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The 7 Types of Remote Employees

Whether you're hiring a telecommuter or work remotely yourself, knowing the different ways people approach working at a distance can be a huge productivity booster.
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Work in an office for any amount of time and it becomes abundantly clear that not all employees work the same. Some folks have amazing concentration abilities, working away heads down for hours, others like to wander and gossip, building relationships (and distracting others), some settle down straight away in the morning while others barely seem awake until afternoon.

Just like there are various approaches to getting stuff done when you’re all together in one location, there are different styles for different remote workers, according to a recent ebook from collaboration tools company PGi that breaks down all telecommuters into seven distinct subtypes.

What’s the point of constructing this taxonomy of remote workers? The exercise can benefit both managers and employees themselves, the company insists. "By understanding the personalities of your workforce, you can activate all the benefits of telecommuting," states the ebook. But fail to know your or your team’s telecommuting style and working away from the office can be a minefield.

So which type are you?

The 24/7 Worker

You know you’re this type is you often find yourself answering emails at 11pm and in the middle of Sunday brunch. For the 24/7 worker "Dedication - and stress - are in no short supply," declares PGi before listing the benefits and needs of this personality type. To get the most out of telecommuting, for example, they should designate virtual office hours and set up a physically separate space in which to work.

The Multitasker

Currently have a dozen of more tabs open in your browser and an equal number of apps running? Congrats, you’re most likely a Multitasker. You’re probably naturally creative and collaborative but to keep focused (and sane) while telecommuting you’ll need to turn off your notifications during personal time and set up a team to support your frenzied pace of work. Multiple work spaces sprinkled throughout the home can also be a good idea for this type.

The Networker

The Networker is the social butterfly who serves as the glue that bonds a team together. This is the guy or gal who always has that juiciest bit of gossip. Unfortunately, this type is also prone to feelings of isolation when telecommuting. To overcome them, networkers need regularly scheduled catchups both virtual and in person, and should lean more heavily on tools like video chat to keep personal connections strong.

The Distracted Worker

If you’re the type to forget a sandwich half made in the kitchen to wander over to keep working on a half finished email, then you probably fall into this category. Being distractible can pose obvious problems for remote workers, but according to PGi these can be ameliorated by task management tools offering plenty of reminders and a set work environment -- perhaps even a coworking space.

The Remote Manager

The higher the balance of points in your frequent flyer account, the more likely it is that you’re a Remote Manager. For road warriors like this the right technology to stay productive wherever they find themselves is key, as are regularly scheduled one-on-one check-ins with direct reports.

The Flex Worker

If work-life balance is an alien concept to you -- you’re all about the work-life mush! -- then chances are you’re a Flex Worker. To get the most of these folks and their erratic work hours (as well as their after hours eureka moments), management needs to get over an obsession with a regular nine to five and learn to focus on deliverables, not hours.

The Hyper-Efficient Worker

No idea how one of your team member manages to get so much done? She’s probably a hyper-efficient worker. How do you know if you yourself fit into this category? If you’re scheduled to the hilt and professionally dressed even if you’re working from your sofa, this is most likely your type. There are lots of advantages to this category of telecommuter but management needs to make sure they get all the structure they crave, including itemized task lists, while eliminating the burdensome controls and regulations that these self-regulated super performers just don’t require.

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: May 29, 2014

JESSICA STILLMAN

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.




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