Telecommuting – does your personality fit the work at home profile?

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With our current economy in a state of limbo, many companies are searching for ways to cut costs without sacrificing productivity. One of the most popular options is telecommuting. Telecommuters are individuals who work from home and contribute in every capacity from conference calls to presentations and more.

Although the idea of being a telecommuter sounds fabulous to many job seekers, it is not always a good fit. Who wouldn’t want to wake up and stroll into their home office still dressed in pajamas? Nothing is better than watching your neighbor jet off to work first thing in the morning in order to avoid rush hour traffic while you languish in bed for an extra half an hour. The freedom of working from home sounds like the dream opportunity – until you find out that you’re not suited for this type of work experience.

Working from home requires organization and structure

When trying to figure out what personality types work best in a telecommuting position, the first thing you must think about is organization. It’s one thing to go to an office every day where there are set rules and structure that were already put in place that help maintain a sense of order. It’s another thing to have to set up similar parameters in your own home office and stick to them. Working from home is all about structure. You have to keep your workspace in order so as not to lose any pertinent information. It’s also important to stay organized as you may be pulled in several directions via phone calls, emails and projects and are expected to produce results in a timely manner.

Discipline makes a difference

Another key personality trait that is highly necessary to successfully navigate the telecommuting experience is discipline. It is so easy to want to slack off and watch television or to spend the afternoon yapping away on the phone with friends. The problem is that your work performance doesn’t become less of a factor when you work from home. More than likely it becomes more of a factor as your supervisor will be monitoring your productivity and professionalism even more since your work is the only thing he/she can judge you on.

Your social connections change

Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. For many people who attempt to go the telecommuting route, the solidarity of working from home proves to be one of the biggest challenges. Going from a social/communal environment in the office to being alone for several hours with very little human contact can make some people irritable, frustrated, lonely and even depressed. In order to ensure that you are capable of handling extended periods of time alone, it’s best to take small breaks throughout the day and to call a friend or take a walk in order to break the monotony.

Self-motivation is key to working from home

The personality type that works best in a telecommuting situation tends to be those who are self-motivated. Just as this employee works well under pressure and put his/her nose to the grindstone at the office, the same can be expected when it comes to his/her work ethic at home. Telecommuters cannot wait around for assignments or sit idly by awaiting direction from their supervisor. In order to maintain a successful position working from home, you must be accessible at all times via the email, IM chat and the telephone. (Scot’s note: I personally disagree with “be accessible at all times.” One isn’t accessible at all times at the office and working from home should be no different. Being inaccessible can significantly increase your productivity.)

In order to best assess whether you have the right personality to work from home, take a look at the following questions and answer them honestly with a yes or no answer. If you find that the majority of your answers are no, there’s a strong chance you are not suited to telecommute.

  1. Are you organized?
  2. Are you timely?
  3. Are you self-motivated?
  4. Do you like spending time alone?
  5. Are you good at multi-tasking?
  6. Are you disciplined?
  7. Do you get easily distracted?
  8. Are you good with technology i.e. computers, fax machines, copiers, PDAs etc…
  9. Do you think that you can properly balance work and play?
  10. Are you good with working under pressure?


Ripley Daniels is an editor at Without The Stress, a passport, travel visa, and immigration advisory firm located in Los Angeles.

Photo by IN 30 MINUTES Guides

  • This is a fantastic overview of the qualities needed to be a successful telecommuter! It’s so true that not everyone is cut out to work at home. I absolutely love the independence and self-structured day that telecommuting provides, but my husband would much rather work in an office than from home. To each his own! And for anyone considering telecommuting, make sure you take these ideas into consideration!

    • I think understanding how you work best is critical to how you select a job/company/team — or if it makes sense to telecommute. The environment is different than in an office and great telecommuters understand and work that difference to their advantage. Thanks for the comment — it sounds like you and your hubby have figured that out.

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