The Impact of Behavioral Drives in a Remote Workplace

Actionable tips for tailoring the way you motivate your remote employees based on their behavioral styles.

220 people weigh in on their love/hate relationship with remote work—business leaders must understand their employees’ specific behavioral needs to boost morale and productivity in a remote world.

Uncovering how behavioral drives affect remote work perceptions

In May and June of 2020, given the vast movement to largely remote workforces, The Predictive Index surveyed 220 professionals to explore the impact of behavioral drives in a remote workplace. For example, Do extraverts dislike working from home because there are fewer opportunities for social interaction? Is one’s ability to influence diminished in a remote setting—and if so, what behavioral style is most bothered by this? 

Their answers provide a window into how behavioral drives impact remote work perceptions. Business leaders who analyze behavioral drives in this new remote environment can make changes proactively to enjoy a more productive and engaged workforce, leveraging talent optimization’s foundation: people data.

The study found that while the overall sentiment toward remote work was positive, there were several areas where perceptions varied. In fact, some people agreed with certain remote work statements, while others disagreed. Likewise, some people enjoyed certain aspects of working from home but not others. This explains the love/hate relationship many employees have with remote work. 

In short, employees value different aspects of remote work based on how they’re wired—and the more you understand those behavioral nuances, the better you can manage, motivate, and inspire them.

After reading this report, you’ll understand how to motivate and inspire your remote employees to drive results. 

When employees’ behavioral needs are met, workplace engagement skyrockets. The findings in this report will open your eyes to the power of tailoring the way you motivate your remote employees based on their behavioral style. You’ll discover which behavioral needs aren’t easily met in a remote setting—and actionable steps you can take to close the gap. You’ll also learn which behavioral needs are met through remote work—and how to lean into those.

A Brave New World

Working remotely was a big change for many.

KEY FINDING: 33% had never worked remotely before COVID-19. 

We began by asking respondents how often they worked remotely prior to COVID-19 and its resulting social distancing mandates. Nearly one-third had never worked remotely before the crisis.

Prior to the COVID crisis, how often did you work remotely?

“As a full-time remote worker prior to COVID, part of me loves that everyone has been forced into remote work. There aren’t water cooler conversations to miss. People tend to be more empathetic to the frustrations of remote work, such as talking over people on Zoom, WiFi being spotty, or waiting for someone to answer a Slack message.”

– Lisa Black, Scientist at The Predictive Index

Virtual meetings are part of this Brave New World.

KEY FINDING: 49% did not regularly take part in virtual meetings before COVID-19.

Although two-thirds of the panel had worked remotely before the crisis, nearly half didn’t attend virtual meetings regularly. That said, although 33% hadn’t worked remotely before COVID-19, 49% weren’t used to this Brave New World of remote work where virtual meetings are a must.

Prior to the COVID crisis, I took part in virtual meetings on a regular basis.


Key takeaway

Successful remote work requires strong communication and collaboration: Regular virtual meetings are a must. Schedule daily team standups, weekly team meetings, weekly manager/employee 1 on 1s, and monthly professional development discussions. If tone could be misunderstood via email or Slack, hop on the phone for a quick 15-minute call.


Most people are open to working remotely beyond COVID-19.

KEY FINDING: 40% are content to work remotely full-time on a permanent basis.

Overall, people have a favorable opinion of remote work. As you can see (below), nearly 77% of respondents would like to work remotely either full-time or part-time on a permanent basis after the crisis is over. Only 9% do not want to work remotely full-time after the crisis ends.

Remember, 33% had never worked remotely before COVID, and only 18% had worked remotely full-time. Going fully remote was a big change for most people, and yet it was largely a positive one. Some employees feel more productive or accomplished in a remote environment, while others enjoy the privacy, flexibility, and opportunities to reflect.  

I would be content to work remotely full-time on a permanent basis.


Key takeaway

The majority of people feel positive about working remotely. If you’ll be allowing your employees to work from home after social distancing restrictions lift, make sure it continues to be a positive experience. Share remote work tips, schedule regular remote team building activities, and keep a pulse on engagement.


Work/life balance can blur when working remotely.

KEY FINDING: 32% are working more hours remotely than they did in the office. 

There’s an old myth that remote employees are more interested in watching TV than working. But as you can see from the panel’s answers (below), one in three remote workers are putting in more hours than they did before. Additionally, 39% are spending about the same amount of time working each day. Only 19% are working fewer hours, possibly because they’re caring for children or aging parents during social distancing. 

On average, are you working more, fewer, or the same number of hours remotely as you would have in the office?


Key takeaway

When there’s no punching out and commuting home to delineate work and non-work hours, lines can blur. Ensure you’re reminding your remote employees their health and families come first. We can’t have the same expectations we did before. Let them know it’s OK to do less than usual right now. They’ll repay your empathy with loyalty


Who’s most interested in remote work

The 17 Reference Profiles

Analytical profiles

Social profiles

Stabilizing profiles

Persistent profiles

Persistent profiles are most interested in working remotely full-time.

KEY FINDING: 67% of Persistent profiles said “Yes, I would be content to work remotely full-time on a permanent basis.”

This is where we began to slice the data by behavioral style. After taking the PI Behavioral Assessment, people are assigned one of 17 Reference Profiles that describe their behavioral characteristics. Everyone we surveyed for this report shared their Reference Profile with us. Reference Profiles are divided into four groups: Analytical, Social, Stabilizing, and Persistent. Of those, Persistent profiles are most interested in full-time ongoing remote work. Two Reference Profiles fall into the Persistent group: Individualist and Scholar. Both value the autonomy remote work affords, so their enthusiastic response to the question makes sense.

I would be content to work remotely full-time on a permanent basis.


Key takeaway

Persistent profiles are most likely to be motivated by the freedom and autonomy of working remotely. Leverage that by giving them even more of what they crave. Allow Persistent employees autonomy over how to perform their work (e,g., they can set their own deadlines). Give them freedom to connect with others at the frequency and pace they choose. 


Stabilizing profiles are least interested in working remotely full-time.

KEY FINDING: 13% of Stabilizing profiles said “Yes, I would be content to work remotely full-time on a permanent basis.”

Whereas Persistent profiles were most interested in full-time ongoing remote work, Stabilizing profiles were least interested in it—coming in 27 percentage points below the average. 

Four Reference Profiles fall into the Stabilizing group: Adapter, Craftsman, Guardian, and Operator. The latter three are highly collaborative and can be uncomfortable with ambiguity. Since freedom and ambiguity are inherent to remote work, this finding makes a lot of sense. 

I would be content to work remotely full-time on a permanent basis.


Key takeaway

Stabilizing profiles are least likely to be motivated by the freedom and ambiguity of remote work—they prefer collaboration and clear expectations. Provide opportunities for Stabilizing employees to collaborate with others; cross-functional projects require ongoing teamwork. Also, provide them with guidance regarding best practices for remote work.


Analyzers are happiest since working remotely.

KEY FINDING: 80% of Analyzers say they feel happier working from home than the office.

We presented the panel with the following statement and asked them to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): Since working remotely, I am happier than I would typically be in the workplace. 

Of the 17 Reference Profiles, the Analyzer was most likely to agree. On average, 80% of Analyzers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. What is it about remote work that satisfies the Analyzer’s behavioral needs? One possible reason is that disciplined, self-motivated Analyzers need room for independent reflection. They tend to value the autonomy and freedom remote work provides. 

Additionally, they value the privacy afforded by remote work. When presented with the statement I enjoy the privacy of working remotely, Analyzers were again most likely to agree.

Remote work and confidence

Confidence in strategy has decreased.

KEY FINDING: Most people feel less confident in their company’s strategy now than they did before.

We were curious if the crisis impacted employees’ confidence in the business strategy—especially as companies had to pivot and couldn’t explain changes in person. We presented two statements and asked them to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): I was confident in my company’s strategy prior to COVID and I am confident in my company’s strategy now. Of the four groups, three reported feeling less confident now than they did before: Analytical, Social, and Stabilizing. The Persistent group was the outlier—these profiles feel more confident now. This might be because they’re the most comfortable with remote work (see page 11).


Key takeaway

Here’s a top engagement driver from the 2019 Employee Engagement Report: “Senior leaders have clearly explained the reasons behind the changes made in the organization.” In times of change—especially in a fully remote workplace—frequent, transparent communication is critical. Execs should give status updates and answer questions weekly. 


Social profiles are the least confident in their remote actions. 

KEY FINDING: Of the four groups, Social profiles feel least sure they’re taking the correct actions since shifting to remote work.

Social profiles (Altruist, Captain, Collaborator, Maverick, Persuader, Promoter) find confidence in their ability to influence others. Persistent profiles find it in their subject matter expertise. We were curious whether remote work made people feel less confident in their actions. To that end, we presented participants with the following statement and asked them to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): The shift to remote work has made me less sure I’m taking the correct actions. On average, 19% of Social profiles agree the shift to remote work has made them feel less confident they’re taking the right actions. Maybe because there are fewer opportunities to talk things out at in-person meetings and hallway conversations. Also, social profiles often communicate through eye contact and body language. In a remote environment, this is hard.

The shift to remote work has made me less sure I’m taking the correct actions.


Key takeaway

Social profiles are most likely to say they feel less sure they’re taking the right actions since working remotely. This is likely because there are fewer opportunities to talk it out and observe body language cues. If you’re managing a Social profile, be sure to carve out time to chat on the phone on a regular basis—in addition to brainstorming and working sessions.


Companies aren’t doing enough to recognize employees. 

KEY FINDING: Across the four groups, only half feel their companies provide sufficient opportunities for recognition.

Recognition builds confidence. Yet, it’s clear companies aren’t doing enough to recognize good work—especially now when employees are working in this Brave New World of remote work while battling stress, fatigue, and uncertainty. 

We presented the following statement and asked everyone to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): My company is providing sufficient opportunities for recognition despite the increase in remote work. As you can see, sentiment is consistent across the board. 

My company is providing sufficient opportunities for recognition despite the increase in remote work.


Key takeaway

Companies could be doing more to recognize employees—especially now. Different people have different preferences, so be sure to recognize your employees in the way they prefer. Give a public shout out to your high Dominance or high Extraversion employees, and send an email or handwritten thank you note to your employees who don’t crave the limelight. 


Remote meetings

In-person meeting exhaustion

KEY FINDING: 77% of Persistent profiles reported feeling exhausted by in-person meetings.

We presented the panel with two statements and asked them to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): I used to find myself exhausted on days when I had many in-person meetings and I find myself exhausted on days when I have many remote meetings. 

On average, 77% of Persistent profiles are exhausted by in-person meetings. But only 51% are exhausted by remote meetings. Why could this be? Persistent profiles have a low amount of Extraversion: They don’t have a strong drive for social interaction. When combined with a high amount of the Dominance drive, Persistent profiles crave time to reflect independently. During remote meetings they can at least turn their camera off for some privacy and breathing room.


Key takeaway

Companies could be doing more to recognize employees—especially now. Different people have different preferences, so be sure to recognize your employees in the way they prefer. Give a public shout out to your high Dominance or high Extraversion employees, and send an email or handwritten Persistent profiles are most likely to feel exhausted by in-person meetings. And half are exhausted by remote meetings, too. When booking a meeting to provide updates, ask yourself, “Could this be accomplished via email, Slack, or a Soapbox video?” Also, consider implementing no meeting blocks so everyone has a chance to unplug and re-energize.


Dominant personalities feel less heard during remote meetings.

KEY FINDING: Captains are 23% less likely to feel heard at virtual meetings (compared to in-person meetings).

Dominance is the drive to make an impact on one’s environment. Highly dominant employees value their ability to influence the work to be done. In the conference room, these bold personalities have an easier time getting their opinions heard. We presented the following statement and asked participants to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): During in-person meetings, it was easy for me to have my voice heard. Of the five Reference Profiles that agreed most, four were high Dominance profiles: Analyzer, Maverick, Captain, and Venturer. 

When presented with the statement During remote meetings, it is easy for me to have my voice heard, the four high Dominance profiles most likely to feel heard at in-person meetings felt less heard during remote meetings. Captains saw the biggest drop: 23 percentage points.


Key takeaway

Dominant profiles need opportunities to influence the work to be done—but they find it harder to have their voices heard during remote meetings. Counteract this by starting each call coming to a consensus on how each person will get a chance to speak, whether it’s round robin, raising hands, or some other signal. Added bonus: this helps everyone feel heard.


Non-extraverted personalities prefer remote meetings.

KEY FINDING: People with low Extraversion feel their voices are more heard during remote meetings.

Five Reference Profiles with low amounts of the Extraversion drive (Adapter, Controller, Craftsman, Scholar, and Strategist) said their voices were more heard during remote meetings vs. in-person meetings. 

We presented two statements and asked all participants to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): During in-person meetings, it was easy for me to have my voice heard and During remote meetings, it is easy for me to have my voice heard. 

Average percent increase in feeling heard when moving from in-person meetings to remote meetings.


Key takeaway

Non-extraverted personalities feel more heard at remote meetings than they do at in-person meetings—perhaps because the remote environment offers less opportunity for extraverted and dominant personalities to “control the room.” The remote workplace, then, is a safe place for those who don’t have a high amount of the Extraversion drive.


91% of Persuaders say their ability to influence others helped their career.

KEY FINDING: Social profiles are most likely to see a connection between their ability to influence and their career growth.

We presented the statement My ability to influence others has positively influenced my career and asked people to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree). As expected, Social (high Extraversion) profiles agree with this most emphatically. Persuaders were most likely to agree or strongly agree (91%). On the other end of the spectrum, the Specialist pattern was least likely to agree. Specialists have low Dominance and low Extraversion, so they don’t feel a strong need to influence—and thus likely don’t do it very often. (Specialists fall into the Analytical group along with the Analyzer, Controller, Strategist, and Venturer Reference Profiles.)

My ability to influence others has positively influenced my career. 

“High Dominance people want to make decisions because they want to exert influence—but that doesn’t mean they’re more qualified to make decisions than others.”

Austin Fossey, Ph.D., Director of Assessment Research at The Predictive Index

Influencing others is more difficult during remote meetings.

KEY FINDING: All four groups say they’re less able to influence others easily during remote meetings.

Next we presented two statements and asked people to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): I am able to influence others easily during in-person meetings and I am able to influence others easily during remote meetings. Social profiles were most likely to agree with both statements. However, that group experienced the biggest decrease when comparing ability to influence at in-person meetings to ability to influence at remote meetings: a 21 percentage point dip. Interestingly, just one Reference Profile reported feeling more able to influence others in remote meetings: Analyzer. Whereas, on average, 40% of Analyzers agree or strongly agree they can influence others easily in-person, 60% feel the same about their ability to influence remotely. Also, 60% of Analyzers said their ability to influence others positively affected their career.


Key takeaway

Almost everyone feels less able to influence others when working from home, especially Social profiles. To help them feel motivated and inspired, create opportunities for them to influence others remotely. For example, appoint someone in the Social group to head up your virtual book club or present a deck of their accomplishments at a virtual show and tell.


Virtual teamwork

Analytical profiles are collaborating less.

KEY FINDING: 41% of Analytical profiles are finding fewer opportunities to collaborate since working remotely.

Strong collaboration is essential to team success. So we were curious: Does collaboration suffer when working remotely? To find out, we presented the following statement and asked our panel to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): I am finding fewer opportunities to collaborate with others since working remotely.

Of the four groups, Analytical profiles (Analyzer, Controller, Specialist, Strategist, and Venturer) are most likely to agree they have fewer opportunities to collaborate. Additionally, the Strategist Reference Profile was most likely to agree. Analytical profiles aren’t wired to crave collaboration. We can infer they’re finding fewer opportunities because they’re not driven to seek them out.

I am finding fewer opportunities to collaborate with others since working remotely.


Key takeaway

Analytical profiles aren’t wired to crave collaboration, so they usually don’t go out of their way to make it happen. But collaboration’s essential to success—and it’s your job as a leader to ensure it happens no matter where your people are located. Adopt a virtual collaboration tool like Google Docs, Miro, or Figma and schedule cross-functional initiatives.


Guardians feel less connected to their teammates.

KEY FINDING: 55% of Guardians say they feel less connected to their teammates since working remotely.

Dream teams are full of people who trust each other and feel psychologically safe. We wondered if any behavioral styles felt less in sync with their teammates since moving to full-time remote work. We presented the following statement and asked our panel to respond via a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree): I feel less of a connection to my teammates since working remotely. 

While the majority of the 17 Reference Profiles disagreed with this statement, Guardians were most likely to agree or strongly agree.

I feel less of a connection to my teammates since working remotely.


Key takeaway

Guardians, who have low Dominance and low Extraversion, are most likely to feel less connected to their teammates in a remote environment. Even your less outgoing employees crave interpersonal interaction from time to time. Schedule a remote team building day with an agenda of activities designed to increase team cohesion and bonding.


Conclusion: Behavioral people data is the key to building remote dream teams.

As we saw, most people feel generally positive about remote work. In fact, 77% of respondents would like to work remotely either full-time or part-time on a permanent basis after the crisis is over. If you’re thinking about allowing remote work beyond COVID-19, to reduce overhead or expand the talent pool, this is good news. 

Still, many employees have a love/hate relationship with remote work. They may value some aspects of the remote work environment but feel bothered—or worse, demotivated—by others. This is because we’re all wired differently. And our behavioral drives impact our remote work perceptions. When you understand behavior, you can tailor the way you motivate your employees based on their needs and preferences to increase productivity and engagement. 

That understanding begins with the six-minute PI Behavioral Assessment. Thousands of companies use it to collect behavioral people data and understand what drives each employee. 

People data is at the heart of talent optimization—a discipline that has real business value. And in a remote world with less face time, it’s more important than ever to really know your people.

Key takeaways

  • Successful remote work requires strong communication and collaboration. Regular virtual meetings are a must. Schedule daily team standups, weekly team meetings, weekly manager/employee 1 on 1s, and monthly professional development discussions. If tone could be misunderstood via email or Slack, hop on the phone for a quick 15-minute call.
  • The majority of people feel positive about working remotely. If you’ll be allowing your employees to work from home after social distancing restrictions lift, make sure it continues to be a positive experience. Share remote work tips, schedule regular remote team building activities, and keep a pulse on engagement. 
  • When there’s no punching out and commuting home to delineate work and non-work hours, lines can blur. Remind your remote employees their health and families come first. We can’t have the same expectations we did before. Let them know it’s OK to do less than usual right now. They’ll repay your empathy with loyalty. 
  • Persistent profiles are most likely to be motivated by the freedom and autonomy of working remotely. Leverage that by giving them even more of what they crave. Allow Persistent employees autonomy over how to perform their work (e,g., they can set their own deadlines). Give them freedom to connect with others at the frequency and pace they choose. 
  • Stabilizing profiles are least likely to be motivated by the freedom and ambiguity of remote work—they prefer collaboration and clear expectations. Provide opportunities for Stabilizing employees to collaborate with others; cross-functional projects require ongoing teamwork. Also, provide them with guidance regarding best practices for remote work.
  • Here’s a top engagement driver from the 2019 Employee Engagement Report: “Senior leaders have clearly explained the reasons behind the changes made in the organization.” In times of change—especially in a fully remote workplace—frequent, transparent communication is critical. Execs should give status updates and answer questions weekly. 
  • Social profiles are most likely to say they feel less sure they’re taking the right actions since working remotely. This is likely because there are fewer opportunities to talk it out and observe body language cues. If you’re managing a Social profile, be sure to carve out time to chat on the phone on a regular basis—in addition to brainstorming and working sessions. 
  • Companies could be doing more to recognize employees—especially now. Different people have different preferences, so be sure to recognize your employees in the way they prefer. Give a public shout out to your high Dominance or high Extraversion employees and send an email or handwritten thank you note to your employees who don’t crave the limelight. 
  • Persistent profiles are most likely to feel exhausted by in-person meetings. And half are exhausted by remote meetings, too. When booking a meeting to provide updates, ask yourself, “Could this be accomplished via email, Slack, or a Soapbox video?” Also, consider implementing no meeting blocks so everyone has a chance to unplug and re-energize.
  • Dominant profiles need opportunities to influence the work to be done—but they find it harder to have their voices heard during remote meetings. Counteract this by starting each call by coming to a consensus on how each person will get a chance to speak, whether it’s round robin, raising hands, or some other signal. Added bonus: this helps everyone feel heard.
  • Non-extraverted personalities feel more heard at remote meetings than they do at in-person meetings—perhaps because the remote environment offers less opportunity for extraverted and dominant personalities to “control the room.” The remote workplace, then, is a safe place for those who don’t have a high amount of the Extraversion drive.
  • Most everyone feels less able to influence others when working from home, especially Social profiles. To help them feel motivated and inspired, create opportunities for them to influence others remotely. For example, appoint someone in the Social group to head up your virtual book club or present a deck of their accomplishments at a virtual show and tell.
  • Analytical profiles aren’t wired to crave collaboration, so they usually don’t go out of their way to make it happen. But collaboration’s essential to success—and it’s your job as a leader to ensure it happens no matter where your people are located. Adopt a virtual collaboration tool like Google Docs, Miro, or Figma and schedule cross-functional initiatives.
  • Guardians, who have low Dominance and low Extraversion, are most likely to feel less connected to their teammates in a remote environment. Even your less outgoing employees crave interpersonal interaction from time to time. Schedule a remote team building day with an agenda of activities designed to increase team cohesion and bonding. 

Study methodology

This report was developed with scientific rigor.

Good surveys begin with identifying the population of interest. The survey was emailed to everyone in our database: business leaders at all levels, from manager to executive, and consultants in our Certified Partner Network. In this case, 353 individuals began the survey, with 198 completing the survey, for an overall response rate of 56% with complete data. Anyone who did not know their PI Reference Profile was screened out, as the purpose of this survey was to examine remote work tolerance through a behavioral lens. 

We developed the survey questions according to best practices in survey research, ensuring they were clear, concise, and understandable by people with a variety of backgrounds. Questions had response formats designed to balance the richness of data to be collected with the ease of responding. The topics were selected based on a set of research questions identified by subject matter experts as being relevant to emerging trends in remote work since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Together, all of this encouraged participant engagement and high-quality responses while collecting in-depth information about the sudden shift to remote work. No reward was offered as an incentive to complete the survey.

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