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Professionalism in the Virtual Workplace

April 23, 2021

Even as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and restrictions start to slowly loosen, many organizations plan to remain either entirely or partially remote in their operations. While most employees and managers enjoy the flexibility and convenience that working from home allows, there are important considerations to bear in mind for all who operate in the remote work setting. To read more about managing in the remote workplace, see our article from July 2020 here: https://www.halpernadvisors.com/thought_leadership/working-remotely-tips-for-managers/.

  • Be aware of computer hackers. During the pandemic, many virtual meetings and classes have been subject to intrusion by internet users, with the intent to disrupt and, often, act profane. It is important to have passwords and take over measures to ensure that virtual meetings are secure. Consult with your IT department for the best way to keep your work calls and message protected.
  • The “chat” feature. Many video platforms being used for virtual workplaces, such as Zoom and Slack, have a chat feature where users can send messages to others participating in the meeting. The feature is used by many to have a private chat with colleagues and friends. Advise employees to double check the intended recipient before sending a chat.
  • Don’t be too informal. Despite working from the comfort of our homes, often in casual clothing, employers and employees alike need to remember that they are in the virtual workplace when they log onto their computers. Overly casual attitudes may lead to remarks or behaviors that are unacceptable for work.
  • Keep jokes appropriate for the workplace. In the virtual workplace, almost everything can be overheard. This openness may give license for employees to make comments or jokes that may not be appropriate. Remind employees to avoid comments or jokes that have the potential to make someone feel singled out or “othered.”
  • Use the mute button. Working from home means that noise occurring in the background can be heard by those on your virtual meeting or call. To prevent disrupting or distracting others in a meeting, remind employees to mute their microphones when they are not speaking.
  • Keep employees engaged. It is easy to lose focus when participating in a long virtual meeting or presentation. Try asking employees to take notes or ask them to collaborate via screensharing. Screensharing can help engagement by having employees all focus on the same item being discussed. As always, having a clear agenda and keeping meetings brief and focused always helps.

The bottom line is that it is important for employees to remain aware of the fact that they are working in a professional environment, even if they are working from home. Implementing these tips will help create a smoother virtual workplace.

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