The Downside of Virtual: Don’t Get Punk’d By Your Smart Phone

Now more than ever before, jobs and internships are performed virtually.

Armed with today’s smart phones (packed with an ever-increasing number of business apps) not only can a person work effectively outside the office – they don’t even need to stop moving to get their work done.

But along with increasing virtual workforce opportunities, comes the need for self-motivation, discipline and especially… common sense.

Note to virtual employees: the same technology that enables you to work from anywhere… can also be the dead give-away that you are not working… that you’re not sick… and that you are not at your beloved Gammy’s funeral (for the fourth time in the last 17 months).

It’s an interesting phenomenon whereby employees and interns working virtually don’t realize that managers can follow their activities on social media. Creepy? Possibly. But sometimes the information posted on Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter is astoundingly naive. And, as many managers have learned, employees’ can easily be Punk’d by their own social media sites.

It seems that far too many people just don’t think their employers would even think to check their social media sites on a regular basis. Like it’s some sort of invasion of privacy, or a breach in trust. Well, we do – especially if you’re a virtual employee who hasn’t completed your project assignments on time and/or failed to communicate proactively about the delay.

What makes this even more sad – and far more comical – is when the intern/employee finally does check back in only to give the manager a very somber recounting of the “terrible family event” (or other such tragic occurrence) that has recently befallen them:  “So much has happened… I’ve been so exhausted… that I was unable to get in touch with you about my assignment. I’m so sorry” the intern says with a completely heartfelt, infinitely believable tone.


Unfortunately… a quick glance on Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook shows me that you and your friends spent 12 hours in line the day before, getting tickets to the midnight premier of the new Harry Potter movie. Your Harry costume, as I can see in the picture taken in front of the AMC, was so good… you looked just like him!

Strange, though… no sign of Gammy.

Don’t jeopardize your professional career by documenting your AWOL exploits on the internet. You’ve provided a digital front row seat; the entire world knows everything you’re doing – including the bosses.

It’s called a smart phone for a reason. Be smart.



About the Author: Joe Gagliano, a founding member of YouTern and our CMO, brings years of start-up management, strategic planning, marketing and market research experience to the team and his blog posts. Joe, who runs our learning center for interns, also brings a passion for start-ups, entrepreneurship and mentorship to our team.

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