Video: Minister On Office Space Standards

January 30, 2019

[Updated] Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch is holding a press briefing this afternoon [Jan 30] to update on the “Ministry’s plans for office space standards throughout Government.” We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 15-minute replay is below

Update 4.35pm: Minister Burch said, “Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us in the Estates Department of the Ministry of Public Works. I am joined today by Miss Sudell Joseph, the Acting Chief Surveyor and Mr. Sheridan Ming, the Acting Buildings Manager – key personnel in this effort.

“Earlier this year the Cabinet approved the introduction of revised space standards for Government offices in order to make more efficient use of space and reduce costs.

“As part of the Public Service Reform Initiative – Cabinet also considered a number of issues in respect of asset management, one of which was the need to ensure that a consistent approach is adopted in the layout, design, finishes and furnishing of Government office accommodations. The goal is to provide effective Government Services in a sustainable, safe and healthy work environment that makes efficient use of space and affords greater value for money.

“The existing Government office space standards have not changed for decades and are now considered overly generous – the layouts are inefficient compared to the more modern, flexible and collaborative work environments common in the private sector.

“With private sector rents of approximately $8.9 million annually – savings can be had by more efficient use of space both within Government owned buildings and those rented from the private sector. Savings are not limited to rents alone as other operating costs including electricity, maintenance and service charges will also decrease as the space occupied is reduced.

“The existing office space standards provide for 250 – 300 square feet for a Minister, 200 – 250 square feet for a Permanent Secretary, 150 square feet for a Director and 100 square feet for staff. In addition to this, a further 15% is provided for circulation space. Conversely, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 2009 require a minimum of 43 sq ft per employee. The revised space standards provide for 200 square feet for a Minister, 150 square feet for a Permanent Secretary, 100 square feet for a Director and 65 square feet for an Officer with no additional allowance for circulation space. The reductions range from 35% for general staff to 66% for Department Heads.

“We have agreed that the layout of Government offices generally move to open floor plan to make better use of space, improve collaboration and communication as well as provide a more flexible working environment. The offices are to be furnished with ‘trader style’ desks common in the private sector as opposed to the work stations of old that effectively created individual offices. Only Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Directors are to be provided with a private office. Small conference rooms will also be provided for confidential discussions or meetings with staff.

“That said, it is recognised that there are some Government services and operations that do not fit the new office format and have special requirements owing to the nature of those activities. These will be reviewed on a case by case basis and any deviations will require the prior written approval of the Minister of Public Works.

“Not surprisingly, within the Civil Service, we have had some resistance to this new policy – the lead entity in delivering this message – the Estates Department – is setting the example by being the first department to transition to an open floor plan that also sees the Chief Surveyor [who is entitled to an office] and his management team occupy desks on the office floor.

“Around us you will see photographs of the space as it existed prior to these renovations. You will readily see the new space is bright with a significant amount of natural light that affords Officers the ability to easily collaborate with each other on various aspects of their work. They have been in situ since November last year and while there are a few minor teething pains – the transition has been quite smooth so far.

“In this space previously we accommodated 15 staff and have increased that compliment to 23 stations in the new configuration.

“The cost of these renovations were just over $500,000 and took us 5 months to complete the works.

“The immediate plan is to expand this concept to the remainder of this floor and transition other departments into this space. Going forward – as we renovate or move government departments – this will be the standard that is applied.

“We are moving into the modern age and over time we expect to effect significant cost savings to the public purse.

“Thank you.”

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Comments (15)

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  1. question says:

    Will this include the $175,000 wasted on empty offices in DC every year?

  2. aceboy says:

    So I guess you will just have to refurbish all those offices with new stuff!

    Not to worry, plenty of money floating about for that.

    • Onion Juice says:

      Well if SpongeBob told Seniors money dont grow on trees and turns around and pulls $77 Million out of his @$$ for a sailboat race for Billionaires, anything is possible.

  3. eyes wide open says:

    there’s plenty of empty office space,look around the City,many businesses have left the Island because of this Minister and other plp insane rantings

  4. Mark says:

    Man – all the retro Pee L Pee’s are getting their moment in the spotlight. At least Captain Major General talks reasonably well.

  5. question says:

    He announced this last March. And now, ten months later, he announces the exact same thing, using almost exactly the same speech, as though it is a completely new idea. Is he insane?

  6. JohnBoy says:

    Min. Burch?? Where have you been?

  7. Sandgrownan says:

    Still doesn’t address the fact we have too many civil aervants for the size of the country.

  8. frank says:

    This minister gets things done

    • sandgrownan says:

      So, we have press conferences to pat ourselves on the back for things we should have been doing as part of our bloody jobs…

      Mediocrity rules with the PLP

  9. Realist says:

    If this was really about something of substance, the government would be looking to move a number of its existing offices into government owned buildings. There’s far too many small government offices and departments operating in expensive privately owned buildings. One only has to look at the budget book to see the buildings and high rents government is occupying.

  10. MsFedUp says:

    Open plan offices have been shown to be totally inefficient. Most employees hate this layout. A recent Harvard study “undercuts the entire premise that justifies the [open plan office layout] fad. And that leaves companies with only one justification for moving to an open plan office: less floor space, and therefore a lower rent.

    “But even that justification is idiotic because the financial cost of the loss in productivity will be much greater than the money saved in rent. Here’s an article where I do the math for you. Even in high-rent districts, the savings have a negative ROI.”

    This is a bad idea.

  11. Y-Gurl says:

    Bigger offices coming, Zane has space to rent