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Traits to be an effective remote worker

By Kristina Calder, Ph.D.

In Canada there are 6.8 million, around 40% of employees currently working remotely[1], with a large proportion of those wanting to continue to work from home once the pandemic is over. The positive impacts associated with remote work are motives for major companies giving employees the option for remote work long-term or incorporating a hybrid work model into their business strategy.

  • 13% increase in performance when working remotely[1]
  • 77% report greater productivity while working remote[2]
  • 22% more remote workers were happy in their job compared to office goers[3]
  • 25% lower attrition rate in companies with remote work options[3]

Increases in performance, productivity and satisfaction begin with the removal of the commute time. The average commute time is around 30 min to 1 hour depending on mode of transportation, which means employees are getting on average 1 to 2 hours back to their day. This added time along with flexibility (where some workers can select the times of day which are best suited for them) often result in workers putting in more hours per day as they are not restricted by office/business hours. Remote workers are happier with this greater autonomy and freedom which allows for a better work-life balance. Increased productivity happens when working from home due to having fewer distractions and fewer interruptions from colleagues. However not everyone is suited to work from home, and some cannot wait to get back to the office.

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This “New Normal” is the term frequently being used as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our working lives. Whether you are a company considering remaining 100% remote post-pandemic or considering a hybrid approach, how can you identify people who will work effectively remotely? Working remotely effectively requires certain traits like the ability to self manage, and skills like strong communication along with discipline. Other factors such as having a dedicated workspace set up, the right equipment and digital fluency are also important to be successful when working from home.

Over 10,000 candidates have completed a Working Remotely POP assessment since the beginning of the pandemic. This tool provides a predictive snapshot of a candidates position specific suitability, working remotely suitability, and working remote background. When we examined the ‘Working Remotely Suitability’ results, over 75% of these candidates had average to excellent Self-Management potential with the potential to be adaptable and comfortable with change and dynamic environments. This trait continues to be the #1 predictor of performance during the pandemic and the working remotely environment[4].

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The large proportion of candidates who have indicating their Need for Structure environment is one with constant feedback and interaction with the team is worrisome. If 70% of candidates that are applying for remote work prefer a structured environment how are employees/employers fulfilling this need for structure and regular feedback?  In a recent study, carried out by the Self Management Group, roughly 70% of organizations have poor retention because they did not thoroughly explore fit in the hiring process. The ways an employer/employee can create a structured and productive work environment at home will be addressed in my next blog post.

The results for E-Learning Orientation reveals that the majority of those applying to work remotely are high in the green zone: meaning they are detail oriented and analytical. This is an extremely important trait to have considering employees will need to be more self sufficient with learning new technical skills associated with working remotely. Obviously different roles will require varying levels of technical aptitude but knowing if your candidate will require a lot of training during onboarding can be an important consideration.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive shift in the ways most businesses operate. Predicting human performance in a remote setting requires both objective and subjective elements. The Self Management Group has a 40-year track record of helping organizations attract, select, and develop top performers. Self Management is currently the single most predictive attribute of top performers (as identified by over 3500 validation studies) and will only continue to grow as companies change their business strategies to adapt to our changing world.