Mia: The virtual advantage of online study

Mia is a USQ alumna who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce. She loves dogs (specifically in the form of dachshunds) and is a virtual workforce enthusiast who manages an outsourcing company (5Elk) and runs her own business (MiVirtual).


The concept of remote work is not new. I have been working (full-time) in a remote capacity for 2 years and in that time the adoption of the virtual workforce has gone through the roof. It’s not hard to understand why. Being 'virtual' allows businesses to remove the chaos that is the traditional work environment, and gives self-motivated employees a space to thrive. Gone are the days when a business would need vast office space to house a successful team or when your career opportunities were limited by your geographic location. If you’re ready and willing to develop the skills, the virtual workplace can open a whole new world of opportunity.

In fact, there are many skills I learned and experiences I gained while studying online at USQ that transferred to the virtual workforce.

Personally, I completed The School of the Air in remote and rural Australia before going on to graduate from a Bachelor of Commerce, which I studied externally at USQ. In terms of my working career, most of my earlier positions also involved some ‘work from home’ days and so, without even realising it, I was more than accustomed to working virtually when I decided to launch my own business out of virtual and remote work, MiVirtual.

The idea of working or studying from home ‘virtually’ initially makes most people feel all warm and fuzzy inside as they picture the freedom of setting their own work hours and wearing their pyjamas to the ‘office’. This feeling soon dissipates though when reality hits and you realise you have to actually rely solely on your own self-motivation to smash the day ahead and get all your work done. This is NOT assisted by the fact that you are constantly battling inner demons regarding whether or not wearing a bra is completely necessary when you don’t have to leave home. The lines between work time and personal time can quickly become blurred.

But before I completely scare you off, let me remind you that more and more businesses are turning to the virtual workforce and that as an employee, the opportunities offered by remote work are not only flexible, but incredibly exciting. If you’ve studied online you’ll most likely have a good foundation of skills for virtual work, so you’ll just need to build on those to develop your remote career. Here are my tips for transferring your online study skills to the virtual workforce.

  1. Have a routine and strong time management skills – it is imperative that you get up and get into your day with enthusiasm.

  2. Communicate – it is easy to become withdrawn when working from home so it is important to touch-base and keep in contact with colleagues and peers. You’re still a part of the team!

  3. Take breaks – believe it or not, it is important to stop work sometimes!

  4. Control your distractions - don’t let them control you. Draw the line between work and personal time by creating a dedicated space away from your TV, fridges and your furry study buddies that will allow you to focus.

  5. Define clear and measurable goals (daily, weekly and monthly) – write a list and stick to it! You need to be able to hold yourself to account.

  6. Dress for success – even though you’re spending a considerable amount of time in your home, make the effort to get out of your PJs. You’ll see a huge difference in your attitude and productivity.

The world of virtual work will only continue to grow in the future, so if you’re currently completing your studies online, use this time to really hone your skills. Treat your study sessions as virtual work days and put my advice into practice now so you’re ready to hit the ground running as a remote employee in the future.

If you’re new to online study or are considering taking the plunge remotely, check out this guide to online study with USQ to help you understand what to expect and how to embrace your online experience.


Related:

The expectations and realities of online study

Viki: How uni helped me start my own business (It's all about Hugh)

Renae: 5 tips to balance work, life and business travel