How Redefining Professionalism Changed Our Perspective On Work

Posted on January 7, 2021 by BWBacon. Tagged: For Candidates

As we enter 2021, a year many of us have looked forward to, let us say Happy New Year! Many predictions about this year have been made, including what will be done with office spaces and how the business world will redefine professionalism in a myriad of ways.

While many of our work circumstances remain unchanged for the time being, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This brings new hope and a space for examining what we learned in 2020, and how we will incorporate those lessons moving forward. We’re starting by looking at all the ways professionalism was redefined and reimagined during the pandemic, and the benefits of those changes.

How Did 2020 Spark New Definitions of Professionalism?

2020 was historic, and will have lasting reverberations on human life. It goes without saying that not all of those changes are welcome. However, business culture is evolving and loosening the practices of traditional office meetings, expected work hours, and management styles. All of this will propel another transition to a modern working world that will take shape as time goes on. We are actively transforming how we communicate, collaborate, and come together without actually being together.

As for the outcomes, most folks welcomed the slower pace of life, and the casualization of online meetings with quick scheduling and plain clothes, plus children and cats running through the backgrounds of just about everyone’s Zoom. To say it is all about the dress code though oversimplifies what we gained by altering these social standards.

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5 Benefits of Redefining Professionalism

  • Humanization of employees (and bosses too) as complex individuals...
    • Employee engagement and happiness matter, and this is one of the biggest, if not the biggest takeaway for how professionalism is fluctuating. No longer are employees expected to grin and bear their tasks, or attempt to handle more than their fair share without speaking up. Out of necessity, the pandemic opened up lines of communication, encouraging people to ask for support, and therefore creating more agile workflows. Care was central to policies in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and we will see that employers have an increasingly important role to play in their employee’s mental health and happiness in 2021.
  • Creating a new office ecosystem…
  • Employees, especially in tech, will gain more autonomy…
    • In response to skepticism from managerial thought leaders, not only does working remotely “work,” many are thriving and living more balanced lives than before the pandemic. While remote work was around long before 2020, other industries that may have never considered it were forced to give it a go. As it turns out, most found great success. Managers learned they could trust their people to do great work. This will be a launching off point for building more diverse, global, and autonomous teams that deliver great results with less traditional oversight. We were also given the chance see a more complete picture of one another in this unfamiliar way of working. The lack of formalism brought about more authenticity and creativity that we hope is here to stay.
  • Virtual calls will live on…
    • When asked how video calls will continue to shape business, Eric S Yuan, founder of Zoom noted, “Healthcare, education, finance and businesses large and small are growing and improving with the help of video communications. This year alone, hundreds of thousands of small business owners – yoga and piano instructors, therapists, accountants and others – maintained and even grew businesses using video to connect with customers.” In a way, the onslaught on Zoom calls in early 2020 also helped businesses distill what aspects of their day-to-day were the most crucial to hold meetings for, while other tasks could be managed in different ways. The pandemic may have simply accelerated a heightened use of the digital world that our society was headed towards either way.
  • Remote work and new professionalism will impact hiring and recruiting…
    • We also anticipate two juxtaposing outcomes, or changes in hiring. First, more companies opening positions that can be done remotely means a massive uptick in the available candidate pool. If a tech worker can work anywhere and do the same job as someone in an office in Silicon Valley, the need to find a candidate in a hyper-localized area may decrease in significance. Increased flight from urban centers could also impact tech salaries in the years to come.
    • Next, a larger candidate pool almost certainly means greater diversity among those potential candidates. In 2020, making a genuine effort towards equitable hiring, diversifying teams, and prioritizing intersectionality in the workplace became an even higher priority for many companies. In this way, opening up jobs with less strict requirements or to be worked remotely will help make these goals reality. How you might ask? For one, you don’t have to live in some of the countries’ most expensive cities to land a great tech job. Also, if you no longer need a pressed suit and 10 years of experience on your resume, it automatically opens the doors to more candidates, with wider ranges of backgrounds and experiences.

Big Companies Are Making Moves

Discussions on what could happen can be had all day, but is anyone acting these shifts? In one example, REI recently sold its brand-new 400,000-square-foot campus and announced plans to instead open multiple offices around the region. “The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to reexamine and rethink . . . where and how we work, as a result, our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago,” said CEO Eric Artz. Only time will tell if other companies follow suit.

If nothing else, conversations surrounding a business’ real estate footprint, whether big or small, will be ongoing throughout this year. Over 70% of working professionals said they would prefer some kind of hybrid or flexible work model according to Forbes; this could mean companies shutting down their large offices entirely in favor of smaller satellite locations, or downsizing and decentralizing all together like REI and Twitter.

How Have Changes in Professionalism Impacted Your Life?

We have merely scratched the surface of the ways that professionalism has been and will be altered over the coming years. Despite the unfortunate origin of these shifts, new work landscapes and a heightened focus on employee engagement breathed new life into work culture. Meetings are easier to schedule, and priorities are met with greater urgency. People are simultaneously more flexible and more productive, and it’s hard to argue with that.

On the whole, if employers could save up to $22,000 per employee per year on the costs of having that person in the office, and employees could also save up to $4,000 on gas, lunches, and new clothes, maybe remote work is the budget-saving flexibility-providing knight in shining armor we never knew we needed. We’d love to hear from you the ways in which 2020 changed your definition of professionalism, or how it has impacted the way your company works. Leave a comment below or share this post!

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Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

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