GSA tries to have less need for itself

Monday - 8/30/2010, 10:56am EDT

While it might seem a bit counterintuitive, the General Services Administration's Public Building Service (PBS) is trying to use less office space.

Chief Information Officer Diane Herdt says it's all part of an effort to get greener. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson "has given us the goal to reduce our carbon footprint and to reduce the amount of space that we currently have. So has Bob Peck, the commissioner of PBS. So we're looking at tools and technology that will allow us to...telework outside of the office, as well as hotelling when we're here in the office."

While PBS isn't quite ready to turn off all the lights and send everyone home to work, Herdt says GSA is ready to loosen up the leash a bit.

I think we're going to be more lenient with the number of days that we allow people to telework. I think we're also going to reduce the amount of space. In other words, if you telework at home or somewhere else two to three days a week then you need to give up your desk here so that when you come into the office you only have a hotellng suite as opposed to a desk and the cubicle associated with it.

The PBS is getting a good grip on the technology needed, said the CIO. "Pretty much every one of our employees has a laptop which is set up with the GSA standard configuration, which includes the security necessary, as well as a BlackBerry." Teleworkers are also required to use instant messaging so they're always accessible during work hours. Major upgrades to Office 2007, VOIP, and remote access are underway as well.

And oh, yeah, by the way... You know the pushback you hear about from managers about "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to teleworkers?

"We're sending our managers to training," says Herdt, "to learn how to properly manage virtual employees."