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Alaska to reduce cubicle sizes for state workers to save money

Published: Thursday, July 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

JUNEAU, Alaska – State officials will reduce the work space of state employees as a cost-saving measure.

Under the state’s Universal Space Standards, which will be implemented over 10 years, only senior management and administrative positions, like an attorney or doctor, will have an office. Employees below that level will get a 6-by-8-foot cubicle, called a work station.

The new policy also will dictate the type and color of new office furnishing, which will have a cherry-wood furnish, Deputy Department of Administration Commissioner Chris Thayer said.

Reducing and maximizing space should allow the state to save about $125 million over the next two decades, Thayer said.

Capitol Office will supply new office furnishings, with an average price of $6,500 per cubicle.

The state owns more than 1 million square feet of office space and leases another 2 million across the state. Buildings with leases soon expiring or those in line for remodeling will get priority.

Space standards already are being implemented at the Robert Atwood building in Anchorage and at state buildings in Nome, Juneau and Douglas.

Sixty state employees currently work on one floor at the Atwood building. After the changes, the state predicts 97 people will share that space.

Work at the State Office Building in Juneau is nearly complete on one floor and will be unveiled July 17.

The plan is not being met with universal approval.

Dylan Rhea-Fournier is a Department of Fish and Game employee working on the Southeast Alaska bat monitoring project in Douglas. His work tools – including firearms, bat detectors, immobilizing darts, battery boxes, solar panels and rain gear – already barely fit into his 9-by-10-foot work space. The changes will reduce his work area by about half.

A fellow Fish and Game employee simply said one size does not fit for all state employees.

“We’re not an office where you come in and sit down and look at a computer all day and have a couple of file drawers,” said Iris Frank, a fisheries tech.

“It was kind of a Draconian way how it all came about,” Frank said. “We were just told. There was no input from the employees.”

By making employees work areas smaller, it will allow for more conference and break rooms, private telephone booths, better ventilation and lighting, Thayer said.

“We’re trying to save money, and if we can’t do it in space, it comes out of programs, and if we take money out of programs, it could come out of employees,” Thayer said.

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