As work-from-home becomes the norm for the time being, savvy organisations are starting to figure out how to get the most out of virtual employees depending on their personalities.
There’s no doubt that the transition to remote working has been easier for some than for others. And despite the lack of commute and more time to devote to family and hobbies, many struggle to work from home and for various reasons would rather be in a physical workplace. So if you can tap into how your employees tick, you can help staff feel far more productive and engaged - and more able to cope with the new realities of working from home.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tool is a well known personality test which looks at four aspects of personality.
When it comes to working from home successfully, probably the most essential aspect of this test is whether we prefer to focus our attention externally (as extroverts) or on our inner world of thoughts and feelings (as introverts).
In simplistic terms, people who class themselves as extroverts have found the transition to work-from-home harder than those who are introverts. Extroverts thrive on personal interactions and building relationships in busy, lively environments - which is obviously tricky to experience as a work-from-homer.
As we’ve seen during our transition to home-working at HR GO, it’s worth trying to recreate some of the hustle and bustle of the workplace with social interactions throughout the day. These things might help:
Working from home - especially if it’s from a small shared property with no dedicated workspace - can make extroverts feel caged in and isolated. Bear in mind, too, that this type of personality will do better if they’re able to change their environment regularly for stimulation and to raise their energy levels, with breaks or trips outside to exercise.
Introverts gain energy by working by themselves, or within very small groups - and clearly remote working is a winner for this.
These employees may feel relief that they no longer need to pretend they’re more outgoing than they really are. In the physical workplace, employees who are happy to step into the spotlight have usually been more likely to be rewarded with promotion. Now, the ‘new normal’ means that introverts finally get the space to show the best of themselves.
Work-from-home wipes out any pressure to chat in the corridor, or take part in spontaneous office banter. But some methods of communication - like instant messaging - actually risk replacing this social pressure. So be aware that staff who are more introverted might appreciate more time and space to think about their email and message replies - even though this doesn’t always sit with the ‘always-on’ culture of immediate responses.
And remember that the actions that your organisation is taking to keep more outgoing staff connected, like virtual happy hours and weekly remote lunches, might be overwhelming to those introverts (we have some useful pointers on how to avoid ‘Zoom fatigue’, here).
It’s definitely useful to recognise different personality traits, yet the truth is that most employees are somewhere in between introvert and extrovert - or a mix of the two.
By now, most remote staff should now have a general picture of how they prefer to work and communicate.
And as understanding how people tick is all about connecting with employees as individuals, it might be time to ask each person how they function at their best. The key isn’t just to keep them on track now, but also set them up for success in the future.