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  • Erin Greenawald 9:36 pm on October 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: co workers, cowokers, , , , , working virtually   

    The Good, the Bad, and the Gchat: On Working Virtually 

    As I mentioned last week, my work for The Daily Muse doesn’t usually involve fun times with my co-workers—or any time with my co-workers. My work usually looks a little more like this —>

    Admittedly, this picture was taken during a day that I did get to spend at our co-working space in NYC, but you get the idea. Just me and my computer, getting chummy. Starting last August, I have worked 10—and now 20—hours a week virtually, in various locations and states of dress (read: I don’t always look that cute).

    There are a lot of things I love about working virtually. The biggest perk is that it’s continually given the the opportunity to work for a company I’m really excited about, but that is unfortunately not in the city I’m living in. When I first applied to The Daily Muse, I was a week away from moving to Copenhagen for a semester. I was worried they would turn me down because of my international situation, but they were completely on board. (Thank goodness.) Plus, I can pretty much work whenever, wherever, and wearing whatever I want. As your typical way-too-busy AU student, this is key.

    But as great as it sounds not to have to show up in your best business casual every day, there’s a dark side to working virtually, too. The hardest thing for me has been not having face-to-face interaction with my co-workers. As I learned over the summer when I did get to work in person with them, my co-workers are pretty awesome, and face-to-face time leads to a lot of great things: socializing, brainstorming, coffee breaks, collaboration, happy hours, joking around, more coffee breaks. My managing editor and I try to mimic it by sending each other links to Editor Real Talk or pictures of cute puppies over Gchat, but it’s just not the same.

    So, now that you know the best and worst of the matter, here are a few other things you should know if you’re thinking of picking up a virtual internship:

    1. If you aren’t a self-motivator, don’t do it.
      No, your boss won’t be watching you work over your shoulder, but that doesn’t mean you get to slack off—if you don’t do your work, your boss will still know. Take yourself to super-star intern level by regularly communicating the status of your projects to your boss, even if they aren’t due yet. It’ll make her life easier knowing what to expect from you (and reminding her that you’re doing good work never hurts you either).
    2. Get ready for an email explosion.
      All the assignment check-ins, quick questions for your boss, and little conversations you would have in the hall? Get ready for them all to be in your inbox. Long emails that replace presentations or team updates, short emails with quick questions about a project, just-in-the-subject-line emails for quick need-to-knows. We recently adopted a team chat service called HipChat that has relieved our inboxes some, but the amount of email you send and receive as a virtual worker is pretty absurd.
    3. If you can find a way to meet the people you work with, do it.
      Whether you can afford to take a trip to go meet them all, or Skype is the best thing you can do, find a way to spend a little time with your most immediate co-workers face-to-face. It’s kind of hard to really get to know someone over the internet, to get how you vibe with them. I worked with all of my co-workers over email and the phone for nine months, but didn’t feel like I really got to know them until I met them in person—and now I feel like I can interact with them all much better virtually. It’s nice to have a face, voice, and personality associated with the person on the other side of the email chain.
    4. Don’t be afraid to have a little virtual fun.
      When all your work is done via email, it can be easy to feel like every email you send has to be business related. News flash—it doesn’t. You have to find some way to virtually replace the break room (in fact, most of our breakroom content stems from the jokey emails and chats we send to each other). Obviously, this will depend on the level of professionalism within your organization and how well you know your co-workers—and you don’t want to spam people’s already crammed inboxes—but a fun email every now and then can be a good way to give everyone a quick break.

    That’s all I got for now! Do you have any questions about working virtually, or tips from your virtual work experiences?

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    • Julia Beyer 4:59 pm on October 16, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for these extremely useful tips about working virtually, Erin. I am highlighting this in the SOC Spot Newsletter.

  • Lizzie 2:14 pm on August 2, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: co workers   

    Your 40 hour family 

    They say that friends are the family you actually get to choose. So what are coworkers then?

    For us interns – we likely didn’t consider coworkers when we applied for a position. As temporary workers, we are generally more concerned with getting an experience that meets our needs – substantial and meaningful work, good supervisor, in our field. But coworkers can be the difference between a good internship and a great internship.

    (More …)

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  • jv9968a 8:24 pm on November 13, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , co workers, ,   

    If At First You Don’t Succeed 

    Last week Riot Act had one of it’s first rentals. A group of young professionals had rented out the show room for lunch and paid for a comic to entertain them while they eat. It was on a weekday afternoon, which is normally not a profitable time for a comedy club, so this was a great way for a little extra profit.

    Needless to say, it was a little rocky. We had over 200 young professionals, all very eager to explore Riot Act, but all very hungary. Unfortunately, without thinking of the congestion, we had set up our show room with one buffet line. This was the issue.

    As the intern, I helped the everyone set up the room, and then greeted people as they entered. It was about 20 minutes into greeting that I noticed people were leaving especially fast. I met to talk to my manager to discover that the line to get food was winding all around the room. People were getting fed up with waiting and decided that they could get their food elsewhere.

    At the time, there was very little we could do. We apologized to the young professionals and promised there would be enough food for them. We couldn’t offer refunds, since they hadn’t actually paid us. We just tried to be as friendly and receptive as possible and handed out Buy One Get One tickets for our comedy shows.

    This showed me, that even big companies make mistakes. This was not an event that was thrown together last minute, but it was one small detail that was not thought through and it threw the whole even off. Next time we will obviously have two, or even three, buffet lines. Until then, we will just learn from our mistakes and hope we don’t offend anyone enough for them not to give us a second chance.

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  • Rachel Frank 3:21 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: co workers, , work appropriate   

    Is this work appropriate? 

    The above question is one I seem to be asking myself a lot lately. More than I ever thought possible. It seems that my life as an intern now solely revolves around wearing work appropriate clothes and saying work appropriate things and being all around more appropriate. But how do I know what is really acceptable and not? I have a basic idea of what to say, what to wear and how to act but it feels like most of the time I’m just guessing and hoping I won’t say, wear or do the wrong thing.

    (More …)

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    • John Charles 6:55 pm on June 29, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Rachel: You are right to be concerned about the nature of the conversations taking place on the intern desks. Would you be comfortable being more direct with your fellow interns? Not when the inappropriate words are flying, but away from the office, in a more private setting? Sure, you might make them angry at you, but your instinct to put a lid on the language is the right one. Good luck!

    • Julia Beyer 7:05 pm on June 29, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      You bring up some very valid concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your fellow interns, have you tried to talk to your direct supervisor about your concerns? Every organization has a different culture, but it is the responsiblity of the employer to provide a comfortable work environment for all employees– whether interns or permanent.
      If nothing comes of this, perhaps you can learn from this experience and when you are interviewing for your next internship, you can ask specifically about the work culture and the level of professionalism of the staff.

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