Think you have what it takes to build a successful telecommuting career? Consider your personality and work habits before making the leap.
Do You Have the Right Personality for Telecommuting?
According to a study by Gallup, 37% of employees are willing to leave their current jobs for telecommuting alternatives, and 54% are willing to jump ship for jobs that offer flexible work schedules. However, a willingness to change doesn’t automatically guarantee success and happiness.
Telecommuting requires a certain personality and work style. Not all telecommuters are alike, but many successful remote workers share similar traits. If the following characteristics align with your persona, telecommuting might be a great option for you.
You Like Working Alone
Telecommuters often work in solitude. They may email team members and managers or dial into phone meetings, but they spend most of their days riding solo. For some, this is a blessing, since no one looks over their shoulder or distracts them with irrelevant chatter. In fact, 57% of respondents to the Staples Annual Workplace Survey say that remote work environments reduce distractions.
For others, however, the days grow lonely. Remote workers who enjoy daily social interaction or connecting with colleagues in person must put in extra effort to avoid feeling isolated.
How about you? Do you work best with frequent collaboration and when coworkers are physically present? Or do you prefer to receive assignments, plug in your earbuds, and plow through your tasks on your own?
If you enjoy your own company and get more done while working independently, your personality could be right for telecommuting.
Tip: Working from home doesn’t mean you have to miss out on or lose connections. It just means you find different ways to maintain relationships and form new bonds. Check out our tips for staying connected while working from home.
You Are Self-Disciplined
Working from home may sound like the holy grail of work-life balance, but it takes persistent discipline to reach that sweet equilibrium. Telecommuters must hold themselves accountable and practice self-management since no one physically looks over their shoulder. This aspect of telecommuting is simultaneously liberating and challenging, and it’s an essential quality that remote workers need to master.
How disciplined are you? Do you hold yourself accountable or do you rely on others to keep you in line? Even if you’re a full-time employee, telecommuting requires you to be your own boss, adhere to your work schedule, manage your time, and meet deadlines. If you can fulfill your job requirements without the help of a watchful manager, you can reap the rewards of working from home (or anywhere in the world).
Tip: Success is simple when you break it down. As Jess Olsen, author of The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life, put it: “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” So, if you want a thriving telecommuting career, you must put in the effort and do all the things that a thriving telecommuting career requires.
You Can Set Boundaries
Work-at-home professionals set clear boundaries with family and roommates to maintain focus and productivity throughout the day. They set regular office hours, take lunch breaks, and schedule vacation days just as they would in an office. A structured work environment may seem counterintuitive for a flexible career, but a little bit of scheduling is necessary to get work done.
Think about your daily life at home. Are you able to shut the door when you’re working on something and tell your family to wait? Or do you usually stop whatever you’re doing and attend to your family’s every need? Kids often assume that if they see you at home, then you’re available to them. Boundaries are tough, especially with little ones, but they’re necessary if you intend to provide for your family.
Tip: Telecommuting jobs seem perfect for stay-at-home parents, but you can expect a few bumps in the road. Read through the pros and cons of working at home while raising kids before adding more responsibility to your plate.
You Are Good at What You Do
Remote employees don’t rely on their charming personalities to climb the career ladder. Instead, they let their work product outshine their schmoozing techniques. Collaboration among remote teams is often direct and concise with narrow tolerances for poor work performance. Consequently, telecommuters must excel in their field and continuously educate themselves and improve their skills.
Are you up to date on industry best practices? If you’re confident in your abilities and stay current on knowledge, techniques, and trends, you’re in a strong position to compete in the telecommuting talent pool.
Tip: It might be time to brush up on your skills and take a refresher course. Leverage your strengths, address your weaknesses, and create a career development plan to ensure long-term success.
You Market Yourself Well
Successful telecommuters master the art of self-promotion and can recite the tale of their careers like a Shakespearean sonnet. They know how to craft a winning resumé, nail a phone interview, and compose persuasive emails. They write succinctly, respond to messages promptly, and maintain a genuine, friendly demeanor.
Do you know that remote companies take 33% less time to staff their teams? Recruiters don’t mess around. You need a strong resumé tailored to your industry and job category to get noticed. Plus, you need to practice interviewing over the phone and through video conferences to prove you’re capable of working with virtual teams.
Tip: Let our human resources and telecommuting gurus give your resumé a once-over with our Professional Resumé Review service. Also, head over to the Telecommute Toolkit for expert advice on nailing interviews.
You Socialize Online
Resumés no longer tell the entire story of one’s career path. Social media profiles like LinkedIn and Twitter add credibility when well-managed, but they can also confuse and deter recruiters when they’re outdated or inconsistent. Telecommuters manage their online presence by separating personal and professional profiles and posts, applying privacy settings, and updating information regularly.
Do you have an updated LinkedIn profile? Do you publicly post articles or ideas related to your job or industry? A few shares and likes can go a long way to prove your involvement and interest in your line of work.
Tip: Avoid common social media mistakes that can exile you from a prosperous career.
You Have Tech Skills
Telecommuters have enough technical skills to support their remote offices. They can’t always access an IT department, so they do a lot of troubleshooting and updating on their own. They also know their way around standard office software, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and cloud-based tools, such as SharePoint, Dropbox, and Slack. Their line of work determines their level of tech knowledge, but they’re usually quick learners of new programs and apps.
Are you familiar with the latest technology that companies and professionals in your field typically use? The more comfortable you feel with modern tools, the more confident you’ll be during your job search.
Tip: Check out these free and low-cost tools that remote teams often utilize. Practice using them for personal documents and communication, read through online knowledge centers, and watch a few video tutorials to get yourself acquainted.
You Don’t Live to Work
Professionals who choose telecommuting careers don’t typically live to work. Instead, they work to support their chosen lifestyle and gain back the time they’d otherwise lose each day. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that remote workers reclaim 11 days each calendar year by avoiding the daily commute to and from the office.
Some telecommuters work part-time while raising kids or caring for sick relatives. Others work while they travel the globe, start a small business, or launch a philanthropic project. Though telecommuting jobs are rewarding on their own, they present unique opportunities to live a full, enriched life.
Do you work on projects outside your career? It’s certainly possible to merge your passion and profession, but sometimes you need a job to fund whatever you truly want to do with your life. Whether you’re looking for a dream job or a means to earn capital, telecommuting offers the money and extra time you need to achieve your goals.
Tip: If you fantasize about living a nomadic freelancer life, know the differences between working at home and on the road to keep your career afloat while cruising the globe.
Is Telecommuting Right for You?
You don’t need a perfect set of personality traits to start telecommuting. Most remote workers learn and grow through experience. As long as you have enough drive and motivation, you’ll find ways to adapt and carve out the right telecommuting career path for you.
However, before you quit your day job, answer the following personality questions honestly:
- Do you need lots of social interaction throughout the day?
- Are you mostly extroverted and feel energized when you’re around other people?
- Do you enjoy office settings and the typical corporate structure?
- Do you rely on others to hold you accountable?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, full-time telecommuting might not be a good fit. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a little flexibility, though.
Talk to your boss or manager about working from home one day each week or offering flex-time or alternative work hours that better suit your needs. If your work productivity and overall happiness increase, keep going or make more small adjustments to fine-tune your daily life.
Worst case, you don’t like it and return to your original work structure. Best case, you discover better ways to balance home and career and become a more capable, confident professional.
Tips on Getting Started in Telecommuting
Ready to get started? Here are some tips to launch your telecommuting career:
- Sign up for a free or premium membership to Virtual Vocations to access telecommuting resources and receive notifications when employers post new jobs.
- Enroll in our popular e-Courses to learn the ins and outs of applying for telecommuting jobs.
- Craft a winning resumé using the templates in the Telecommute Toolkit.
- Submit your resumé to our Professional Resumé Review service for expert insight and guidance on industry standards.
- Use the Virtual Vocations Job Database to search for job categories and types that align with your career goals.
- Apply to jobs, keep track of your applications, and follow up with recruiters.
- Stay current on telecommuting news and tips, fine-tune your skills, and continue to learn and grow in your field.
Most of all, keep your eyes on the prize. Telecommuting is a vehicle that can transform your life. With a bit of hard work and persistence, you too can enjoy the freedoms of working remotely.
Joining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.
Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.