How to Succeed in Your First Job

How to Be Effective in a Remote or Virtual Job

The concept of working remotely has become popular in many industries including engineering, customer service and sales. This doesn’t just mean occasionally working from home, but actually living in a different city or even a different country from the company you’re working for. In a survey of college students and recent grads, working remotely was the top factor they considered when looking for internships and entry-level jobs. To do it effectively, it’s important to remember that working remotely is more than just opening up your laptop while you’re still in bed.

Here are a few tips on how to be effective at your remote job.

Set work hours

Depending on your job, it might also be helpful (or mandatory) to set your work hours around your company’s core business hours, so that you communicate easily with the rest of the team and be available as new situations crop up. Even if that’s not the case, consistent work hours help your body and mind get into work mode, allowing you to focus and be more productive. Working the same hours every day also makes it easier for co-workers to get in touch with you since they know when you’re available.   

Set up a workspace

Set up an area in your home just for working. This area should be separate from the bed or the couch. Working from your bed might be super comfortable, but you might just end up falling asleep halfway through the day. If you don’t have space, an alternative is to go to a local coffee shop or bookstore. Most of these places offer free Wi-Fi and a quiet place to sit and do your work.   

Take breaks

When you work in an office, you often take short breaks to get a refill of coffee, walk to meetings or even just walk over to a colleague to chat. However, while working remotely, it’s easy to get bogged down in work and forget to take those breaks. But taking a break can actually make you more productive. So make sure to stop working and stretch your legs a few times a day.

Communicate early and often

It’s already difficult enough to create a healthy flow of communication in the workplace, and it is way harder to do it when you are working remotely. Always be sure to let those you work with know what you’re working on, how it’s progressing and any issues that come up. The more information you provide to the rest of the team, the easier it will be for them to work with you and help out if you get stuck.

Build relationships

Successful careers are not just based on the work you do, but also on the relationships you build with your managers and co-workers. Make sure you take the time to build these relationships by having regular video calls with team members, being active on internal communication platforms like Slack and talking about your interests outside of work. Many companies also regularly have team meetings and parties, so even if you love working remotely, take advantage of these opportunities to meet the team in person.   

Network locally

In an office environment, a lot of ideas are exchanged with people within teams and across teams. Working remotely, you miss out on a lot of these ad-hoc conversations and meetings. Even though you can gain experience from the work you do, to really grow your skills, it’s important to learn from others. Finding meetups and work groups in your area is a great way to network and to learn and share ideas.

Working remotely is a trend that will continue to grow as the tools companies use for communication improve. If done right, a remote job can be a healthy balance of freedom, flexibility and productivity while still advancing your career. If you’re reading this and it sounds awesome but you don’t work remotely, head over to and filter your job search to look for remote and virtual jobs.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 40+ Ways to Find the Right Internship and find answers to common interview questions such as How do You Handle Pressure?.