Survival Tips for Working Virtually

By Barbara McColm, CFRE, Senior Associate 

If you’re now working from home, welcome to the world of working virtually. For many of you, this is a new concept.  For the past 15 years, I have had a virtual office and have set a schedule that works well.  Here are a few tips to help you survive and thrive working virtually.

Working from home with kids

  • Identify a dedicated workspace.  Many of you may have children at home and now find you are cramped for space.  I just finished a call with a Development Director who had locked herself in her bedroom to keep her three children from interrupting her.  Find a space that is dedicated to you and your work, one that doesn’t have to be disassembled each day. If there is another virtual worker at home, define separate areas that offer some degree of privacy and quietness so you can conduct conference calls without bothering each other.  Set office hours for each of you for paperwork and joint space consideration.


  • Start the day prepared.  Set a schedule to be at your desk at a certain time every work day. Get up at the same time, eat breakfast, workout, shower and dress for the day especially if you have children.  No one participating in a video conference call wants to see you in your pajamas.  Coordinate with your virtual workmate who will be watching the children. 


  • Prepare for the next day.  With children at home now, you will need to create a plan for who will watch them while you are working or on calls.  This is a great time to have your older children help with homework or bring in a college student to assist.  You will soon develop a new appreciation for the work teachers accomplish each day. 


  • Multitasking does work.  If you have a full laundry basket, do a couple of loads while you are working instead of saving it for the evening.  Pull out frozen food to thaw for dinner or dust off the crockpot to be ready for the end of the day.   


  • Take breaks.  It is important to stop for lunch and breaks.  Move from your work space to the kitchen table, the patio or another place to eat lunch or snacks in the sunshine.  Give yourself a mental break. You would do this if you were at your workplace office. 


  • Screen calls when needed.  Set down rules with family members and if one calls during work hours, determine if you absolutely need to take the call. Use the same criteria to screen calls that you use in your regular workplace office. Text them and make sure no emergency exists and when you can call them back.  Get the work done first.  Remember, you control your schedule now. 


The best part of working virtually is realizing how much more you get done if you take control of your day.  Production increases and you manage your schedule giving you much more peace of mind in this “new normal.”  Who knows…you could finish and take off early! 

Good luck!    

By Barbara McColm, CFRE, Senior Associate