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Division turns to open office design to solve space constraints

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Simulators Division is in the process of redesigning existing office space into an open office design. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to finish in August. The overall project is expected to be completed in the January 2020 timeframe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Brackens)

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Simulators Division is in the process of redesigning existing office space into an open office design. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to finish in August. The overall project is expected to be completed in the January 2020 timeframe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Brackens)

Conceptual design for future office space for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Simulators Division. (Courtesy graphic)

Conceptual design for future office space for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Simulators Division. (Courtesy graphic)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – When Col. Philip Carpenter came onboard as the senior materiel leader for the Simulators Division in the Spring of 2017, he took over an organization with a rapidly expanding mission but limited space for new employees.

“When I started the job I realized immediately that we had serious space constraints and no immediate solution in sight,” Carpenter said. “We were in a situation where we couldn’t stick with the status quo and we had to do something.”

Soon after, the division’s chief engineer sent Carpenter an article about a Fortune 500 company that was able to successfully accommodate 1,200 employees into an area that was previously only designed for 900 people, using an open office design – which tears down and replaces assigned cubicles, private offices and partitions with unassigned seating, collaboration spaces and community areas.

After thinking about it and doing research Carpenter decided to talk with his team about transitioning to the open office model.

“When I first talked to the team, they looked at me like I had two heads,” he said. “But the more we talked about it the more people started saying hey let’s do this.”

While the new office layout will be a big change, Carpenter said it will allow the division to put more people into existing floor space in a way that doesn’t compromise their quality of life.

Most of the space will be dedicated to hoteling or unassigned seats, collaboration spaces and team rooms. A limited number of dedicated seats will be available for folks who don’t want to pick up and move to a new spot every day. In addition, teleworking options will be available as well.

“Across the 60 plus simulator programs in our portfolio, we’re implementing a new approach called, ‘Simulators Common Architecture Requirements and Standard’ or SCARS. This fundamentally transforms the entire portfolio and evolves our architecture into one that’s more modular and open,” said Carpenter.  “As we breakdown system stovepipes, we’re working to evolve our business practices by developing a comprehensive strategy that focuses on improving collaboration, interaction, and quality of life for team members as our mission continues grows.”  

“Senior Air Force leaders from the [Air Force] Chief of Staff on down are focused on simulation and training, and we have to ensure we are structured in a way that allows us to best support our warfighters,” he added.

Construction on the first phase of the design project is expected to finish in August. The overall project is expected to be completed in the January 2020 timeframe.