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Are MBTI Personality Tests Useful for Remote Work?

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Types. Based on research by Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was created by mother-daughter team, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers during the 20th century.

Almost 100 years later, and we are still using the work of Myers and Briggs. In a nutshell, the MBTI categorizes every person into one of 16 personality types. These personality types are determined by answering 4 dichotomies:

Extraversion vs. Introversion

Sensing vs. Intuition

Thinking vs. Feeling

Judging vs. Perceiving

You will see the personality types characterized by the combination of letters, i.e. ETSJ or ISTP. No type is considered to be better than an another. The goal is that by being cognizant of your own type as well as the types of those around you, you can have a greater awareness of and appreciation for for the unique skill sets of yourself and others.

MBTI can be helpful for businesses, especially with team building

Businesses often use MBTI tests when creating project teams or shuffling positions. In fact, 89 of Fortune 100 companies use MBTI testing in their business. Furthermore, once business leaders see how their employees “tick” they can then better manage them and communicate with them. The same goes for co-workers communicating with each other.

It’s important to note that The Myers & Briggs Foundation states that the MBTI assessment should not be used in the hiring process. “It is unethical, and in many cases illegal, to require job applicants to take the Indicator if the results will be used to screen out applicants.” The Myers & Briggs Foundation also points out that organizations are “doing themselves a disservice” when they screen out applicants based on the MBTI test.

It’s simple to see why this personality test has become so popular with businesses. When people are working together, day after day, in close physical proximity it is wise to have an understanding of how everyone operates.

The question is, when businesses are remote, is is still important to have such an understanding of your team? Should you still use a personality test such as Myers-Briggs to help your business grow?

All in favor? Say Aye!

The first way that MBTI can be useful is when thinking about whether or not remote work is right for your or one of your employees.

Remote work is not for everyone. It takes self-discipline, time management skills, and problem solving abilities. Working from home can also be isolating, which some people may struggle with.

There’s not necessarily one Myers-Briggs personality type that is perfect for remote work, but the information the type provides can still give some insight into how successful someone may be working remotely, or what sort of support system they may need in order to do so.

Secondly, communication is extra important with remote businesses

Elena Bajic, Founder and CEO of Ivy Exec, writes about the importance of MBTI type for communication in an article for Forbes, “And as a manager, you will have an easier time communicating with team members because you will understand how each person works best and what they need to do their job well.”

Communication is a key component of remote working, and because it often happens via things like emails and texts, it can be difficult. Knowing MBTI types may help to alleviate some of the problems.

Also, MBTI info can be helpful when you don’t have those daily face-to-face interactions

Co-workers learn a lot about each other when they work together in an office. They learn who has a desk drawer filled with hot sauce packets from Taco Bell, who consistently gets to work 10 minutes early, and whose desk to avoid on the way back from the restroom if you don’t want to get stopped for a 20-minute conversation about weekend plans. Even if the office personnel aren’t all BFFs, a familiarity is still bred, that for the most, makes work run smoothly and successfully.

Those kind of tidbits, learned from day-to-day interactions, are much harder to learn when the team is remote. Having an awareness of personality type can help to account for this lack, and help remote teams to get to know one another and their working style.

The Nays have it

A major criticism of using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is that its results aren’t always consistent, and that the dichotomies listed above are not always mutually exclusive, nor are they always dichotomous.

When deciding whether or not to use MBTI in your business, these criticisms should be considered.

Is the MBTI right for your business?

Ending Tips

Whether you freelance, manage a remote team, or work as a remote employee there are a few things to remember.

Remote doesn’t mean robot.

Even from the couch in your pajamas, you are still working with people–co-workers, bosses, and clients. All people have different personalities, likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. It is worthwhile to learn about them.

Learn about your own strengths (and weaknesses).

There may be some areas that you may need to ask for help in. Or, there may be areas where you can offer your help to others.

For more advice regarding your business, contact us at Lumen Advisory and Finance!