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UCOP launches workspace initiative to study space problems

You’ve heard that space is the next frontier. For UCOP, no truer words were ever spoken.

Due to increasing challenges with space, OP is embarking on an extensive study of its Oakland office locations to address problems such as escalating costs, shortages of workspace, inefficient configurations, location of certain functions and loss of productivity.

Known as the UCOP Strategic Workspace Planning Initiative, the study will review the current state and explore new approaches to how we use our workspace. Goals include not just making better use of space and updating the work environment, but also improving collaboration and reducing overall real estate costs by 30 percent within the next five years.

”We face increasing pressure to reduce our space costs due to continuing budget constraints,” said Michael Reese, associate vice president for UCOP Business Operations. “This will be a huge effort that will result in some significant changes, and we want people to be prepared. But it is also an opportunity to increase our space efficiency and improve the work experience for all UCOP employees.”

UCOP has retained San Francisco–based Gensler, an architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, to review current space usage in Oakland and identify possible improvements.

UCOP leadership and the Building and Administrative Service Center have also appointed a steering committee of representatives from all OP departments and divisions to coordinate Gensler’s activities and help evaluate its recommendations.

Over the next three months, representatives from Gensler will be conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups and a workspace utilization study to gather information from UCOP staff about their work and how they use their workspaces.

The one-week space utilization study will involve walkthroughs of buildings to observe and measure how workspace is currently used. Both the survey and space utilization study are scheduled to begin on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. Then focus groups will be held with selected employees to analyze and document findings. A final report will be delivered to the President’s Advisory Group in March 2013, and final recommendations could take up to three years to fully implement.

While final decisions won’t be made until after Gensler’s analysis is studied and acted upon, changes to UCOP’s workspaces could involve new designs that encourage greater collaboration within and among departments, clustering of teams that regularly interact with one another and consolidation and/or relocation of filing and storage spaces. This may also result in reduced cubicle/office sizes and relocations of some departments and groups.

One model Gensler is exploring is the design recently adopted by UCSF for its new faculty building at Mission Bay. The design provides a more open work experience for everyone, including the chancellor and senior administrators, who are foregoing private offices. This approach reflects a growing space trend for organizations in both the public and private sectors.

A website is under construction where you will be able to get more details on the workspace initiative, including frequently asked questions, the schedule of activities and a list of UCOP steering committee members. Look for more details soon in an upcoming issue of Link.

Comments ( 2 )

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  1. Emily Montan November 20, 2012 Reply

    More money being spent after the huge expense OP experienced 2 years ago in the huge moves at the Franklin Building…We now have money going to hire an outside consultant to assess our needs (again) and will be spending money on reconfigurations and moving of great quantities of people.

    Though, the money managers say it’s a different color of money, many middle managers will be getting a 3-6% decrease in pay due to paying into our Retirement system. Most of us with time at OP know the history of that debacle which employees are paying for now.

    Keep everyone where they are, provide that funding for raises so we don’t have a cut in pay. Then when more money becomes available, do this assessment and make the moves.

  2. Jean November 27, 2012 Reply

    Really, again (thanks Emily!) You could ask staff to walk around and easily point out which depts have too much room, and which depts are crammed into a sardine can. It doesn’t take a genius. I know people at Gensler, it’s a good organization, but not necessary for this project as they have a very high billing rate.

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