It’s been a year since we first set up our home offices. Four different tendencies dictate how seamless that transition was. Find out which one you are now and what you need to do to optimise your work from home lifestyle. 

Working from home has become the new normal for many around the world - with 60% of the UK population making up this new work model. For most, this has done wonders for their workflow and has helped save money that would have normally gone on lunches and commuting. Specifically, a whopping £44.78 a week has been saved on average. 

However, despite the cheaper lunch breaks and optimised work hours, there are still an array of issues that need to be addressed before we can begin celebrating this new era of work. 

“77% of home workers said they’d experienced some sort of managerial problem whilst working from home.” 

From a survey of 500 employees undertaken in May 2021, these could be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Misunderstandings due to no face-to-face communication
  • Lack of leadership and micromanagement 
  • Employees’ mental health not being considered by their manager

Depending on your personality type, these factors may have affected you more than others. This is why it’s so important that you are aware of the type of tendency you and others have towards work. 

Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies Quiz shows you what tendencies you have regarding work. Rubin explains that the first question you must ask is “how do I respond to expectations?” This not only allows you to understand how you work, but you will also understand how other people create their expectations and when you feel mismanaged, you’ll understand where the other person is coming from.

”Managers, doctors, teachers, spouses, and parents already use the framework to help people reduce conflict and make significant, lasting change.”

Gretchen Rubin, creator of The Four Tendencies

We split expectations into two categories:

  1. Outer expectations: Meeting job deadlines, obligations to friends and families etc. Outer expectations can either be good or bad depending on the type of obligation you are in or if your outer expectations are making you disregard your inner expectations.
  2. Inner expectations: These include keeping your house tidy, starting to exercise regularly, begin a healthy diet, start that yoga class you’ve been talking about. Essentially, following through on the things you’ve always wanted to do. 

Read about the four tendencies below to find out which one you are and begin to understand what you need to do to navigate mismanagement or a lack of motivation. These will also contain what employers and managers can do to ensure their employees are being fully supported specifically to their tendencies. 

The four tendencies

1. Upholder

These meet outer expectations and inner expectations. Upholders tend to love routines and are natural leaders in their environment. If you have the Upholder tendency then you will most likely not have felt managerial problems while working at home, due to your proactivity and the ease with which you meet the expectations of your superiors.

However, if you have, then it was probably to do with a lack of communication on your manager’s part. An upholder wants to know what is to be done, so they can get on with it. Therefore, it is important you are proactive in chasing up managers for tasks if their is a lack of communication there. If you are the manager then make sure you keep a good initial communication with them. Tell Upholders what you want them to achieve, they will handle the rest. 

Moreover, the main issue that Upholders have would not be from being the victims of mismanagement, but being the culprit. The main weakness of an upholder is their lack of understanding for other tendencies. As working comes so naturally to them, they often question why it doesn’t come so naturally to the others. This can cause alienation and even added stress to team-members and/or employees.

Just because something comes naturally to you, does not mean it will come naturally to others.

This does not make them any worse than you, just different. Therefore, as an Upholder in a managerial position, it is part of your duty to understand how the other tendencies work and how you can bring the best out of them. 

2. Obliger

The most common tendency, these meet outside expectations but fails to meet inner. Obligers excel at work-related tasks but lack that readiness outside the work realm. For example, they may have trouble keeping their house clean, sticking to their new diet, or taking up that new hobby. An Obliger’s motivation and mental health at work is highly dependent on other people holding them accountable.

This has become a problem for the Obliger now that people are working from home. What the Obliger feeds on at work has been reduced significantly. For example, they are receiving less face-to-face communication, lack of leadership, and less micro-management. Because of this, their workflow and mental health can deteriorate rather quickly. 

To solve mismanagement and improve mental health at work as an Obliger, you can create outer accountability.

If you feel under-managed, then you tell someone you trust to hold you accountable for what you need to do for work, and if you don’t do it, there will be a punishment in place.

If you’re an employer, you can ensure an Obliger is fully supported by keeping in good communication with them, telling them when they’ve done a good job but also be very clear on deadlines and tasks. Hold them accountable. 

3. Questioner

These meet inner expectations, but resist outer. Within the work realm, this tendency must ensure they are fully on-board with all direction given, otherwise they cannot do the task at hand. They become on-board with tasks once their questions have been answered fully.

For example, their managers could give them a task that involved emailing a client. The manager could tell them what to say, but if the questioner does not agree with the content of that email, they would not be able to send it off. Until they are provided with the necessary answers, only then could they get on with the task. However, due to the lack of access to their managers and team members - their questions can pile up - which can cause them to feel directionless and unmotivated. 

If you’re a questioner and you feel mismanaged at work, push for an opportunity to speak to your manager and make them aware of how important communication is for your understanding and learning.

You can set up 15 minutes with your manager at the start of the day to iron all out of your questions. If your manager is unavailable, see if any of your team members would be willing to answer any questions you may have.

On the other hand, questioners tend to get analysis paralysis, as their heads are often filled with questions and thoughts. It’s important you are aware of that and when receiving answers, you make sure you take notes and decompartmentalise them into various themes - so you know what’s relevant and what’s not. Also, be aware of your team-members availability.

It’s often that a questioner can bombard team-members and managers with questions - to the point where they become distant and hesitant to help.

It’s important that you know what your top 5 questions are before going into any calls and ensure your team-members know you appreciate the time they’re giving to you. 

As for managers with Questioners in their employment, make sure you provide them with the necessary info they need, even if it takes longer than it would take to explain these tasks to an Upholder. Questioners are some of the most effective and impactful employees you can have, as they are often filled with engaging ideas and can execute these extremely well. It’s worth putting in that time. 

4. Rebel

The rarest personality type, Rebels resist inner and outer expectations. If you are a rebel then you’re someone who values their own individuality and freedom. You reject all outward expectations initially and choose what you think is the most important and worth doing. What you ‘want’ is measured by what you love and value. Rebels are hard to manage in the office regardless, but without the guidance they would have normally received in the office, their workflow and motivation can suffer a great deal more.

This is because Rebels can be motivated to work through the display of choice. To get a Rebel to work on the tasks they’re not excited about, the manager can frame tasks into options. This convinces them that they want to do it, as they are given the necessary information to come to a conclusion themselves.

They’re all about choice, so it’s important you don’t make them feel like you are ordering them around, because they just won’t do it.

However, with a lack of communication thanks to working from home, it is much harder for Rebels to come to that conclusion themselves. Gretchen Rubin explains what works for rebels and that’s “information, consequences, choice.”

For example, if a rebel has not completed a task you asked them to complete yesterday. You cannot nag them or threaten them into doing it. This will simply create a “spirit of resistance”. Instead, you provide them the information about why they need to complete that task. The consequences if they don’t. And wrap it up with a question so in their heads its them who are the ones making the decision to do it. Not you - the manager. 

As a boss, you may feel like Rebels are being insubordinate and are more trouble than they’re worth, but Rebels are able to do anything they set their mind to, and once their mind is set on something, they will complete that task better than any other tendency could. The trick is to keep them motivated on that task. 

If you are a Rebel and you feel mismanaged and your mental health is declining, our advice is to talk to your team-members.

You need to come to the conclusion of what you’re doing is the right thing by yourself.

And the best way to do that is to talk it out. A lot of the time, you as a Rebel are in your head and are very stubborn. To counter that, you need to understand another perspective. You can do that by introducing another person to your honest thoughts about the topic, they will provide you with their opinion. You may even find a perspective you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, and you may prefer that to your original. Talk to people. 

We all have our tendencies, but we can all come to the same conclusion

Now we know what type of tendency you have at work, you can begin implementing these within your work life and reap the rewards. I’m sure just by reading this you have come to the conclusion that the solution to all of these work from home issues is communication.

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, understand that we’re doing our best to create the same outcome with the tools we’ve been given.

Due to the pandemic’s severing of communication lines and personability, it has made that easier to forget. Regardless of our personality types, our tendencies, and our differing values, we can all agree that if we just put the time and effort into understanding how our peers work - profits would soar and there will be a much better work environment for everyone. So when in doubt, talk it out. 

This was inspired by OfficeLife’s article about “How to manage workers according to their personality type”. You can also takeThe Four Tendencies quiz to find out which one resonates with you the most.