As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be picking up renewed momentum in the last half of 2021, some employers are reversing course—or at least slowing down—their transition back to in-person office work.

This development is a blessing to some employees and a letdown for others, depending upon the personality traits in which they are strongest.

Of the Big 5 personality traits (which are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability), it is conscientiousness—perhaps with a side of introversion—that wins the day for work-at-home employees.

Conscientious people tend to be:

  • Highly organized
  • Efficient at completing tasks
  • Less likely to procrastinate than those exhibiting other personality traits.

To work well at home, employees will need a high level of accountability to stay on task and productive. The more conscientious an employee is, the easier this will be for them.

Good News for Introverts

While extraverts can certainly enjoy working from home as long as they have enough stimulation to get them through the day, remote work appears to be better suited to those with introverted personalities.

Introverted individuals are more likely to enjoy the ‘alone time’ that comes with working away from social, and sometimes loud, office environments. Introverts might even get better quality work done when at home and left to focus on work tasks.

Challenges for Extraverts

For employees who prefer to be around people and find it energizing, working from home might prove to be a challenge. However, extraverts who work at home can create opportunities to connect with others and avoid feeling isolated.

Employees Can Adapt

Employees who are not naturally conscientious can build habits that will increase their productivity and accountability, such as waking up at the same time each day, creating a daily routine, utilizing calendars and other organizing tools, and keeping their workspace tidy and organized. Adopting such habits can make a huge difference regarding motivation and daily production.

Productivity Tips That Apply to All Remote Workers

Even those who are strong in the conscientiousness trait might find themselves challenged in an isolating and distracting home office setting. Here are a few changes work-at-home employees can make to stay productive and stave off the negative side effects of remote work.

  1. Designate a Work Area: This helps to stay focused and keep work physically separate from home life. A home office or study, a section of any room or a desk that is for work use only will fill the bill.2. Establish a Routine: Some employees need their morning coffee, a few minutes with a newspaper or news website, or a drive or walk outside to set their mind to work. Establishing a routine allows them to feel like they are getting something done right away and can set the tone for a productive workday.

Calendar notes, to-do lists and other prompts help in this area.

  1. Create Boundaries & Rules: Physical boundaries may be difficult to establish in a home environment, but employees need to establish ground rules. For example, avoiding entertainment devices or household chores until a specific time and ending work calls and email responses after work hours. This helps employees keep their work hours reasonable.

Even if an employee is not ideally suited to work from home, learning new habits and setting hard and fast boundaries can help keep work and private lives separate and manageable.

Other Things to Consider

Working from home is not a one-size fits all experience.

The work from home experience can differ greatly depending on the nature of the job and work output, whether a worker is self-employed or works directly for a company, the employees work style and number of daily or weekly work hours required for the job.