In line with its mission to ensure the careful use of Federal funds, OMB issued guidance on 5/11/12 to Federal agencies that requires them to make more efficient use of existing government real estate -- in effect, “freezing the Federal footprint.”
In a roundabout way, this is good news for Telework fans. By requiring agencies to think about the best use of the space that they already have, it may also force them to think about alternatives – like encouraging employees to take advantage of Telework Programs that allow them to work outside the office. Breaking the tie between the Federal worker and the cubicle that he or she sits in is a critical step on the road to the future workplace. We won’t get there, of course, if we see this only as a reason to reduce cubicle size or mandate a hoteling system without considering the needs of organization, its work processes, or its culture. But budget pressures are clearly inspiring some Federal agencies to think more creatively about how they use the space that they have – and this is good news for people who want to promote a new view of the workplace.
What can we do to ensure that pressure on facilities translates into support for a more flexible workplace? A few ideas:
If we are creative in responding to the pressure to reduce space, we can use a directive to “think small” as an opportunity to “think big.”