Is Your Employee Motivated Enough to Work Remotely?

Julie Shenkman
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Increasing the size of your remote workforce is a great way to give your employees more flexibility while decreasing your overhead. Unfortunately, working at home with minimal supervision requires an attitude and a skill set that not all employees possess. Employee motivation is a key factor in successfully carrying out any job involving regular telecommuting. Here are a few tips to help you decide if your employees are ready to work from home.

Personality Testing

Personality testing, as part of the interview process and on-the-job evaluation for job changes, is a growing industry and widely accepted in the human resources field. Strong scores in the area of conscientiousness tend to correlate with the same traits that show strong employee motivation. Conscientiousness includes traits such as work ethic, industriousness, goal setting and organization that correlate to a high level of success when working off site. Other traits to examine include energy, achievement motivation and ambition.

Remember to use personality trait scores as part of an overall evaluation. Use the information from the test to help you pinpoint areas of concern and develop interview questions to delve deeper into areas of both strength and weakness. For example, a high energy score might translate into strength as a self-starter who jumps right into work, or it might indicate someone who is easily distracted or prefers to work in a more boisterous social environment.


Judge employee motivation by asking employees about their personal experiences working from home or in other positions that involve a lot of self-motivation and isolation. If they have done remote work before, ask if they liked it. An employee who enjoys remote work is more likely to perform well. Ask specifically how they dealt with the isolation of being at home or how they tend to deal with alone time in general. An employee who has given the topic some thought and has developed coping mechanisms is better prepared than one who simply states it is not a problem.

Current Job Performance

Look at the employee's current work performance. Does he meet deadlines? Does he need a lot of reminders? How do other employees and his direct manager view his work style and level of employee motivation. Employees who are seen as office motivators are often better at remote work then those who need extra motivation in the office. An employee who doesn't meet goals at the office is unlikely to show any improvement at home.

Technology Skills

Most work-from-home positions require regular communication with the Internet and the office by computer and portable devices. The home office sometimes includes other office equipment such as printers, scanners and shredders. Great remote workers have the skills necessary to do basic troubleshooting and solve common technology problems on their own. The office IT department is not readily accessible, and transporting equipment for repairs reduces productivity levels.

Employee motivation levels are typically a good indicator of how successful an employee will be in a work-at-home position. Gauge employee motivation with personality testing, interviews and a look at their motivation levels during on-site work. Also check out their technology skills to avoid a decrease in productivity due to excessive computer maintenance and repair time.

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