I graduated from Ohio State in May with a BA in Strategic Communications, a couple minors and a loose idea of which direction I wanted to head with my career. A few weeks before graduation, I received an email from my professor stating that local PR agency Belle Communications was looking to hire a part-time Account Assistant. Being the very open-minded and very unemployed undergraduate student that I was, I decided to apply not even knowing that the agency was virtual. Five months, one promotion and about a billion hand cramps later, I am absolutely loving working in a virtual environment. So here are five tips I’ve compiled after my first five months with Belle:
1. Be accountable, be accessible
If working in a virtual environment were a sport, it would be competitive swimming. You train and perform on your own so that you can contribute to the overall success of your team. You must be accountable in your role so that your team members can rely on you to meet deadlines, contribute fresh ideas and put forward the highest quality of work you can produce. Another crucial component of a virtual work environment is to ensure that you are accessible to your team in case anyone needs you for anything throughout the day – constant communication is key.
2. Go the extra mile
I am incredibly fortunate to work on a team of conscientious and motivating individuals who support and challenge me to reach my full potential. However, there are times when you need to keep yourself motivated and on task when you work in a virtual environment. You’re not sitting in a cubicle with someone circulating to discourage binging on Youtube videos or filling online shopping carts with things you’ll never actually buy. In order to excel in a virtual environment, you truly have to be self-driven and self-motivated to think outside the box and go the extra mile.
3. Prioritization and time management are absolutely necessary
Time management is arguably one of the most important skills to possess in just about any job, but it takes on new meaning when you work in a virtual environment. I like to start each morning by creating a daily to-do list, deciding which tasks take priority and organizing a timetable based on how long each task will take in order to make sure I reach all of my deadlines on time with quality work.
4. Be resourceful
Technology is a magical thing, my friends. Most of us do not take advantage of the fact that we walk around with tiny computers in our pockets at all times (guilty as charged). In a virtual office, the power of the internet is quite literally at my fingertips. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my experience at Belle thus far is that I have the resources I need to answer a lot of the questions that come up throughout my day. Being resourceful doesn’t only help you to execute your role in a company, but it also conserves your co-workers’ time so that you can maximize productivity as a team.
5. Figure out what works for you and set yourself up for success
Spotify or silence, coffee shop or couch – working remotely presents a lot of options for creating your own work environment. To thrive you must set yourself up for success – pay attention to what elements help you to be most productive and focused. Personally, I think working remotely is like anything else in life: it requires balance. Switching up the elements of my work environment and re-locating keeps things fresh and helps me to maintain a clear and focused mind throughout the day.
At the very beginning, I wasn’t exactly sure whether or not I would enjoy working in a virtual environment, being an active extrovert who loves social interaction. I soon learned that the team at Belle is composed entirely of this type of person and that this digital PR career complements such a lifestyle quite nicely for those with the drive and discipline to thrive in a virtual environment.