Health & Safety Questions
Health & Safety Overview
Virtual Internships is committed to providing a safe and healthy remote work environment for all of our program participants. Therefore, we place a high priority over protecting our participants from all forms of digital harassment which can occur in a virtual internship environment.
Digital harassment can occur in many forms, but can broadly be defined as:
The use of information and communication technologies by an individual or group to repeatedly cause harm to another person with relatively less power to defend themselves.
Types of digital harassment include but are not limited to:
- Exploitation and Coercion
Environments where digital harassment can take place include but are not limited to:
- Messaging apps (such as WhatsApp, Slack, and WeChat)
- Social media platforms (such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram)
- Blogging platforms (such as Medium, Tumblr, and WordPress)
- Comments sections (such as those found on digital news platforms, personal blogs, and YouTube pages)
It is Virtual Internships’ due diligence to take steps to prevent the digital harassment of our participants from their supervisor, a co-worker, or another program participant. These steps include:
- Enforcing an Anti-discrimination, Harassment, Bullying Policy that all host companies, interns and internal staff must adhere to.
The policy is also given to all host companies and must be signed prior to taking on any interns. It is also given to all interns with the program terms and conditions that they must sign prior to their start date.
- Providing adequate training for our staff to quickly and appropriately respond to any reports of digital harassment.
We have a specific plan of action for our staff to follow if any incidents of digital harassment are reported. This includes notifying the appropriate persons of Virtual Internships and the interns’ university while supporting the interns’ needs and next steps.
- Providing guidance and support for interns to be able to identify and report digital harassment.
All interns will receive an information packet prior to the start of their internship. This packet will include a guide for students describing the various types of digital harassment and who they can safely reach out to in order to report any incidents.
Virtual Internships has the following policies that have been developed with legal expertise in internship programming and remote work, and ensures the most appropriate and transparent protection for our participants and staff.
- Anti-discrimination, Harassment, Bullying Policy
- Confidentiality Policy
If you are a student, parent, university or organization that would like to review either of the above policies please email firstname.lastname@example.org or your Virtual Internships contact directly and we would be happy to provide.
Health in the Remote Workplace
While remote internships can be completed from the comfort of an intern’s home, there are still potential risks that can impact their health and well-being. Ensuring that our interns are able to navigate ergonomic hazards as well as maintain mindfulness in remote work is crucial to each and every one of our interns’ success.
Physical Wellbeing in the Remote Workplace
Within our online curriculum, interns are provided with a full guide on how to set up a home workplace. They are also assigned a Program Experience Manager who is there to support students as they navigate their internship and provide guidance throughout their day-to-day experience. Below we have identified a few common ergonomic hazards when setting up a home workplace and some easy solutions that students can implement:
- Improperly adjusted workstations or chairs
- Poor or distracting light
- Poor posture
- Awkward movements
Quick Ergonomic Fixes:
- Get off the couch and into a workspace: While the couch is comfy it does not support your posture and can lead to pain and discomfort if working daily.
- Adjust your chair: Ensure the height of your chair allows you to sit with your elbow bent at 90° to the table
- Adjust your monitor: Keep your screen about an arm’s length away so that you reduce eye strain and don’t have to bend to see, impairing your posture. The top of your screen should be eye-level and if you are working from a laptop you may benefit from purchasing a laptop stand and external keyboard to meet these suggestions. If you have two monitors positioned directly in front of you or if you work from both simultaneously, position them equally in front of you.
- Limit Reach: Create a desk space where your mouse, keyboard, phone and other tools are within reach and you are not having to pivot, lean, overextend or more to get to what you need quickly.
- Take Breaks: Ensure that you build in a nice stretch into every hour of your work.
Mindfulness in the Remote Workplace
The Buffer – State of Remote Work 2019 Report noted that while remote work had an excess of benefits it did have some drawbacks to include 22% finding it difficult to unplug post-work, 19% experiencing loneliness, and 10% noting home distractions. Virtual Internships understands these challenges and works with interns to set up a schedule and stick to it, check-in weekly to ensure interns are maintaining a positive experience, and provide built-in events and discussions to build a community around the internship.
Furthermore, we suggest:
- Creating a structure and schedule: One of the greatest benefits to remote work, especially in terms of connecting with global companies across the globe is the ability to focus on what and not when. Essentially letting interns create a schedule that allows them to work best and then focusing on what work needs to be done.
- Establishing Check-ins and Creating a Feedback Loop: Virtual Internships sets a requirement of how often a supervisor must check-in with interns. Supervisors are also required to create a weekly project pulse that confirms how many hours interns worked in a week, what project they completed, what project they will need to complete the following week, and one thing they can do to improve. These two pieces help keep interns motivated and engaged thought their entire internship.
- Take Mental breaks: While extensive research exists around the specific cycle of active working followed by a break, the most basic rule is to find a rhythm that works for you. This could be 50 minutes of work followed by a 10 minute break, breaking all work into 30 minute pieces, or an entirely different schedule. Regardless of the timings you choose, ensure that you take time to get off the screen, breathe, stretch, and recharge.
- Stay Connected: As loneliness can be a big risk of remote work, we encourage all interns to remain connected with their peers, supervisor, and program experience manager throughout the program. Interns can easily do this by taking advantage of the weekly check-ins, group discussions, and global career webinars.