9 personality traits of people who work better remotely

One of the best things to come out from the awful pandemic is the remote work setup. 

Of course, it’s been around longer than that, but it wasn’t till we were all forced to stay home that both companies and employees really saw it for its worth. 

No more sitting in traffic or running after buses? Check!

Working in your PJs? Check!

Filling out that spreadsheet by the beach? Double, triple, quadruple check!

(Is it obvious that I love working remotely so much?) 

Now, remote work does sound like a dream, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Because we’ve all got our unique preferences and personality traits, some of us are more suited for it than others. 

Here are nine personality traits of people who work better remotely:  

1) Self-motivation

First up is motivation. As someone who’s worked remotely for years now, I can tell you this – when you’re working from home, self-motivation is everything. 

Because you’re flying solo, even if you’re actually part of a team. Your coworkers aren’t around to inspire your competitive spirit, nor is your boss constantly looking over your shoulder and managing you. 

The lack of social interaction can be incredibly lonely at times, too. And for some people, the lines between work and life can get really blurred (more on this later), which can really take away from your will to work. 

So, if you’re the type who needs external factors to push you to action, the remote setup might not be for you. 

But if you’re driven by a natural tendency to set goals and achieve them – whether or not someone’s telling you to do so – you’re perfectly suited for remote work. 

2) Independence

This might sound redundant after ‘self-motivation’, but it’s actually a different trait. 

Being independent isn’t just about pushing yourself to work. It’s about being comfortable making decisions and solving problems on your own. 

In a remote setting, you can’t always wait for someone else’s input or approval to move forward. You need to be able to trust your judgment and not be overly reliant on others. 

Personally, I find that it’s in this area that remote work has really helped me grow. I used to be someone who’d wait for my boss’ approval in certain matters, but when I found myself in a remote work setup, I knew that had to change. 

I could no longer bide my time for every single decision because there’s this unspoken culture of independence, where workers are expected to be able to navigate the challenges on their own. 

After all, we don’t have the very convenient luxury of simply swiveling in our chair and asking a coworker how to deal with a certain issue. 

Of course, you could go ahead and ask every question you have in your work channel, but at a certain point, that would highlight any lack of self-reliance you might have. 

Because there’s now a “paper trail” of just how much you can’t trust yourself!

If you’re the kind of person who is comfortable taking the initiative and can stand by your decisions, you’ll thrive in a remote work environment.

3) Excellent communication skills

Why is an excellent communication style so essential in remote working? 

Well, because you don’t have the advantage of non-verbal cues to clarify your message. Sure, there might be virtual meetings here and there, but the bulk of your day is spent chatting on work channels or emailing. 

That means, if you’re not so savvy with virtual communication, you might find remote work challenging. 

What exactly does being savvy with virtual communication look like?

  • Knowing the nuances of text-based messaging (e.g. the meaning of using all-caps/acronyms or including certain emojis/punctuation in messages)
  • Checking in regularly with your team and giving updates from your end
  • Actively listening during virtual meetings
  • Respecting coworkers’ boundaries and different time zones

You get the drift. Because you’ve got distance (sometimes as large as oceans) between you and everyone else, a lot of your performance hinges on effective communication. 

4) Acceptance of ambiguity and uncertainty

Now, as much as we’d like everything to be crystal clear at work or for everyone to be communicating on the same level we do, the fact of the matter is, it’s not likely to happen. 

Ambiguity and uncertainty are part and parcel of most work environments. But with remote work, it’s definitely more amplified. 

For one, you don’t always get immediate feedback. You might raise a concern with your boss or a teammate, but if they aren’t at their desk at the moment, you might be waiting a long time for their reply. 

In the meantime, you’ll be sitting at your desk, wondering and wondering…

And let’s not forget about technical glitches. Remote work relies heavily on technology and internet connectivity. 

So, any tech-related issue – maybe your internet connection conked out, or your software needs updating – can create unpredictable situations you need to deal with.

If you’re the type who can be okay with such uncertainties, you have what it takes to get ahead in a remote work environment.  

5) Openness to learning

The beauty of all that uncertainty? It’s certainly a ripe place for growth and learning!

I remember when I first shifted to remote work. I’ve never been particularly tech-savvy, so it was a really scary endeavor for me. 

Fast forward a few years later, and here I am, welcoming and navigating new technology as if I wasn’t once a digital moron. Sometimes, I can even troubleshoot the occasional tech hiccup! 

What I’m saying is, as long as you’re open to learning, you’ll do well as a remote worker. Because that’s what it really is about, just like any other type of work environment. 

And if you’re a freelancer or running your own business, the onus to keep learning is really on you. There’s no supervisor to tell you to attend a training session. Any professional development or upskilling depends on your initiative to learn. 

The more open you are to changes (and in remote work, changes really happen quickly!), the better you can adjust. Which leads me to the next point…

6) Adaptability and resourcefulness

Different time zones. Different types of projects. Different communication styles. Unforeseen circumstances. 

These are just some of the instances you’ll encounter when you’re working from home. And it’s pretty clear – you’ve got to adapt, or you lose. 

Think about it – what if your internet is acting up and you’ve got a presentation in two hours? 

Do you sit at your desk and work yourself into a ball of anxiety? 

Or do you pack your laptop up and zoom off to a nearby cafe with stable internet to be able to proceed with your presentation? 

If you pick the latter, fantastic. You’ve got the ability to roll with the punches; remote work will be a comfortable fit for you. 

7) Discipline

Equally important as flexibility is discipline. I mean, without the structure of a regular office to keep you in line, how else would you get any work done? 

Remember, remote working is about independence and self-motivation. And you can’t put those into action without self-discipline

Let’s be real, when you’re working from home, here’s what you likely have all around you: 

  • A pile of laundry waiting to be folded
  • Your TV – and Netflix in it
  • Kids running around (if you have a family)
  • Your comfy bed
  • Your pet/s (the best kind of distraction, but a distraction nonetheless)

So, with all of these distractions, remote workers have to have boundaries and a system to keep them motivated and on track with their goals. 

And I’d like to add – it’s also about integrity. It’s about honoring the agreement you have with your employer, even when no one’s watching. 

8) Organization skills

Part of being disciplined is being organized. This is actually the first thing I learned when I started working remotely. 

See, the lack of structure calls for you to create your own. That’s how you can be most effective. 

With tasks, meetings, and deadlines all floating around in confusing project boards, work channels, and emails, it can all get easily jumbled up. 

So how do you cope? 

With strategies like: 

  • To-do lists
  • A tidy workspace
  • Digital tools to manage your tasks and keep files in order
  • Time management strategies

9) An understanding of work-life balance

Finally, we get to work-life balance, which is perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of remote working. 

As I mentioned earlier, the lines between work and life can easily get blurred when you’re working from home. 

For instance, if you live in a small house, chances are your living room or your bedroom is also your workspace. Which means you don’t have that “getting off from work” feeling that you get when you walk out of a physical office. 

Plus, some employers do feel like they can reach you anytime, thanks to all those work apps on both your laptop and phone. 

You could finally be sitting down to watch a show when your phone pings with a message from your boss. And if you’re the anxious type, you likely won’t be able to ignore that message. 

Which means, your work concerns would now be encroaching on your personal time. 

In short, your success in balancing remote work and personal time would depend on your ability to create clear demarcations between the two. 

If you can clock out mentally when it’s time to, and switch from work mode to home mode, the remote work lifestyle could work for you.

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