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Office Geography and our Move

2012 August 23

By Jeffery Robichaud

Most people hate moving, but I don’t mind. I’ve done it so many times throughout my life that my natural urge towards anxiety and trepidation that usually accompanies such an event dulled long ago. In a little over a month EPA Region 7 is moving its Regional Office from 901 North 5th St in Kansas City, KS to 11201 Renner Boulevard in Lenexa, KS. Our laboratory will still be located at 300 Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, KS, but most staff will have a new place to hang their hat. There are all sorts of geospatial analysis that I could look at regarding our move such as comparisons of amenities, travel times, weather patterns, but I think the more interesting geospatial aspect of the move is going to be what I’ll refer to as office-geography…the geography inside our new building.

Our Current and New Locations for our Regional Office and our Regional Laboratory

Most of you are probably saying to yourself, Jeff come on…there is this whole occupation called architecture. Yeah I know but stay with me. If geographers study the spatial and the temporal distribution of “stuff” and the interaction of humans and their environment, doesn’t that mean this same spatial study can be accomplished on a really small scale, say in an office setting.

Jeff this is Mike Brady. Don't you remember my profession?

Architects lay out the plans (physical geography) of the building, but only upon moving in will we know how humans (my coworkers) interact with their environment (the new digs). Which hallways are going to be the highways that receive the most traffic, which will be the lonely gravel roads? How close will I be to the store (aka supply room)? Which common areas will become the gathering places? Likewise which will be the oasis for quiet contemplation? Will the busy periods in the lunch room subtly change as staff work hours shift based on their new proximity to the office? Will I get along with my new neighbors? (I’m thinking I better say yes since my shop is located next to the Regional Administrator)

 Sure a lot of this is tongue in cheek, but it makes our point that most things can always be viewed through a geospatial lens.  Viewing challenges, whether they be environmental or in this case organizational, through such alens can help us make better informed decisions. 

Our move to our Lenexa office spotlights a new challenge for me (I will be positive and assume our drought lets up).   Taking into account the geography of the parking lot, my location in the building, the employee entrances, and the traffic and employee patterns, when will I have to arrive at work to ensure that I won’t need an umbrella to walk (not run) from my car to the front door?  Whether one consiously or subconsiously jumps through these mental hoops, this is geospatial analysis.  I’m sure I will have some profound observations to share come October, but until then I better get busy finding some tubes to store maps for our move.

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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