GSA contract opens agencies to commercial coworking spaces

People work at tables inside of the "WeWork" co-operative co-working space on March 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.In a large warehouse-type office in Washington, software coders work on apps, while angel investors and mentors help budding entrepreneurs figure out strategy for their startups, in what is being dubbed Silicon Valley on the Potomac. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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The General Services Administration wants to give federal personnel the opportunity to work from commercial coworking spaces instead of coming into the office.

GSA awarded a multi-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to five commercial co-working companies —WeWork, The Yard, LiquidSpace, Expansive and Deskpass — last month that will allow agencies to purchase flexible, temporary space from any of the companies.

The contract starts at one year and could go up to five, with a $10 million cap on spending with each of the five companies per year, according to terms of the procurement.

While the idea of such a contract makes sense now that the government has had to flex its teleworking muscle during the COVID-19 pandemic, GSA actually began planning it out in late 2019 before the coronavirus was really even known to be a threat to the U.S.

“Working beyond the confines of traditional government offices has become more common,” says a contract document from 2019. “Government employees are now commonly equipped with technological tools to work from anywhere. The freedom provided by technological advancements allows agencies to efficiently and flexibly pursue mission success through the utilization of employee mobility and telework.”

And with the federal government embracing telework more than it has in the past, and GSA hoping to shrink its footprint as the federal landlord, these co-working companies are looking to the federal government as a bright, new client — even outside of this contract. For instance, WeWork — one of the best known and most infamous commercial co-working companies in the world — now has an arm of its business dedicated to the federal government. Heading up that new branch for the company is Daniel Mathews, former commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service under the Trump administration.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed how work is approached, and now government agencies will have a tool to help employees succeed while saving costs,” WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani said in a statement. “The workplace of the future requires flexibility, and GSA should be applauded for innovating.”

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coworking, General Services Administration (GSA), remote work, telework, WeWork
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