Professional Development and the Home Office Worker
Keeping one’s skills and knowledge updated is the lifeblood of any professional. In the fast-paced nature of today’s competitive environment, newer technologies and research re-define the rules of the game, the way of doing things, and the best practices and standards related to the profession. The importance of profefessional development comes in this context of rapid chanegs, where professionals who fail to keep themselves updated about the new developments and adapt to the changed requirements soon find themselves redundant in the new scheme of things.
A common misconception held by many home workers is that work from home does not require the same level of professional standards as required in a traditional office. Home workers who hold on to such a misconception do so at their own peril.
Skill and Knowledge Updating
Opportunities to keep oneself abreast of the latest developments and evolve accordingly comes naturally in an office setting that provides for regular professional development training programs, other knowledge management interventions, and constant introduction of newer technologies. The home worker, who usually works outside such a professional set up and without assistance of coaches, supervision to ensure structured learning, or company sponsored opportunities need to take the initiative to join training programs and create own learning opportunities to keep themselves updated about such developments and the changes in skill-sets required to remain competitive.
The importance of professional development is even greater for the home worker compared to a traditional office worker as the professional standards maintained in the office, such as competence in the use of a new technology rubs on to the worker in a traditional office, even without much initiative from the worker's part. The home worker, on the other hand needs to take the initiative and identify resources for self-study, enroll for external professional development training programs, and actively participate in professional and trade associations to ensure they remain updated to the required professional standards.
Work Culture and Ethics
The home office worker needs to keep abreast of the work culture.
The work culture denoted by interpersonal skills, ability to strike rapport and working relationships with others, communication skills, grooming, and etiquette all distinguish a professional from others. Side by side with the work culture is a good work ethics of timeliness, effective time management, effective prioritization, and maintaining an effective and optimal work life balance. Such work culture and ethics come as a habit to any office going professional.
A home worker can still work without such habits, but in the lack of effective supervision, or opportunities that require the professional display such traits, the home office professional can easily slip off such habits and rusticate. The home worker would also invariably slip in personal productivity without maintaining professional development. It stakes a strongly committed home worker to display the same level of work-life balance that one inculcates when working out of an office when working from home.
Failure to display the same level of work culture and ethics that one does in a regular office, when working from home can affect the home office worker’s ability to do the work in the same quality and timely nature. Such a slip of professional standards can adversely affect the home workers ability to return to a regular office set up later.
So, From Where Does the Importance of Professional Development Stem?
True professionalism demands that the professional works with the same dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm regardless of the settings, and considers a shift from office based work to home based work only as a means to cut commuting time and effect a better work-life balance rather than as an opportunity to relax standards. Home workers who underestimate the importance of professional development do so at their own peril.
This article is based on insights from the authors 10+ years of experience as a Human Resource professional
ImageCredit: flickr.com/Ivan Walsh