How to Be the Best Virtual Employee/Intern You Can Be

Image of young woman sitting on the floor and working on laptop

Many opportunities are moving online but virtual professionalism is a nuanced matter. What about those firm handshakes and business casual dress codes we were all taught?  This is a new situation for many employees and employers.  That means it could be up to you to take the lead in being the best virtual employee you can be.  Here’s how:

  • Work It
    • Prove your trustworthiness and self-motivation by following through reliably on tasks assigned. 
    • Set mid- to long-term goals for yourself in addition to projects assigned by your supervisor.  Consider aligning them to the company’s strategic plan or core career competencies (especially if you are an intern building your skills).
    • Be a flexible and resourceful problem-solver. Be proactive when possible. 
  • Over Communicate
    • Clarify communication preferences (frequency, email or calling, short emails or detailed messages, etc.).
    • Don’t forget to factor in time zones! Always add time zones (i.e. EST) to your messages if working with a team outside of your time zone..
    • Check in with your supervisor weekly with your priorities and updates. Here is a great email template to use!
  • Set Limits
    • Set a regular schedule. Let your supervisor and housemates (ahem, little brother) know when you will be working. 
    • Take a lunch break (maybe set up virtual lunch dates with your co-workers to combat loneliness).
    • Create a defined work area (NOT your bed).
  • Master Virtual Meeting Etiquette
    • Mute yourself when not talking.
    • Don’t multitask; concentrate on the meeting.
    • Dress professionally (from the top up, at least) and follow these tips to look and sound your best.
  • Stay Focused on Your Work
    • Create a productive work area. Check out these tips and don’t forget ergonomics!
    • Use time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique (focus for 25 minutes, relax for 5) and others to keep you on task.  
    • Don’t get distracted by checking email constantly.  
  • Take Care of Yourself
    • Move your body, eat nutritious food, and stay hydrated.  Make sure you are getting proper sleep, too.  
    • Shower and get dressed daily. Don’t forget to get outside when you can (at least open a window or play nature sounds).
    • Avoid burnout by practicing positive daily affirmations.

By Charlotte Walker, Career Exploration Coach

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