Is there a telecommuting personality type?
Some individuals may be wired to succeed at working from home while others just aren’t cut out for it.
Content provided by Lea Green, PGi Social Media Manager
Article originally published on PGiGreenBlog.
It’s coming up on the end of the year, and for eight of the past twelve months I’ve been telecommuting 2-3 days per week. After establishing a secure home office environment and routine, I found myself taking to telecommuting quickly, enjoying the many benefits this non-traditional work option provides. The advantages, which include reducing carbon footprints and increasing office space, are practical and proven.
And yet, as I reflect on telecommuting practice and talk with my coworkers about starting their own, I sometimes wonder if there is such thing as a “telecommuting temperament.” Are some individuals wired to succeed at working from home while others just aren’t cut out for it? Do some find working alone intimidating and distracting, perhaps to the point of letting their productivity falter? Maybe some people simply don’t value the fact that telecommuting helps both our planet and our worklife balance.
Introverts versus extroverts
As a self-professed introvert and an off-the-charts INFP, I took to telecommuting on several levels. Lacking a compelling, daily need for face-time with my Austin-based coworkers and having an Atlanta-based team, I experience less stress and time pressure during meetings on the days I telework since I can better control the information I receive from others. Because I work in self-defined and organized solitude, casual, trivial conversations occur less frequently than when I’m surrounded by office-based peers. At home, I attend just as many meetings and have the same access to valuable and timely information through my unlimited access to our company intranet, social media outlets and, the old stand-by, email. Information access without information overload or constant communication. Working from home gives me the chance to think about what I need to convey to an equally busy audience. There is no forced socialization, which allows my introverted self-sufficient space to create and organize information on its own terms. Only an estimated one-quarter of the population are introverts, but we are a class of creators and innovators, and—equally important—we are listeners.
Internal versus external locus of control
The concept of “locus of control” is a by-product of cognitive and behavioral psychology. It refers to an individual’s perception of the underlying main causes of events in his or her life, whether they are determined by self-governance, fate, destiny or larger concepts. If we were to relate locus of control to telecommuting, a person working from home who has an especially unproductive day might blame themselves for not organizing their day better or not maintaining the proper level of focus. On the other hand, a teleworker with an external locus of control would be more inclined to blame their numerous meetings, their distracting number of emails or the siren’s call of the spring sunshine. As it relates to achieving short-term work tasks and long-term overall goals—whether one is working from home or in the office—individuals with a stronger internal locus of control tend to be more independent, more responsible for their work and intrinsically linked to a high need for achievement. As you might suspect, a strong external locus of control would likely prove frustrating for a telecommuter; the lack of regular external feedback mechanisms coupled with the need to create one’s own routine and structure would be daunting, to say the least. Additionally, because telework as a practice is still evolving, those with an internal locus of control are more likely to take positive action to change their job role and/or responsibilities and experiment with flexible work styles rather than considering a job change or accepting the rewards of an established organizational model.
Finally, by working from home, teleworkers are less likely to become mired in office politics. Staying clear of the fray is a frequently cited advantage by regular telecommuters. However, this observation assumes that individuals genuinely want to remove themselves from the office drama—which is admittedly a naïve assumption. Without those individuals who deliberate play, play in, and play up to the drama of corporate politics, there wouldn’t be corporate politics. What, then, would everyone talk about?
Watch the video below from ABC News to learn more about the pivotal role telecommuting will play in the corporate culture of the future and how it is already reshaping office environments.
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