideration when setting up office infrastructure or expanding an existing network. The right number of computers allows employees to collaborate and access shared resources efficiently. Having too few computers results in frustration and reduced productivity, while having too many unused machines is a waste of resources.

What factors determine how many computers are needed?

There are several key factors to consider when deciding on the optimal number of computers for your network:

  • Number of employees – The number of staff members utilizing the network is a primary driver of how many computers you need. As a general rule, plan to have one computer per employee.
  • Job functions – Employees with intensive computer needs like software developers, graphic designers and data analysts require dedicated access to high-powered machines. Administrative staff may share computers more easily.
  • Office layout – The size and floorplan of your office can dictate computer needs. More spacious private offices may call for multiple computers per employee while open floorplans allow for shared access points.
  • Applications and programs – The types of software, programs and apps employees use daily impact computer requirements. Resource-intensive applications like video editing software demand more computing power.
  • Future growth – It’s wise to add extra capacity for future employees and expanded tech needs. Buying slightly more computers than your current headcount covers near-term expansion.

Taking stock of all these factors provides the necessary data to right-size your network computer fleet. Conduct an audit of current usage and needs before acquiring additional machines.

How many computers are needed for 10 employees?

For a small office with 10 employees, a reasonable computer network would have 10-15 computers total. Here are some scenarios:

  • 10 employees, 1 computer each – With basic needs like email, web browsing and office software, 10 computers would suffice.
  • 10 employees, 50% have intensive computer needs – 5 power users would warrant dedicated PCs while the remaining staff share 5 computers.
  • 10 employees in private offices – To equip each private office, plan for 10-12 computers.
  • 10 employees, projected growth – 13-15 computers allow for new hires or expanded needs.

The ideal number depends on the specifics of your employee workflows and office layout. Aim to provide each staff member daily computer access with room for multitasking and growth.

What about a 25 person office?

For a company with 25 employees, an appropriate number of networked computers would be in the 25-40 range. Let’s look at some scenarios for a larger 25 person office:

  • 25 employees, 1:1 computer:employee – Providing 25 computers would give each employee dedicated access with no sharing required.
  • 25 employees, 60% intensive computer users – 15 power users would need their own PCs, while the remaining 10 share 6 computers.
  • 25 employees in cubicles – With less private space, 30-35 computers could be distributed throughout the office floorplan.
  • 25 employees, expected growth to 30 – Planning for growth to 30 staff within a year would mean purchasing 35-40 computers.

The expanded headcount at a 25 person company gives you more flexibility in your network computer strategy. With thoughtful allocation guided by employee needs, 30-35 computers should comfortably suit most companies this size.

Computer needs at 50 employee and 100 employee companies

As an office grows to 50, 100 or more employees, determining computer needs becomes even more dependent on the nature of work and office dynamics. Here are some potential scenarios:

50 employee company

  • 50 employees in private offices – 50 computers, one per office
  • 25 engineers, 25 admin staff – 25 individual computers for engineers, admin staff share 15 computers
  • Open floorplan with shared workstations – 40-45 computers distributed throughout office
  • Allowing for growth to 60 employees – 55-60 computers

100 employee company

  • 100 employees, mixed roles – 80-90 computers
  • 75 office staff, 25 mobile salespeople – 60 office computers, 25 laptops for sales staff
  • Expanding to 150 employees – 125-140 computers

The broad ranges account for the diversity of needs present at larger companies. Conduct a full assessment before buying computers in bulk. Meet with department leaders to understand workflows and plan your network expansion accordingly.

Should companies provide a computer for every employee?

Providing one dedicated computer per employee maximizes productivity and avoids friction from sharing resources. But it may not make sense for all companies based on headcount, needs and budget. Consider these factors when deciding on computer ratios:

  • Office layout – Private offices can readily accommodate 1:1 computer per employee versus open floorplans where shared stations may work better.
  • Job duties – Employees in creative or technical roles often require a dedicated machine while admin staff can share more easily.
  • Remote work – Facilitating regular remote work may call for providing each employee their own laptop.
  • Cost – Outfitting a large company with 1:1 computers can get expensive. Shared computers save on acquisition and maintenance.

While 1:1 computer access is ideal, the needs of your business should dictate your approach. Strike a balance between optimal productivity and prudent spending on network resources.

How many shared computers should departments allow?

When utilizing shared computers instead of dedicated PCs, careful planning is needed to provide adequate access. Keep these guidelines in mind when allocating shared machines:

  • Assign shared computers strategically in common areas convenient for multiple departments to access.
  • Aim for a maximum ratio of 3-4 employees per shared computer.
  • Group employees with similar working hours and software needs to maximize utilization of shared machines.
  • Consider higher performance desktops, extra RAM and larger monitors to support a shared computer workload.
  • Implement a booking calendar for shared computer access during peak times.

While less ideal than personal computers, following these tips will make a shared computer arrangement work smoothly.

How many computers are optimal for enterprise networks?

Large enterprise networks pose unique challenges for determining computer needs. With hundreds or thousands of employees, throwing more machines at the problem won’t guarantee productivity.

Enterprise IT departments should analyze company structures and roles to quantify needs. Here are some strategies to right-size enterprise networks:

  • Catalog current hardware assets and usage – Compile a detailed inventory of existing computers and utilization rates.
  • Classify roles and needs – Devise user personas and assess common computing needs for each (power user, office admin, mobile pro, etc).
  • Distribute appropriately – Allocate computer specs and numbers based on departmental workflows and personas.
  • Standardize models – Choose a limited selection of company-approved models to streamline acquisition and maintenance.
  • Factor in mobility – Support remote work and travel with laptops, tablets and hybrid devices.
  • Allow for growth – Building in buffer for new hires and evolve needs prevents constant catch-up.

Meticulous planning and distribution is required to meet needs across a major enterprise. But the payoff is maximizing access and minimizing waste.

Should personal devices be allowed on the network?

Many companies now support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies to allow employees to access company networks and resources using personal computers and mobile devices. Here are some pros and cons to weigh with BYOD:

Potential benefits:

  • Cost savings from purchasing fewer company-owned devices
  • Device preference and familiarity for employees using their own gadgets
  • Mobility and convenience of anytime access from personal laptops and tablets

Potential challenges:

  • Secure configuration and onboarding of personal devices
  • Help desk support of diverse hardware, OSes and issues
  • Data protection and privacy concerns with personal gadgets
  • Compliance risks from uncontrolled hardware accessing company networks

To minimize cons while still capturing benefits, IT departments should institute clear BYOD policies with training on security, access and data responsibilities.

How can needs be forecasted for future growth?

Forecasting your network computer needs over the next few years will help identify gaps to fill. Here are tips for factoring future growth into your computer fleet planning:

  • Analyze upcoming business initiatives that may spur hiring and technology needs – expansion into new markets or services, mergers and acquisitions, office relocations.
  • Track employee growth trends and make computer acquisition plans to supply new hires.
  • Interview department heads about upcoming software, app or infrastructure needs coming down the pipeline that may require additional computing power.
  • Model different scenarios for moderate versus aggressive growth and make scalable computer purchase plans.
  • Build in buffer capacity with an extra 10-20% of computers above current needs to accommodate growth surprises.

While hard to predict precisely, making your best estimates for organizational growth allows you to procure adequate computers without overspending.

How do remote working trends impact computer needs?

The shift to remote and hybrid work since 2020 is transforming how companies should calculate computer requirements. With more staff working from home part or full-time, factors like these impact technology needs:

  • Decreased need for on-site desktop computers with fewer employees in office each day
  • Increased demand for laptops or portable all-in-ones to enable mobile work
  • Potential computer shortages if all staff come onsite a few days a week under hybrid arrangements
  • Higher need for collaborative software, cloud resources and VPN network access
  • More IT support for secure home office setups and remote troubleshooting

Forecast the breadth of remote work in your organization and weigh corresponding desktop, laptop and network needs to support this shift.

Should laptops or desktops be prioritized?

When selecting computers for your network, consider where each form factor best serves your workforce:

Advantages of desktop PCs:

  • More computing power for the price ideal for designers, analysts, engineers
  • Larger screens and ergonomics for intensive daily use
  • Easier to repair and upgrade over time

Benefits of laptops:

  • Portability for meetings, travel and remote work
  • Flexible usage around office areas, home and onsite with clients
  • Streamlined setup and compact footprint using fewer desks

Given the benefits of mobility in the modern workplace, laptops may be the priority for a majority of staff with desktops reserved for those with higher performing needs best met by a PC. Take a needs-driven approach to finding the right computer format mix.

Should tablets or other devices be provided?

In addition to desktops and laptops, certain roles may benefit from company-provided tablets or specialty devices:

  • Tablets – Great for mobile staff like sales teams who primarily need to access CRM apps, email and cloud documents on the go.
  • 2-in-1 laptop/tablets – Allow workers to enjoy the typing experience of a laptop with the occasional conveniences of tablet portability and touchscreen.
  • All-in-one desktops – Integrated monitor and PC ideal for customer service staff or receptionist use.
  • Workstations – Powerful multicore computers with pro GPUs and RAM for intensive engineering applications.

Evaluate which supplemental devices could boost efficiency for certain teams given their workflows beyond standard laptops.

How frequently should computers be replaced?

Aging computers that grow obsolete create frustration and hinder productivity. As a general guideline, aim to replace employee computers every 3-5 years. Consider these factors when planning refresh cycles:

  • Operating system support – Replace computers running OSes that no longer receive updates and security patches.
  • Technical issues – Replace unreliable machines that frequently have hardware failures, freezing, crashes or reduced performance.
  • Capacity – Add RAM and storage upgrades to moderately old machines, replacing those that max out specs.
  • User needs – Prioritize new computers for teams using intensive applications or who complain most about outdated hardware.

While budgets play a role, maximizing your previous computer investments through reasonable refresh rates (ex: 4 years for laptops, 5 years for desktops) provides the best value.


Determining ideal computer fleet requirements depends on multiple factors – employee headcount, job functions, office layout, growth plans and more. Companies should thoroughly analyze needs before defining numbers and specifications. Providing insufficient or excessive computers can negatively impact employee performance and waste IT resources. An optimized computer plan delivers the right access and capabilities to meet needs cost-effectively both today and into the future.

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