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A group of Marine Corps Systems Command civilians and Marines has a discussion July 9 within a newly constructed, 40,000 square-foot workspace in Stafford, Virginia. The building, leased by MCSC, comprises a more contemporary, open floor plan that promotes increased team building, productivity and morale. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Matt Gonzales)

Photo by MCSC OPAC

A culture change: MCSC to open modern workspace to promote collaboration, innovation

20 Jul 2021 | Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

In August, Marine Corps Systems Command will open a new, modern workspace that fosters improved communication, collaboration and creativity.

The Distributed Modern Workspace Pilot Program is a Marine Corps workspace venture involving a newly constructed, 40,000 square-foot facility in Stafford, Virginia. The building, leased by MCSC, comprises a more contemporary, open floor plan designed to promote increased team building, productivity and morale.

“This distributed workspace is an open, inviting environment different from your typical cube-farm office setup,” said Lorrie Owens, MCSC’s Program Manager for Medium-Heavy Tactical Vehicles. “This space is designed to get teams talking, working together and coming up with innovative ideas to benefit the warfighter.”

The two-level building includes more than 20 lounge areas, nearly 200 sit-to-stand desks, several conference rooms equipped with large computer monitors, a nursing room for expectant mothers, a kitchen area on each floor and a gym.

The facility also includes a large, glass room, called “The Quiet Room,” for meetings as well as “Superman Pods,” telephone-booth-sized cubicles enabling individuals to conduct phone calls or other personal matters in private.

On each floor are nearly a dozen mobile, vertical whiteboards that employees can wheel to a particular location for an impromptu meeting or activity.

“You can sit down with your team, work through a problem, document or brief,” said Owens. “The goal of this collaboration space is to increase efficiency, innovation and creativity.”

The space follows a growing nationwide trend in recent years. Many companies, notably tech conglomerates, have implemented and embraced the open-floor-plan model to increase employee morale, encourage collaboration and attract talent.

MCSC hopes to do the same. Owens said the command envisions the workspace attracting more workforce talent, as younger generations gravitate toward jobs with more enticing environments and those that offer more flexible work schedules.

She believes the new facility offers both excitement and flexibility to potential employees.

“Studies have shown that younger generations look for work environments like this one,” said Owens. “This facility shows them the Marine Corps is moving in that direction.”

MCSC leadership has envisioned opening a more modern, open workspace for years. In July 2020, that goal was realized when a local building contractor broke ground at the Stafford location and MCSC received an occupancy permit in April 2021.

The Portfolio Manager for Logistics Combat Element Systems at MCSC will occupy the space. PfM LCES equips and sustains Marines with engineering, supply, maintenance, ammunition, and tactical wheeled vehicle systems and solutions to enable lethality.

After MCSC underwent structural changes in 2020, the programs within PfM LCES spread across five different locations. Owens said the new facility gives the portfolio’s workforce a central place to work and meet with one another when not teleworking.

This is a big culture change for the Marine Corps. But the early returns show that the workforce is excited for this change.Lorrie Owens, Program Manager for Medium-Heavy Tactical Vehicles at Marine Corps Systems Command

Employees are not required to report to the building regularly. Instead, they must request a workstation or conference room in advance via a private website for command employees. They can make reservations for as little as a day or as long as a week.

However, reservations are not required in some instances. For example, an employee can connect to the building’s Wi-Fi and work from their laptop in a lounge area at any time during regular business hours, said Owens.

“This facility provides an added benefit of a reduced government space,” said Owens. “We can minimize our footprint by reducing the number of government facilities needed.”

During a July 2021 event, MCSC Executive Director William Williford III spoke enthusiastically to command supervisors about the advantages of the pilot program, including how it increases workplace flexibility and helps supervisors manage their teams more efficiently.

He said the workforce will help leadership determine if similar workspaces open in the future.

“We’re going to give it some time and see how things go,” said Williford. “The workforce is going to tell us what they like and don’t like. Then we’ll look at our other [workspace] environments and see if we want to implement a similar open-space program.”

The current MCSC workforce has expressed excitement upon touring the facility in late June. After the tour, employees completed a survey conducted by LCES. Results indicated most employees reacted positively to the new space. They particularly enjoyed the openness and brightness of the environment.

Owens believes the space will provide a positive, productive outlet for MCSC for years to come.

“This is a big culture change for the Marine Corps,” said Owens. “But the early returns show that the workforce is excited for this change.”

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