We're All in This Together
We have an exciting panel that will be moderated by our own Andrea O'Neal, as well as it's called "We're All in it Together." So it's about collaborative, building a better workforce through the intersection of people, places, and technology. I'm really excited about this. And we do have two of our, two great panel members, our own Katy Kale, our Deputy Administrator, as well as Dr. Underwood from OPM. So without further ado, I'm going to hand it over to Andrea. Hello. Hello.
Hello, and might I say, we're looking like government-delivery Barbie today. It's very exciting. So hi, everyone, and thanks for that lovely introduction.
So just for some opening thoughts, the president's management agenda, priority number one, strengthening and empowering the federal workforce, opens with a really powerful call to action. It says more than 4 million Americans, including more than 2.1 federal billion employees, work for our federal government both at home and abroad, and to be a government for all of the American people, we need to focus on those who keep our government running and deliver services every day. Given the changing nature of work, of technology, the evolving skills needed to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, we must invest in our public servants who are the backbone of our government, and as our chief architect likes to say, people are the new amenity when we talk about space. The challenges of meeting the needs of our workforce and workplaces to ultimately, as Commissioner Albert said, meet the mission of the American people, that requires more complex interdependent strategy more than ever.
Thankfully, as this session implies, we're all in it together. So we'll start the discussion with two phenomenal leaders who are on the frontline of these topics government-wide, and then we'll welcome some subject matter expert friends to dive into these topics deeper. So please help me welcome again Deputy Administrator Katy Kale from GSA and Dr. Janice Underwood, Government-wide Chief Diversity Officer and Director of OPM's Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. Please give it up one more time for them.
Thank you. Welcome. Okay, so big topic, and we keep saying the phrase "future work, future work," but we know the future of work is now. So can you both open with a little bit about the efforts underway to ensure the federal agencies' workplaces and people have what they need to meet this moment? Well, why don't I start? So welcome to GSA for those who haven't been here before.
Like Chad, I was a customer well before I was an employee of GSA, and this is my second time around, and one of the reasons that I am here and I love this agency so much is because we are the backbone of the federal government. So everything that all of our agencies are working on and their missions are supported by the work that we do here at GSA, and that's our mission, is to make sure that we're supporting the work that is happening throughout the federal government. And as the commissioner stated, and Andrea mentioned as well, the way that we're looking at this future of work, or the work of now, is kind of like a three-legged stool, it's people, it's place, and it's technology. And I always make sure that I put people first because at GSA, and my job in thinking about this as the Deputy or the Chief Operating Officer of the agency, is that the people who are doing the work need to feel that support because they are the ones who are going to make sure that the people at the end of the process, the public, is being served the way that they should by their federal government.
And at GSA, so my friends over at OPM, they often take care of the people part of that, but at GSA, we have the place and we have the technology, and place is within PBS, and technology is in several places but especially within FAS, or Federal Acquisition Service. And at GSA, we like to lead by example in all that we do, and we've been doing this future of work and this work of now for decades, really. When the commissioner was talking about freeze the footprint and reduce the footprint, GSA, here in the DMV, literally decades ago brought over our FAS team from way over in Virginia, brought them into 1800F, and then we brought in our PBS regional team from the other side of the mall over here to 1800F, and we led with this hoteling way of thinking, and does everybody have to be here every day, does it have to be butts in seats. And so we were thinking about telework and hybrid work well, well, well before the pandemic and that served us really well once that we went into that shutdown, and now we're thinking about how we need to figure out the next steps and the next way that we're doing this. And some of the other ways that we're doing this is, when we're thinking about hybrid, making sure that people have the technology that they need.
And so we, if you're coming in to work in 1800F or any of our other offices around the country, you have your laptop that you bring in with you, and if you want, you can have a keyboard and you can have a mouse and you can have a screen. If you are working remote or if you're mostly teleworking, we're giving you that technology as well. We want to make sure that you are able to work wherever you are.
And we have folks working up in our Workplace Innovation Lab, as was mentioned, and when we're thinking about putting people at the center, we really have to think about the principles around DEIA and making sure that everybody, wherever they are working, is having that meaningful in-person work environment or work engagement. And when we think about how folks are working in person, some of the things that really hit me in a great way, and again, leading by example, is how are people, regardless of how they work and their physical abilities to work, how are they able to meet the mission and be that productive co-worker that we need and that we want to be. One example that I love is in Region 3 up in Philadelphia. We have a certain section of the building, of the space that we use, that we have the HVAC turned down because we don't want to have kind of like that white noise in the background, and that is very helpful for people who are hard of hearing or wear hearing devices. And so thinking about how we're able to enable all of our co-workers and ourselves to be the best -- to be the best employee and the best worker at any given time is really important, and a lot of times we think, well, that's just on the individual. No, it's the three things.
It's people, place, and technology, and so we all have to be thinking about all three of those things together. My one last thing, and then I'm going to turn it over to you. Take your time. You can see I'm very passionate about it, and I apologize. I have some notes because this is the first time I'm speaking in person.
This is great. Tomorrow I'm heading up to Baltimore because I am, in addition to my job as the Deputy Administrator of GSA, I'm also the Vice Chair of the U.S. Access Board, and the U.S. Access Board is a very tiny agency in the federal government and it starts with making sure that, in kind of very layman terms, that people with disabilities have access to federal buildings, to safe buildings, to buildings and technology. And, of course, it makes perfect sense to have someone from GSA not only on the board, but I'm very proud to be the vice chair this year, and when we're thinking about how to support our workforce, I often think about the work that the U.S. Access Board does,
and they use an example often about the sidewalk cutouts, right? So making sure that people, this was decades ago, that people in wheelchairs are able to cross the street, so they had the cutouts in the sidewalks so they could cross the streets. Well, it's wonderful. It does, it helps people in wheelchairs. It also helps people with bikes. It also helps people who are pushing a baby carriage.
It helps people who may be, because they saw the Barbie movie, may be rollerblading. But by helping, you know, by thinking about our work and accessibility for just, say, one part of the population is -- it's incorrect. By working with one part of the population to make changes, it really does help so much of the population.
And so when I'm thinking about the work that GSA does around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA), it has so much of a larger reach than just what we're doing on a daily basis, not only within the agency itself, but in the federal government. [ Inaudible ] I don't know if you can hear me [inaudible]. Hello, hello? Okay, well, let me first start off by saying thank you for having me.
I see so many new friends in the audience and those who are with us virtually. My name is Janice Underwood. My pronouns are she/hers, and for those who have visual disabilities, I'm an African American woman with naturally curly hair.
I'm wearing all pink today, and I have some bling on my tennis shoes. So just wanted to provide that visual description, and I say that because we are in the world of hybrid work and we must make visual descriptions commonplace so that those who are online or even in person that have some accessibility. But I serve in this very unique new position as the Government-wide Chief Diversity Officer, so I bring a DEIA lens to the perspective, and I want to offer up some information that may be new to some of you. In my role as Government-wide Chief Diversity Officer, we're thinking about and supporting chief diversity officers, whether here at GSA, but all over the government ethos.
And so all chief diversity officers at the federal level come to OPM for support from my small but mighty team. The reason why I'm so excited to be here, Andrea and Katy, is because I really want us to stop thinking about DEIA from this sort of antiquated moral imperative, and it really is about thinking about DEIA as a throughway as we talk about things like modernization, future of work, and quite candidly, organizational health. All of those concepts are concepts of DEIA. One of the statistics that I know, that you'll be hearing me talk about during this chat is the catastrophic statistic that we talk about at OPM often, is that less than 7% of the federal workforce is under the age of 30. Well, as we think about planning for the workforce and workforce needs and real estate and technology, what does the five generations inside of our current federal workforce need to be successful so that you can be the great coworker to one another so that we can meet, you know, meet the mission of our agencies and ultimately serve the American people. All of those are DEIA principles, as opposed to what we're currently hearing in the maybe political lexicon today or the national dialogue today, that somehow DEIA is equated to affirmative action in higher education(ed), and I just want to direct our conversation to these very important topics as we wrestle with how do we attract the best and brightest, and quite candidly, Andrea, how do we understand that nexus between what we say and what we do, right? I was thinking about and really reflecting on the commissioner's comments today and I began to think about even my own messages even to my own kids, right, as they, 15 and 17 and they're thinking about their first job and what work and what the nature of work really is.
And so if we want to attract that new generation, we've got to meet their needs, and what does that look like? What will the buildings look like that they need to go into, and how do we make sure that that's competitive with the private sector, non-profit sector, and local and state government, for example? How do we make sure that we are retaining that early career talent? And by the way, because I'm really interested in the White House Executive Order 14035, and DEIA more largely, underserved communities. So the future of work is now. But the future of work, if it's going to be all of us, how do we meet the needs of everyone, and that requires these really robust conversations where we do put people first. We're OPM and we are the largest employer in the nation.
Most people think it's Walmart. No, it's the federal government. And so we need to figure out how to meet people where they are, how to keep people where they are in terms of retaining them to serve the American people, and those are all DEIA concepts. So I want to challenge you, before you leave today and you go back to your teams, all of you who are online, encourage your and get to know your Chief Diversity Officer at your agency and make sure they're part of these conversations going forward.
Andrea, can I jump in just real quick? As we're talking about the future generations and the future leaders of our agencies, I do want to, you're going to hear a lot of praise for our Chief Architect because he has the best title ever and he's doing great things, and challenge.gov right now is looking for, like, what does, our future spaces and access to all, what does that look like? And what we're doing is we're asking the future architects of GSA, of the government, of the private sector, we're asking them, what does that look like? And I cannot wait to see what kind of feedback we get because it's going to look very different than the five generations that are here right now, and that was the purpose of asking. So I just wanted to point that out. I'm really excited about that work. Yeah, and that's a great transition to the conversation because it's a big agenda. We're actively setting success metrics and all of those OPM and OMB memos people are working on.
So, you know, Katy, if you can start, what does success look like? What are some of those kind of critical questions being asked, and how are we identifying how to measure success and what best practices are? Absolutely. So the OMB memo, we just call it "the memo," asks us to look at organizational health, organizational performance, and when you put those together, it's work environment. And the way that I think about it, shorthand, organizational performance is how we're doing right now. How is our engagement? How is our customer satisfaction? Like, what are those numbers, what are those metrics telling us? But when you think about organizational performance or organizational health, it's what does that look like in the future? What are we doing right now to ensure that we are just as good, if not better, you know, 5 years from now, 10 years from now than we are today? And we're still looking at those same type of numbers. We're looking at engagement, and part of -- one way that we do that is through Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey(FEVS) scores.
Very, very happy also to say GSA, one of the top four places in our agency sizes. I want to keep going, keep getting higher and higher up there. We're going to take down NASA at some point. Everybody's always gunning for NASA. Poor NASA. And, but we also, we do poll surveys every quarter at GSA and we're asking them, you know, some of the main questions in FEVS, like, do you feel connected to the work that you're doing? But we're also asking a lot about, like, are you getting the resources that you need? Do you feel connected to the work, but also, like, we're asking them around some of our diversity efforts and taking all of that information over a long time, over multiple quarters, over the future, multiple years, we're able to see what people are thinking.
We're also asking for verbatim feedback, so it's qualitative, it's quantitative, and if you're able to take kind of the workforce sentiment, put it up against or with a background of your customer sentiment, and then, of course, because we work in government, you have to think about your budget and those numbers, too, we're able to see are we going to be healthy in the future, and that's the things that we are thinking about right now. Andrea, I just wanted to foot-stomp the work of the chief diversity officers in the perspective of for the very first time in the government's history and the OPM feds, we have the DEIA index, so we're measuring employee perceptions on all four letters, the D, the E, the I, and the A, and as a result, that was incumbent upon ODEIA at OPM to create not only a baseline, but now our Goal 1.1, Strategic Goal 1.1 connected to the President's Management Agenda, Strategy 1, is to increase that baseline six points. And so it keeps me up at night, every night, thinking about how do I increase our baseline, but our baseline for your awareness is 69%, which basically means given everyone who participates in OPM FEVS, 69% of the federal government views favorably the questions related to DEIA, and so now it's our job to increase that. So what we do is, in order to get that feedback for organizational health, improving employee experience, improving employee engagement, OPM puts on the national Employee Resource Group and national Affinity Group Summits to increase participation in OPM FEVS as well as to help federal employees figure out tangible ways on how to engage in their agencies, and so we're really excited about the work ahead, but that is a true indicator of how we're doing on the DEIA front.
And just a shameless plug, we're looking at those questions every year, and so if you have suggestions for us, I recommend that and encourage you to contact us over at OPM and you can go to ODEIA, and that's ODEIA@opm.gov, and give us suggestions on how you think we can best measure any four of those letters. Yeah, [inaudible], right? You'll hear from the next part of our panel, what does it mean to come into a space and feel like you belong, have flexible space, and you have no difference if you're working from home or the coffee shop, as [inaudible] mentioned, and still feel connected with your team, right? I don't know if your mic is on. Okay. Hi. Yes, thank you. Can you hear me? Okay, so the, you know, the idea that inclusion and belonging, I think are some of the most important principles, because when we have flexible spaces integrated with the technology and buildings that people want to be in with people that they can work with and collaborate with regardless of where they are, that's really the key to what we're talking about today and why we're all in it together.
So just kind of final thoughts, and then we'll bring up our other friends, any strategic steps and actions that, you know, the folks in our audience that are, you know, delivering, going back, making decisions right now based on the big picture that Commissioner Albert just laid out. What are those senior executive actions right now to take to make sure that we are building toward performance in the short term and health in the long term? So I will go, first, and I think, you know, we are driven by our executive orders that we have, by the Presidents Management Agenda(PMA), as we've talked about. At GSA, we have a people-first culture, making sure we're putting our employees and our customers first, and one of the ways that we're doing that is making sure that we are bringing together our leaders, all of our leaders. You know, we have a Future Work Council, and we make sure that we have PBS and FAS who are incorporated, but we also have Andrea who serves as our Chief Diversity Officer. We have our technology team. We have our data team.
We make sure that, you know, our table is big enough to bring in all of these voices to make sure that we're thinking through each bit of information, each metric that we get, every angle that we can see, and it's important to have that crew together. What we did for this particular, this group, this Future Work Council, is that we met quarterly, but in between we had four task forces and they would meet monthly and then come back and report, and it was about making sure that the work that we were doing internally at GSA for our own employees, lined up and was reflecting the work that our external components we're working on. So, you know, having the WIL, Workplace Innovation Lab, is great, but we need to make sure that our GSA folks are testing that out and are using it and are benefiting from that as well, and so that was, that's a big part of it right now. The other part for leadership is just making sure that we're communicating, and I like to say that over-communication is the right amount of communication, even when you think that you don't really have anything to share, right? So we have our work environment plans that we've been working with GSA, or with OMB and that's showing us how many of us are teleworking or remote working or working in the building, but it is also connecting to the work that PBS is doing in terms of optimizing our federal footprint and who's going to be working where, and then, of course, you layer over that technology and making sure everybody has the tools that they need, regardless of where they're working.
And so there's over-communication. We're asking you for information and then we're giving you information. It's really important I think as leaders of organizations these sizes to make sure that that is just, it's muscle that we're building over and over again. So in addition to the over-communication, really intentional collaboration. I love hearing about that Future Workforce Council. For me, it's the U.S. Chief Diversity Officers Council.
Encourage everyone here and online to look it up, Google us. We have some great resources there for you, but what's most important and what I want you to walk away with today is that they're, in addition to the council, which is chaired by our very own OPM Director Kiran Ahuja and Vice Chaired by Jason Miller from OMB and Chair Charlotte Burrows from EEOC, is that we have myself leading the four working groups. I serve as the Government-wide Chief Diversity Officer(CDO), so I sit in the CDO leadership with the chair and vice chairs, but the four working groups, as you know, Andrea, are working groups related to standardizing DEIA, standardizing the idea of how do we do this work and talk about it in these really transformative ways.
How do we measure success? How do we think about it from a policy perspective? How do we think about it from a data perspective? We have the DEIA dashboard coming out, so that's a really important metric that should be on your radar and a tool that is in collaboration with our OPM Chief Data Officer. We're piloting and beta testing it right now and it will be available to all agencies hopefully in FY24. But these are, but just some of our metrics and some of the ways that we're measuring success, but intentional collaboration, that Chief Diversity Officer Council is working with all the other councils, in particular, our CHCO Council, and so we've got to begin to think about DEIA and the B and the J and all the other letters. Please let's not add any more letters, y'all. Can I get an amen on that? Okay, so we're in agreement there. But how do we then take this information and make sure that it's funneling across all of our agencies and reaching you and the American people that we serve.
So that's a, just wanted to foot-stomp that, and if we can be supportive, we want to do that. Our office offers technical assistance to all federal agencies, and so we want to make sure we're making ourselves available to you. Right, I don't know if my mic is working again, but thank you for that, and we're going to transition to hear from real estate, technology, and administrative services, so if you can please come on up.
Chuck Hardy, Chief Architect, Bob Stafford, GSA's Chief Administrative Officer, and Allen Samuel, who is GSA's Director of Transformation Project Management Office (PMO) in the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Thank you, Katy and Janice, for your wonderful and thoughtful comments to start us off, and now we're going to hear, I think so. [inaudible]. No, you can stay where you are, yeah.
This is not [inaudible] Yeah, we're just adding chairs. Yeah, and, Andrea, as everybody is getting settled up here, just back just real quick on the data and how again GSA and OPM work so well together. A lot of that data that Dr. Underwood was talking about is going to be on performance.gov, which GSA helps to run, which the data is coming, a lot of that data is coming from OPM, and just this, like, collaboration between these two amazing agencies, but separate, is really important. And I like to joke, but I'm somewhat serious, that GSA and OPM are DC's new power couple because we do so much around future of work, and it again goes back to that three-legged stool, people, place, and technologies.
Okay, so starting with the place part of this, Chuck, you just heard from Janice and Katy about kind of the big government-wide challenge. So how is PBS and your office partnering with customer agencies and designers on their workplace strategies? Great question. A couple of things come to mind. These are a couple of things I've heard over the years, is people don't mind change. They just don't like being changed. And so that's when it starts to kind of push the co-creation that you're hearing about.
The other one is, everybody wants to be first, but nobody wants to be the first, and that's where GSA, we don't mind failing, once, and not for all of government. So we're doing it once, we're sharing, we're learning, and we're coming out, but we need to work with you all to get the feedback to know what we failed at and how do we make it better. Did we answer your intentions? And so when you talk about co-creation, that you're hearing a lot, to me, another word for that is "inclusivity." It's really being inclusive, and many people, when you talk about co-creation, think about their own agency. How can I work with GSA to make my agency better? And I want to challenge you to go a little bit broader because the way we're looking at space right now is co-creating across government and that means sharing spaces, which, again, doesn't come natural. It's "I don't mind to share as long as I have first right of refusal."
Doesn't work well. So how do we work better together? And so as we start looking at some of the things we're doing, the Workplace Innovation Lab, partnering with industry to find out what are you all thinking, bring it into government, we'll kick the tires on it, we'll give you feedback on it, we'll say what's happening. One of the things that I don't know if it's a byproduct of the WIL, but there's some framery booths down there, which are the soundproof booths, and some feedback we got from agencies, with the vendor standing there, was these aren't accessible, because they had a lip They're movable booths. They've now come out with, at NeoCon, a booth that's accessible. Now, did the WIL do that or not, I don't know, but those are the, that's the kind of feedback we need to get that actually helps improve things. When we talk about co-creation sharing across government, the story I always like to tell is we've dealt with and I dealt with an agency once.
Twelve people in the agency needed a 30-person conference room. Pretty confusing. What do you need that for? We're a grant-issuing organization. We have two hours a month, we have to bring people in, walk them through how to do grants, have that conversation with them, and I said, "Well, let put that a different way.
You're willing to pay us 2,080 hours of rent for 24 hours of use," and the response was, "We don't have any other choice." And so what we're trying to do is put the choice out there so people can figure out where to share, and when you get to that design piece, as architects, people come to us all the time and say, "Tell me what to do. Tell me the answer." I don't know what you guys do. I don't know the answer. It really needs to be a conversation, and certainly, as Katy mentioned, that challenge.gov, we're trying to bring people into this industry
that we don't even know how they're thinking, and so we need to get them at the table to say, "What do you want your future to be?" I've got a lot of experience behind me, but I've got just about as much learning ahead of me that I got to do as well, and so bringing those younger folks into the conversation in a diverse way that reflects our, not only America, but reflects our population and the people that will be working for us in the future. How do you create that space? I actually, another quick story. I hired a guy in Chicago, which we had some upgraded space at the time, Workplace 2020 was a byproduct of it, who came and transferred to the NCR office here, and he said had he interviewed in this office, he wouldn't be working for GSA.
Not this office. It was our Regional Office Building (ROB). But that's why space matters. That's why treating people matters, and so when you look through the WIL, you're going to see a lot of different solutions. We're looking for feedback. Everything we're doing now is we're looking for feedback.
We've got the WIFM tool that does a lot of quick scenario-based planning on different things, so it starts to be a little more inclusive, and it starts to have that conversation with your employee base to say, "This is why it matters to us. This is some of the things and the impacts of some of these decisions we're making." We have Rapid Space, that fast-track space that you hear about, that shows some plans in place, but it's not meant to be "Here's what it is. I'm selling it to you." It's a point of departure for discussion.
But it's a discussion that starts over here versus here. We've already done a lot of the work that we keep redoing every time, but we're now at a point we're going to have some meaningful conversation. I don't like that. Could you move this door? Think of custom home-building. Here's a model.
Oh, could we move this desk over here? Can we change that door over there? Can we make the bathroom a little bit larger? That's kind of what we're talking about, having kind of a curated choice that gets people and gets people to the mindset where they can actually give the feedback they need at a time they need that makes a difference. The space availability, that gets into sharing of space. The thinking of and the conversations we're having with agency, we have a law enforcement community of practice conversation on Wednesday this week, and the question we're asking folks is, "What do you do that's the same, and what do you do that's different?" We don't want to mess with what's different because that needs to be owned by you, solved for you, and intentionally addressed for you. It's the sameness that we're looking for and figuring out "how can we do that together better" kind of thing.
We're all in this together. So anyway, long answer to a short question. Thank you. And, Allen, we know that none of this works without technology, right? We can have beautiful buildings, but the Wi-Fi doesn't work, no one can log in, we don't have, you know, flexible accessible technology integrated, all this falls apart. So the key ingredient is really that agile, accessible, you know, diverse set of needs.
So can you talk about ways that, you know, federal CIO's offices are meeting the challenges and working alongside counterparts like Chuck, to you know, at that inflection point design technology with the real property needs? I think that's just it. You have to be at the table. IT has to be there when the space is starting to be even thought of, along with the administrative services. Often what happens is IT is tacked on at the end and it's like, why isn't anything working? Well, the space isn't laid out to allow the technology to work. So I encourage you to include your IT folks early on in your process and your strategy thinking. Secondly, just like Chuck said, you really don't have a blueprint going in.
Try something, look for feedback, and iterate. That's the best way to do it with technology and with anything else because we are going into unknown space. So no one has the perfect way to do technology, the perfect way to do space. It's going to have to be a collaborative effort, and the goal for everything is a frictionless user experience so that technology doesn't become an inhibitor to your meeting or your hybrid work. It becomes an enabler, and that's the goal of IT.
>> Okay. And, Bob, you've had a unique seat, you know, and kind of battle-tested through this, shepherding GSA both in rapid hybrid posture during the pandemic and remote work, then coming back on the other side of that, and there were some important lessons that I think GSA learned and have kind of been echoed about where our posture was that allowed us to have a relatively seamless transition on both ends of that crisis. So what do you think has been successful? What have you learned? And more importantly, what infrastructure do you think we have that's going to inform the future state of GSA now? Great question. I'm really glad that the previous panel was before this one because it's always nice when your talking points align almost perfectly with your bosses, and we did not coordinate that, so I'm going to repeat a lot of what Katy said in the very beginning. I think one of the things that really allowed GSA to excel in our transition, both during the pandemic and then returning to facilities, was that we had already had a pretty well-established ingrained culture that focused more on the work that people do and not necessarily where they do it.
That includes the approach to IT where we really try to enable all of our employees to work in any way from as many places as possible in any way that they saw fit. So we had a really good infrastructure in place so that on that day back in 2020, when we went home and we thought we were coming back next week, we actually didn't come back for two years, it was pretty much use the existing tools that you have, you know, keep the connections that you have with your co-workers and leverage those and, you know, we'll be able to operate very effectively in that way. Katy also mentioned the importance of communication. That was something which became very clear very early on, is that we needed to communicate at all levels as much as humanly possible.
There was no over-communication as far as that goes, and that goes from the top of the agency all the way down to employees interacting with one another, making sure that we could, as best that we could, remember all the changes that were going on very rapidly throughout that entire time period, and even after reentry, communicating what we knew, what we felt that meant for the agency, and what things we were working through, what questions we were asking ourselves in order to map out the path forward. So, you know, one of the things we're focusing on now, one of my roles in GSA is to be the tenant representative for GSA, so I'm basically a customer of PBS much like all of the rest of you are, And so we're leveraging the Workplace 2030 resources that Nina touched on and Chuck mentioned to really try and understand how our workforce works now in this hybrid work environment, and when they do come into a workplace, what they expect and need from that workplace. In the past, it very much, it was a workplace. It was a place where you come in and you do work. Somewhat generic about no matter what kind of work you did, you kind of needed the same thing, so you come in and you worked at a workstation or you, you know, got into a meeting room, whatever it might be. It's not that anymore.
So what is it? Why are people coming into the workplace? What do they need when they do so? I mean, we're learning lessons from the Workplace Innovation Lab where, for instance, the desire for individual workstations is really pretty low, but the need for larger collaborative spaces, whether that's meeting rooms that are connected in 15 different ways to every possible platform that you possibly could be connected to, or open, very flexible, collaborative spaces so that maybe a team of 40 people who might, those folks might be only coming in two days a pay period or maybe not at all, but they have a need to come in for, say, three or four days for a very curated in-person experience and they need the flexibility of that space and the IT to support it. Those are the types of things we're trying to understand what that need is so we can align the workplace with the work needs of the folks that are occupying it. The fact that we are occupying much less than we were in the past is certainly something that we're working with PBS on to understand the ramifications of this, what's the best portfolio approach to maximizing the workspaces that we do retain, and where we might have some opportunity, say, to reduce space or repurpose it, say, to like a co-working space or something of that nature. But those are all the questions that we're currently asking ourselves. Again, leading the way, trying to learn certainly what our workforce needs but then implement innovative ways of answering that question so that we can come back to you all, certainly to ourselves, be like, all right, this is working great, let's do more of this, or this isn't working at all, let's never do that again.
But then have us be able to then have those conversations with you so that we better understand how you're working, we can help you or enable you to ask those questions. I think that's a big part of this, is understanding what questions to actually ask, but help you ask those questions so you have a better understanding of what your workforce needs, and then you can align with PBS in developing solutions to provide those. And, Allen, just quickly back to you on collaboration with what Bob was just talking about. What trends have you seen come out of the workforce, sorry, workplace transformation and tech modernization world? Like, what problems are you trying to solve based on what Bob just said? It's similar lines.
Let me tell you a story. So I have older relatives, like everybody else, and they just say, "Nothing's working in my house. My temperature can't go down and up.
It just doesn't work because PG&E put in a brand-new thermostat." So I try walking them through over the phone, trying to help them out, no, but actually going and visiting and seeing what they're trying to do, I can then enable an IT solution, like a Google Echo, say, "Hey, why can't you say turn the temperature down?" It changed their life, but trying to do that over the phone and trying to understand what they're going through without actually being there, that's the key for IT, right? We have so many IT solutions out there, but what's the best fit for the customer need? That's where IT needs to come into play. We've all been on the receiving end of a tech support phone call from a family member, especially over these last few years. So Dr. Underwood, you know, kind of pulling it back up to the 30,000-foot view, what we've been talking about is healthy workplaces, and so, you know, what would you say are kind of the critical backbone or elements of workplace and space that supports employee well-being and engagement and belonging? Because we know that's the key to success and retention and being able to attract the best and keep the best.
Well, as I was sitting here listening to this incredible conversation about IT, thinking about my own sort of IT help desk conversations and work sessions, you know, I think about that nexus between providing the five generations of, that are in the workforce, what does everyone need? How do we meet their needs? And that's basically what equity is. And I'm stunned by some of the responses that you've had because they were great responses. They were great responses. No, no, no, no. What I'm thinking, though, to your to your point, Andrea, is we've got to figure out the solution to this rigidity, right? Because the solution is more DEIA, right? Whether you call it DEIA or not, or organizational health, employee experience, customer experience, whether we talk about it from the perspective of modernization or future of work, it's all DEIA. I love that you talked about inclusivity, but the issue is, is that when we come upon these problems and match them with solutions, if we're hearing things like, "Well, we can't do that because we've never done it that way before".
If you hear those kinds of comments, you're coming up against rigidity and that's not how you get closer to liberty and justice for all, right? If you're hearing things like, you know, "That feels uncomfortable" or "I don't know that we have the data to show that" or, you know, "We can't do it that way". The statement that I am known for saying, and by the way, is being trademarked, is you can't change what you don't measure, and you won't measure that which you don't acknowledge. As we're getting more feedback, as we're hearing from employees of all generations, generational diversity is as important as other dimensions, racial diversity, gender inclusion, and all of the other things that we're hearing from the OPM FEVS, make sure you take OPM FEVS when it comes back around.
We've got to think about what can we do differently to meet the needs of all of our federal workforce, because when we do, to Katy's point, then we meet the needs of the American people. So we have to think about it from the perspective of trying new things and not being so fearful and afraid just because we've never done it that way. We are in the 21st century and we're coming up against 21st century problems. So we're going to need 21st century innovative solutions. And, Katy, just before we go to final thoughts, can you put a bow on it for us? So how do we get to yes together? How do we break down some of those silos and cross-collaborate at the point where it matters? Not the bolt-ons, right, built in, not bolted on, and, you know, how do we make sure that all the stakeholders are, you know, have equal footing in some of these key decision points? Like I said earlier, there's room at the table.
We need to make this table a place where we're all gathering at the same time and that's early enough in the process that everybody can have their voice in there, and at GSA, we do that internally, but also we do that in working with, across the government with different councils. And I'll tell you, like, Nina and I have a roadshow going around. We've talked to deputies. We've talked to assistant secretaries for administration and management. We go on our roadshow, but then we also have our CIO who talks to the CIO Council. We have our acting CHCO and Deputy CHCO who's talking to the CHCO Council, Real Property Council.
I've talked to the executive, the executive board for the Chief Diversity Officer Council. It is very important that we're talking to people internally and government-wide that are going to be able to, would have that input right from the start, right from the start, Because when it comes down to it, we're building for the future, our future workforce, our future buildings, and the future public that we that we all need to serve. So what I'm hearing is if there's a request for a Nina-Katy roadshow stop at your agency, raise your hand and we'll figure out how to make that happen.
We'll be there. Okay, so just final thoughts, kind of, you know, again, well, then, we'll just go down. go down the line here, starting with Chuck, you know, just if you'd like to respond to anything that's been said or just things that are super actionable and tactical for this group as they leave the conference. I think the biggest thing is act.
Don't just sit and wait for the answer, because there isn't going to be a single answer that everybody is looking for. It's going to happen in bits and pieces. There's a reason why, when you go to the grocery store, there's 16 varieties of spaghetti sauce on there, because people are different, and space is the same way, and so we need to create agile and flexible space that's adaptable, low-cost, no-cost, can change, and address people's needs, address people's comments, and allow us to listen and react in a quick way, and so "act" is probably what I'd say. I'm a puttanesca myself.
I always, always, always encourage people to start not only with IT in mind, but DEIA in mind, because OPM is people first. That's our mission. And so think about DEIA as the ingredients to delicious cake. It has to be baked in.
It has to be mixed in. It has to, if mixed in properly at the beginning, once you pull that cake out of the oven, you can no longer separate the D, the E, the I, and the A from the product because it's just part of who we are, what we do. So please ensure that you have your chief diversity officer and you have that whole DEIA-minded squad across the entire enterprise of your organization because it's not just the job of the chief diversity officer and the agency head. It really is all of our jobs in between because that's where we're seeing this disconnect.
Make sure that DEIA is a part of the comms shop, part of the IT shop, the CFO shop, and just because you're passionate about something doesn't make you an expert or subject matter expert. Go to the experts, such as your chief diversity officer. I'm really passionate about balancing my checkbook, but nobody's offered me a CFO job, so I say that to say make sure these ingredients are baked into all that you do.
To that point, we need tech experts, so let's go there. Any appeal from the CIO's office? I mean, we echo all the things of inclusivity, but one more little story. So my son, I asked my son, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" He said, "I want to be like you, Dad. Just go into the office at 7 a.m., come out at four.
Like, I don't know what you do, but you're on your computer and I can relate to that," right? So again, that DEIA, he's going, you know, he's 13 now. He'll be in the workforce soon, but that's his expectation, when he comes to work is, I'm going to be on a computer all day, not talking to people. So again, I have to change his whole understanding, and you have a whole wide range of that, and technology needs to address all aspects of personal human experience, and that's where IT comes into play. Bob, any points on leveraging administrative services, thinking about the contracting infrastructure that takes all this to run? Yeah, and I was not paid for this plug, although I'm going to talk with Nina about getting paid for it later.
I would highly suggest, you know, we mentioned a lot of [inaudible]. Sorry, I did that to myself. A lot of the services and resources that PBS brings to the table and being able to have these discussions with you, so I would urge you to leverage PBS even more. There are some really smart people that work directly for PBS and they've set up contracting vehicles, which allows us to access some of the brightest minds in areas of IT and workspace and things of that nature. So working through the questions that you have, really looked at PBS as a way to be able to flush those questions out, come up with answers, come up with solutions, and look to us in the future to come up with innovative ways of trying things out that you then can learn from to be able to, again, make the best of your workplace resources.
And, Katy, any appeal to agency heads or folks that are advising on this issue right now? I think what I really wanted to say is thank you, everyone, for being here. This is a really important conversation. It is a conversation that I see taking place through all of the newspapers and magazines and opinion pieces and subject matter expert conversations as well. It's what your employees are talking about.
It's what they're thinking about. It's what the next generation of public leaders are thinking about and worried about, and so by being here today, you've taken a giant, probably not first step, but a giant step towards making the real future of work, which is always going to have to be tied in with DEIA, a reality, both in the short term and the long term. So thank you for being here. Also, thank you, Andrea and Chuck, especially for, and Commissioner Albert, for making sure that this was part of the agenda right from the start. I think it's a really important panel to have. Because we're all in it together.
So thank our panel for their insights and your time. Thanks so much. Wow. That was amazing. Please give another round of applause to our panel. Thank you so much for your time, your energy, your enthusiasm. Really appreciated it.