Many of us have been working remotely at home due to Covid-19 and for those who can continue doing so, this is not likely to change for the foreseeable future. But how well suited are we for this and could psychometric testing for remote workers help?
Conversations and articles have been emerging recently that consider the pros and cons of homeworking and how people have adapted to it as their ‘new normal.’ Some people have been loving it and want to continue – they’re not missing the daily commute, the constant despair of unreliable public transport and having colleagues ‘borrowing’ their favourite coffee cup. Others are saying they have had enough now – they miss their colleagues and the jokes, the interaction and learning from conversations with one another – not to mention the office social events!
For managers, aside from the considerations necessary when their team is working from home – such as keeping children occupied – it is important to understand how its members are feeling. What is going well for them? What aspects of homeworking can be used to optimise their performance and delivery? How can you ensure they feel engaged with interesting and challenging tasks to work on? Likewise, some may be struggling with the homeworking environment and not adapting so well. This is not an insurmountable problem, but it does create a development opportunity to work with them and help them find the tools they need to keep their morale – and productivity levels up.
What are psychometric tests?
Psychometric tests have long since been used in recruitment of candidates by employers. In fact, we’ve written a blog post about the benefits of psychometric testing for recruitment.They measure a candidates suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude or cognitive abilities. Some providers have now developed psychometric testing for remote workers, to further address which personality traits and competencies work best for remote working.
For those working at home now, it is a new dynamic that could affect their performance and morale which was not relevant before. Using a psychometric test specifically designed for remote workers could give both the manager and the employee greater insight into what aspects of their new environment they will find rewarding, motivating and also challenging. For example, a more out-going, sociable person may have thrived in an open plan office environment but be struggling to cope with the feeling of isolation and not seeing their colleagues in person. Or an individual who has struggled with mental ill health issues might be feeling happier to be working at home, or it could be adding to the problem for them, but they might not have voiced their concern about it to you.
What traits make a successful homeworker?
Typically, the profile of a successful homeworker would show a tendency towards some common qualities and personality traits. We have reviewed some profiles and found four common traits.
- Reliability – It is critical that homeworkers are seen as being reliable and able to deliver quality work on time without the need to be constantly monitored. This will build trust in the working relationships with their stakeholders. This is something an individual can develop overtime, however a keen sense of responsibility and high self-motivation levels are personality traits which can be assessed through psychometric testing
- Disciplined – Often there is no strict schedule whilst working at home, and no one looking over you to see how many breaks you take. Individuals with a high level of self-control and discipline will be able to adapt easier to working in this environment as they are less likely to be distracted easily and are able to remain focussed on the task in hand. They will also be able to make judgements more easily about when during the working day they are able to work best to continue to meet deadlines. A highly disciplined individual who is providing home schooling during the ‘working day’ may be able to work effectively in the evenings in a more efficient way than an individual who lacks focus working during more traditional working hours
- Willing and able to learn new skills – This is perhaps something which we have all discovered almost by accident but is a key trait when being effective working from home. One example of this is that you may need to become your own IT support. In these circumstances an individual who is prone to ‘having a go’ and taking risks will be more effective. They will be willing to move leads around, test a new programme and learn through experience without the need to be instructed or shown the way
- Independence – Working remotely means spending a great deal of time isolated from colleagues. People who thrive off social interaction and get their energy from others more than the work they are carrying out may not be suited to spending hours alone. They will perhaps start to suffer from lack of focus and look for other ways to replace that social interaction, perhaps through activity on social media sites or long phone calls. If you have individuals working remotely who fall into this category, then thinking of ways to replace the social aspect of working from site is critical. Team meetings and social events over video will help
How should we use these tests?
Managers should review the results of psychometric testing for remote workers to give them an insight into how best to manage employees. It will allow them to understand which aspects of the role an individual may be struggling with and generate some thoughts about how to overcome these.
Some employees may resist taking the test initially, worried that it might reveal they are unsuited for remote working – however this can be managed by explaining the test is not about “pass or fail”, but about support and ensuring they are best placed to thrive in their role, even when working at home.
Tests are inexpensive and take about 10-15 minutes to complete. You would receive a report which you can share with your employee and use to provide helpful feedback and agree on any adjustments to their working setup that might be beneficial. They are also useful as a development tool during an appraisal process.