Some personality types are better suited for remote work
The evidence presented here shows that while certain personality and cognitive characteristics are more favourable for effective work in a remote setting, engaging in remote work itself may help to develop these favourable characteristics. This means that favourable remote working skills are not necessarily inherent but can be learnt by individuals.
Several studies found that workers with certain personality characteristics and cognitive styles are indeed more suited to working remotely. For example, academics found that:
- higher openness is positively associated with better decision-making and preference for working in virtual teams16, 78
- higher extroversion is positively associated with participation in virtual communication79
- higher conscientiousness is positively associated with motivation in remote workers80
- higher agreeableness and low emotional stability are associated with more positive attitudes towards working remotely81.
Also, remote employees stated that self-discipline, self-motivation, ability to work alone, tenaciousness and good organisational skills were all essential to be able to work effectively away from the office43.
On the other hand, not having the ‘desirable’ personality traits does not mean that an employee cannot work remotely effectively. A recent study found that psychometric characteristics of individuals could change following intense periods of remote working82. This study found that as individuals engaged in collaboration in a virtual team, levels of extraversion and openness increased, while levels of altruism decreased in participants between the beginning and end of the study. Also, they found that scores for people at the extreme ends (very low or very high) of certain personality characteristics shifted at the end of the study to more closely resemble the team average.