By Angela Schmidt, Account Supervisor
My first-ever interview occurred during my sophomore year in the fall of 2020 and from that information alone, you can probably make an accurate guess as to where this interview took place—online. Zoom and other video conferencing softwares were just one of the many creative ways individuals and organizations adapted to an online work environment during the pandemic, allowing employees to work from anywhere in the world.
The popularity of working from home and flexible work is on the rise. Since my entry into the workforce was in the middle of the pandemic, my professional background primarily consists of hybrid and remote positions. Through my work experiences, I’ve been able to gather some helpful tips and tricks for getting the most out of a virtual work environment and how to work productively and successfully from the comfort of your home.
1. Start your day off right
Whether you’re working from home, going to the office, or heading to class, it’s always important to make sure you have enough energy to get you through the workday. Even if you’re not hungry for a full meal, don’t just make a cup of coffee or tea—have a bagel, a piece of fruit, or a power bar.
2. Set communication guidelines
When it comes to collaborating with your colleagues online, overcommunication is always best. The details and nuances of a project can get lost in the void of emails and Slack messages, and it’s far too easy for miscommunication to occur when you’re hopping between Zoom meetings. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity, more details, and extra information—and especially don’t hesitate to ask questions!
3. Separate your workspace from your bedroom
As a college student, this can be hard to do when your desk is three feet away from your bed. But if the desk is there, use it! Your bed may be a comfy and convenient place to work, but it’s also the place you associate with sleep and relaxation—don’t blur the lines between rest and work.
And on that note…
4. Dress for success
I doubt many people can say they’ve never worn sweatpants on a Zoom call before (I certainly can’t). There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable during a long day at work, especially on days with no meetings. But rolling out of bed and going straight to work in your pajamas can cause the same emotional association with relaxation and rest as working from your bed.
5. Use proper Zoom etiquette
Create a presentable and professional workspace for yourself. I love decorating my room with art and posters, but it can make for a pretty distracting background when I’m in a meeting or giving a presentation. If you don’t have a plain background, make use of the blur feature on Zoom. And when it comes time for a call with your colleagues, boss, or client, make sure to follow your company’s dress policy — whether it be a suit and tie, button-up, or a plain t-shirt.
6. When the clock hits 5: clock out and log off
Maintaining your work-life balance is more important than ever when you work from home. Your specific hours and any expected overtime are dependent on your job, but keep in mind that establishing a sustainable work schedule should be a high priority. I’ve found myself inadvertently putting in extra hours by getting lost in the details of a project or simply by not checking the time. Get your work done on time—but draw a line between your personal and professional life. At the end of the day, exit the Google Chats, close your email, and turn off the Slack Notifications.