GSA aims to improve collaboration with new office layout

WASHINGTON – The new permanent head of the General Services Administration says he’s ditched a 1,600-square-foot office in the agency’s newly renovated headquarters in favor of a 135-square-foot space where he’s closer to staff.

“Frankly, you know, I find it much more interactive,” GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini tells WTOP. “It’s easier to get information, it’s easier to meet more people, it’s easier for people to see me and raise issues and problems with me.”

A familiar name in local D.C. politics, Tangherlini has worked previously as the head of the D.C. Department of Transportation, interim leader of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and D.C. city administrator.

He was sworn in as GSA administrator earlier this month after serving as acting administrator for more than a year.

The office switch is a part of the GSA’s effort to better utilize space in the office building located at 1800 F St. NW. Employees are working in less than half the space they previously had, Tangherlini says.

The key to the design was analyzing the work GSA does and how often employees used facilities in the building, Tangherlini says. Experiments over several years showed the benefit of freeing up some of the personal space and making it collective space for the employees.

Tangherlini says 80 percent of the building is now “hoteling space” that people can reserve. Zones in the building also are designated for people who perform similar work.

The exchange was that workers gave up some of their personal workspaces.

“I’m sure there are more than a few who miss being able to put up 11 pictures of their kids, but I think they also recognize that what they’ve got now is a more open, light-filled space where there’s an opportunity for increased collaboration,” Tangherlini says.

Tangherlini says the mammoth office is still part of the building, but its purpose is being reinvented with the new method in mind.

“The huge office is still there, but we are going to use it for meetings, for events, we are going to take that and turn it into common space instead of personal space,” he says.

To listen to WTOP’s full interview with Tangherlini, click on the audio player above.

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