Remote worker study

June 18, 2020

Understanding the needs of your remote workers

I’ll admit I said it.

I said it out loud, before all the shutdowns, and before we knew how long this would last.

“You know, if we get to work from home for a while, that part may not be so bad.”

And for a while, it wasn’t so bad. I liked sleeping in an extra hour. I enjoyed making my own lunch in my own kitchen. And it was a treat to spend more quality time with my significant other.

Today? I miss going to the office. Working from home has been a little tough on me because I’m a Connector. That’s my work personality.

Connectors feel a deep need to share their truest, honest selves with their teammates and their bosses. We want to connect as people—not just co-workers. We think it’s important to go through the ups and downs together. We believe those experiences tend to facilitate collaboration, which leads to better work.

There are lots of employees out there just like me, but importantly, there are even more employees out there who are not like me. And we have the data to prove it.

You see, different employees care about different things. Yes, all of us value functional, tangible benefits like perks, paychecks and job security. But when it comes to emotional needs—the intangible stuff that rarely appears in a job description—that’s where we start to segment into different work personalities.

We conducted a quantitative survey of 1,100 employees who are working primarily from home. We asked them to identify what they most want—functionally and emotionally—from their employer. We also interrogated them about their attitudes on working from home, and we sought to understand their WFH conditions. (Do they have kids? Do they have roommates? How big is their living space? Are they in the city or the country or the suburbs?)

This study is helping us and our clients better understand how we can motivate, retain and reward our people in this new remote working environment.


The quantitative study revealed five distinct needs-based segments. Because their needs differ, their employers must add value in different ways.

Understanding the Needs of Your Remote Workers Five Needs-Based Segments

Climbers: Achievement-driven

Understanding the Needs of Your Remote Workers: The Climber

Climbers are frustrated by the lack of consistency, clarity and structure in their WFH routine. It’s harder for them to feel acknowledged or rewarded for the work they’re doing, and they are less likely to see a path forward with their company.

Connectors: People-driven

Understanding the Needs of Your Remote Workers: The Connector

Connectors derive a lot of their self-identity from their workplace relationships. When they WFH, they feel distant from what they value most: their team and workplace culture.

Believers: Purpose-driven

Understanding the Needs of Your Remote Workers: The Believer

Believers know their company’s mission—but not always the company’s plan. They refuse to let these strange circumstances slow them down. They’re working more than ever—and burnout is a risk.

Grinders: Engagement-driven

Understanding the Needs of Your Remote Workers: The Grinder

Grinders love the work for its own sake. WFH helps them focus more deeply, and they love how productive they feel. They already tend to detach from their teammates and workplace culture, and remote work pushes them even further away.

Balancers: Balance-driven

Understanding the Needs of Your Remote Workers: The Balancer

Balancers put their personal life ahead of their work life, and for the most part, remote work allows them to better achieve the balance they seek. The increasingly blurred lines between when they’re “at work” and when they’re not is a creeping frustration.

Which one are you?

If you run a business or manage a team, there’s a good chance you have folks in all five of these segments. If we understand what motivates them, we can design solutions and communications that drive happiness, engagement and productivity for all types.

To read more about each work personality, download this PDF. And if you’d like our help assessing how your own workforce fits into these segments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Seriously, I’d love to connect. It’s kind of my thing.

Study conducted by Michael Girts, Kyle Flynn, Elizabeth Hancock, Ryan Monroe, Joe Nio, Linda Vo and Emily Woodward.

Michael Girts

Michael Girts

Strategy Director

Michael leads strategy for many of VSA’s fastest-growing clients, including Google, LinkedIn and Liberty Mutual. As one of VSA’s strongest storytellers and problem solvers, he is lauded for his ability to uncover, interpret and share data in a way that illuminates actionable insight. Michael believes every client meeting is a pitch: an opportunity to inspire, change minds and find solutions.