Despite being six years into the role (and for the most part loving it), there are still days I wonder whether working from home is the best setup for me. There are tons of benefits, but there can also be drawbacks, like the absence of co-workers to bond with or waiting for feedback that can take longer to come via email.
Here’s who should and shouldn’t work from home:
You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of remote work by now, but new research out of Baylor University actually examined the impact of remote work on employee well-being and found that, believe it or not, certain personality types are better suited for remote work roles. The study surveyed 403 working adults to measure the level of workplace autonomy they had, as well as their strain—which they defined as exhaustion, disengagement, and dissatisfaction—and emotional stability.
Sarah Perry, Ph.D., assistant professor of management in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, said in a Baylor press release that emotional stability “captures how even keeled someone is or, on the opposite end, how malleable their emotions are. An example would be if something stressful happens at work, a person who is high on emotional stability would take it in stride, remain positive and figure out how to address it. A person low on emotional stability might get frustrated and discouraged, expending energy with those emotions instead of on the issue at hand.”
A critical takeaway from the survey was that employees who reported high levels of autonomy and emotional stability were better able to thrive in a remote work role, while employees reporting high levels of job autonomy with lower levels of emotional stability were more susceptible to strain. More plainly put, people with lower levels of emotional stability might not actually need (or benefit from) much autonomy in their work, which could account for why less emotionally stable employees don’t seem to do as well when they work remotely.
The researchers used their findings to also offer up some recommendations for managers who work closely with remote workers. Those included:
- Managers should carefully consider employee behavior before entering into a remote work situation. For example, people who don’t handle stress well or are easily overwhelmed while in the office may not adapt well to a work-from-home setup.
- Regardless of the type of person who is working remotely, more and better resources—rather than more autonomy—can help foster a strong remote work relationship.
- Proper systems—like clearly designated procedures, performance expectations, and regular contact—can also help.
On the worker’s end, it helps to have a designated area for work within the home (this piece has some tips to help cultivate a productive home office), and tools like those mentioned here can help block distractions that can be costly in terms of time and efficiency.
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