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UMGC Career Connection
Six Tips for Thriving in a Virtual Workplace 

Rhoda Smackum
By Rhoda Smackum

The pandemic has contributed to the current state of hybrid and remote working. The Owl Labs 2021 State of Remote Work survey reports that nearly 70 percent of full-time U.S. workers have worked remotely—with many still doing so. The survey also states that productivity did not change, with 90 percent of the employees who worked from home during the pandemic were either more productive or stayed the same. To be successful working remotely you will need to consider the following six tips. 

Keep a regular work schedule. Establish the times you will be working each day and communicate this schedule to internal and external stakeholders. Setting a schedule for work will allow you to establish a routine and set healthy boundaries for your career and personal life. 

Get the right home office setup. A dedicated office space will help you stay focused on your work. Without the right equipment and software your productivity can suffer. If needed, reach out to your IT team and human resources for support. Consider requesting an ergonomic chair, fixed or standing desk, monitors, headphones, etc. Creating an area that is free from the noise and distractions of home life will motivate you to work more efficiently.  

Meet deadlines. Prioritize your assigned tasks by choosing a method that will help you stay on track throughout the day and avoid focusing on what’s not urgent or important. One option to consider is the Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as the Urgent-Important Matrix. This method helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, helping you sort out less urgent or less important tasks that you should either delegate or not do at all. 

Communicate often. Communication is so important when working in a remote environment. Some of your colleagues may be in the office as well. You will need to determine the best way to communicate. Use different tools such as Microsoft Teams chat, email, phone, etc. Consider the person and their preferences. Take into consideration the time of day you send emails, and make sure you send emails during working hours. Don’t forget to let others know your communication style and preference. 

Take time to dress for work. How should you dress when working remotely? That will depend on how you will be engaging clients and coworkers. Are you on video calls most of the day? If so, consider wearing a blouse/shirt and dressy leggings or pants. You can add jewelry and other accessories if it will be seen on camera. It’s really a personal preference, but if you are unsure about the policy for your organization be sure to reach out to your supervisor and/or human resources for guidance. 

Take frequent breaks. Fehed Nicass recommends taking five-minute breaks every 25 minutes followed by a 30-minute break every hour and a half. He suggests aiming for short, frequent breaks of about 5-10 minutes away from your desk every hour, especially if you stare at screens all day.  

As always, keep in mind that your UMGC Career Services team is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist for additional support in your career journey.  

Rhoda Smackum is a manager in Career Services at University of Maryland Global Campus. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.