How to Stay Professional on Zoom

Posted by Rachel Cochrane on 4/22/20 8:44 AM

Staying Professional

Since PHC’s switch to remote instruction on March 17, students and faculty have had to get used to working from home and attending classes on Zoom. “Staying professional creates a culture of excellence and thus makes it easier to be excellent,” Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Matthew Roberts said.

We talked to Roberts, Associate Professor of Government Dr. Roberta Bayer, and sophomores Nathan Pipkin and Kali Jerrard to get their advice on staying professional. Here’s what they said…

Work in a Different Location Laptop on Desk

Doing work on your bed or at your kitchen table may be comfortable, but it also makes it hard to stay focused. “With my makeshift home-office in my bedroom, it's hard to forget about work when I'm not supposed to be working,” Roberts said.

Roberts recommends switching locations as a way to maintain “a psychological barrier between work and home life.” This is a great way to stay focused and to keep a key distinction between work and relaxation.

Students have found working in a different location to be helpful as well. “It’s possible to attend a Zoom class from bed—I did try it once—but I find it a lot more difficult to take notes,” Pipkin said. “You’ll get counted as ‘present’ on the attendance sheet, but is that all we go to class for?”

Make a Schedule

To-Do ListWith the switch to remote work, life feels a lot slower. Jerrard recommends making a schedule for yourself. “…even though there isn't much going on, [a schedule] does help your brain to remember that there are important things to complete every day,” Jerrard said.

Don’t forget to change things up. It can feel long and tiresome to spend all day doing one activity. “I've found that taking a break to read a book that I like has been helpful, or getting up to stretch,” Jerrard said.

Dress to Impress (Yourself)


“As for the business casual, it makes a psychological difference for me. This was the case on campus, and it’s also the case over Zoom,” Pipkin said. Dressing professionally can help you feel like the activities you’re doing are important. It also helps you take classes and work more seriously.

“I like work and the pressures it brings, including looking professional,” Bayer said. She encourages men and women to get creative with their wardrobe. “Professional dressing, when turned into a system, can be made easier,” she said.

“I think, though, that forcing yourself to get out of bed and change into nice clothing (even if it is just a nice top) as well as basic hygiene is really helpful to get yourself going in the morning,” Jerrard said.

Stay Engaged

Hands RaisedTake notes for all your classes. “I encourage my students to be as active as possible during our Zoom classes, writing down even more than they would were they in a classroom,” Roberts said.

Bayer recommends students ask as many questions as possible. Even if they are questions you wouldn’t normally ask, any engagement with professors is helpful for both students and faculty. “Remember that final exams and final papers are coming,” she said.

Don’t just stay engaged during class, but outside of class too. Reach out to your friends and check-in with people you haven’t talked to for a while. “I’m in Facebook group chats that are much more active than they were during the first half of the semester,” Pipkin said.

Stay Positive

Smiley Face

The hardest part, without question, is being away from everyone. Not only because we’re all of a sudden spread across the country again, but because it was unexpected,” Pipkin said. Despite the difficulties, it’s important to remember to stay positive.

“I’ve been intentional about reminding myself that the semester will conclude pretty soon,” Pipkin said. For now, treating school as seriously as possible and making the most out of each day is the best we can do.

“The topics which I cover in class are timely and important for comprehending the political world today,” Bayer said. “[Being] convinced that what I teach is important helps me maintain a professional attitude.”

“We can also remember that we have about two weeks of classes and then finals left, so we've just got to power through... we are in the home stretch!” Jerrard said. Working from home may make you feel trapped and unproductive, but remaining optimistic about the future will help you maintain professionalism during social distancing.


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