‘Culture Change’ at FBI Headquarters to Include Camp Fire Meeting Areas

Agency adding workspace lab to test pods for employees

• April 8, 2015 5:00 am


Taking a page from Google, the FBI plans to add campfire meeting areas and pods to its offices to accommodate an evolving workforce.

To facilitate "culture change" at the FBI, the agency is seeking to "to incorporate effective, innovative workspaces" for its new 2.1-million-square-foot headquarters, construction for which will begin in 2016.

According to a solicitation posted last week, the FBI will set up a workspace lab at its current headquarters to test ideas for how employees will work in the new building.

The layout will include a "‘Front porch’ reception area that can accommodate informal meetings and discussions," "active work spaces," "focused work spaces," "active/focused workspaces," and "huddle areas."

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A "campfire meeting area" and "pods" will also be added.

"The existing [FBI HQ Consolidation Program Management Office] PMO space is directly adjacent to the cafeteria in the J. Edgar Hoover Building and is thus the ideal location for an interactive Workspace Lab that will be informed by and contribute to culture change as the FBI transitions into its new HQ," the solicitation said.

The lab will include lighting that "contributes to a ‘neighborhood’ feel," and interior design changes that will make the work of FBI employees more enjoyable.

The "Workspace Lab design principles" are: agility, choice, collaboration, well-being, and innovation. To meet these aims the lab will use "mobile user-defined furniture," and employees will be given "office setups that encourage movement."

The FBI will have to demolish part of its current headquarters to accommodate the new features.

"The front wall, which is currently opaque, will be replaced with a glass wall to allow passersby to view and experience the Workspace Lab," the solicitation said. "The PMO desires that the Workspace Lab be continually reconfigured to demonstrate the agility and adaptability of the future workspace and to generate excitement and interest in the new FBI HQ."

The changes are reminiscent of workplace designs at Google, whose "living lab" has added nap pods and treadmill desks for employees.

An FBI spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that the agency is trying out the new workspace models to bring a spirit of collaboration to the agency.

"The current FBI building was completed in 1974 and was built to accommodate the FBI and its mission at the time," said Samantha T. Shero, a spokesperson in the FBI’s National Press Office. "The FBI’s mission and workforce has evolved in the past 40 years and the FBI has outgrown its current space. New and improved workspaces will facilitate a better environment for collaborative work."

Shero said the campfire and front porch meeting areas are "conceptual ideas for meeting spaces that may be tried and modified or changed" in preparation for the new headquarters.

The rationale behind adding more informal workspaces is to "better provide a work environment that enables a collaborative work force," she said.

"The Workspace Lab allows us to tap into industry best practices and allow employees to see first-hand how different approaches to space and furnishings can help us achieve that goal," Shero said. "The FBI anticipates that the Workspace Lab will influence decisions on design and space organization."

Shero also said building a new headquarters allows the FBI to provide for a better workplace for the agency to meet its mission, which is to protect the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats.

"Consistent with the FBI’s intelligence and investigative missions, the new Headquarters building is envisioned as an operations center, not just office space," she said. "To achieve such an alignment between mission, operations, and workforce, the FBI intends to employ workplace design and organization strategies that contribute to the adaptation of new technologies, improve space utilization and maximize collaboration to enhance productivity."

Shero said the FBI could not estimate what the new furniture and the interior design changes will cost until the project is complete.

"For the Workspace Lab, participating vendors will provide their innovative products at no cost on a trial basis," she said.

Published under: FBI, Government Spending