How US Government Workers Collaborate Virtually

From 18F

18F is an office inside the General Services Administration that helps other federal agencies build, buy, and share efficient and easy-to-use digital services. We’re a team of technology experts that work with agencies to diagnose problems and then work alongside agency teams to find the right solutions.

Headquartered at 18 and F streets in Washington, D.C., we’re an office of federal employees acting as a civic consultancy for the government. We’re transforming government from the inside out, creating cultural change by working with teams inside agencies who want to create great services for the public

18F employees live all over the country. We work out of homes in Dayton and Tucson, St. Louis and Chapel Hill — and in federal buildings in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

That means many of our project teams are also made up of distributed employees working all over the country. For example, you may have a developer in Austin, a designer in Washington, D.C., and a content strategist in Portland — but they’re all working on the same team and with the same partners.

Because we work on distributed teams so frequently, we’ve developed certain strategies for working well as a collaborative operation….

  • We have a “remote first” mindset.
  • We have a five-hour overlap in our workdays.
  • We share our screens frequently.
  • We have face-to-face meetings at least once a week.
  • We make our work transparent to each other.
  • We over-communicate, especially with clients.
  • For this to work well, we all think of ourselves as remote employees, even if we’re in an office….

For many on the 18F team, working in this collaborative environment is second nature, but we understand that not everyone is used to working this way. Part of 18F’s mission is to show our partners across the federal government just how these tools can be used to maximum effect. Also, by having our distributed teams fully integrated into the workflow, we provide our partners a nearly 12-hour workday to spend on their projects.