Tips for Success in a Virtual Work Environment

Modern Father Working From Home talking on phone with wife and child in the background

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have had to adjust quickly to new challenges at home and at work. Employees who typically commuted to a physical workspace are having to adapt to working from home.

We asked our MS in Human Resource Management faculty and graduates, who are already adept at teaching and learning online, to share their tips for success in a virtual environment. Whether you’re looking for advice on how to best stay focused throughout the day or guidance for leading and supporting your virtual teams, our HR experts have you covered.  

Creating New Routines

“What I have found helpful in shifting to remote work from co-located work is the energy I get from others in the work community. To help maintain my energy and get a feeling of accomplishment, I make a list every morning of the tasks I want to get done. This keeps me on track and also gives me a sense of satisfaction when I can cross off an item from my list.”
Solange Charas, MSHRM Faculty

“Create a new routine for yourself that allows you to begin and end your work day. If you’re no longer commuting, wake up at your usual time but use that extra freedom to exercise or practice mindfulness. Throughout your day, take some breaks to keep your mind focused and fresh – move to another room in your home or take a few minutes to refill that cup of coffee. Finally, end your day when you typically would if you have a commute and establish some barriers between your personal and professional life.”
Matt Barron ’18

“Remote workers may benefit from video conferencing, as they can receive the same visual cues they receive face-to-face. Establish a brief daily call with your remote employees.”
Denise Ibarria ‘19

Leading and Supporting Virtual Teams

“Establish new communication habits around tasks and work flows and intentional team connection, focused on team relationships. Agree on how the team wants to be supported, facilitated, evaluated. Educate team members about how to stay in touch formally and informally through collaboration tools and communication infrastructure. You’ll need to provide more context and information to replace the cues and clues we pick up naturally when working co-located.”
Trina Hoefling, MSHRM Faculty & Virtual Team Engagement Expert

“Create structured “Daily Check-Ins” by establishing a brief daily call with your remote team members. This could be either a series of one-on-one calls, or a team call, if their work is highly collaborative. What’s important is that the calls are regular, predictable and are a forum in which team members know they can consult with their leader, and that their concerns and questions will be heard.”
Denise Ibarria ‘19

“Encourage teammates to support one another in an organic fashion – don’t wait for formal requests or keyword cues. Reach out just to say “Hi” or “What’s on your mind?” Make sure your team has an avenue to request technology and facility requests like a standing desk – or at least a means to reimburse the teams. If we’re working from home, let’s make sure that home office is as functional as the workplace.”
Matt Barron ‘18

Supporting Teams during Crises

“Provide encouragement and emotional support during crises. It’s important for you to acknowledge stress and listen to employees’ concerns. If the company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), provide information to team members.”
Denise Ibarria ‘19

“Supporting a team during a crisis can be difficult because every team member may be working remotely. It is important to be supportive of every team member’s physical and mental well-being. A crisis may bring about anxiety about the future and it is crucial to be supportive about working through that anxiety.”
Mark Morgan ‘19

“Pursue many different avenues of support. If you have an EAP, make sure everyone has that contact information and what services are offered. If you have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), encourage those groups to meet more frequently via video chat and discuss the main issues people in those groups face – and ask the leader to look for patterns to bring to HR.”
Matt Barron ‘18

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