Centred Content

Dear Joanna,

I’m excited to report that I just got offered a work from home data entry position at a local office! Eventually, the employer said that we will be working from both in person and virtually – a hybrid/blended workplace. I’ve never worked remotely before – only in person at the office. Please can you advise me on how to be a successful employee while working at a virtual job.

Signed: Work From Home

Centred Content

Dear WFH

Since the pandemic started, the virtual workplace has boomed with its pros and cons. On one hand, it has provided a unique opportunity to balance work and life and offers a lot of freedom for the employee with his or her time. But it can be complicated too. Some of the rules of conduct and acceptable behaviours of a virtual office are the same as in person on site workplaces but it can be more challenging to understand boundaries, respect and team work when working at home. I’ve consulted with Reena job coaches as well as Schad’s blog https://www.virtualvocations.com/blog/telecommuting-survival/virtual-office-etiquette-common-sense-tips/.  Here are six tips to help you conduct yourself appropriately in a remote working environment.

  1. Learn the Technology In Advance: Become comfortable with the technology and virtual platform/s that is used by the company. Download the app or software and sign up on the website. Make sure everything works properly. Test the internet connection as well as the audio and sound. Before you start your working day, play with the software. Ensure that all your office tools and equipment are working – computer, laptop, keyboard, mouse, printer/scanner, phone etc.
  2. Pick the Perfect Spot for Your computer station / home office. Whether you are working from home or at a coffee shop or shared office space, find a quiet location that it isn’t too dark but also stays away from overhead lights during your virtual meetings. Sitting near a window is the best because of its natural light. Bad lighting can be distracting. A glare could make it difficult for the interviewer to see you. Eliminate distractions. Silence is key. Make sure that you are alone and nothing interferes with your conversation, including your phone and email notifications on your computer. This includes pets too. Make sure you have an ergonomic chair & desk set up.
  3. Be an amazing virtual team player. How do you do this virtually? Work together more often by asking to book in advance as much as possible for a virtual meeting with your boss and/or co-workers if you need help or you wish to understand a new task or duty. Find out how the supervisor and your co-workers like to communicate and how you keep everyone at work informed of your work. Bloggers note that results matter more in the virtual workplace. Focus on goals and accomplishments as well as your tasks and activities.
  4. Respect off- hours time of others (when you are not working). One of the challenges of working remotely is that you’re not sure when people are behind their desks. Everyone has different hours. Some may have to work a normal 9-to-5 shift while others have more flexibility and autonomy. Therefore, you should set boundaries on your own. Notify your boss and team when you are on vacation or not working either at a team meeting or email. Make sure you set your Outlook automatic reply to indicate when you are out of the office. Be considerate of your co-workers, staff & supervisors
  5. Be sensitive to differences. Gone are the days of small talk and casual conversations and socializing at the water coolers or lunch rooms. In today’s global workforce, and virtual workplace, a lighthearted joke in one area of the world is an insult to another. Avoid discussing controversial topics. This list includes religion, politics, or sex. Respecting different opinions and personalities is more challenging in the virtual office. You will have to be in the same zoom virtual meeting room as your colleagues many of whom are different than you.
  6. Be professional. As you would in your former in person jobs, always look presentable and alert at virtual meetings. Connect into the meeting about 10-15 minutes earlier so you are ready to go when the interviewer logs in. Also, stay mindful of your body language and facial expressions. If you have an early morning video meeting, ensure you are fully awake before appearing on camera. Finally, don’t eat during the meeting. There is nothing more distracting than someone chewing, gulping, and slurping during a conference call.

Good luck in your new position.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org