Professional Skills: Punctuality

Punctuality is a skill anyone can master, a trait admired by most and a characteristic that never goes out of fashion. 


One of the primary aims at BMH is to prepare our students for the world of work. Regardless of whether you plan on using your BMH qualification in a corporate or creative environment, both will insist that you adhere to and respect the principle of being punctual. No company, regardless of its size or success, can afford to employ staff who do not appreciate the importance of showing up for and producing work on time. The same principle of punctuality is expected of you as a student whilst you are at BMH – be it in relation to attending lectures or submitting assessments.

Why is Punctuality Important?

As explained by Brett and Kate McKay (2012) in their article “A Man Is Punctual: The Importance of Being on Time”, there are a variety of reasons why punctuality is respected and valued:

Punctuality strengthens and reveals your integrity:

By registering as a student at BMH you are entering into an agreement with Boston whereby in exchange for your tuition and learning experience, you are agreeing to attend classes (all your classes) on time and partake in the required learning experiences, be they invigilated assessments or assignment based assessments within the pre-determined time frames.

By attending lectures and submitting your assessments punctually you are communicating to your educators and peers that you are a person of your word. You have entered into an agreement and you are honouring it.

Punctuality shows that you are dependable:

Dependability is highly prized in employees and students alike. If you are the student who seldom attends lectures or always arrives late or has an excuse for missing every deadline, your peers are not going to be overly enthusiastic to include you in their group project because your dependability is in question. No-one is going to want to risk their final grade or major client on someone who cannot be depended on to arrive on time for work / a meeting / lectures or deliver on time on a project / brief.

Punctuality builds self-confidence:

By cultivating the habit of punctuality in all areas of your life you are not only communicating to the outside world that you are reliable, but you are also showing to yourself that you are a dependable, independent person. With this growth in responsibility and independence comes growth in self-confidence and mastery over compulsions and poor habits – thus the more in control of your life you will feel and become.

Punctuality assures you’re at your best:

By racing across campus, nearly spraining your ankle in your attempt to make the 3 minute late rule, you are entering class in the wrong frame of mind and stressed. By arriving on time or, even better, a few minutes early, you have time to orientate your mind and settle in.

Punctuality builds and reveals your discipline:

A punctual person shows that they are skilled in organising their time, are able to pay attention to detail and move from one task to another without upheaval or drama. Never mistake discipline for a lack of creativity – the most creative people are often the most disciplined.

Punctuality shows your humility:

Don’t overestimate your own self-importance. The disruption you cause, no matter how unobtrusive you attempt to be, when entering a lecture late not only communicates a clear lack of respect for your lecturer but also for your peers, who have made the effort to be on time.

Punctuality shows your respect for others:

Regardless of your excuse, arriving late for anything be it a lecture, meeting or date shows a lack of respect; that your needs and time are more important than those who you have kept waiting or have been disrupted by your arrival.

Being late disturbs the experiences of other people:

By being late you’re not only stealing time from those who you’ve kept waiting or disturbed when you finally do arrive, but you also rob them of the experience they have started submerging themselves in.

In her article “Late Again”, Stephanie Reese Mason (2015) noted that whilst students don’t mind the odd late comer who slips in quietly just after a lesson has begun; they do however get  annoyed when their peers arrive 10 minutes or more late for a class. The reason for this resentment lies in that the late arrivals, regardless of their perceived stealth, are more distracting once a lesson is 10 minutes or more into being delivered. Furthermore, students felt that those who repeatedly run 10 minutes or more late do not place the same value on the course as those who run only a minute or two late.

Being late places strain on relationships:

When you are late for a meeting, lecture, date etc. you are in effect communicating to the other person / people that they are not as important as whatever it was that caused your tardiness, or that you couldn’t be bothered with ensuring that you have enough time to arrive on schedule. Either way you are placing a higher value on your time and experience and by so doing disrespecting those who you have kept waiting.

Being late hurts you professionally:

Whether you’re a permanent member of staff, an intern or you run your own company, gaining a reputation for being perpetually late can harm your professional success. Most South African companies have rules regarding working hours, by repeatedly arriving late you can be assured of finding yourself on the business end of a disciplinary hearing, if not a letter of termination.

Arriving late for an oral presentation assessment, job interview, meeting with a new client speaks volumes: I’m not taking this seriously.  My time is more important than yours.  I’m not dependable.



Masson Reese, S. (2015). Late Again? Retrieved from: [Accessed: 01 September 2015].

McKay, B. & McKay, K. (2012). A Man is Punctual: The Importance of Being on Time. Retrieved from: [Accessed: 01 September 2015].