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Workplace Transformation customer event educates and inspires

By Traci Madison

Event Attendees

34 attendees from 13 different agencies attended the event to learn more about transforming their workspaces.

This past March, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum requiring all agencies to not only make more efficient use of their real estate but to also reduce their square footage. That’s where GSA comes in. As a part of GSA’s mission to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government, we are striving to help our federal partners reduce office space, foster collaboration, better manage IT spending, and increase energy efficiency.

On June 24th, the Pacific Rim Region opened its doors once again at 50 United Nations Plaza to host a Workplace Transformation customer event. This event served as an introduction to workplace transformation for some, while for others it was a follow-on to last year’s workshop, which was focused on the changing landscape for office design and the mandate that all agencies faced at that time to freeze the federal footprint.

This year’s customer event highlighted GSA’s Total Workplace initiative, companion Furniture and Information Technology (FIT) program [PDF - 2 MB], and new consolidation funding program. It also provided an opportunity for open discussions on how to reduce office space and change the culture to achieve the administration’s space reduction goals. The event offered 34 attendees from 13 federal agencies workplace transformation information from a variety of perspectives including the private sector, the GSA national program, our regional efforts, and customer experiences.

Acting PBS Regional Commissioner Dan Brown kicked off the event by welcoming the attendees and providing an overview of the day’s events. He talked about how technology advancements have played a significant role in facilitating workplace transformation across the board and with his personal work habits. Les Yamagata, Deputy FAS Regional Commissioner, joined Brown and highlighted a number of priorities and acquisition programs, like the FIT program, that are available to assist federal agencies seeking to transform their office space.

“The FIT program leverages the FAS Acquisition Services Fund as a funding tool for agencies that may have constrained resources,” said Yamagata. “It’s designed to finance furniture over a five-year period and IT over a three-year period. This mechanism eases the burden of costs, provides unparalleled customer support from PBS and FAS, while giving agencies the technology they need to continue building a 21st century government.”

Charles Hardy, GSA’s Chief Workplace Officer, presented an overview of GSA’s national workplace programs, explaining new desk sharing terms like “benching”, “hoteling”, and “hot desk”. He outlined the reasons why the federal government must “right size” and adapt to the flexibilities technology affords us. He also presented several case studies from across the country to further illustrate a variety of workplace layouts and processes.
Carl Roehling, a current principle in the Workplace Practice Group and Former President and CEO of international architecture, engineering and planning firm SmithGroup JJR, gave a presentation on workplace trends in the private sector and identified his top 10 tips for successfully transforming workplaces. His tips included: don’t copy another organization’s plan because one size doesn’t fit all; align the workplace with the business strategy; plan on iterations; get on board with shared space; and sustainability is not an option. He also discussed the importance of change management in a successful transformation project and talked about the importance for rolling out a new workplace design in a way that not only engages the employees, but also elicits buy in.

Region 9’s Bonnie Macaraig, spoke about the importance of incorporating a change management component into all workplace transformation projects and highlighted some of the strategies used in the GSA LA consolidation project.

“Change management is the significant element of workplace transformation, because people are the most important part of the workplace,” said Macaraig. “When employees are involved and properly trained on mobile office tools, they are more productive and engaged in fulfilling their agency’s mission.”

The day wrapped up with a transformation testimonial for a customer who has lived the transformation process. William “Billy” Scott from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection spoke about the path his agency took towards modernization.

“CBP’s mobility projects are guided by three core principles: work is what you do-- not where you go; environment adapts to the employees’ needs; and workplace connects people physically and virtually,” said Scott. “These concepts have technology and facility elements to them, but they are primarily centered on people and how people work.”

With these principles in hand, CBP established a Mobile Workforce Pilot to demonstrate how any CBP office could transition into a mobile configuration.

“Many spaces were looked at to get inspiration on what a dynamic office looks and one space that inspired our pilots is the 1800 F St GSA location,” said Scott.

A new addition to this year’s program was the FIT Vendor showcase where attendees had an opportunity to see the latest furniture products firsthand. Furniture vendors included: Herman Miller, Steelcase, Kimball, Datum, Bialek, and Inscape.

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