Cubicles central to GSA's 'workspace of the future'
Meet the workspace of the future: cubicles. If that sounds like the workspace of the past and dismal present, consider that at least the administrator of the General Services Administration will be working in one, too.
At least, that's partly what GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said July 21 during an address to the FOSE conference in Washington, D.C. GSA's headquarters in northwest Washington are in the midst of a 5-year renovation project that should convert it into what Johnson says will be a model building.
"You come to work to be with other people and work together. That's the style of work we're doing these days," Johnson said. "It's crazy to me that we supply private offices for people to come and be by themselves."
Johnson, who said she once had the third largest office in the federal government, already works from a cubicle in GSA's temporary offices located north of Union Station, and she'll make a cubicle her work home in the new building, as well, she said.
"I believe that if people need a private office, they should go to most private office this government allows them--which is their home. They should work at home," said Johnson.
In GSA's temporary office space, only 50 percent of the office is occupied Tuesday through Thursday, she explained. It's only 30 percent full on Mondays and Fridays.
"There are some very important things that we need to understand about work space going forward. It requires a new math," said Johnson.
Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day is rare, because GSA employees are often with customers, teleworking, or out gathering research, she said. So, while GSA moved 2000 employees out of the office when the renovation began in 2010, it now plans to move 6000 employees back in when the space is complete--and with the help of teleworking, hoteling, hot desking, and telepresence capabilities, there'll be room so spare, said Johnson.
"After we move in with all of GSA from the Washington area moving into that building, we might be able to invite another agency to join us," she added.
The renovation goes hand in hand with GSA's long-term goal of a zero environmental footprint, said Johnson. Not only is GSA rethinking its workspace, it has moved much of its fleet to hybrid vehicles and is looking at data center power consumption and an ongoing shift to cloud computing as means of going green.
"There are dramatic alternatives that can reduce our footprint, reduce our energy consumption, improve our collaboration," said Johnson. "The IGs should love us. It is really a way in which we can dramatically improve our stewardship of our resources."
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