GSA offers employees high-tech office space

Future office spaces for federal employees may one day rival the comforts of home, thanks to a new General Services Adminstration public-private partnership.

GSA teamed up with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International last week to develop modern work stations that enhance productivity. The partnership will focus on technology's increased impact on real estate.

BOMA, the largest trade association representing the commercial real estate industry, and GSA have joined forces before, working together to address indoor air quality, building codes, telecommunications and Y2K preparedness.

"The success of our longstanding partnership is rooted in the commitment to workplace performance as the achievement standard. Both GSA and BOMA International recognize that technology plays an increasingly vital role in attracting and retaining tenants. Today's property managers must offer their tenants workplace solutions-not just space," said GSA Administrator David J. Barram.

Through a partnership with Carnegie-Mellon University, GSA created an experimental work space at its headquarters, which houses 47 individual work stations and includes features such as natural lighting, ergonomic furniture and keyboards, and movable work station panels to give employees privacy as needed. Employees can also control air temperature at their work stations, similar to the heating and air-conditioning controls in automobiles.

Moving from one work station to another is also easier. Portable outlet boxes and raised flooring allow employees to simply unplug telephones and computers in one space and replug them in another, eliminating complicated rewiring.

A spokeswoman for GSA said the agency took its cue from industry when it decided to create the more modern and wireless work environment.

"All these things were happening in the private sector and academia, and we thought it should also be happening in government," she said.

GSA's "Adaptable Workplace Lab" opened at the agency's Washington headquarters in October 1999 and is on the agency's top floor. GSA's Public Building Service employees work in the space. GSA hopes the lab will serve as an example for federal agencies and inspire them to create similar work stations.

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