Last week, we explored the topic of hoteling or desk sharing in government workspace design. This week, let’s take a look at how mobility is changing the work environment for federal agencies. According to the GSA paper on workspace utilization, the public sector is tracking the private sector pretty closely in terms of lower usage of physical office workspace. They credit changes in technology, workforce demographics, and sustainability initiatives as the guiding forces behind this shift.
Avoiding the Office Is the New Rule
Government mandates to increase telework and reduce office real estate costs are driving a significant change in the footprint of many agencies. In fact, government organizations outstrip the private sector in telework according to the GSA survey. A full 77% of government organizations reported using telework, while that was true for only 68% of private industry organizations surveyed.
While security concerns still hamper efforts to go wireless and paperless, these hurdles are being overcome one by one. In particular, the advent of programs like FedRamp that help agencies securely transition to cloud storage and computing are creating the necessary environment to untether workers from their desks.
Where Are Employees Going to Work?
Heads down work is still occurring, but it isn’t necessarily taking place at a regularly assigned desk. Instead, employees are completing their duties wherever they find themselves. While private industry workers might have to make do with home offices and coffee shops while away from the office, government employees are often deployed to field offices or partner agencies. It might be considered a form of desk sharing that spans multiple facilities. Either way, this leaves a huge volume of workstations empty on a regular basis. In fact, between 8 AM and 5 PM on weekdays, only 35 to 50% of desks are occupied. That’s a level of waste that is difficult to ignore.
The GSA Leads the Way
The GSA took its own advice during a recent remodel of its headquarters. The agency now affords employees only half the amount of space they enjoyed before—but they have more freedom to work elsewhere if they wish.
The savings of $24 million dollars on the six leases that were eliminated in the consolidation effort is certainly a testament to thrift. Even the head of the GSA gave up his 1600 square foot office to sit at an open desk amidst his employees. Of course, his home office is probably a lot nicer. One more reason to telecommute!
If you are a government agency looking for ways to improve space utilization, The Office Planning Group can help. We can even procure GSA approved office furniture for your remodeled space. Contact us today for a consultation.