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Liberty, Equality, Mobility!

A recent Washington Post article about GSA’s move to its newly renovated space with a much smaller footprint provides one key to the potential success of this workplace transformation. It notes that Dan Tangherlini, the GSA Administrator, is demonstrating his commitment to change by giving up his executive office and moving in with the common folk. This is a great idea. Big changes don’t come without some amount of discomfort and dislocation. But they can be successful if the people who are impacted by the change feel that everyone is in this together – no exceptions. While it’s no guarantee of success, a leader’s visible demonstration of commitment to “sharing the pain” is a necessity if an organization is going to implement a mobile work environment. No leader should expect the staff to make the adjustments necessary to implement a new work model if he or she cannot lead by showing how to do it right. But there is an additional impact here, one not so often noted. The move to a more mobile workplace is also a move to a more democratic work environment. When everyone has equal access to the workspace in a hoteling environment, the organizational hierarchy that was previously made visible – and reinforced – by the size and allocation of space is gone. By encouraging greater interaction among executives, managers and staff, the organization is likely to encourage more interaction among people who might not otherwise connect. The result will be enhanced communication, collaboration, and innovation. “We are all in this together” is an important cultural message, and one that is likely to produce real value beyond real estate savings – if a leader takes the first step.

Check out the Washington Post article here:


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Terrence (Terry) Hill

Good point and great article Naomi – I know that Deloitte made a great contribution to GSA as its consultanting partner. I think that, as with any other culture-changing initiative, management has to set the example for its employees. If they want to implement telework/office-sharing, they need to model the behavior.

Eliminating private offices/cubicles is a real sacrifice for employees, especially those who are already beaten down by pay freezes, furloughs, and other cost-saving initiatives. To make this a win-win proposal, I think organizations should share the cost-savings with employees by providing partial reimbursement for employees who use their own phones/tablets.