How to Effectively Practice Virtual Professionalism

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Remote work is becoming more and more accessible, partly due to rising internet speeds. If you work in an office setting but at times work remotely, you can learn ways to maintain professionalism during virtual interactions with others. Knowing how to practice virtual professionalism can be a crucial skill, which you can enhance through research and practice. In this article, we discuss why virtual professionalism is important, provide steps on how to practice it and list tips for promoting it in the remote workplace.

Why is virtual professionalism important?

Maintaining professionalism with your colleagues is important regardless of the setting because it helps others view you as a valuable member of the team. Some reasons practicing virtual professionalism is important are:

  • It enables you to project a professional image. While being able to virtually attend meetings and conferences can increase your flexibility, it typically makes it harder to project an image of professionalism. Being able to practice virtual professionalism helps you replicate the image you display during offline meetings, and this can have a positive influence on your career success.

  • It can make communication more efficient. Communicating with people who aren't in the same room as you can make it challenging to maintain focus. Practicing virtual professionalism can reduce or eliminate this issue, keeping everyone focused on the discussion and, therefore, improving communication efficiency.

  • It can help eliminate distractions. The device you use for virtual meetings typically allows you to perform multiple actions simultaneously, such as reading emails and browsing the internet. Practicing virtual professionalism means that you can stay away from such distractions during virtual meetings.

Related: Virtual Meetings: A Definitive Guide

How to practice virtual professionalism

Consider following these steps when you wish to display virtual professionalism in an online meeting:

1. Shower and dress in office attire

Although being able to virtually attend meetings means you may no longer have to follow a dress code, doing so can significantly improve your image and performance. Showering before work typically results in an energy boost and can make you feel more professional. Likewise, dressing in office attire instead of casual clothes can help you feel more connected to work, despite the physical distance. Unless you have a highly important virtual meeting, dressing in business casual attire is usually an appropriate way to display virtual professionalism. Formal business attire is usually preferable for important meetings.

2. Find an appropriate background

Although some virtual meeting applications give you the option of adding a virtual background, it can be distracting and may not help you display a professional image. A more effective approach is usually to find a neutral background, like an empty wall, a bookcase or another background that doesn't distract viewers. If you don't have access to such a background, you can use the app's virtual background and choose a simple image that mimics an office or meeting room.

Related: How To Succeed in a Virtual Interview

3. Eliminate potential distractions

You can improve your professional image during virtual meetings by taking some time to remove any potential distractions. Depending on where your virtual office is, various events could occur during your virtual meeting, like other people appearing behind you, the internet connection failing or outside noises coming in through an open window, for example. Taking a few minutes to check for and remove any such distractions can help you stay professional during virtual meetings.

4. Show up early to virtual meetings and test your equipment

Not having any preventable technical issues during online meetings is also a sign of virtual professionalism. You can avoid such issues by connecting a few minutes before the meeting's official start time and testing your camera, microphone and internet connection. You can also adjust your camera angle and make sure your background is appropriate.

Related: Guide: How To Succeed at a Virtual Hiring Event

5. Make sure you know who's talking at every moment

If the meeting involves more than two participants, making an effort to follow the conversation and know who's talking at all times is a good way of demonstrating professionalism. Even when you have access to live video footage, the image may not always correlate with the sound, causing you to lose track of the conversation. Also, making a conscious effort to pay attention can help you stay on-topic when it's your turn to speak.

6. Mute your microphone when you're not speaking

Even if you take some time before the virtual meeting to eliminate potential distractions, you might not fully eliminate all potential sources of background noise. Sounds like those coming from a nearby street or from inside your home can distract other meeting participants and give you an unprofessional look. The most effective way to minimize this risk is usually to mute your microphone when the meeting starts, unmute it when it's your turn to speak and then mute it again until the next time you have to say something during the meeting.

Related: How To Network Virtually for Future Success

Tips for promoting virtual professionalism in the remote workplace

Consider these tips to help you display professionalism during remote interactions:

  • Familiarize yourself with the software you use. Before attending virtual meetings, it usually helps to spend some time getting to know the application you are about to use. You can test to see how you look and sound, find out how to mute and unmute yourself and make sure that you know where all important functions are.

  • Practice in-person etiquette. The etiquette you display during face-to-face meetings is also a sign of professionalism in the virtual workplace. Relatively simple elements, like focusing on the conversation, avoiding using your phone and eliminating other distractions around you, can help you display an image of virtual professionalism.

  • Avoid multitasking. To improve your productivity, some people who attend virtual meetings also perform other tasks during these meetings. Doing so can have an opposite effect, as it makes it difficult to stay focused on the meeting, so it's usually best to perform other tasks either before or after the meeting.

  • Be aware of time zones and cultural differences. Working in a virtual setting can mean that you have to communicate with people from distant countries with different cultural norms. Virtual professionalism also means contacting them at reasonable times depending on their time zone and being mindful of any cultural differences.

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