Last year I was asked to speak on Employee Wellness, with specific reference to mental health. As part of my address I told the attendees that they had (supposedly) each won a sports car. I asked them how they would take care of this new vehicle and they enthusiastically called out points such as getting insurance, always keeping it in the garage, not allowing anyone else to drive it, taking it for regular hand washes and valets, maintaining the car with OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts and so on. Once we had completed the list, proving that the car was seen as highly prized possession, I asked the audience what they did to take care of their own mental health, shifting the focus to the importance of mental health, which certainly is more important than ownership of a car, albeit a lovely one. Needless to say, the dialogue did not flow as much. The important thing I wanted the audience to connect with is the gap between owning precious possessions, and what is considered precious in general.
Fast forward to last week where I wrote about the importance of having a professional brand and how this has tended to slip with Work from Home during the lockdown. Are we again neglecting a something that is precious? While a premium is placed on expertise in the marketplace with employees and students alike spending thousands on education and personal development it is counter-productive when our professional brand breaks down our hard-won credibility. The question for me centers around how to maintain our professional brands during such a challenging time.
In many of the larger corporates so much time and money is invested in maintaining and establishing the credibility of a brand that the brand itself becomes valuable, just think of Amazon, Apple, Google, ad so on. These brands are valuable in and of themselves and therefore businesses are very protective about the brand and sensitive to the role of the employee as a brand ambassador, especially now with the prevalence of video conferencing. Current realities however cannot be denied and there is a balance to be struck between a professional brand and Work from Home during lockdown. For example, while you may have been wearing a hard hat and PPE on site as a Construction Project Manager, it would be inappropriate to wear those on a video call when everyone knows you are sitting at your dining room table. There is therefore room to adjust and be a bit more flexible, but that should not slip put professionalism at risk.
Following are some of the aspects that businesses raise as concerns around how they are represented by remote team members that can help you hone your professional brand for Work from Home:
While it is tempting to relax standards during the lockdown, it is important to remember that resilience during a crisis is often a good foundation and an indicator for businesses on who can be trusted with their brand. Given the list above, how would you rate your current professional brand. Is there an aspect to this that the article has missed? Do you have different thoughts on this? Let us know.