Do you have the personal traits to succeed as a remote employee?
Thinking about this whole “teleworking thing”? Be forewarned: Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. There are personal traits that are consistent for most teleworkers who thrive working in a remote environment.
So, before you jump into unfamiliar territory, take a few minutes to make sure you have the following personal traits.
Planning & Organization
Being organized is a top characteristic of successful teleworkers. They know where things are, and they know how to use systems to keep themselves organized. Little else eats up precious time more than hunting down lost information that should have been stored properly in the first place.
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 their time as well as your work. Nothing is more counter-productive than beginning your day unsure of what you’ll be doing first, second, third, and so on.
Teleworkers who perform well do what needs to be done even when they dread doing it. Pumping out sales calls when they’re depressed over a family situation; missing a one-time television mini-series to work on a balance sheet; or flushing out another draft of an article instead of catching a sale at a department store–this is self-discipline.
Self-discipline is one of the top personal traits you’ll need. It helps you stay focused on the big picture, yet able to take the unpleasant baby steps necessary to reach the final outcome.
Remote workers go to their work spaces each day with the attitude: This is my work and my livelihood. Being professional means that they don’t play solitaire while talking to a customer who rattles on too long. They don’t eat a bowl of cereal over their employer’s grant proposal. They don’t watch wrestling while writing. Nor do they polish their nails as they “wait for creative juices” to hit them.
Professionalism isn’t just a behavior; it’s a way of thinking. It means you care about what you’re doing, and how your behavior affects the person you’re doing it for.
Successful teleworkers are highly skilled, but they also 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 mile by enrolling in a class or seminar.
Being resourceful is an important personal trait to have if you want success as a remote worker. It’s okay not to know everything so long as you’re able to reach out to others, and are willing to find answers elsewhere.
Remote workers that are successful are able to stay motivated and continually give their best just for the sheer thrill of knowing they did a great job. They’re able to maintain 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 the end result? As a teleworker there will be times when you’ll be your only cheerleader; and you’ll have to able to go right into the next project 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. Therefore, remote workers set firm limits on the number of times others are allowed to interrupt them.
Would you feel guilty cutting a call short from a friend who needs to vent while your 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 discipline), this can also be a case of being afraid to say “no”.
Yes, pencils do need to be sharpened. But successful teleworkers know to leave them be until more important tasks have been finished. Task prioritization is a crucial personal trait 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 you’re your daily activities and then perform 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 remote workers are independent–but not to the point of omitting their team. They are able to trust their own judgement because they’ve created a habit of double checking their work. This gives them confidence to move forward without any 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 make decisions on your own based on your skills and experience.
Panic causes people to react in ways that aren’t always appropriate. 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 is a personal trait that allows you to think of solutions rather than react out of fear. Do you remain calm when nothing seems to go right? Or, do you panic when accidents, delays, or unexpected changes occur?
Remote workers who find success are realistic about what it’s like to work from home. They know it isn’t about the “bunny slippers” that some people portray it as being. There are some negative aspects of remote work, but their desire for work/life balance and freedom outweigh the negative issues.
Are you aware of the realities of working from home, such as isolation, and willing to compensate for them because your desire to telework is strong? Can you plan ahead for drawbacks to minimize them and make remote work as smooth as possible?
To be a successful teleworker you must possess, to some degree, each of these personal traits or you will face problems when you are met with the realities of working from home. If you are not assertive, the phone calls and interruptions will cause you to be unproductive. If you are not prioritized, you may find yourself sharpening pencils before you accomplish anything worthwhile. And, if you are not calm, you will fall apart as soon as something you planned goes awry.
So, before you make that leap to ask your boss to let you telecommute, or you quit your day job to work remotely, go over this list carefully. Otherwise, you might end up having to fire yourself.
Your turn: Which of the above personal traits have you found most useful as a telecommuter–or in your career life in general?
Do you have the personal traits to work from home but don’t know where to find hiring companies? Learn how to find telecommuting jobs with Telework Recruiting!