I wasn’t sure where to start with this one, but I knew I felt quite strongly about working from home and the impacts on different personality types. You see you may have noticed that we aren’t all the same, we come in all shapes, sizes, types and that is definitely a good thing. The world needs different thoughts, ways of looking at things, skills and outlook.
During this lockdown many companies have had to think about ensuring their staff work from home in the first instance when planning to continue work safely… then there are long term plans.
Recently I have spoken to a few people I know and they are now saying that their company will continue to promote working from home for the foreseeable future as a new way of working. This is for various reasons for example some companies have actually thrived during this time and have outgrown their premises, so should they return, they will need to seriously consider where everyone will go, if they need to alter layouts and buy more furniture, extend or move premises… All of course at a cost, whereas if they use their office as a base only then continue with homeworking, this cost is not required and continued growth is promising….
Has anyone heard of Myers-Briggs personality preference types? Google it if you can, extremely interesting. In short (very short) the theory is that there are 16 different personality preferences considering how extravert we are, whether we thrive on facts or possibilities, logic or feelings/values, or like to judge or perceive situations (the word ‘preferences’ is important because we may have strongly one characteristic or just middling).
I have carried out this test several times over my life and am pretty consistently an ESTJ = Extrovert, Sensor (need facts), Thinker (need logic), Judge situations to make sense of them…. But we are definitely not all like this. Potentially someone like me is very well suited to my job because I get to speak with all different clients and deal with facts and information provided to me. Whereas perhaps a Bereavement Counselor is likely to be much more in touch with feelings, emotions and perceptions…
So this leads me back to the homeworking situation…. Some like myself may thrive on it. I have a busy home with young family and working from home helps me to work harder (no distractions during school time) then be there for my family when they need me… however what if you have a level of ‘extravert’ in your personality type (you need contact with people to thrive) but you live alone and your work was your key connection with others that kept you happy?
Or what if you are an ‘introvert’ (you gain your energy from alone time) yet working from home for you means your family are there constantly at this time, with distractions and noise yet your office was singular at your workplace.. this could lead to desperation, feelings of being trapped with no escape. I believe it is important to understand that working from home is not good for everybody but is really good for others.
So employers, where you can I ask you to factor in these considerations during this time and when we come out the other side of the COVID pandemic and you are deciding on the future arrangements of your company… Keep in touch at appropriate levels for your teams personality types whilst they work from home (I guarantee if you know them, you will know their personality types already, but do not assume). Acknowledge that for some working home alone without as much contact can induce stress. Workers may feel they don’t have as much support, information or structure to their work, others may thrive on it.
Have a think about how you can keep in direct contact with workers and recognise the signs of stress as early as possible. Talk any issues through with them and arrange meetings on the phone or using technology so they can just talk to others and maybe even have something to laugh at loud about or with someone!
I am happy to help and can chat over the phone about it for free!
Catherine Pollard Dip.RSA, CMIOSH
Health and Safety Consultant
Pollard Safety Services