How a Pathfinder Mindset Helps with Remote Working

Neil HartleyLife StuffLeave a Comment

woman working on a laptop at the kitchen counter

Is the remote working genie out of the bottle?

Permanently?

It looks that way anecdotally as well as analytically (based on recent analysis by Bloomberry of job postings and hiring trends data from Revealera.com).

A chart showing the increase in remote working between 2020 and 2024.

While some workers miss the social environment of an office, a number of high-profile executives complain about remote worker productivity, and more companies are seeking to reverse the number of remote employees through return-to-office (RTO) mandates—it seems like the trend of remote office work, or at least hybrid office work, is here to stay.

Recent months have seen the trend tick back in favor of remote working as, for example, companies look for cost cuts via reduced real estate footprints.

The questions that perplex leaders of all sized organizations is, “How do we ensure we have a productive workforce, build and maintain a corporate culture, and allow individuals to flourish in a remote working environment?”

Of course, the two are highly correlated but let’s start with the company perspective and the issue of ‘trust’.

In the days of office cubicles, individuals might have felt a little uncomfortable when their boss wandered around to “see how things were going”. Were they really there to help or just checking that workers weren’t booking their next holiday?

Does that paradigm extend to remote working? Or does it shift entirely?

D. Sandy Staples of Queen’s School of Business in Ontario explored the impact of trust, work experience and connectivity on performance outcomes in an article published by the Journal of Organizational and End User Computing back in 2001 and titled, “A Study of Remote Workers and Their Differences from Non-Remote Workers”. He noted that, “more frequent communications between the manager and employee was associated with higher levels of interpersonal trust only with the remote workers”.

This suggests that those working remotely would welcome a call from their manager where, previously, they may have viewed the office walk-by with suspicion. That call could then be the platform for asking your team member how they are, how they are dealing with remote working and what else can be done to support them.

Trust can, therefore, be built through more frequent one-to-one communications.

The converse is the adoption of remote employee monitoring software. This seems to be the ultimate destroyer of trust.

If there’s a more egregious use of technology in the workplace, I’d rather not be aware of it. Enough said. Well, except to state the obvious that it says way more about the company than it does the individual.

In short, businesses can improve the productivity of their remote workers by building a foundation of trust through increased one-to-one communication and support (for example, with mental wellness challenges).

Mental wellness is a real challenge for those working remotely. It’s tough to flourish in your work if you’re climbing the walls of isolation or finding it difficult to demarcate between work and home life.

An April 2020 survey by The Martec Group showed that 84% of workers were suffering from mental health issues after being forced to work from home. These results were likely highly impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns, but the challenge of isolation still holds for remote workers.

In an Adaptavist survey later in 2020, 26% of workers cited “not being able to switch off” as the greatest challenge they faced when working remotely.

In an interesting juxtaposition with the 84% of workers suffering with mental health issues, only 9% of management cited “supporting mental health stress” as taking the majority of their time.

While remote workers—and their managers—face challenges and benefits, we need to be clear: not everyone is cut out for remote work. We’re all made differently. Some are more social, and others are better able to structure their working lives.

So, how can you tell which workers might be better suited for remote work than others?

Having a Pathfinder mindset might be a solid proxy for those who can thrive remotely.

There are some obvious attributes of a Pathfinder that will enable a worker to flourish in a remote setting. These include:

  • Self-Directed: A Pathfinder identifies a need and is motivated to address it, innovating and adapting as they go. They don’t wait for permission to proceed, a clear path or a playbook, rather they pave their own way leaving a path for others to follow.
  • Positive: A Pathfinder approaches challenges with a hopeful and positive outlook, confidently pioneering new solutions and forging ahead, even when faced with uncertainty or adversity.
  • Responsible: A Pathfinder not only takes responsibility and the associated accountability, but has the capacity to persevere and remain steadfast in the face of challenges, including limited resources or tight timelines.

The continued rise of remote working may well suit those with a Pathfinder mindset. If you’re looking to see if it suits you, you can take our Pathfinder assessment here and at least gauge the attributes highlighted above. Equally if you’re a Talent Acquisition specialist looking to make more remote hires then contact us here to see how we can help you gauge those individuals most likely to flourish in a remote setting.

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