As Federal, state, and local governments continue to face serious budget restrictions, agencies seek creative ways to stretch their constricted budgets.  To preserve important public services, government organizations are increasingly looking internally ‒ focusing on improving operational efficiency and reducing unnecessary overhead – including the cost of office space.  Many agencies are beginning to adopt flex workspace, a concept gaining significant traction in some of the world’s largest companies.

Flex workspaces create a workplace that is not just a desk or assigned office, but is rather a communal office environment, allowing for employees to work within the office walls, from home, or even at a customer site.  In a study conducted last year, Citrix surveyed 1,900 senior IT decision markers across industries in 19 countries and found that organizations expect to reduce workplace space by 7 percent within just two years, and 16 percent by 2020.  The study also found that flex workspaces – the workplaces of the future – will provide on average seven desks for every 10 office workers – showing the opportunity to reduce real estate costs, consolidate data centers, cut energy use, and promote mobile work across the board.

In addition to cost saving advantages, flex workspaces foster creativity and encourage collaboration by enabling employees to work from wherever, whenever, and on whatever device – making work something people do, not just a place people go.

To achieve the goal of a flexible work environment, organizations not only have to bring down cubicle walls, create communal offices, and give their office space a face-lift; they must also employ the technology to make mobile work successful.  With the influx of technology in the public sector, agencies have been consistently concerned with security and device management issues – many of which are surmountable.  And, as the call for flex workspaces increases, the government’s need for mobility initiatives and policies enabling bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and anytime, anywhere access to work continues to rise.

As a result of these emerging office environments, government agencies need a safe and secure way to manage the growing number of devices that employees use to access the agency’s network and sensitive data, whether from a communal office or from home.  Citrix XenDesktop has been enabling industries to provide secure virtual desktop delivery and applications – a crucial technology program for flex workspaces – for a long time.

In addition to desktop and app virtualization, IT professionals and analysts have been calling for a robust solution that encompasses mobile device management, mobile application management, and mobile data management – such as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).  Answering this call, Citrix XenMobile Enterprise Edition empowers users to choose their own devices, use any app, and access their email and documents from anywhere, while also meeting IT’s mandated security requirements.  XenMobile also utilizes powerful analytics that enables administrators to audit devices, applications, and network access – enabling IT to maintain full control of all devices.

We are believers in flex workspace, both in theory and in practice.  Recently, Citrix launched its own flex space program in several offices called workAnywhere – taking a functional view on how we use office space.  Rather than being anchored to an assigned workspace based on hierarchical structure, employees have a variety of work settings at their disposal that they can use to do work, collaborate, and socialize.  We tied technology with workplace culture, enabling employees to sit with their laptops on a couch or in a low-walled cubicle, stand at a whiteboard table, gather in a meeting space, retreat to a private space, or even work from home.  This open office promotes greater collaboration between co-workers and enables Citrix to grow without acquiring more real estate.

And, as with many innovations, where the private sector goes, the public sector is sure to follow.  For example, the General Services Administration recently unveiled their newly renovated Washington, D.C. office which has been converted to the flex work style, changing their real estate and urging employees to work away from their desks whenever possible.

As the office space of the future evolves in both the private and public sectors, we continue to see agencies embrace mobile technology as a means to achieve the next-generation work environment.  With the proper policies and solutions in place, government agencies will continue to realize the varied benefits that a flex work environment affords – from cost savings to increased productivity and collaboration.  After all, when it comes to flex workspace, the idea is not that nobody has an office; it is that now everyone has an office, anywhere.  Who can beat that?

Tom Simmons, Area Vice President of Public Sector for Citrix Systems is available at tom.simmons@citrix.com.