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Workplace Evolution: How is it impacting federal agencies?

I think you’ll agree that many of us spend a fair amount of time at work. If you’ve been in the workforce for a few years, then you’ve likely been part of changes in office designs.  Since the early 1900’s, office designs have cycled through competing demands: Open concept versus privacy and interaction versus autonomy. Agencies are trying to find the right formula for office space that allows for a highly productive staff and saves the agency money in rent.

GSA has years of experience with telework and mobility programs and we are sharing our insight and best practices with other federal agencies. The government, like any other organization, must adapt to technological and environmental changes, organizationally and physically. In response to that, GSA offers something called “Total Workplace” to federal agencies, which provides resources and expertise to help them reduce their office space, foster collaboration, better manage IT spending, and increase energy efficiency.

While GSA has been altering and testing mobile workspace for some time now, our tenants are embracing changes to their workspace. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, CO, needed to undergo some major changes to their office and warehouse space. Their motivation was driven by several factors including:

  • An agency budget crunch
  • A vision to remain a world class leader (something USGS believes can’t continue without a world class facility)
  • Better meet the Obama Administration goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs. 
  • Better achieve the Department of the Interior targets for space utilization (180 usable square feet per person) developed in response to the Administration's Executive Order on reducing facilities costs.

In two years, USGS decreased the amount of office and warehouse space they occupy at the DFC by nearly 150,000 square feet resulting in approximately $1.76 million dollar rent savings per year. Additionally, most of these consolidation projects have an excellent investment payback period of two or three years.

Two images demonstrating space saved in warehouse


As USGS learned, this type of effort requires significant coordination and a variety of strategies in order to remain a market leader and save money. One of the ways USGS was able to reduce their footprint was by consolidating and closing the DFC map sales center in Building 810 where anyone was able to buy maps for just about anything and anywhere. The agency still provides all of those same maps, but they now capitalize on technology through on-demand requests via their website.  There still are a couple of brick and mortar locations where you can buy maps, just not at the DFC. This move and consolidation effort alone allowed them to release more than 57,000 rentable square feet of warehouse space because they  don’t have to keep as many maps on hand, but rather print them on demand as orders are placed.

While personal space may be shrinking, employees gain access to improved resources and technology as they are now shared (i.e. conference rooms, break rooms, wireless connectivity, etc.). Today’s workplace takes into account everything from temperature, indoor air quality, access to nature and daylight, color and positioning of office furniture in order to create contemporary offices. You’ll also find things to be configured to support interaction, collaborative working, creativity, innovation, and flexibility as this is often needed in order to remain a market leader.  

USGS employs nearly 1,000 people at the DFC and at least 400 employees,40% of their workforce, have moved into some type of new and reduced work space.  Admittedly, this has been an on-going process that requires commitment from everyone. It requires foresight into making an investment that will pay off in more than just dollars and cents.

Consult with GSA today about how you can save money and better meet your mission through Total Workplace.


federal office space, GSA, USGS office space, total workplace, office design changes, mobile workspace.