Creating a productive and collaborative work environment
Create a collaborative physical space
Physical space can encourage and facilitate collaboration.
As teams envision and build products, they need space for conducting in-person workshops with users and stakeholders. A useful space for workshops and trainings has:
- Enough room for 20 to 30 people to move around
- Plenty of free wall space for stickies, posters, and journey maps that attendees can gather around
- Whiteboards for brainstorming (tip: use IdeaPaint if physical boards aren’t available)
- Equipment to project or display slides (for instructions and other materials)
Ensure your teams have modern hardware and software
Digital team members will need access to modern software and services to do their jobs well. They’ll likely already be familiar with many tools commonly used in industry and will be productive with them. The tables later in this section include examples of popular tools, but these aren’t exhaustive lists — ask your staff what tools they need.
"Of public sector job seekers, 43% of 18 to 34 year olds indicated that the government's readiness to adopt the latest technology had a major impact on their willingness to work in government."NASCA, Accenture, and NEOGOV
Have a remote-first mindset
A geographically-distributed team needs to be able to access data, documents, and tools from anywhere. You should invest in decent collaboration tools. And work with your network and security teams to ensure tools and other services your team relies on can be accessed remotely.
In the tables below, we’ve identified tools that facilitate remote work as “remote friendly.”
Project management and other tools
|Miro||Allows creation of product management, UX, and other types of online boards||X|
|Trello||Kanban-style, list-making application for agile project management||X|
|Jira||Bug tracking and agile project management||X|
Communication tools are a constant barrier for government employees. Increase productivity and foster creative, serendipitous problem solving by procuring collaboration software.
|Slack, Microsoft Teams||Real-time chat||X|
|Zoom, Microsoft Teams||Video conferencing||X|
|Google Docs, Microsoft Teams||Document collaboration||X|
Tools for engineers
|GitHub or GitLab||Distributed version control, features to make collaborating on code easier, and features for issue tracking||X|
|Code Climate||Code quality and other code metrics static scans|
Tools for designers
|Sketch||Create high-fidelity mockups and prototypes and build interface components that can be reused across projects|
|Invision||Interactive prototypes and feedback||X|
|Abstract||Version control for Sketch files|
- Use the list above to equip a new team with commonly-used digital tools
- Start procuring these as early as possible, since most large organizations have lengthy procedures for permitting and acquiring new tools and software
- Establish a simple process for teams to request additional software and services
Case study: 18F
18F, a tech team within the U.S. General Services Administration, partners with agencies to help them build, buy, and share technology that improves the user experience of government services. With team members all over the country, 18F employs a number of strategies to make their remote-first mindset work:
- They use digital tools to make it easy for remote teams to chat, meet, share work, and preserve decisions.
- They require each team member to be at their own computer during meetings to ensure that remote team members have a voice equal to that of those in the office.
- They adjust work hours to provide enough overlap between employees in different timezones. Staggered hours across time zones allows the teams to spend 12 hours per day delivering client value, and everyone is online working between 12pm and 5pm EST.