I was taking a walk through a popular shopping mall when I noticed a shop assistant slouching in her seat. She wasn’t behind a desk but rather, out in the open in the middle of the store’s showroom, with a half-glazed expression, staring at her smartphone and seemingly oblivious to passers-by.
There were two others at the store whom I assume to be her colleagues. Bent over a small table, they were also staring at their phones with just a slight less egregious offence to the idea of professionalism.
It was a slow day in the “office”, and likely slower than usual this particular month. It was unlikely that anyone would blame them for feeling bored at work. After all, we all have been there, finding solace in online entertainment while expecting capitalism to do its magic.
I was reminded of the common trope of locals not being hardworking; a group of slackers utterly devoid of work ethics.
Now I know this isn’t true. I’ve worked with and for plenty of fellow citizens, who are driven and committed to their work, especially those engaging in work they actually enjoy. I’ve also met plenty who would fit the stereotype. But often, I can find just as much fault in the management for not investing in training, benefits or even the work environment.
Often, locals are told not to be picky with work or the kind of jobs they do, to shape up their attitude and appreciate being employed as jobs can be somewhat hard to come by in an economic downturn. And I don’t blame anyone who feels resentment about having to work in a job they don’t particularly like, because it is pointless, boring and sometimes even demoralising. I get the feeling.
But please understand that regardless of how terrible you feel at work, having the appearance of professionalism is important. It impacts the place you work in, the people you work with and the customers who may be utterly turned off by any sense of impropriety.
I know it can be difficult, but at the very least, get some ear buds and pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t assume that the middle of a showroom is a place to let your mind wander off.