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Kay Sargent Addresses House Committee on Post-COVID-19 Workplace

HOK’s Kay Sargent provided expert testimony to the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

In her opening remarks at the May 13 hearing, Sargent noted that this is an important time to be examining the future of the workplace. “In my 37-year career as a workplace strategist and designer, this is the first real opportunity we’ve had to rethink how and where we work,” she said.

“The average buildings stand for 70 years,” said Sargent. “Interior spaces are typically renovated once a decade. In other countries spaces are flipped more frequently, and thus can evolve and react to changes in a more timely manner. Your decisions will determine the fate of federal work environments for the next generation of Americans.”

Sargent described the need to transform the office from a place where people have to be to an ecosystem of spaces where they want to be. By offering choices about how and where people could work, the federal workplace of the future would be highly flexible and resilient to business changes.

There are three components to this next-generation ecosystem that will support hybrid work: the Hub (the reimagined office), the Home (for remote individual work) and the Spoke (a coworking center or satellite office).

“In this new work ecosystem, overall office space per agency could be reduced while providing more enticing environments and better experiences for their people,” said Sargent. “It would help address environmental and human sustainability and well-being, which will improve productivity.”

In a Q+A session after the testimony was complete, Sargent answered Committee members’ questions about her involvement on the GSA’s Workplace 2030 taskforce and their initiatives, the operational and maintenance benefits of public-private partnerships for the federal real estate portfolio, how the federal government can compete with the private sector for the best and brightest people, and the impact of smart buildings.

Others providing testimony at the “Federal Real Estate Post-COVID-19 Part One: A View From the Private Sector” hearing included Genevieve Hanson from Ernst & Young, Kelly Bacon from AECOM, Marcy Owens Test from CBRE and Norman Dong from FD Stonewater.

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