A Moving Story: Keith Rutter Discusses POGO’s New Office

POGO is just now settling into our new office on the fifth floor of 1100 G Street NW. We moved to the space on December 20, after spending five years on the ninth floor. The new space is the result of the great office-hunt of 2011, which spanned over 30 different spaces in the Washington, DC metro area. Ultimately, we decided there really is no place like home (POGO used to occupy the fifth floor before we moved to the ninth floor).

The Watercooler recently spoke with Keith Rutter, POGO’s Chief Operations Officer about renovating the space, POGO’s mission, and the plight of the new dishwasher. Find a video with photos of the new space below!

Watercooler: Did POGO have an “aha” moment, when we realized we needed more space?

KR: When we moved, we were busting at the seams—and had been for a while. We didn’t have enough work spaces or desks for folks, especially over the summer, when we tend to have a lot of interns at POGO.

Watercooler: How is the new office an upgrade from the old one?

KR: The building provided money to work with an architect and general contractor to renovate the space, which was our first opportunity to do so. The architect took some of POGO’s publications and looked at our website, and came back with the idea of designing the office around an “open government” theme. That’s what led to our current open office design. We rarely have closed-door meetings because our office culture is to work very collaboratively. [POGO Executive Director] Danielle Brian and I, who have always shared an office, don’t even have a door now.

Watercooler: How did POGO take cost efficiency into account?

KR: We always try to wear two hats—one being fiscally conservative with our contributions, and the other being relatively professional. Members of Congress and congressional staffers visit us, as well as funders. With that in mind, we wanted to portray an image that reflects our work. POGO celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011 and we wanted our space to reflect our history and where we hope to go for the future. We were able to use reclaimed barn wood instead of regular drywall on some walls in the office so it allowed us to save money, open up the office, and give the place a warmer feel. The office has energy-efficient lighting and the kitchen bar is made of recycled metal. Some recycled items were too costly, but we do feel good about the office being significantly more environmentally-friendly and we came in within our budget.

On a side note, our architects are going to be entering POGO in an architectural contest for most economically designed space. We take that as a badge of honor in terms of being fiscally conservative.

Watercooler: Why is there a television monitor in the front room?

KR: The architects, in studying our program work, thought that our videos are some of POGO’s most dynamic sources of information. They really thought it was important to have a monitor in the reception area that could have some of our videos playing, so that new people who visit the office could be drawn into our work very quickly. We were able to buy it as part of our build-out budget—the money given to POGO by the building to renovate our new space.

Watercooler: Do you think the new dishwasher is going to cause more kitchen squabbles, or less?

KR: I think that after an adjustment period, it will cause less. However…there will be an adjustment period.

See photos of our new space in the video below!

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