When considering whether or not to work from home, you may think that the biggest consideration is if you are an introvert who likes to work alone. But Michael Segovia, lead trainer for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a personality assessment tool that is used by around 80% of Fortune 1000 companies to give employees a better understanding of how their personality preferences affect their working lives), says that anyone, regardless of their personality, can work from home. The trick to working from home effectively is self-understanding.
Segovia identifies six personality preferences and shares ways in which we can work from home effectively within these personality traits.
Although extroverts are thought to thrive in an office environment that provides companionship, collaborative space, and constant chatter, Segovia says even extroverts can work from home effectively so long as they understand how to get their energy needs met. “People who prefer extroversion get energized by that outer world of action and people and things,” says Segovia. Getting up early and visiting a bustling coffee shop before starting work or going out for lunch with a colleague or client can help extroverts find the stimulation they require in order to effectively work from home.
Although introverts are thought to work best from home thanks to their preference for quiet spaces and solitude, Segovia says they too will have to think about how they will get their energy needs met, especially if they have a busy household. Introverts may struggle to find that quiet time in their home that they require to work, and may need to set rules to separate work and family life–such as setting a period of time when their home office space is off limits to others in order to give them the time they need to reflect uninterrupted. Getting up early and working while others in the house are asleep may give introverts that alone time they need in order to get the day rolling on a productive note.
Individuals who have a preference for “sensing” like to gather detailed information when working on a project, while those who have a preference for “intuition” like to have a big-picture idea and like to run their ideas by others to make sure their gut is telling them the right story.
When working from home, those who have a preference for sensing will have to be clear with others how they want information delivered to them. They may need a project summary email that breaks down tasks by day, for example. Having set times when they can meet in person or have a phone call with a boss or colleague to give them details and updates on work may be required to get their needs met. Those who prefer intuition, on the other hand, will need to set aside time when they can brainstorm ideas by themselves as well as time to chat with others.
Individuals who have a preference for “thinking” like to make decisions in a logical, task-focused way. When these individuals are working from home, they sometimes struggle because they aren’t able to communicate their questions and critiques effectively to others. Because email can come across as very critical, Segovia suggests these individuals establish weekly meetings (such as phone calls or visits to the office) when they can offer their critical comments and ask questions.
Those who prefer “feeling” often struggle when working from home because they don’t get the feedback they need from others in order to feel appreciated, and aren’t able to give feedback either. “When you work from home, you don’t get a lot of face-to-face time,” says Segovia. These individuals may benefit from sending out thank-you notes or emails to get their appreciation needs met, or get on the phone every now and then rather than conducting all business through email.
To identify and understand your personality preferences, Segovia recommends taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Test.