Successful Remote Work Employees Need This One Key Trait: Study

Working from home is an attention-grabbing perk with real benefits, but should companies offer it to every tech pro, regardless of role? A new study shows there’s a particular type of employee who fits the mold as a good candidate for remote work.

According to a study from Baylor University, it ultimately boils down to what’s best for the employee. Working from home can lend itself to new types of stressors, especially since these remote employees are removed from personal interactions. Similarly, only those who are responsible enough to manage their workflow should be candidates for working away from the office; without supervision, procrastinators might find their work lives slipping out of control.

As the study succinctly points out, it all boils down to emotional maturity. From the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, where the findings were published:

In two field studies, high–emotional stability employees reporting high levels of autonomy experienced the lowest levels of strain, with negative relationships between extent of remote work and strain. In contrast, low–emotional stability employees who also have high autonomy appear more susceptible to strain, and this may increase when they work remotely more often. Our multilevel structural equation modeling revealed that high–emotional stability employees with high autonomy appear best positioned to meet their needs for autonomy and relatedness, even when remote work is more frequent; these in turn reduced the likelihood of strain.

When examining eligible employees for remote work, consider how often they need guidance. If you’re having to revisit goals and guidelines often, keeping this type of employee close enough to drop by their desk now and again is probably your best bet.

Consider stressors, too. The employee who is easily frustrated by shifts in structure or gets a bit wobbly during Agile sprints may not be a good candidate for remote work. Working from home presents its own set of considerations, and it can put added stress on management to pull someone back into focus repeatedly from many miles away.

Employees who shine or otherwise get the job done without much fanfare are great candidates. Those who are resourceful, collaborative, and mostly autonomous are usually excellent at working from home. Remote employment is a solid benefit for staff, but it should also align with management’s goal of, well, doing less managing.

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