The Culture of Working in a Congressional office Virtually

This summer I am working as an intern in Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s Austin Office. While we would usually be in the office we have been working remotely which has been interesting but also made it more difficult to understand the specific office culture.

I was personally surprised to learn of all the people it took to keep a congressional office running. Every Congressman has an office in his distinct and in Washington D.C. As an intern I report directly to the head of operations for the Austin Office. There are 5 interns who I have never met face to face or spoken to in a group since our training. We have a group text where our supervisor communicates updates to us. My relationship with my supervisor, Luis, feels very casual. He emails me my work and will call or text me often. My supervisor Luis is usually the only person I interact directly with. He sends me work and I send it back.

Once a week we have all staff meetings with the 25 people who work for Congressman Doggett as well as the Congressman himself. These meetings feel very formal and agenda if followed. I imagine being in the office would create a much more formal and professional work culture, but working virtually, I can see where more informalities occur.

As a political office, the attention paid to certain issues is inherently skewed. Working in his Austin office means that every employee must be up to date on the happenings within District 35. This has been both a blessing and a curse because I have learned so much about my home town but also much invest more time out of work making sure I am prepared and up to date in order to accomplish the tasks given to me.

I think that given the circumstances, the office culture has adapted well to suit the needs o the group. It adjusted to become more informal in order to accommodate people working from home which I feel has been beneficial. One suggestion for growth in the office is for communication to be less disconnected. I think creating a staff Teams group or Slack chat with the interns would allow for more fluid communication. Although I have loved working with my supervisor I do think I and the rest of the staff could benefit from the interns working directly with others.