Managers who ban telecommuting for all of their employees might be hurting their companies productivity, recent research suggests.
While it's easy to concede that not all employees are cut out for remote work, little research has been done to pinpoint who should and shouldn't be set up with a work-from-home arrangement. And research indicates some individuals perform really well when allowed to work wherever they choose.
Assistant psychology professor at the University of Calgary Thomas O'Neill and his colleagues recently conducted a study that looked at the personality traits of the best remote workers.
For his study, which was published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, O'Neill surveyed workers from two different organizations -- a financial services corporation and a staffing and recruiting firm. The employees answered questions about their personalities, their level of satisfaction with their jobs and their perception of their own performance, according to a blog post at the Association for Psychological Science website.
Additionally O'Neill asked them to describe how easily they got distracted when working out of the office.
Who Should Work From Home
The results? The researchers acknowleged that they found nothing earth-shattering. As they predicted, workers who were conscientious, honest and satisfied with their work were productive when working remotely. On the other hand, workers who described themselves as procrastinators were more likely to slack off at home.
However, one unexpected finding, the researchers said, was that people who indicated that they have neurotic tendencies actually work well remotely. O'Neill had predicted this group of people would have trouble concentrating, but that wasn't the case.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway from the study wasn't what it revealed about who was bad at working remotely, but why. O'Neill and his colleagues suggested that those who work from home and slack off avoid real work because they're actually dissatisfied with their jobs. That or they're overwhelmed.
"Underperforming employees may be looking for an escape from exerting effort or from experiencing feelings of low self-efficacy," the Association for Psychological Science said.