Have you been thinking about this whole “remote work” thing? Let me forewarn you that not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. There are personal traits consistent for most remote workers who truly thrive in a remote work setup. And, nope, being an introvert does not guarantee success.
Before swapping out your business suit for bunny slippers, please take a few minutes to find out what makes people succeed in a remote environment. Regardless of your personality, have, or be willing to develop, most of the following characteristics.
Being organized is an important characteristic of successful teleworkers. Do you know what you’re doing from one minute to the next? It’s important to have systems set in place to help you organize your time and your work. Nothing is more counter-productive than beginning your day unsure of what you’ll be doing first, second, third, and so on.
Remote workers who perform well do what they need to even when they dread doing it. Pumping out sales calls even when stressed about a family situation; missing a once-in-a-lifetime concert to finish a client’s taxes; or flushing out another draft of an article instead of catching a last-minute sale—this is self-discipline.
Self-discipline is one of the top traits needed to work remotely. It helps you stay focused on the big picture or goal, as you take the unpleasant baby steps necessary to reach your desired outcome.
Being self-disciplined means doing what NEEDS to be done even when you DREAD doing it.
Remote workers can focus on their work, whether or not they’re on-site. Working from home isn’t an opportunity to incorporate play time. Being focused means not playing solitaire while listening to a client who rattles on too long. They don’t eat a bowl of cereal over their employer’s grant proposal. They don’t watch television while editing papers. Nor do they polish their nails as they “wait for creative juices” to hit them.
Being focused isn’t just a behavior; it’s a way of choosing to be. It’s a choice to care about what you’re doing and not let other things become distractions that could impede your work.
Successful teleworkers are highly skilled, yet they recognize that they don’t know everything. They’re not afraid to ask questions until they’re sure they understand something. If they can’t get answers from a team member, they will go the extra step to research for clarification or instruction.
Remote workers that are successful can stay motivated and continuously give their best just for the reward of knowing they did a great job. They’re able to keep a high level of performance, even if no one is around to acknowledge it.
Do you feel deflated if a colleague or supervisor neglects to mention your contribution to a project’s success? Or are you pleased with yourself and driven just thinking about a successful result? As a teleworker, most of the time you’ll be your only cheerleader; and you must go into new projects with equal enthusiasm.
Saying “no” is a word teleworkers learn to use if they want others to respect their work, office space, and time. No one cares about their projects or assignments the way they do. So, remote workers set firm limits on the number of times they allow others to interrupt them.
Do you feel guilty cutting a call short from a friend who needs to vent while you’re trying to work? Is it easy for people to get you to stop your work to help them with something? Although this could be an issue of being easily distracted (lack of focus), this might be a case of being afraid to say “no”.
Yes, pencils need to be sharpened. But successful teleworkers know to leave them until they have finished more important tasks. Task prioritization is a crucial ability that can mean the difference between work being done on time or not.
Whether you need to use an app or a secretary or a tablet of paper, you must be able to prioritize your daily activities and then do them in their right order. This means being able to visualize the individual steps required to complete a project and do them in proper sequence.
Successful teleworkers prioritize their activities and then perform them in their right order.
Successful remote workers are independent, but not to the point of omitting their team. They can trust their own judgment because they’ve created a habit of double checking their work. This gives them confidence to move forward without hand-holding from others.
How many opinions do you need before you can get started on something or make a decision? You must be confident enough to think through problems and decide on your own based on your skills and experience.
Panic causes people to react in ways that aren’t always best for a situation. Remote workers have their share of emergencies—power outages, lost data, computer viruses, what have you. But they handle these events in ways that help rather than make things worse. This is because they stay calm.
Calm gives you the ability to think of solutions rather than react out of fear. Do you stay calm when nothing goes right? Or do you panic when accidents, delays, or unexpected changes occur?
To be a successful teleworker, you must own each of these personal traits; or you will face problems when you meet with the realities of working from home. If you aren’t assertive, the phone calls and interruptions will cause you to be unproductive. If you’re not prioritized, you may sharpen pencils before you carry out anything worthwhile. And, if you aren’t calm, you will panic as soon as something goes awry.
Candidly evaluate yourself to see how close you match up to these traits. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn you’re ready for those bunny slippers today!Your turn: Which of the above personal traits have you found most useful as a remote worker—or in your career life in general?