I was recently invited to deliver a webinar on managing remote workers which got me thinking about what it takes to work successfully from home. But I’ve also been productive working onsite in offices. So I’ve asked myself, what’s the difference?
Being in the IT industry, I’ve taken working at home as a given for many years. It’s just part of the natural order of how we get work done, and there’s nothing particularly earthshaking about it.
Then came the tsunami of advanced technologies like cloud, plus globalization and shifting workforce demographics. Suddenly, anyone with an internet connection and open-minded boss is able to set up an instant workspace in their—select the venue most appropriate to you—dining room, basement, kitchen, coffee shop, airport, or wherever. Every industry has its version of remote working, from MOOCs in higher education and business to telemedicine and therapy among physicians and counselors. Heck, my car manufacturer offers a “Teleservice Diagnosis” that solves malfunctions for drivers from anywhere, at any time.
If people are a company’s greatest asset, (and I happen to believe this is the case), then the workplace itself is nothing more or less than the means to use those assets. Where you work has become an intensely personal decision that companies are struggling to figure out how to best manage—for the good of the employee and the organization.
To get even more personal, here is my list of three personality attributes for remote worker success:
- You never, ever wait to be told what to do. Not to be too over the top, but waiting for instructions is death for the telecommuter. Call it what you like—taking the initiative, being resourceful, asserting yourself—they are the must-have personality traits for remote workers.
- You are always communicating. Transparency is the only way to scale the virtual world of work. Collaborative workspaces are a must-have. But of course, the employee has to use them to connect with peers, customers, or suppliers.
- You are laser-focused. Self-discipline is probably the most important personality ingredient and work habit of highly successful remote workers. They don’t require the daily office routine to get or keep going. Rather, they’re able to set their own work rhythm that’s also attuned to the virtual team.
I’m not saying that every person with the above traits (or not) will make it as a remote worker. Indeed, many of these traits are also required to excel when working inside office walls. But as remote working goes viral, managers who consider these personality types for remote workers might make the difference between failure and success.
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