16 Apr 2023

Working from Home – Personality Type Considerations

The rise of hybrid and remote work has led to a performance disparity among employees in similar roles. Some workers thrive outside of the traditional office setting, while others struggle to be productive despite similar home office arrangements and talent levels. These differences can frustrate managers, leading to a general mistrust of employee productivity outside of the office. To optimise employee performance, organisations must take into account the different personality traits of their workers when developing hybrid work arrangements. The Big Five personality test (aka OCEAN Personality Assessment), measuring extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and emotional stability, offers a reliable measure of personality for the workplace. Compared to other personality frameworks, the Big Five has shown to have the highest degree of predictive validity, test-retest reliability, and convergence with self-ratings and ratings by others.

While there is extensive data showing that employees are more efficient working remotely, managers still feel suspicious of any time their hybrid employees work remotely. Some workers do perform less well remotely in the same roles and with similar home office conditions, and this fact cannot be ignored. To optimise performance, organisations should consider the personality traits of their employees when developing hybrid work arrangements. For example, for workers who score high in conscientiousness, it may be helpful to provide clear guidelines and deadlines, as these individuals tend to thrive when they have a clear structure and plan. For those who score high in extraversion, it may be beneficial to provide opportunities for social connection and collaboration, even if it’s virtual.

Big Five Perosonality

Remote work requires a unique set of skills and personality traits that are different from those required in an office setting. It’s not just about being able to work independently; there are other essential skills that remote workers need to have to be successful.

In this article, we will discuss the best personality types to work from home and why they are well-suited to remote work.

Highly conscientiousness types are clearly one of the best personality types to work from home. People who score high in conscientiousness are organised, reliable, self-disciplined, and take ownership of their tasks. They are also more likely to show initiative in problem-solving, which is essential when working remotely.

Remote work requires a high degree of self-discipline, as there are often fewer external stimuli to help employees stay focused. Conscientious workers are more likely to be able to structure their time and prioritise their tasks effectively, which is crucial in a remote work environment.

Emotional Stability
Emotional stability is another crucial personality trait for remote workers. People who score high in emotional stability are calmer, more even-tempered, and resilient in the face of stress. They are also less prone to negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression, making them better equipped to handle the isolation and uncertainty of remote work.

Remote work can be a challenging and isolating experience, especially for people who are used to working in a social environment. Workers who manage their emotions effectively are better able to manage the stress and uncertainty of remote work, allowing them to be more productive and effective.

Openness to Experience
Openness to experience is also a crucial personality trait for remote workers. People who score reasonably high in openness to experience are willing to consider new ideas and experiences, and they are open-minded, creative, curious, and imaginative. However, this finding comes with a caveat because individuals scoring very highly on the Openness dimension can become easily distracted and have difficulty finishing the task at hand. For this reason, those who score in the average to above average (rather than very high range) are desirable.

Essentially, remote work often requires employees to be more innovative and adaptable than they would be in an office setting. Workers who are quite open to new experiences are better able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems, making them well-suited to remote work.

Extraversion is more complicated. As a general guideline, those who score high on extraversion, tend to perform less well when working from home, as the trait describes people who are more sociable, outgoing, talkative, assertive, and energised by others. Those high on extraversion tend to experience more loneliness and social isolation when working from home, undermining their performance.

Interestingly, and although it may seem counterintuitive, some people who score high in extraversion can be very successful remote workers based on ‘connectedness’. Organisations can leverage the strengths of highly extraverted workers by providing opportunities for social connection and collaboration, even if it’s virtual. The more contact with others, the better. Connectedness to others being key here.

Agreeableness is the last personality trait on our list, and it’s one that doesn’t seem to have a hugely significant impact on remote work performance. People who score high in agreeableness are cooperative and get along well with others. They focus on compromise and are reluctant to engage in competition and conflict. Importantly however, disagreeable types may be more difficult to convince about any potential benefits of returning to the office. This is a more recent challenge employers are facing as many roles are returning to the office.

Although agreeable workers may not stand out as remote work superstars, they are still valuable team members. They are typically easy to work with and can help to promote a positive team dynamic, which is important in any work environment. As a general guideline, individuals who score at least in the average range or higher, are ideal for most flexible working conditions.

Overall, organisations can benefit from assessing hybrid or work from home candidates with the OCEAN Big Five personality Assessment to help accurately measure employee personality and predict job performance in a variety of settings. By matching hybrid work arrangements to the relevant personality traits of their employees, organisations can optimise employee performance, resulting in a win-win for everyone.

Tsipursky, G. (2021). Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage. Columbus, OH: Intentional Insights Press.

Yarritu, Ion, Helena Matute, and Miguel A. Vadillo. “Illusion of control: the role of personal involvement.” Experimental psychology 61.1 (2014): 38.

Bloom, Nicholas, et al. “Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 130.1 (2015): 165-218.

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