What Type of Telecommuter Are You?

telecommuting research

I’m a big fan of telecommuting – and so are most employees. But not all telecommuters are created equal and some employees (and entrepreneurs) need a little extra help to get the most out of working at home. A new study by PGI found seven types of telecommuters, each with their own strong suits and weak points. Here’s a closer look.

Telecommuting Research

1. 24/7 Workers

No worries about this telecommuter slacking off. He or she is busy working long into the night as 24/7 types are driven, success-oriented and a great collaborator, but they are also high-stress and high-maintenance.

Help 24/7 Workers By:

  • Setting “office hours” and respecting them to encourage work/life balance.
  • Encourage these workers to set physical boundaries with a dedicated workspace at home.
  • Developing out of office email strategies so they don’t have to be responsive 24/7.

2. Multitaskers

Always connected and easily distracted, the multitasker can quickly get overwhelmed and stressed out. On the plus side, multitaskers thrive on collaboration, connection and creativity.

Help Multitaskers By:

  • Holding weekly meetings where they can get direction and help with workload.
  • Encourage mutlitaskers to turn off devices during personal time.
  • Invest in tools that enable them to do more in a single system, such as Web conferencing software that includes document management and chat.

3. Networkers

The networker loves to chat and collaborate, but can quickly become miserable and isolated working at home.

Help Networkers By:

  • Providing streamlined tools that eliminate distractions from social media, chats and email alerts. At the same time, provide personal connection tools such as video chat technology and online collaboration tools.
  • Hold both virtual and in-person meetings with the whole team on a regular basis.

4. Distracted Workers

These employees get distracted not by work or the digital world, but by the home environment. They try to mix work tasks with home tasks and get bogged down as a result.

Help Distracted Workers By:

  • Encouraging them to set up a dedicated office away from the distractions of home (TV, refrigerator, laundry). You may even want to invest in a co-working space.
  • Use project management tools that enable you to schedule, assign and send reminders of tasks.
  • Hold regular check-ins daily or even more often to keep the person on track.

5. Remote Managers

Business travel is all in a day’s work for these high-level, always-on road warriors.

Help Remote Managers By:

  • Providing mobile tools so they can work anytime, anywhere.
  • Scheduling one-on-one time with direct reports so they don’t feel disconnected. If this can’t be in-person, use tools like video chat to create a more personal feeling.
  • Setting regular in-person meetings with the team back home.

6. Flex Workers

These employees blurs the line between work and life and are happy to do so (think busy mom or energetic Millenial). They are independent, creative and rely on mobile devices. Business isn’t 24-7 for these folks, but it’s not 9 to 5, either. They might want to work at midnight or knock off at noon.

Help Flex Workers By:

  • Providing mobile tools to get work done everywhere.
  • Providing a flexible schedule so they can work when inspiration strikes.
  • Clearly stating deliverables and deadlines so the footloose flex worker doesn’t get out of hand.
  • Conducting regular reviews to ensure your flex workers are delivering.

7. Hyper-Efficient Workers

They may work at home, but these workers do so old-school, with work and home clearly delineated. They are extremely efficient, so they get work done in less time, but they don’t burn the midnight oil—when they’re done, they’re done.

Help Hyper-Efficient Workers By:

  • Clearly stating deadlines and deliverables—they love structure.
  • Providing mobile devices and tech tools that help them streamline work and be efficient.
  • Holding regular one-on-one meetings – that’s how it’s done in the office, right?

Of course, these tips can help even if you don’t have employees by showing you how you can be more effective when you work at home.

Take the quiz and see what kind of telecommuter you are and download their eBook for tips on how to work smarter, not harder – wherever you are.

Mobile Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

13 Reactions
  1. I fall on number #6 – Flex Workers

    I’ve been working from home for almost 2 years now and I love everything about this type of work. I can go out anytime I want and hangout with my friends and get back to work anytime within the day. Work from home is really a great venture for recreation and have an income at the same time.

    With everything we have today, we can use Skype/Google Hangout for video chatting/conferencing and don’t forget to have a time tracking software (like Time Doctor) to make sure you are paid by the hours you’ve worked. It’s an attendance software and a productivity tracker as well.

  2. I would say I’m a Multitasker. I do get stressed out a lot when I work from home, so I typically try not to.

  3. This is really interesting. I guess I am a hyper-efficient worker. I work in bursts. After that, I rest. Haha

  4. Interesting article, Rieva! I’m definitely a 24/7. I try to set limits on myself, but find it difficult. I’ve talked to many teleworkers who are like this, and realized that teleworkers in this category have an entrepreneur attitude, even though they are working for someone else. They take ownership of their work, and feel the need to contribute to their companies’ growth. I agree that these employees should be encouraged to set limits on their work time–but also rewarded for their contributions and attitude.
    Pamela La Gioia
    Telework Recruiting.com

  5. I think I’m a mixture of two of the above. I’m somewhere between a multitasker and a flex worker. (p.s.: I’m a Gemini, soooo…. 🙂 )

  6. If you’re supervising a telecommuter who has a hard time keeping focused, there’s a cloud-based software that helps not only the manager but the remote worker as well. It’s called MySammy (www.mysammy.com), and it measures productivity levels of remote workers. It’s not spyware — in fact, it’s designed to be used with full knowledge of the employee. It produces reports related to productivity levels and even helps managers to find effective means of motivating telecommuters to increase their productivity.

  7. This is a cool post! I honestly don’t know which one I am. Sometimes I’m more of a certain type with some projects, and a different type on another. If I had to choose, I’d say I’m mostly a Flex. I’m going to take the quiz 🙂

  8. Beautifully summarised.

  9. Laura Lee Brennan

    Good read/reflection…txu! I’d love your thoughts on an apparent trend in some major corporations (and SMBs?) moving AWAY from allowing telecommuting (and the inherit benefit as an employee benefit – as long as performance is kept). Is it a reverse trend you are seeing? A Mayer Effect? Back to control model – why?

  10. I think I’m a Flex Workers, I like the idea that I can work anytime any place but still have balance.