New GSA workplace arrangements cause unease among some

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General Services Administration rank and file employees slated to come back this spring to the agency's renovated headquarters building in downtown Washington, D.C., face the prospect of returning to a building void of assigned desks or workplaces.

Agency executives have been holding meetings--dubbed town halls--with GSA personnel in the metro-Washington, D.C., area to discuss the changes, which will include widespread use of an online system to reserve desk space and division of the building into zones, each with a loose organizational identity.

GSA, which did not make available two executives giving town hall presentations--Bob Stafford, tenant solution director and Kristi Tunstall Williams, the tenant design lead--said in a statement that the agency "has mobile work policies, collaborative and flexible workspaces already in place throughout."

Some employees in private conversation have been apprehensive about the arrangements that'll be the norm for most headquarters employees once they begin moving back en masse in March. One decried the arrangement as creating an anonymous and depersonalized workplace, while another wondered where he'll be able to store physical objects such as papers. One said he's warming up to the idea, but for it to work, it'll require extensive teleworking (which GSA does encourage).

In its statement, GSA says it'll be able to nearly double the number of employees working inside the headquarters building--located at 1800 F St. NW--from 2,500 to 4,400, as a result of the new flexible workspace arrangement.

"Executives will have the same ability to hotel as any other employees within the organization," GSA also said.

For more:
- read the GSA statement
- watch the 1971 trailer for THX 1138 (embedded video)

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