GSA's Total Workplace transforms traditional office environment

Tuesday - 5/6/2014, 12:01pm EDT

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By Jason Fornicola
Federal News Radio

As the General Services Administration continues its effort to create a 21st century government, its Total Workplace program is offering agencies a way to consolidate office space, improve productivity and save money.

"Total Workplace is an offering that GSA has come up with to assist agencies in rightsizing their operations," Chuck Hardy, director of GSA's Total Workplace program, told Federal News Radio's Agency of the Month radio show. "It's bringing resources and expertise to encourage federal agencies to reduce their office space, foster collaboration and better manage IT spending and increase sustainability of it. It works with both workplace strategy and implementation."

Courtesy of GSA

The top priorities of the program are to save money and increase productivity.

"We do this by working with our client agencies to help them right-size their portfolios," Hardy said. "The other priority is finding ways to make the workplace strategy and right-sizing happen efficiently and effectively, and we do that through our Total Workplace FIT program."

FIT (Furniture and Information Technology) is GSA's way to assist agencies with their upfront capital needs for furniture and IT as part of the Total Workplace program.

"GSA goes out and with our money and funds purchases the furniture and IT needed to transform our client agencies, and we lease it to them on a five-year term for furniture and a three-year term for IT," Hardy said. "And this allows agencies to get in the right space with the right equipment to achieve their missions immediately."

"It helps ease the financial burden at times," Hardy added.

He also acknowledged that change in the workplace can be difficult, but GSA is committed to assisting agencies in the process.

"When dealing with change, workplace culture always needs to be addressed and change is typically challenging, but in a good way, I think," he said. "GSA is working with agencies by leading and conducting workplace engagements to assist our customers in getting to the right solution around mission and people.

"We show our agencies our journey and what GSA did and how it ended up in collapsing six leases into our headquarters building. We're avoiding $24 million in rent annually and saving $7 million in services annually that were previously shared and spread across the other operations we had."

Hardy pointed out that solutions vary by agency and can be tailored to fit specific needs.

"As we walk them through our headquarters building, we show our solution and then we say, ‘Let's work together with you to find out what your solution is and start that journey.'"

When considering budget challenges, Hardy says Total Workplace can make even more sense for agencies.

"I think the tightening budgets continue to make change the right thing to do, but it also presents that challenge in implementation," he said.

Ultimately, Hardy sees the program as a way to expose other agencies to a new way of doing things within the office workplace environment.

"We open up and broaden their perspectives to what the world has to offer today and how it can be overlaid into their workplace operations," he said. "A lot of it's education, a lot of it's listening, and a lot of it is finding ways to rethink the way we're doing things today in a much more efficient and effective manner."