What Is The Right Personality For WFH Team Members?

How much is work-from-home (WFH) success about the personality of the people on the team?

During the pandemic, when so many organisations were forced to adopt WFH practices, there were many reports of people who hated it. They wanted to be in the office surrounded by people and their complaints were often viewed as a normal reaction to the ‘isolation’ of WFH. 

But the opposite is also true, plenty of people really have grown to love the WFH environment. They don’t have the disturbance of constant interruptions. They can get on with their work and focus on it in a way that is far more productive than an office environment. Indeed a leading UK recruitment consultant posted this week that they’d had 14 times as many people apply for a fully remote role than for a hybrid (home/office) one.

So is it possible to identify ‘ideal’ personality traits that could be encouraged when hiring people to WFH? And if managers were focused on the personality traits required for WFH then could they take this approach even further? Could having the right traits for WFH, for example, be a good reason to be promoted? 

We can see that in an office environment it is often the people with the best social skills and connections that get on and sometimes to the detriment of those that are more productive. Would this be entirely different when measuring people based on WFH performance?

I believe there could be several differences. We’ve seen through lockdown that many WFH teams have been managed with a strong focus on what they’ve achieved, with less of a focus on who is friendly with who inside the company. Of course all these connections can still exist but the nature of remote work means that tangible results can be a more valuable currency.

The questions posed above are important for any company that has a strong corporate identity and culture because WFH adds a new dimension. Not only do you need to recruit people that are ideal for representing the brand, but you need to also ensure they have the right personality for WFH.

Think about different brands like Google, John Lewis, GiffGaff, Virgin, or TikTok. They all have a strong sense of identity. They have a brand and people immediately know that service from Virgin will be different to that from John Lewis. 

In a traditional contact centre environment those differences can be reinforced through training and by team leaders; in the WFH environment – where training and team leadership is equally, if not more, important – it is also important that the personality of people who flourish in the WFH environment is taken into account in order to bring about success.

There are many personality experts and tests out there – not many of them appear to have much scientific weight, but it’s clear that introverts and extroverts usually respond to home working in a different way. However, the stereotype is that introverts are happy to sit at home working alone and extroverts need to feed off groups of people in an office to gain their energy.

In the modern WFH environment this advice is dated. Many Gen Z are entirely comfortable spending time socialising with friends online. They grew up using chat and they now talk to friends in the evening when playing Fortnite. Being social or responding as an extrovert is no longer restricted to literally being in a room with a large number of people.

Many WFH environments, such as the LiveDesk Digital Workplace we use at Sensée, are designed to allow colleagues to work together, train together, and even socialise together without needing to be in the same place.

I think there are some interesting questions here that are worth more exploration because it’s clear that some personalities work better in the WFH environment, but then not every WFH environment is the same. We need to consider adviser personality during hiring and training, but in an entirely new way that acknowledges how they can fit into the team and contribute to the success of the organisation.

Workshop Recording: Does WFH Really Make Business Sense?

Our team recently ran an online training workshop hosted by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum.

Sandra Busby, owner of the WCCF, chaired the event which featured:

The focus of the workshop was: Does WFH Work? Does it make business sense?

Naturally you might expect the Sensée team to support WFH, but this was structured as a session where the group could share experience and insight, rather than just evangelise for work-from-home operations.

It’s true that as the pandemic subsided there were many calls for WFH to go the same way. However, many employees found they were more productive outside of the office environment so there is a strong reason why many executives may want to investigate their options before making a decision one way or the other.

Our team outlined eight specific questions that executives need to explore when deciding if a WFH business case makes sense for them:

  1. Will it work for our business? The simplest, but most fundamental question is whether your employees are engaged in tasks that can be performed remotely. Most office-based work could potentially be performed from home, but if in-person service is required then clearly it will either be impossible or a hybrid option will need to be considered.
  2. Is it what our people want? It’s best to ask your people what they want. Everyone has experienced a great deal of change in the workplace in the past couple of years. How would they prefer to work moving forward? The 2020 HomeAgent Survey found that 74.2% of homeworkers enjoy a better work/life balance and 85.9% say they have eliminated all commuting expenses.
  3. What’s the financial case? There are many more variables to consider than just a reduction in rented office space. It is well documented that teams based in the home are more productive, are absent less often, and attrition also declines. How would all these changes affect the revenue model of your business? 
  4. What’s the best hybrid model for us? How should you organise your teams? There are choices to make over time in the office or home – some employees may mix and match or stay in one location 100% of the time. Will this be led by the employers or mandated by the company? How flexible will the system be to allow changes in operation or preferences?
  5. How do we overcome barriers? The 2020 HomeAgent Survey tells us that security, technology, and remote management are the three biggest perceived barriers to change – once managers get over the initial idea of not managing people they can see in person. However, the pandemic has been a testing ground so most managers will have now seen what is possible.
  6. How will we support homeworker self-scheduling? Working from home supports an increase in flexibility that would have been impossible with the traditional commute to an office. Employees should be able to choose their own schedule based on an indication of when they are needed – so a more flexible system that works for both the employee and the business should be possible.
  7. How are we going to support WFH teams? At Sens̩e we use our LiveDesk Digital Workplace service. It connects everyone in the business together just as if they were in the office in person. This type of connectivity is essential. You cannot send a worker home and hope that a weekly Zoom call is enough to stay in touch Рa rethink of how constant social communication takes place is needed.
  8. Do we need a proof-of-concept pilot? This may depend on your Covid experience, but if you are planning to test the water with a pilot then think carefully about who should be involved in building the strategy and the profile of the people you hire – how can you start hiring the kind of people that thrive in a WFH environment?

The entire online workshop is available on replay so if you want to hear our team talking about all these points in more detail, with lots of examples.  Please go to
https://bit.ly/3xwtH2H Passcode: F03G4K4@

(Webinar) Dealing with Seasonal Peaks, Uneven Weekly Demand, and Unexpected Call Spikes

TUESDAY JULY 19TH, 12 – 1PM (BST)

This webinar will look at the role home and hybrid working can play in meeting contact centre staffing challenges associated with the upcoming 2022 retail peaks (such as Black Friday and the festive season) as well as other uneven/unexpected peaks in consumer contact traffic.

Sensée’s Simon Hunter will firstly explain the benefits that businesses are enjoying through home and hybrid working – and discuss common remote worker management issues.

Sensée’s Claire Benbow will then highlight recent examples of where home and hybrid working was successfully used to address:

– Weekly and seasonal peak challenges for a major UK high street retailer
– Seasonal demand challenges for a well known online retailer
– Weekly peak challenges for a major global healthcare provider

Finally, during an extended Q&A session, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their most burning contact centre homeworking issues.

Register for the webinar today

Can Employers Address The Cost Of Living Crisis By Asking Employees To Stay At Home?

The UK is facing a cost of living crisis. Energy costs are up. Petrol prices are up. Food costs are dramatically increasing. Inflation is at a level not seen for decades and the business commentators are now talking about a recession.

There is a war in Europe and everything is costing more. Watching the news feels like running a marathon these days.

But there are some practical steps that company executives can take to help their employees weather this crisis. One of the most basic is that office-based employees should be encouraged to work from home as much as possible.

We know that it worked throughout the pandemic. Even before the pandemic there was detailed academic research proving that remote workers can be more productive than their office-based colleagues doing the same job. They don’t get the same interruptions at home.

In the early days of the pandemic, when workers had to rapidly move to working from home, many companies did not pay much attention to the potential for isolation. This was probably because most companies felt that the lockdowns were going to be temporary, all over in a few weeks. As they all found out, it is possible to create a more social online and remote working environment. It was required when companies realised that the pandemic might last a couple of years and it can now ensure that remote workers do feel like they are an integral part of the team.

Think what you are offering your employees if you suggest to them that they can just work from home most of the time.

  • No commuting: especially important for commuters using a car. The average sized car now costs over £105 to refill. Petrol is now so expensive in the UK that forecourt theft is now common – people are filling up and driving off and just hoping that they are not caught. Rail ticket prices are going up and right now the network is subject to a wave of strikes, so it’s not even reliable to use trains for commuting at present. Telling your employees they no longer need to regularly commute is a major bonus for most – in terms of time saved and cash not spent just travelling to work.
  • No coffee: teams in the office often visit Starbucks to refuel during the day. If you look at the Starbucks menu (other coffee brands are similarly priced) then it’s easy to see that just a few coffees can be around £10 a day – that’s a lot of cash over a month. It’s no surprise that rival Pret A Manger actually offers a coffee subscription where customers can pay a fixed fee of £25 a month to get up to 5 coffees a day.
  • No lunch: But talking of lunch at Pret – it can easily cost £10 for a chicken sandwich with some juice and a hot drink or snack. Eating lunch at home is far cheaper than buying meals from a sandwich store near your office.

There are some companies in the UK that are exploring other ideas – often because they are looking at cultural standards globally. For example, in countries such as Brazil and Japan it is normal for an employer to pay the commuting costs of an employee AND ALSO to cover the cost of their lunch in a restaurant every day.

Just imagine how it might change the commuting dynamic in the UK if your employer paid for all your train tickets and also all those sandwiches from Pret?

It’s unlikely that any major changes like this will ever be widespread in the UK though. Some individual companies may explore benefits like this as part of a plan to be more attractive to employees, but the reality is that most employers can offer more immediate help to their employees by not forcing them to pay for all these costs in the first place.

The news is looking fairly grim, but recessions always end eventually. What can you do right now to help your employees reduce their costs?