2022 PBS Customer Forum - Day 1

2022 PBS Customer Forum - Day 1

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>> Good morning. Good morning, and welcome to the 2022 PBS Customer Forum. My name is Stuart Burns. I'm the Assistant Commissioner of the PBS Office of Portfolio Management and Customer Engagement. First, I want to acknowledge that this Zoom is being recorded.

We intend to post these sessions, recordings to the GSA website after the forum has concluded. You should see a pop-up window announcing the recording of this session. It is great to be back here in a virtual space with PBS customers from across the country.

We have hundreds of attendees with us today from dozens of agencies and bureaus, each with a unique mission. But we are gathered here today as colleagues in federal real estate facing similar challenges and opportunities. And hopefully, over the next three days, you'll learn about some of the valuable tools, resources, and information you need to capitalize on these opportunities. Our theme this year is Focus for the Future. And we have designed an agenda that will help us all achieve our short and long-term space planning needs as well as address many of the current administration's ambitious goals for sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion, and accessibility. In a few moments, we'll hear from our PBS Commissioner, Nina Albert, who will set the stage by sharing GSA's and PBS's strategic goals.

Following that, I will moderate a panel with three GSA leaders to discuss the organization-wide effort it takes to plan and execute new and hybrid workspaces. Then we'll hear from federal agencies currently planning their new workplaces. And they will share their experiences, successes, and challenges.

We have two sessions tomorrow, the first focusing on new and innovative workplace resources from our Center for Workplace Strategy Team. And the second focusing on all aspects of electric vehicles, including their procurement, charging stations, and utility infrastructure. On Thursday, we'll begin with an overview of three digital project management essentials for PBS customers.

And we'll conclude with a panel of public and private sector stakeholders discussing building diversity and fusing cultural diversity into project plans for the public. Before we start today, I'd like to share a few housekeeping notes. We have automatically muted your audio to help us control the sound quality of the presentation. And as you know, we are using the FedRAMP compliant Zoom for Government Platform for today's session. We have found the Zoom for Government Platform to be intuitive and user-friendly.

You can customize your experience with the different pods as you wish or just maximize the viewing area. We will be relying on two different Zoom pods today, Chat and Q&A. Please use the Chat pod for any administrative questions you have or to report technical issues. And one of our forum team members can assist you. We encourage you to submit questions to our speakers during their presentations. And please do so by using the Q&A pod.

We have subject matter experts monitoring the Q&A pod who can address your question on the spot or direct them to the most appropriate speaker. Finally, live captioning is available for this session. You can either use it in the window in Zoom capturing by selecting the More button on your Zoom menu and selecting View Subtitles. Or you can use the link we'll provide in the chat pane. And you can open a companion window to view the captions side-by-side with your Zoom screen.

Okay, administrative issues behind us, it's now time to start the forum. And there's no more appropriate person to kick us off than our PBS Commissioner, Nina Albert. As PBS Commissioner, Nina manages the nationwide asset management, design, construction, leasing, building management, and disposal of approximately 371 million square feet of government-owned and leased space across the United States and in our six territories. Nina brings 20 years of experience in public real estate disposition, public-private partnership negotiations, economic revitalization, and sustainable design developments to GSA. She most recently served as Vice-President of Real Estate and Parking at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, WMATA, where she managed a multi-billion-dollar real estate portfolio. While working at the District Department of Environment, Nina led the design and development of a first-of-its-kind $250 million energy efficiency financing program targeting commercial and multifamily property owners.

As the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Manager, she oversaw a $1.3 billion redevelopment project in Washington, DC, including a 2,800-acre waterfront revitalization program. A military veteran, Nina served as a First Lieutenant and Company Executive Officer of the US Army Signal Corps.

Welcome, Nina Albert. >> Thank you, Stuart. And your summary or my bio reminds me that I should probably create a short version of that. Because I'm not sure, I've had such a lengthy introduction. But thank you.

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the PBS Customer Forum. This is an incredible opportunity where we can bring together the professionals who are responsible for designing, planning, and managing agency real estate decisions together to participate in discussions that you guys are all facing, we're all facing, about the workplace, about real estate issues whether they be how to manage through this time of uncertainty, about how to define what we think might come next. And then, ultimately, how do we manage, any of us at any scale, assets that might be currently underutilized? So anyway, these are the issues that we are struggling with in government. And this session and series of sessions for the next couple of days are the perfect place to have those candid and hard conversations. Today's theme is to Focus for the Future.

And it's about the future of federal work and how best to meet the needs, not just of the future workforce, but how can we enhance mission delivery and improve customer service to the American people through our real estate strategies? This is one of my favorite topics because I believe we have a unique opportunity right now to harness the interest that people who are non-real estate professionals have in real estate. This interest, in general, is opening the door to how we talk about managing real estate. And I believe that your colleagues who are non-real estate professionals are looking to you. They're looking to us in the buildings industry to provide a vision for where this can go. So before I put out our vision for modernizing and optimizing federal real estate, I want to contextualize why I think it's so important for this community to embrace the goals of modernizing and optimizing federal workplaces.

As we know, there are significant macro forces impacting all of us at the individual level, at the agency level, at the national level, and frankly, at a global level. So the trends of our time, that I'm going to sort of share my top five, we know are going to be lasting. And the real estate portfolios that all of us manage can help respond to them. So first and foremost, on everybody's mind is a post-COVID world. How is telework and hybrid work going to change the workplace? Well, I think many of us now know that employees want flexibility in where they work. And so to provide that, we need to really focus on how to create what I call a frictionless or a seamless experience when people transition from being onsite in a federal facility to offsite.

And so in order to be able to do that, folks need to have access to the best technology available. This issue is impacting all employers, both private and public. And so as real estate professionals, this unique moment allows us to learn and partner with private industry and share with them what we're learning because it's a dialogue and a topic that everyone's trying to get their arms around. So I think that there's an opportunity to rethink how we engage, how we share information with our colleagues across the industry.

Another macro trend that we cannot keep -- that all of us now have to truly start to understand is how evolving technology, including artificial intelligence, is providing an opportunity to push human work up the value scale. What I mean by that is as more robotic process automation, RPAs, or artificial intelligence and other things start to come, you know, just even basic computer functions, start to be able to do a more -- sort of able to take on systemized work or more automatic work, that means that now our workforce has the opportunity to allow computers to pick up that rote work. And we can evolve in our work into what I call higher-value work. So that's something that's happening all over the globe. The other thing that we need to think about is not just the impact of technology on our workforce but also on mission delivery. Many agencies, many of you, are delivering your mission slightly differently now because you've adopted technology.

The other thing is that we're also providing customer service a little bit differently now because of technology. So those are questions of our day, which are how is technology fundamentally changing how we perform our work, where we perform our work, and how we can improve the experience for customers? Another macro trend is social justice and the demands on government for increased transparency, equity, and inclusion. And I know that you're going to be talking over the course of this forum about that. But boiling down to the essence, our stakeholders, both the American public but other folks in industry, and our contractors want more access to information.

They want easier and more transparent access to government data, activities, policies, and how our decisions and our work is impacting equity throughout society. So that's, I don't believe, a trend that's going to change. Climate change is another element where the personal, societal, and geopolitical impacts are having an impact on the decisions that we're making today.

So we have to think about managing our portfolios, assuming climate risk increasing. And then lastly, I would be irresponsible not to mention cost escalation and managing around supply chain issues. We all need to now do more with less, or at least within the same budget that we were provided for initially.

So the question is how to do that. And I think that internally PBS is looking at how will our approach to project delivery change given the fact that we're being asked to do more with less. It's a complex question, particularly given government's approach to project funding. But we want to and need to partner with you on these issues. So that's the complexity of today. And so the question is, how does our business of designing, delivering, and managing real estate respond to these trends? So I like to break it down into three basic pillars.

First and foremost, we need to be designing for people. That is that our federal workplaces have to be offering employees as well as the visiting public the most positive experience that they can. So I had mentioned that seamless or frictionless experience from on-site to off-site.

That's one component of it. But the other aspects of it is that when people are in our buildings, they need to feel safe, physically safe, safe from cyber intrusions and breaches. They also need to feel healthy.

And that's something that we're learning more and more as to how important it is that our air quality, ventilation systems, even access to natural daylight, which is an age-old premise around sustainability, all of those things are part of the healthy and wellness equation. And so those elements are becoming increasingly important as we design for people going forward. As real estate professionals, we need to drive the portfolio.

So what does that mean? It doesn't necessarily mean reduce the footprint or freeze the footprint. However, I'm going to lie if I did not think that we have an opportunity to reduce our footprint and, in that process, consolidate our real estate interests, whether they're leased or owned into existing owned assets, or to be willing to dispose of owned assets that are too difficult financially to manage, you know, for the future. So this is not only the sustainable approach both financially but also environmentally that when we reuse existing buildings and building materials, we will be saving taxpayer money. We will be saving our agency's money. And this is ultimately our shared goal. And then lastly, the last pillar, so we have design for people, we had drive the portfolio, and then the last one is deliver performance.

And this is where I see both that mention of accomplishing more without being provided additional budget comes into play. How are we going to reform? How are we going to improve? How are we going to modernize our project delivery systems? But it's also around the performance of the building. How are we going to achieve net-zero operations? And that's where GSA is spending a tremendous amount of time identifying strategies for existing buildings, for new leases, as well as for new construction and major renovation. Because by 2045, we want to achieve net-zero operations throughout our portfolio.

And we seek to partner with you on all of these things, driving designing for people, driving the portfolio, and delivering performance. So all of those activities together is what gets us to what I believe can be and should be a modernized and optimized real estate portfolio. I want to just say one thing. We have, GSA does, as an agency priority goal to work with all CFO Act agencies on your national portfolio plans.

And our goal is to get to that by the end of 2023. You may be asking yourselves, how do we put together a portfolio plan in the next 18 months when we don't necessarily know how many people are going to be coming back or exactly what utilization is going to look like? What I want to tell you is it's most important actually to approach national portfolio plans from an agency strategy perspective. What are the key strategies that your agency is undertaking to address the workforce, meaning attraction and retention goals, meaning flexibility goals? Also, what is your agency doing in terms of adopting technology to improve mission delivery or to improve customer service? All of those types of things are questions that we're trying to capture in the national portfolio plans. And we're also rolling out a space estimation tool because our goal is not to have you lock in a number of how much you're going to reduce or an ultimate utilization rate. What we're trying to do is have you set the goalposts.

Think through these issues and say, on an aggressive spectrum, we think that our portfolio might look like this. On a more conservative approach, we think our portfolio might look like that. Set that range of expectation, and that will be the most important piece to helping your agency determine how it wants to move forward in the future.

So we're not trying to lock anybody into a specific utilization rate or a determination about exactly how hybrid work is going to affect your agency. What we're trying to do is have you think through the strategic questions that might impact your real estate portfolio. And then we have tools that they'll talk about, I think, over the next three days here, so that you can start to think about establishing some primary real estate strategies and arrange for how you might approach your portfolio going forward. So, with that, I just want to welcome all of you to this forum. We work with a whole variety of customers, large and small. And I'll just say whether or not you manage millions of square feet or tens of thousands of square feet, it's all incredibly important to have you here learning, asking questions, sharing your experiences so that we can all learn from each other.

We are all facing similar paths going forward. These challenges and macro trends that I just started my comments with are things that we're all experiencing. And then the world of the unknown is there. And during that time, our agency colleagues are looking to us to provide some clarity, to provide some focus, and provide some direction, which is why I believe that this conversation at this time is so important. I'm grateful to the organizers of the forum for all the work that you've done to pull this together.

It is a tremendous agenda. It aligns very squarely with my priorities, with GSA's priorities, and most importantly, it directly supports the administration's goals and objectives. So thank you for inviting me to speak, Stuart. Now let's get to the panels and the discussions so we can start sharing insights with each other. Thank you so much. >> Nina, thank you.

That really was a great stage setting for what we're going to be talking about over the next three days. So I appreciate you joining. And that brings us to our first conversation of the day, Focus for the Future: A Vision of the New Federal Workplace. Now, evolving from a more traditional work environment to a hybrid model or to any version of the office that the future holds is not something that real estate professionals can do in a vacuum. We all know that.

The emerging shape of the federal workplace will be driven by space, by technology, and by personnel management. And with that in mind, we have with us today three GSA leaders in those three areas of space, technology, and personnel. Traci DiMartini is GSA's Chief Human Capital Officer. In her role leading the Office of Human Resources Management, Traci leads HR support activities for the 12,000 employees of the agency. She is responsible for GSA-wide policy and oversight of all aspects of human capital management, including talent acquisition, development and sustainment, labor and employee relations, performance management, compensation, strategic workforce and succession planning, executive resources, diversity management, and data analytics.

Chuck Hardy is PBS's Acting Chief Architect, but many of you may also know him as the Chief Workplace Officer. As the agency's lead executive in charge of workplace strategy, Chuck heads efforts across the country with support in vital areas, such as design and construction, real estate services, and procurement. He's responsible for research and development in the delivery of innovative workplace solutions throughout the federal government. And finally, Dave Shive is GSA's Chief Information Officer and oversees GSA IT and information technology operations and budget, ensuring that it's aligned with agency and administration strategic objectives and priorities. Dave joined GSA in 2012.

Prior to that being named CIO, he was the Director of the Office of Enterprise Infrastructure, responsible for enterprise information technology infrastructure platforms and capabilities that support GSA business enterprise. He was also the Acting Director of HR and FM Systems for GSA CFO and the CPO offices. So welcome, Traci, Chuck, and Dave. And thank you for joining us today. What I'd like to do is start with Chuck. So Chuck, can you tell us what are some of the key areas of focus that your office has sort of zeroed in on in real time to provide the greatest value to our clients? >> Sure. And thanks for having me in talking about, I think,

one of the very pertinent topic at these times. We really are in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here to retool the workforce and align it with how we're doing the work. Over the last couple of years, the entire federal population has kind of upskilled their distributed work capabilities.

And what we're looking now to is how do you operationalize that and how do you put that into a sustainable kind of solution. And as Nina noted, we're looking to modernize and optimize the federal government in ways the workplace can support. What we're focused on is flexibility, that seamless onsite-offsite experience with this technology enabled, has universal design principles incorporated into it. It's healthy. We've got air quality, temperature, natural light, socially connected, ergonomic, all those kinds of things being brought together that become embedded in the solution.

So the focus on that is really strong. We've spent the last couple of years really focused on task management. We didn't miss a beat in delivering mission. And we know, as we move forward and operationalize this, we really got to focus on cultural management as well of how we work as a team and as a group. Sustainability, that's another one that's top to top on our list of a focus around workplace is the energy and water efficiency and the net-zero operations, the climate resiliency, the workplace resiliency to make sure that we can keep going where we're going. And again, on top of everybody's list is safety, the physical security of space, the secure access, cybersecurity, redundant operations, being able to make sure we can keep going anytime, anywhere.

All that leads from that modernization to the optimized footprint, which gets to mission delivery. It's results driven. It's productive. We get the job done. It's a better use of our assets.

And it starts to retool the workplace ecosystem, which is that balance between headquarters, regional presence, and distributor work. And how do you make that work in an integrated fashion together to move forward? And ultimately, as Nina noted and as we've seen in the past is, it becomes cost efficient. The lifecycle-based return on this really saves money.

And it right sizes your operations in a way that makes sense for you and the taxpayer. So that's kind of what we're looking at. >> Thanks, Chuck.

You know, we're all struggling with how to think this through. And I think one of the interesting -- one of the interesting things that we've learned through our outreach is that nobody has got it all figured out just yet. So that's sort of a good news, bad news scenario. Good news is we're not in it alone. The bad news is nobody has figured this out. So we're all sort of waiting this stuff out here.

Can you talk a little bit about some of the products and solutions that we have available for customers that are in the Zoom today that might be able to come to GSA and maybe leverage some contracts that we have available to us? >> Sure. We've got a lot going on. A lot of our solutions are becoming live this summer and this fall. And we've got a lot of contracts in place with workplace strategists that can also bring that support to your operations and ours. One is home office solutions. And this starts to tap into that combination of hybrid work and how do we do work better as we move forward and making sure people have the tools.

So we're working with our partners in the Federal Acquisition Service to come up with an easy button to set up home office solutions as you, your agencies determine appropriate for your operation. So it's not a -- it's not a prescriptive thing. This is what you do. But it's an easy way to reach out and buy the things and get them to the places they need for productive home office solutions.

We're also looking at, we've got an IDIQ with five vendors right now in private sector co-work locations. We also are looking at internal federal coworking locations and what that looks like. So you can get on-demand space for your surge needs, for ad hoc actions, and for all those other kind of opportunities that you don't want to carry space 365 days. You can bring it on as needed. And so we're trying to line up more opportunities around that. We have a Workplace Innovation Lab that's going to be coming live this fall.

And that's where we're trying out a lot of these technologies. We're going to have a workplace support app that is hopefully available across government. So people can book the space, come in and use it, provide feedback on that space. And the furniture and the technology that we'll have operating in that Innovation Lab will be for you all to try out, offer recommendations, and improve as we move forward. So you can come there for an hour or for a week. You can bring one or a team and sit down and use it.

The first year we're kind of offering that as free to our customers to come in and use and give us that feedback. And so we really want to encourage people to start seeing how those kind of operations could work. And it's a blend between not only the Innovation Lab but the FlexHub that I just mentioned because one example would be if you had a meeting over at OMB, which is a couple blocks from our building, you could come over to the Innovation Lab, sit down in a conference room, have your pre-meet there, and then walk over to your OMB meeting and then come back to the Innovation Lab, sit down and have a pre-brief -- a post-brief, and then go home from that location and never have to go to your home office at all. So it's those kinds of things that we're thinking are going to drive the future, location, and things like that. And then the other one that Nina noted was we have a new tool coming forward.

This will be available in a couple of weeks. And it's called the workplace investment feasibility model. This is a version two from what our previous version was. But it allows you to start doing scenario-based planning on office-based solutions, remote work, telework, all those kind of things that factor into the strategies that you come up with. You're going to get a briefing on it later this week.

So you get to see some of the details. I won't go too deep. But one thing we're learning and thinking about is this isn't a one size, one solution, one time fits all anymore.

And so when you're talking about scenario planning, it might not be what's a low risk and what's a high-risk scenario. It may be what's our operation during, and I'll just throw out, hurricane season versus in non-hurricane season? Do we have a surge in operations? Do we need more space? What does that look like? And what are some of the solutions out there? So all these tools kind of combine and integrate into giving you an effective toolkit to put together the right solution for your strategies. So we've got the workplace strategists probably right now, 12 A-E contracts that you can tap into to help get you there too, from a design standpoint, but then also leveraging our tools.

So that's it right now. >> All right. Thank you, Chuck. Just because I'm super excited to see this Innovation Lab myself, I did want to do one more plug for that. It's at 1800 -- it will be at 1800 F Street. We're reserving 25,000 square feet in that building for our Innovation Lab.

And I really would encourage you if you're in the DC area or even if you're just visiting in the DC area and would like to have a place to drop in and work for all or part of a day, or all or part of a week, please, when it's out and offered fully, take advantage of it. We do want to think more globally about how we would implement a solution like this. And we want to get our technology and our furniture and our arrangement of that space right so that we can replicate it across the country.

So thanks for that, Chuck. I'm going to give you a little bit of a break here and shift over to Dave Shive to talk a little bit more about the technology solutions. So how does your office integrate with PBS, with our office, to provide sort of a holistic workplace solution for our clients? >> Thanks, Stuart. And so I'll start by saying super excited to be a part of this conversation. I've been excited for the last couple of weeks to talk with our PBS partners.

And so thanks for having me to be a part of the conversation. I'll break the response down into two different places. So we're a traditional IT shop. And we support the business of PBS in their important mission.

So we provide laptops and cell phones. And we provide wireless and, you know, and facilities. And we provide applications to help them manage the real estate portfolio and to do design and construction activities and things like that. In that regard, we major on the major, and we minor on the minor. If we are poor at doing that job in supporting PBS, then PBS is a less functional, less capable organization.

So that's kind of the overarching piece. We work very closely with them to make sure they have the right technologies and the right physical space, including wireless and things like that, so that they can be a high-performing, high-functioning organization. But that leads into the second part of my conversation. Because we are a traditional IT shop providing technology to PBS the business, we also use ourselves as a proving ground to see what's possible.

One of the things that I say to my team and to partners, GSA partners across the board, is we don't do to our customers what we haven't tried out on ourselves first. So when we're talking about things like an Innovation Lab that we work in close partnership with PBS to stand up the enabling technology in that Innovation Lab, we've actually piloted some of that stuff on ourselves previously. We've found out what provides outcomes, good outcomes, and what doesn't provide good outcomes. And so then we expose those good outcome opportunities out to you all, our agency partners, to say, we're not just trying things out on you, we've actually tried it out on ourselves. And we're only asking, in partnership with you, to work on us with things that we've found have provided some value. And that spans any number of infrastructures.

You know, that includes supporting infrastructure, like data circuits and wireless and things like that, applications that are in use that a prospective partner might use when they come in. Do they have access to email? Can they access email, their corporate or their agency email when they're in a GSA facility? Will their VPN work and stuff? We're working all of that out so that your people, when they use our facilities, especially in a place like an Innovation Lab, they have a seamless integration and seamless work effort. We also work very closely with PBS, again, using ourselves as a proving ground to say what's emerging, what's coming down the road? When the pandemic first started, we were fortunate. We had mobile enabled the GSA workforce five or six years ago. So the pivot to working in a hybrid or a remote environment wasn't too terribly difficult for us. But what we were able to do is start to anticipate what the future of digital work was going to look like after the pandemic.

Nina mentioned at the top of the discussion that we, the federal enterprise, have learned some things. We've developed some maturity in how to work in a hybrid or remote environment. And the expectations of our workforce and those who consume space and technology doing the work of government have naturally risen. And we have an obligation as a providing community to meet those raised expectations. And so we've been looking at what does the future of digital work look like? What does the future of federal work look like? And that is a combination of space and technology, and human capital issues like how do people work in that new space? And so we support PBS by looking down the road and assessing what those new business processes are, what those new technologies are, and trying them out on ourselves before we would ever think of sharing that as a product or capability out to our customers. >> Thanks, David.

And I'd like to also thank you for having us positioned to be able to do that pivot, as you mentioned, in March of 2020. It really was seamless from my perspective. And never before had I realized the importance of, you know, your IT infrastructure being an enabler to us getting our job done. I mean, the sheer fact that we can host a forum over the next several days with hundreds of people around the country and multiple bureaus is, I guess, a testament to how we developed and really got better at this over the past two years.

So thank you for that. If I can shift over to Traci for just a minute, as I mentioned, there are these three components, the real estate structure that we're trying in a physical environment that we're trying to provide for when people do come into the environment -- into the office, the technology solutions that we use in a hybrid or a virtual, a more virtual environment is also extremely important. But so is the human capital management. So Traci, could you talk a little bit about innovative management practices or tools that we've adopted internally here that you might recommend for our customers? >> Sure. Absolutely. And thanks, Stuart, for inviting me to sit in on this panel.

It's always so good to be with you and Chuck and Dave so we can share with our customers across the government all the exciting things we're doing at GSA. As Dave said, we don't do anything with our customers unless we do the proof of concept on ourselves. We call ourselves a living lab of government to see what might work and how we can be innovative. And that not only includes technology and space but also human capital.

So much like how Dave was able to position us well on how to work in a hybrid or remote environment, our human capital policies are flexible enough to kind of push the envelope and see what will it take to transform the federal government into a more hybrid or remote employer of choice. Just want to kind of pause here a second and say I recognize this is not easy. I think it was Stuart that also mentioned a few minutes ago, more than anything, this is a change management issue, right? This is changing how the government fundamentally does business. And we hear all of the news stories percolating about how we're in a war for talent and how we have to stay competitive, and how employees are very firm on how they want to work.

After two years of basically working from their homes, the question has to be, why do they need to come into the office? So when you take the field trip that Stuart invited you to take to 1800 F to see our innovation space, I encourage you to bring your Chief Human Capital Officers or HR Officers with you because they're going to be right by your side negotiating with the labor unions on how the space will impact labor agreements. They're going to be able to articulate to managers and to employees how this collaborative workspace will help keep people at the forefront when they're in the office to do good things, such as training our new federal workforce that is coming in, allowing them to have more cross-cutting conversations with other parts of your agency and within GSA, and really getting people used to a new way of doing business when they come into the office. So at GSA, we're doing a variety of things in human capital that are exciting and we're happy to talk to your offices about. But I also want to make sure you know we are already partnering with your CHCO offices to share this information. In fact, after I leave today's panel, I'll be going to a CHCO call where one of Chuck's staff is presenting on tools to the CHCOs about looking at how we measure space management because we know these conversations have to happen now. And we have to be ready to make some hard decisions about how much space we need, where people are going to work, how they're going to work, and really work on the change management piece.

So, Chuck, thank you for letting me work with your team twice in one day. It is a privilege. Some of the things we're doing at GSA include looking at our positions and deciding what positions have to be in the office, think building managers or people that work in a Skiff, and perhaps other positions that could be geographically located in an area that serves customers or in a certain region, such as the DMV, maybe their headquarter jobs. And then our third category is what are those positions? Now, remember, it's positions, not people, that could be fully remote. We're looking at it not only as a way for us to conserve space and to use space more efficiently and productively but also how we stay competitive as an employer of choice.

So a few minutes ago, I already said, we're not only competing with talent for the private sector, we're competing with talent across the government. You know, GSA used to have a real competitive edge because we really leaned heavily into telework and remote work. And now, all of the other CFO Act agencies and small agencies are doing the same. So where I used to be able to amply steal top acquisition and IT talent from more conservative agencies that wanted people in five days a week, you all are taking away my good recruiting tool with federal employees.

So we have to figure out how to make this work so it is something that anyone that's coming into the federal space understands they will have as a right and as a privilege to work in a more hybrid environment while keeping an eye on the mission. We're also really spending a lot of time having change-management conversations across all levels. First, it does start with managers and supervisors. One thing I observed these last few years is we haven't paid enough attention to the direction, the care, and the training we give to new supervisors and even more seasoned ones.

We have to give them the support and the tools they need to manage a hybrid workforce. We also have to give them more support in how they are going to manage performance for their teams because gone are the days where you would just rely on seeing who's in the office. That's not a measure of productivity anymore. We have to get serious about aligning our performance plans with meaningful work, supporting the mission and goals of the agency. And so it doesn't matter where an individual is working.

It matters what they are producing, what goals they're achieving, and how they're supporting the overall agency and our customers and our partners. This sounds like it should be relatively easy. But the one thing I can remind everyone is government never really did performance management very well, something we've always struggled with.

So I think this is going to give us a really interesting opportunity to try and improve upon it and figuring out ways to devise what that looks like. So not only can we measure performance and discuss it with our stakeholders, such as Congress or the IG or GAO, but our employees understand what is expected of them. Because this is not only change management for managers, it is for employees too. And as we move out of the pandemic into the new future stage of work, we have to remind employees that we want to be as flexible as possible because we want to be an employer of choice.

But we also all are very focused on getting the work of our agencies done. Sometimes for some categories of employees, depending on their job and what they do, it might mean having to come into the office for a few days a week. And when they do, what experience can they expect? Nina spoke very well about all of the great things we have to think about. And she was so dead-on correct about what the employees are going to be looking for.

If we're going to make them commute into office spaces, we need to give them a space that is comfortable, that is safe, that is conducive to the work they're going to be doing, whether it is meeting with customers or meeting with colleagues to have collaborative meetings, or perhaps using a Skiff if they're doing work that is confidential and requires such a space. So we are doing a lot of that at GSA right now in a variety of ways. And we also have taken the additional step of bringing in more talent to help -- that actually has experience in this area, to help us tell the story. So right now, in my HR space, I have brought in an expert that'll be with me for the next one, possibly two years, to talk about how we measure success of the hybrid workforce. And he has the experience already in work he's done with the State of California, where they have set up dashboards to talk about how letting people work from home actually increases trust in government because you're allowing people to stay in their communities.

You're making government more accessible through increased technology and access to services via the web and computers, and also just retaining top talent who want these flexibilities. So before I turn it back to Stuart, I'll just do another plea that if you have not already done so, please talk to your CHCOs. Bring them into the conversations with you because all the great stuff that Chuck is doing, when he talks about workspace planning, your CHCOs are doing with workforce planning. And where there is one, there has to be the other. So we look forward to supporting our partners in PBS. And we're always happy to take questions from our agency partners to see what is possible.

Thanks, Stuart. >> Thanks, Traci. You know, you bring up a good point that, you know, I've always compared the space requirements or sort of the caboose on the train. It's really HR policy and tech enabled that allow us to do the things that ultimately end up with a real estate impact.

And so, you know, having the engine of your CHCO and your CIO involved in the conversation will help you inform your real estate solution. So thank you for pointing that out. You know, Chuck, I don't want to make it seem like GSA or PBS has it all figured out.

And I know you work with a lot of clients across the government. What are you learning from the experience of working with those clients that's helping you develop and deploy and improve upon the solutions that we're recommending to our customers? >> Great question. And my favorite quote recently, or probably misquote, is a Neil Young paraphrasing Chopin who said, "I never created anything. I just remember things differently." And when you think about workplace, that's kind of where we're at is remembering differently, a little bit of how we reassemble some of the kit or [phonetic] parts that go into workplace. As you see, the group here of CIO and HR and Design all on the same panel, that's really one of the differences where we have to be integrated in this conversation.

I just got back from NeoCon, which is a annual furniture show. And it all looks the same. A lot of the pieces are the same, but you're seeing subtle differences in some of them. So you're starting to see acoustics being addressed because when we go back to the office, there's going to be more hybrid calls. And there's going to be more people having hybrid calls in the office. So how do you do that acoustically that makes it effective so people don't say I'm not going back in because I can't have a call, even though I want to go back in? So those are some of the subtle things we have to do.

The other thing I'm seeing, and this is probably no comfort to anyone, there isn't an answer out there. From talking to other governments, Canada, Finland, South Korea, and others, it's almost like a deja vu of conversation. Everybody's got the same issues out there.

They're trying to solve the same things. And they're looking to somebody else for an answer saying, well, what are you doing? How do I do this? How do I fix this? One thing is certain across the board is we have to become more agile and flexible in our solutions. There's Moore's Law in IT, where it says technology basically develops every two years on a path. I think workspace and policies and HR issues are going to be the same way. It's going to be a much more agile and developmental world. And no longer a set somebody in place for 10 years and come back and see how they're doing kind of thing.

It's going to be a constant management. And so agencies are looking to that to figure out how do I do that with the tools I have? How do I do that with the space I have? How do I do it with the policies I have? And we're seeing different solutions. And it has to be specific to the operation. And so just as we talked about, GSA is leading in certain ways. When we did our kind of analysis of what's the difference between a regional office and a central office, you start looking at functionalities. You start looking at who are they dealing with? You start looking at not only the work styles of whether they need to get their work done, the types of places, but you look at the work patterns.

Who and where are they going and dealing with? So the work styles and work patterns, as you'll hear on the tool that Traci is going to see after this meeting, and you're going to hear later in the conference, we start to come out of that with our best guess at ratios of space types and setups that will respond to what we believe to be the intended strategy and the operations that you as customers are looking for. And that's really, again, uniform across the board is every client is coming with the same kind of questions with just a little different twist. And we've got to make sure that we're parentailing [phonetic] our solutions to make sure that we're addressing that and that we're listening. So lead with listening.

Co-create the solutions with our clients because it's not just home or the office, it's home, the office, a FlexHub, a car. There's so many places people are working now. And we have to be open to figuring out how do you blend that into a solution. So I think the biggest thing we're hearing is folks want to come back to the office.

They want to interact. They need face-to-face. They want to know what that looks like.

We're kind of struggling with that ourselves. And how do you curate a proper experience? We want to make sure that we can articulate the value of a commute. What's going to cause me to get out of my home and get on a train or a car or walk to anywhere else other than that? What's the value of that? And the interactions you get, and all those kinds of things are uniform across the board. So it's some exciting times. We're going to be trying some things, as you just heard, on some of our tools and actions.

And we're going to be learning from that. And that's going to be a process. It's going to be a six-month, 12-month process to say, okay, now let's make sure that we adjust these and not just accept them because we guessed wrong. So anyway, thanks, Stuart. >> Thanks.

I think that's an important point to recognize that we're -- nobody's going to get this right right out of the gate. We're going to have to remain agile. Speaking of being agile, I did see a question pop into the Zoom pod there about making our FlexHub at GSA Headquarters available for people to virtually tour. And I think the answer to that is yes.

I didn't want to speak for you, Chuck. But I think once it's up and set up, we're looking for this fall, we'd like to be able to not only show it off live but show it off virtually so people can get an idea of what we're talking about here and sort of solutions. Thanks. Speaking of cutting edge, if I could turn back to Dave for a minute on the IT side. What trends are you seeing in industry that are shaping some of the solutions and policies around IT that we're using here at GSA? >> Thanks, Stuart. And I appreciate the question because it allows me to be the nerd that I really am. So bear with me.

I will try to speak in plain language as I get through some of this stuff. So we're seeing a few things. We're seeing deep and meaningful automations.

You know, we've been automating through tech -- using technology for decades now. But the velocity and the quality of those automations is skyrocketing as we develop systems that are deeply interconnected through APIs. And people are scripting the work that they would normally manually do every single day themselves and letting silicone do the work rather than, you know, warm bodies do the work, and doing things like robotics so that we take those manual tasks that people do and series of tasks and string them together so that people can turn their work to higher-value work.

You know, knowledge worker of the 21st-century type of work, rather than rote, manual, bureaucratic work going on. You know, we are looking and using deeply augmentations, like machine learning and artificial intelligence. These are allowing us to continue to transform how we use technology. Technology is not static, nor is business here in the 21st century. And we're allowing the machines that work alongside us to take a look at our actions and learn from that over time and then perform those repeatable tasks themselves.

We are looking at simple things like -- You know, everybody loves Alexa and Siri and stuff like that. We're finding ways for our partners and GSA employees to interact with their systems in ways that look and feel like that. You know, kind of like that Star Trek vision, where you say computer, I want this, or please do that. We're really there now and maturing that process.

We're looking at ways to give people what they want faster. So what we're finding is that the workforce here in government here in the 21st century has a fair amount of technical acumen. And while they do like to call a help desk or have a technician show up at their desk to fix a particular thing, 90% of the time, what they want to do is go look online, ask a question, get an answer, and fix it themselves in 30 seconds, rather than waiting for a callback or spending time on a help desk.

So we're creating mechanisms for people to rapidly get access to actionable information, to do things, whether that thing is fixing a technology piece or working on, say, a building automation system. You know, one of the things I say is that those in this business, everybody who can hear my voice right now, you are one of the three original internets of things. You know, battlespace management, running DOD, the remote sensing environment run by department of commerce, NOAA, and building automation systems, that internet of things. Those are the three oldest internets of things working in government. And because this industry was a first mover in the internet of things space, you incurred some technical debt at a higher velocity than more of the modern like house automation type internets of things that have grown up out of a lot of the work that you did in this space over the last 20 or so years. So we're looking at overlaying some deep and meaningful security on top of that so that people can feel competent with the data that's coming off of that internet of things, but also so that we can use that data in the highest-value way, using those automations and augmentations that I talked about a few minutes ago, and making it so that say a facility manager has access to real-time data to make good decisions, to make sure the facility is operating as well as it possibly can, as an example.

We're doing some deep and meaningful work in environmental and occupancy sensor technology so that we don't just know who's in the building, but what their usage patterns are as they move about the building so that we can end, going back to that agility that Chuck was talking about, so that we can reform and restructure space in real time or near real time in response to how people are actually using facilities. We're looking at that building system performance data that comes off of all of this internet of things and not just reacting and responding to that data, but using predictive analytics to say, where can we see things before they're going to be a problem? Where can we jump on them so that that air conditioner does not go down, or so that that pump flow meter that's measuring sewage going in and out of the facility, so we can jump on that before it goes down? I guess sewage should only go out of the facility. I should clarify that. And then we're also taking a look at the technology world, which has done a good job of securing information technology, your laptops and your cell phones, and looking at the right ways to overlay that on these non-IT technologies that we call it operational technology. You know, a sensor that's sitting controlling your lights in your facility, or something like that, making sure that it has the right cybersecurity controls there that you do on your information technology assets so that we, as a community, can feel confident that not only is the thing going to work, but it's not going to be accessible by say nation-state actors and do nefarious things on there. And then the very last thing is we're spending a lot of time in big data and analytics to make sure that we're not only gathering this tidal wave of data, but we can actually do something with it so that PBS can not only support facilities more effectively on behalf of our partners, you all.

But so that you all can have access to the information you need to generate and co-create along with us the best workplace environments for the future workforce that we're all going to be managing. Thanks for the question, Stuart. >> Thanks, Dave. You know, I want to take advantage of the fact that we do have a lot of real estate we're going to be -- real estate -- the issues we're going to be talking about over the next several days. But I want to take advantage of the fact that we have both you and Traci here to talk about this new hybrid work environment. One of the -- one of the most important things that I discuss with my staff, many of which were remote for a long time, was how much more included they felt as we left the office, those of us who were in the office, that we left our traditional office and went completely virtual.

Now coming back from 100% virtual into a hybrid environment, how do we build an inclusive environment so that both people that are choosing to go back to the office or have to go back to the office and those people who want to remain remote, how do we create opportunities either through technology or HR policy to maintain that inclusive environment that we were working in over the past several years? And either Traci or Dave or Chuck, if you've got ideas on that too. >> I'll be happy to start because I love this topic because it really is forcing us how to do things differently and be more creative and not just fall back onto the status quo of everyone filing into a conference room. And if we have people in a regional office, throwing them up on our screen and everyone using a spider phone to talk. That is antiquated and not going to happen anymore. To your point, Stuart, I also heard feedback from my staff about how much more included they felt when everyone was doing a Zoom meeting, or we used Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams because there wasn't a differentiation whether you were a headquarters staff or a regional staff or a remote worker or teleworking. Everyone was on the screen.

It was a level playing field. And the only thing I really had to juggle was reminding myself not to set 9:00 a.m. meetings because my West Coast employees did not like that 6:00 a.m. wake-up call. What that all comes down to is it's about being intentional.

So, for example, it is a combination of technology and not human capital policy. I call it human capital intuition or that emotional intelligence side that we all have to develop as supervisors and employees. So, for example, we use, right now, a spider. And Dave can talk more with -- no, not a spider -- an Owl.

I'm getting my animals confused. But the Owl is a more intuitive piece of technology that does a 360 video of the room, so it looks like you're actually there. It has enhanced audio to help people hear speakers more clearly. And the first time we deployed the Owl at GSA, it was a disaster. And it was not at all because of the technology. The technology worked beautifully.

It was the people because we still were falling into bad habits of cross-talking in a room and not being inclusive of those that were not in the room. So that just alerted to me these more change management types of trainings we have to enforce to make sure people are being very intentional about their communications. The second piece of it is being really intentional about when you bring people together. I think I terrify everyone because I am so passionate about a more enhanced remote hybrid workforce.

They think I never want to have my employees come together. That could not be further from the truth. I want to make sure when I bring my employees to DC or when I travel to a region, it's going to be the best use of our time and our travel dollars. What exactly are we going to be doing? What's the objective of the meeting? If I'm meeting with my customers, will they be there? And do we have an intentional reason to actually physically get together in space? And I think that's what people want most of all is to know that there's a clear reason to come together. And there's also the ability to be more flexible. You talked also a lot about equity and inclusion, and that also comes down to who we're able to recruit for future jobs.

I think having a more hybrid presence means we're going to be able to include people from all parts of the country, which should enhance our ability to recruit the top talent that we need for government jobs. And also be inclusive of all segments of the population. What does that mean? Specifically, people with targeted disabilities, people that may not be able to come into a work site, or it's a very big struggle for them. But they can absolutely do their work from home with no problem.

When I was the CHCO at EEOC, we did run a pilot where we took a lot of employees, new employees to us that were on full-time social security disability benefits. They lived -- tend to live in rural areas where there were limited job opportunities. And we were able to enhance and use them in our call centers.

So we were giving them meaningful work and taking away the barriers of them having to physically go into a location if that was their choice and if that was able -- they were able to do that. So we have to just be very intentional and creative. An

2022-07-25 10:39

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