Written by Annie Perkins
In a day where worldwide energy consumption is at an all-time high, the State of Arkansas is doing its part to become more energy responsible. The Department of Transformation and Shared Services (TSS) Division of Building Authority (DBA) maintains and operates a portfolio of over 1.4 million square feet in central Arkansas and Fort Smith. Under the leadership of Director Anne Laidlaw, these locations have seen a significant reduction in energy consumption over the past decade which has led to tremendous savings for the state.
The Division of Building Authority recognized a significant area of monetary waste: ineffective office design. An office that is not well-planned or designed can lead to unnecessary space that drains state funds. Seeing the need for a new, more efficient system, DBA adopted the 4 “C’s” for the management of Arkansas State Government office space. The 4 C’s plan was created with the vision of Cost-effective space management for a Collaboration, Communication, and Cooperation-driven culture, establishing a new set of standards for workspace. The 4 C’s plan, at its heart, is the elimination of excess and duplication which costs the state valuable taxpayer money. This must be done without sacrificing employee comfort or satisfaction and maintaining an inviting office environment.
DBA had a vision of cost-effective, space-efficient, employee-friendly offices. This energizing, minimalistic design and environment, characterized by natural light, open space, and excellent acoustics, was achieved through:
- Alternative Workspaces characterized by open work environments, flexible workstations, minimal wall obstruction, and natural light replacing the traditional office suite.
- Private Offices made fewer, except for employees with an explicit need for privacy and confidentiality.
- Consolidated Shared Work Areas and Equipment, reducing the need for duplicative equipment and workrooms.
- Meeting/Conference Rooms better utilized through a room reservation process so that departments share meeting space without paying for large rooms used infrequently.
- Office Furnishings better suited for the new environment, reducing space cost and improving comfort.
- File Rooms/Storage reduced to active records that require frequent access, while all other records/materials/inventory relocated to less costly space or evaluated for electronic storage. All decommissioned furniture and equipment scheduled for pick up by Arkansas State Surplus, eliminating the need to store unused property.
- Common Areas such as elevator lobbies, corridors, breakrooms made into an integral part of the tenant space, designed for mixed-use and encouraging employee interaction.
- Sound Control via white noise systems or noise-canceling headphones.
- Color and Décor that make for a pleasing work environment.
- Maximized Light, both natural and motion-sensored LED.
- Employee Feedback since employees often have great ideas!
How do we know that 4 C’s space management tool really works? We’ve seen the savings with our own eyes! DBA first utilized this concept with the redevelopment of the former Dillard’s Building at 900 West Capitol Avenue in 2010. This new design worked so well, DBA adapted the design plan for its existing buildings and over the past three years has relocated dozens of state offices utilizing the new, improved 4 C’s design. In every case, the relocation of department offices into the 4 C’s design has reduced leased square footage, therefore reducing lease costs and saving taxpayer money.
A prime example is the relocation of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System (AASIS) Support Center. Their move from a 25,068 square foot facility to a 5,985 square foot facility led to a 76% annual savings. The economic impact of effective space planning can be significant in the reduction of office rent. The efficient use of actual square footage and reduction in energy consumption gives the state a much smaller energy footprint. DBA is now taking this model to its private-sector leasing. The relocation of a Department of Human Services office in Fayetteville, AR is utilizing the 4 C’s design and as a result, a lease that department leaders thought would consume over 30,000 square feet has been reduced by more than 10,000 square feet using the 4 C’s space management tool!
The innovative thinking and impressive work done by the Division of Building Authority perfectly displays the value featured in their department’s name: Transformation. Their efforts are paying off quite literally and have optimized Arkansas State workspaces for the better.