Throughout Gov. Doug Ducey’s eight years as Arizona governor, the state has reduced its footprint of occupied government office space by about 750,000 square feet, increasing efficiency and lowering costs.
This initiative accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when workers found themselves adapting to hybrid and remote work. Before the pandemic started, “less than 10 percent of state employees participated in some level of remote work, either full-time from a virtual office or periodic telecommuting. That number has surged to 41 percent.”
In the last two years, the state government has invested in downsizing its office space by consolidating natural resource agencies into one building, with six state agencies to join them. This has allowed the state to move out of six buildings, now assigned for demolition.
Additionally, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System downsized from two buildings into one and moved the majority of its employees to virtual offices. That move alone saved $1.2 million. The Department of Education, Office of Tourism, and Department of Economic Security will also be relocated from rental spaces to offices owned by the state.
Since 2020, these actions have saved the government more than $9 million in rental costs and “nearly $139 million in deferred maintenance costs.”
The transition to remote work has also come with benefits to the environment, as “the reduction in commutes averted 91,165 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 81.48 tons of nitrogen oxides from the air.”
Many government employees have moved into Arizona’s Connected Workspace, which Ducey unveiled last Wednesday. The Governor’s Office described the new complex as a “state-of-the-art hub for the more than 15,000 state employees who work remotely.”
The new workplace is designed to be ready for hybrid work environments, as Arizonans look for jobs that allow for remote work. To meet these goals, the new facility comes equipped with “capabilities for video conferencing, interactive whiteboards, a variety of conference rooms and collaborative huddle spaces, personal item lockers, and a fully stocked snack and beverage bar with a self-checkout kiosk.”
Currently, the state has the smallest “government headcount in a quarter century with 32,000 employees.” However, in the last decade, Arizona’s population has drastically increased and the state has been faced with the task of maximizing resources to serve residents more effectively.
This goal of increasing government efficiency has long been a priority of Gov. Ducey, who promised “he would shrink government and grow businesses” during his first state of the state address in 2015.
The Arizona Department of Administration, led by Director Andy Tobin, will manage Arizona’s Connected Workspace and continue to oversee the consolidation of Arizona’s state work environment.