(4.5-minute read)

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

― Albert Einstein

There are many instances in life where experience trumps structured education. Those who have put in thousands of hours perfecting their labors have many incredible takeaways you likely won’t find in textbooks. In this piece, actual construction workers were asked for their advice in developing positive work habits. In this piece, we elaborate on their answers. 

1. “My biggest recommendation after 10 years in the industry, is to clean up after yourself.”

Ideally, a true professional will leave a space better than they found it. At the very least, leaving no trace of your existence in a common space should be a given. This goes beyond a construction site, but also for your personal space at work. A tidy workspace shows respect for the space and the job. Even if you’re the only one inconvenienced by the mess in your workspace, you’re still inconvenienced.

Apply it: With the last five minutes of the workday, do your best to tidy your workspace or any common work areas. Thoroughly clean and dry your coffee mug. Get your leftovers out of the fridge. Even if it’s “not your job”, you will still benefit from arriving back at work to a tidy desk, worksite, or even computer desktop.

2. “Show respect towards, and be willing to help, your coworkers.”

It can be easy to discount coworkers as people with other tasks, other responsibilities, and to treat them as being in your way. This is what frequently happens if you’re not mindful of who they are. Your coworkers are your teammates. Your end goals are the same. Your paychecks come from the same place. Though your tasks may be different, your motivations are the same.

Aside from common decency, this commonality means that you should have your coworker’s back. When they’re struggling, offer to help. Drop your “that’s not my job” mindset and assist your teammate. There’s an excellent chance that they’ll not only reciprocate when you need help, but that other team members will take note. 

Apply it: If you’re going to get coffee, offer to pick up or refill coffee for a coworker who is on the way. Even this simple gesture will show you’re thinking about them.

3. “Get there fifteen [minutes] early. Have some water. Read the paper. Relax. But be there early. “

Not only does this bit of advice touch on professionalism, but this work habit is also for the benefit of the worker’s wellbeing. Arriving at work in a rushed panic is no way to start your day. Arriving a bit early to work, even if to relax before the day officially begins helps in a few ways.

a. It shows others that you are a professional who values the time of others.
b. It gives you a few moments to cast off your “off-the-clock” concerns to be able to focus on the requirements of the day’s work properly. This buffer created by showing up to work early — even if this “place” is your home office — is an immense boon to your work-life balance.

Apply it: To make this change easier, pretend that work begins 15 minutes before it does. Set all alarms and morning routine schedules this way. The extra 15 minutes will become a much-anticipated bonus time for you.

4. “Work like someone is watching you and you want them to say, ‘this person looks like a professional.'”

It’s certainly easy to look professional when you think you’re being watched. Your job may be on the line. Those who have a habit of sliding into unprofessional practices when they believe they are unsupervised actual fail to realize a few universal truths about positive workplace habits.

a. Moments when you think you’re unsupervised are the true test of your dedication to your craft. Will you give in to the temptation to slack off, or will you maintain a professional demeanor, regardless of who is or who isn’t watching?
b. Keeping up a facade of professionalism is typically more work than consistently being a professional. Always being on the lookout for a supervisor or client and setting your demeanor based on such can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Though carrying yourself like an utmost professional throughout the entire workday seems exhausting, it’s nowhere near as taxing as always looking over your shoulder.

Apply it: Assume someone is watching you at all times. Not only will your work ethic triumph, but you’ll find that the day moves much faster without all of the shoulder-peaking.


For a commercial construction company in Tulsa, OK, who takes professionalism and teamwork very seriously, Cowen Construction has your back. Learn more about Cowen Construction today.