The Evolution of Professionalism. Seven things NOT to do if you want to be respected as a professional.

You probably don’t need us to tell you that there has been a significant shift in 2020 in the way people are working and learning.  A recent survey suggests that over 46% of UK workers worked from home at some point this year compared with less than 30% in 2019.  This is a trend that has been replicated across the globe.  Take Twitter as an example, CEO Jack Dorsey announced in March of this year that all employees who wanted to could work from home indefinitely, and several other tech companies including Amazon, Google and Salesforce have all adopted long term or permanent work from home programmes. Happy professional working remotely

For some people, losing a formal office space and face to face interactions with their bosses, colleagues and clients will have dramatically changed the way they work, and may have caused them to lose sight of what being a professional truly means.  Demonstrating professionalism is key to a successful career according to top recruitment website Indeed.com, and continues to be be just as important in the age of remote working.

At VICTVS, every year we recruit, train and select thousands of new members of the VICTVS Global Network from all over the world, with many of them completing this process remotely.

So whether you just want to refresh your approach to remote work for 2021, or if you are looking for or starting a new role, we have put together this list of seven things that you should try to avoid if you want to be at your best in a remote work situation.

  1. Being too scared to ask questions.

For you to be able to deliver your work outcomes successfully, it is vital that you know exactly what is required of you in that specific role or more generally from your organisation.  If you feel unsure, or require some clarification then make sure to speak to your line manager as soon as possible.  It saves both you and them time and is much more efficient than simply ignoring their instructions or moving ahead blindly.  Asking questions shows that you are taking your responsibilities seriously, are looking to deliver to a high standard and most importantly that you care about the outcome.

  1. Saying you are going to do something, but then not doing it!

Being professional means saying you will do something, and then delivering.  It also means being realistic about your workload and learning to say ‘No’ if you will be unable to deliver on time or to the required specifications (see point one).

It is also essential that your work is completed on time, without the need for reminders.  If a colleague, your employer, or worst of all a client, has to chase you constantly for your work, it will appear that you either did not listen to their original instructions, or that you simply do not care about the quality of your work.  Our Global Operations Manager, Liz Sewell has the following advice:

“I find the best way to deliver on what is being asked of me is to action a task there and then rather than waiting a couple of days and risking that I forget what I need to do!  I reply to emails as I receive them, even if it is initially only to give a timeframe of when I will complete the task by.  If I cannot realistically complete a task straight away, I make a note to remind me to do it.  Diaries, online organisers and checklists are my best friends in the global workplace!”

Professionals make mistakes too!

  1. Covering up your mistakes and hoping that nobody notices.

Everyone makes mistakes.  It can be tempting, (especially if you do not have a boss watching over your shoulder), to hope that it will go away without anyone noticing.  This is never a good strategy.  Being a professional means owning up to your mistakes, but at the same time working to provide a solution.  Great professionals use mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.  So, the next time you make a mistake, ask for constructive feedback and use that to make sure the same mistake does not happen again.

  1. Being negative, rude and uninterested.

This one may seem obvious, but having a positive attitude will not only make your working day better, but according to one study, will also increase your productivity.  Being polite and courteous is one of the best ways  to appear professional.  One key part of being polite that we could probably all improve, is focusing on the person you are talking to.  Whether on the phone, video call or in person, give them your undivided attention.  Try to be mindful of the danger of getting distracted by instant messages, notifications on your phone, emails, or your cat walking into the room.

  1. Turning up to video calls in your pyjamas.

Now that many client and staff meetings are happening over video conferencing, it is easy to feel that they are not as important as if they were taking place in real life.  A true professional knows that these meetings are just as important as an in-person conference.  Ramona Tudosa, Global Operations Manager at VICTVS has this suggestion:

“Prepare for the call!  So many people don’t even know why they are on a specific call, and it is a waste of time for everyone involved if they are not prepared.  This includes having the link to Zoom / Teams / Skype ready – it doesn’t give a good impression leaving everything to the last minute and delaying the start of the call.”

Your own appearance and the view over your shoulder says a lot about you.  Professionals know the importance of choosing a suitable workspace in which to conduct their video calls.  They also make sure that their appearance is right for the situation – meaning you can still wear your fluffy slippers, so long as no one else will see them!

  1. Mixing personal and professional lifeBlurring the lines between your personal and professional life.

Working from home has blurred the line between your work and living spaces in a physical sense, so inevitably the line between the personal and professional in other areas of your life might start to blur too.  Professionals know that the appearance of your online persona is just as important as your appearance on a video call.  So consider carefully whether you wish to make social media and other personal online profiles private – or at least ensure you would be happy for a client to read your latest Twitter post, re-tweet or like!

  1. Communicating, like, really badly.

Good communication skills are essential to the success of any professional.  With the number of ways to communicate rapidly expanding – from video calling and team messaging, to WhatsApp and email, a true professional knows when and how to adapt their style of communication to fit the medium.

For example, in an era of email overload, keep your emails short and concise, but do not forget to be polite (see point four…).  If you don’t know the person you are emailing well, then err on the side of formality, and don’t include that smiley emoji. 😊

Change brings opportunity

New ideas and practices challenge us to develop as professionals and help to keep our work interesting.  However, equally important is having the ability, and humility, to monitor ourselves, to refer back to the basics of true professionalism, and maintaining a commitment to actively improving our skills throughout our working lives.

Of course, these are just a few things that we should all  be mindful of as professionals working as members of the connected global workplace.

We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences of how you navigate the international working landscape in the comments below.

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