The Challenges of Working from Home: Personality Traits

Most of us dream of a job where we can work from home.  While we envision how much we might save in travel time and mileage, we quickly forget the potential pitfalls that come along with this sort of autonomy. Working from home can be a great alternative to being in a traditional office, so you need to make sure you are set up for success before jumping in.

Whether you like it or not, personality plays a substantial role in determining whether working from home is a good fit for you as an individual. Let’s talk about some necessary qualities you’ll need in order to work from home efficiently. Use the points below to take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses so you don’t run the risk of losing out on productivity in the long run. As you allow your mind to marinate on each quality, think about how you can strengthen your weaker traits.


Remote workers should see themselves as self-starters.  They are those who are you internally motivated to get the job done, and don’t need external pressure to stay on task. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you prefer to work by yourself or in teams?
  • Do you need others’ feedback to stay motivated?
  • Do you view yourself as a confident person?
  • When you are in the office, is talking with others a welcome distraction, or an obstacle towards achieving your goals?
  • How long can you work on a project without taking breaks?
  • Are you easily distracted?
  • How efficient are you at mundane tasks?

Of course, few people are true loners, but if you think that your need for interpersonal connection is a major driver of your productivity, you may want to think of ways to replicate that at home by scheduling a phone/coffee meeting with a potential client in the middle of your work day.


Working from home will likely translate into less support from the corporate environment.  How resourceful are you?  Are you willing to learn how to solve problems on your own versus waiting for the “expert” to solve the problem?  (How many times have you had a computer problem and the IT department responds by saying “did you turn the computer off and on again?”).

You won’t have as many opportunities to bounce ideas off of other people.  Are you comfortable making decisions on your own with little or no feedback?  In many ways, when you are working from home, you are on a metaphorical island, so you’d better know how to get your needs met on your own because if you are “out of sight”, you are often “out of mind” to those at the office.

Good Time Manager

Do you have a history of managing your time well, or does time seem to slip away without you noticing? Do you set time limits for yourself when browsing social media or taking breaks from a task? If you struggle with time management, that doesn’t automatically exclude you from working from home successfully, but it might mean that the time you save on your commute is lost in the extra time it takes you to complete all your work.


Personal and professional organization is essential to a productive day. Working from home will provide you with so much flexibility, from the aesthetics of your home office to the management of your schedule. Is this an area that comes natural to you?  For example, are your personal documents (bills, bank statements, etc) organized in a separate filing system or are they all crammed into a shoebox that is forgotten about until a crisis arises? Working from home means that you have to compartmentalize and prioritize professional over personal. If this is a struggle for you, you’ll need to consider creating stricter guidelines for yourself during work hours.

A More Scientific Approach

Try taking the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, and see how that compares with what experts consider to be personality types that are more likely to thrive in a work from home environment.  According to Business News Daily, the MBTI measures a person’s personality on the following characteristics:

  • Introversion (I) vs. Extroversion (E)
  • Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S)
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

There are 16 possible personality combinations, and in general, the more a person aligns with an INTJ personality type, the more natural working from home will be for them. Don’t be discouraged if you are not an INTJ, though. Wherever you are on the spectrum, use this test to help you hone your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses.

Feedback Is Your Friend

There is a lot of wisdom in letting the people around us be our mirror. Make a point to ask your closest friends and family to evaluate your “work-from-home” potential.  Be sure to ask for honest and direct feedback, no sugarcoating! With a balance of personal reflection and constructive feedback, you should be able to make an informed decision about next steps.

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