Flexible work continues to grow in popularity in workplaces across the country. In a recent PGi survey, 80 percent of respondents reported working for companies that allow telecommuting. As technology continues to advance, more and more knowledge workers can perform their work duties outside the traditional office. Telecommuting and flexible work is the future. When done right, it can bring immense value to everyone involved—businesses, managers, and employees.

Who makes a good flexible worker?

One of the common remote worker personalities is what we here at PGi call the Flex Worker. The Flex Worker is typically someone in a creative role (graphic designer, marketing, or advertising) and may feel creatively confined by the traditional 8-to-5 work hours. Flex Workers need the freedom to innovate and brainstorm whenever the muse (or client) calls.

Many people dream of a job where they are allowed to work from home. However, telecommuting may not be appropriate for everyone. The wrong personality in the wrong telework role can prove challenging for both the employee and employer.

For the employee, flexible work arrangements can provide greater work-life balance and reduced stress. However, working outside the office can introduce unique distractions that in-office workers do not have to deal with, from barking dogs to piles of laundry. Meanwhile, employers may be concerned about having workers who will begin to perform poorly and become unhappy without the close supervision of management.

Whether you’re able to telecommute one day per week or full time, identifying your unique needs and productivity obstacles will set you up for flexible work success.

Let’s break down the tools and traits of successful Flex Workers:

Personality Traits

  • Independent and a good self-manager
  • Lives and thinks outside the box
  • Avid mobile device user and comfortable with technology
  • Commitment to personal success

Technologies

  • Devices: laptop, tablet and multiple smartphones
  • Collaboration software: IM, text and video conferencing
  • WiFi and hotspot capabilities
  • Team workspace software

Flex Worker Needs

  • A mobile-enabled work environment that allows her to be flexible with her schedule and work when it makes sense.
  • Management and leadership teams that understand it’s about the delivery deadlines, not the 9to-5.
  • Clear delivery deadlines and service level agreements for updates and deliverables.
  • A team of coworkers for on-the-fly collaboration, research and support.
  • Management reviews for performance and/or compensation

Sound familiar? Then you might be a Flex Worker. If you don’t feel like this work style suits you, you might fit into one of the other six telecommuting personalities we’ve identified. Take our personality quiz to quickly find out what telecommuting personality best describes you.

Takeaway Actions for Flexible Workers and Telecommuters

After you’ve decided what type of telecommuter you are and the telecommuting personalities of your colleagues, it’s time to move into the next phase:

Action
Develop a telework policy, establish a communications schedule, agree upon goals and distribute the tools needed for success.

Experiment
Review and tweak the established telecommuting processes and brainstorm new ways to make improvements.

Adapt
Ask for help, add new tools and try all varieties of flexible work schedules.

Visit PGi’s blog, The Future of Business Collaboration, for step-by-step advice on how to set your plan in motion.

photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com