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House: Government to cut office space

“Overly generous” office space will be reduced for Bermuda Government workers in a cost-cutting move.

Space for department heads will be cut by up to two-thirds and space for general staff will be reduced by 35 per cent, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said.

The public works minister said he is aiming to cut the annual $8.9 million paid on rent to private sector landlords, as well as electricity and maintenance costs.

He told the House of Assembly: “It won't come as a surprise to you that there has not been widespread acceptance of this new policy throughout the Civil Service.”

He said the Estates Department would lead by example by switching to an open floor plan, with the chief surveyor and his management team at a desk on the office floor.

Space will be reduced as follows:

• ministers: cut from 250 to 300 square feet to 200 square feet;

• permanent secretaries: cut from 200 to 250 square feet to 150 square feet;

• directors: cut from 150 square feet to 100 square feet;

• staff: cut from 100 square feet to 65 square feet.

Colonel Burch told MPs: “The goal is to provide effective Government Services in a sustainable, safe and healthy work environment that makes efficient use of space and affords greater value for money.

“The existing Government office space standards have not changed for decades and are now considered overly generous and the layouts inefficient compared to the more modern, flexible and collaborative work environments common in the private sector.”

Colonel Burch said Government offices would now be open plan “to make better use of space, improve collaboration and communication as well as provide a more flexible office environment”.

Offices will be furnished with “trader style” desks common in the private sector instead of old-fashioned work stations. Only ministers, permanent secretaries and directors will have a private office.

Colonel Burch said he had ordered a complete review of all private sector rental accommodation, with a view to reducing costs dramatically either by moves into government-owned accommodation or alternative more economical private sector rentals.

HM Customs departments at Hamilton Hall, Magnolia House and LF Wade International Airport will relocate to offices at 131 Front Street, owned by the Silver Wood Trust, of which Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva is a beneficiary. Other Government departments will probably also relocate there, Colonel Burch said.

The Bermuda Housing Corporation has entered into an agreement to purchase the IAS Park building at 44 Church Street, where its offices are housed, for $4.85 million.

To read Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch's statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

Public works minister, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm (Updated March 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm)

House: Government to cut office space

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