Telecommuting, or working at home, is expected to reach an all-time high.
Technology makes it possible, and the increasing desire to achieve a harmonious work-life balance makes employees brave enough to ask for the opportunity to work from home, or in some cases, expect the option before taking a new job.
If you are considering making the switch with some of your employees, act with caution. Some people are better suited for telecommuting positions than others. It’s important to consider personality before offering work-at-home opportunities.
Testing for the Right Work-From-Home Personality: What To Look For
- Adaptability. Whether telecommuting only a few days per week or full-time, staff need to be able to adapt their routine to their environment. They’ll need to make on-the-spot adjustments to respond quickly to changes in the environment (which includes disruptions), resolve IT challenges remotely, and possibly need to work outside of normal hours if needed. They may also need to be flexible to be on-site as required when it’s critical for the team’s success.
- Autonomy. Without a supervisor or co-workers providing direction or looking over their shoulder, many work-from-home employees need to be able to make decisions on their own, self-manage, and work independently. They are charged with completing their work and getting results for the company without frequent validation from a supervisor that they are on the right track.
- Openness. Those who are most successful working remotely will be more inclined to seek out and engage in learning new concepts, procedures, techniques, and experiences. People better suited for a work-from-home environment tend to be open-minded, curious, receptive to change, and continually looking for new and better solutions and better ways to do their work.
- Work Drive. Successful work-at-home employees must be oriented toward achieving their work goals in a timely manner regardless of the work environment. They need to be accountable for the same amount of production as if in the office, and ensure telecommuting isn’t delaying completion of tasks. The disposition to work for long hours (including overtime) and an irregular schedule is especially important. They should be willing to make personal sacrifices for their job, and be tolerant of job encroachment on their personal lives.
- Emotional Stability. This is one of the best predictors of success for any job, but it has a particular importance for work-at-home staff. When working at home, employees face additional stressors such as increased interruptions, demands from others (including kids), the need to coordinate schedules with coworkers, social isolation from work peers,and reduced opportunity for feedback and support from their team. When levels of emotional stability are low, work performance and chances for success will likely decrease.
- Optimism. In addition to Emotional Stability, people who have a positive outlook will do better in a work-at-home environment because they’re better able to visualize positive outcomes, possibilities, and solutions. In contrast, a pessimistic disposition makes one more likely to view everything from a negative perspective, give up when jobs get tough, and disregard potentially helpful new ideas.
- Self-Directed Learning. When working at home, there is less opportunity to acquire new learning from supervisors and work peers. Staff must take more responsibility for learning on their own. Those with high levels of self-directed learning are better able to increase their job proficiency and knowledge, skills, and abilities by finding and mastering the material on their own.
- Image Management. Even when there is no formal dress code, grooming standard or direct personal contact with clients or coworkers, an employee working from home needs to behave professionally. On the phone or via email, remote workers need to be perceived as qualified company representatives–ideally, no one should even guess that they are working from home.