Question: My agency keeps cramming more people into the same space (and without adding any restrooms). Aren’t there standards for how much room we should have?

Answer: What you are seeing is likely a result of the Reduce the Footprint initiative the government started in 2015 to hold down spending on office space and on other buildings it owns or leases.

The General Services Administration, the government’s landlord agency, does not set standards for working space per employee but instead leaves that up to individual agencies. The key measure is called “usable square feet,” which excludes common spaces such as lobbies.

A recent report on how agencies are using telework to reduce office space showed, for example, that the GSA’s own standard is 136 usable square feet per employee; at Health and Human Services, 170; and at Treasury, 200. Some buildings meet standards; others don’t.

To meet space reduction targets, agencies also are replacing traditional layouts with what the report called “smaller and more densely organized workstations and more emphasis on collaborative workspaces.” These commonly include open designs, desk sharing and unassigned workstations.

Regarding restrooms: For federally owned buildings, the GSA follows the International Plumbing Code. For leased buildings, local building-code standards would apply.