The Five-Factor Model: Predicting Success for Remote Workers


In today’s rapidly changing work landscape, remote work has become the new norm. As companies transition from traditional employment models to remote (and often contractor) workforces, evaluating the potential for success in remote workers is crucial. One powerful tool that can aid in this assessment is the Five-Factor Model, a widely accepted personality theory that has been extensively researched and proven to predict job performance and satisfaction. By understanding the science behind the model, business leaders can make informed decisions when transitioning to a remote or hybrid work environment. In this article, we will delve into the Five-Factor Model and explore how it can be utilized to unlock the success of remote workers. Furthermore, we will introduce a new tool business consultants can use to assist clients when faced with the challenges of managing virtual teams.

The Five-Factor Model: An Overview

The Five-Factor Model, also known as the Big Five Personality Model, is a widely accepted theory in psychology that categorizes personality traits into five distinct dimensions: Open-Mindedness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Negative Emotionality (Neuroticism) (McCrae & Costa).

The five personality traits remain relatively stable throughout most of one’s lifetime but can be influenced by genes and the environment (Lim, 2020). Each trait represents a spectrum of characteristics; individuals can fall anywhere along these spectrums (see Figure A). 

Understanding the influence of these traits on work outcomes can help employers evaluate the potential for success of employees who desire to transition to a remote work environment. In addition, an in-depth analysis using the Five-Factor Model and targeted interview questions could also aid business consultants tasked with eliminating obstacles and maximizing team performance.

Applying the Five-Factor Model to Remote Worker Success

These dimensions provide valuable insights into an individual’s behavioral tendencies and can be instrumental in evaluating their potential for success in remote work.

The ICG WorkPlace Preferences Model

Using the ICG Five Factor for Work and the ICG Workplace Preferences Assessment, a model was developed by Ivy Consulting Group charts each team member on a circumplex to illustrate and predict potential for team success. 

The Four Worker Dimensions

T – Thorough
E – Enduring
A – Authority
M – Mastery

The Leader Dimensions


“M” individuals are known for their directness and decisiveness. They embrace risks and actively seek solutions to problems. Their focus lies in achieving goals and winning rather than seeking approval from others. While their strong internal drive may make them less sensitive towards those around them, “M” individuals fearlessly challenge the status quo and thrive in the realm of innovation. They require discipline to excel and respond well to direct confrontation. Their greatest fear is being exploited, and despite their potential weaknesses such as a dislike for routine, a tendency to overstep authority, an argumentative nature, and a tendency to take on too much, they highly value time and employ their innovative thinking to accomplish difficult tasks and overcome challenges.


A’s are both inspiring and impressive individuals. They possess qualities such as enthusiasm, optimism, impulsiveness, and emotional depth. These characteristics enable them to excel as creative problem solvers and exceptional motivators. A’s tend to have a wide circle of friends, but their desire for approval and popularity sometimes overshadows their focus on achieving tangible results. Their fear of rejection is their greatest obstacle, yet they thrive in their ability to inspire others. With their positive sense of humor, A’s adeptly navigate conflicts. While they may occasionally overlook details and struggle with listening, they excel as peacemakers and valuable team members when they prioritize controlling their emotions and minimizing their need for attention. A’s greatly value human connection and physical touch.

The Follower Dimensions


“E” individuals are known for their steady and reserved nature. They prefer stability and predictability, making them resistant to change and thrive in secure, non-threatening environments. Additionally, they possess qualities such as friendliness, understanding, active listening, and loyalty, making them excellent companions and dedicated workers who excel in consistent roles. Their exceptional ability to forgive contributes to their reliability and dependability, making them ideal friends. However, their primary fear revolves around losing security, and their weaknesses include difficulty adjusting to change and being overly sensitive to criticism. To prevent being taken advantage of, “E” individuals must strengthen themselves and learn to assertively say “no.” While they typically avoid the spotlight, they eagerly step up to help others when presented with genuine opportunities. They find immense value in truly aiding someone in need.


“T” individuals are known for their compliance and analytical nature. They prioritize careful and logical thinking, always striving for accuracy. They have high standards and prefer systematic approaches when solving problems. While they excel in finding solutions, they often disregard the emotions of others and can be overly critical and irritable. Expressing their own feelings is challenging. However, when focused on clear boundaries and not overwhelmed by details, they become valuable team members who offer calculated reality checks. Criticism is their biggest fear, and their pursuit of perfection can be a weakness. They tend to yield during arguments. Nevertheless, their thoroughness and conscientiousness bring stability and even-temperedness to any team. Above all, they value being right.

Interpreting the Model – Potential Conflicts



Open-Mindedness: Willingness to Try New Things

Open-mindedness is a personality trait that reflects an individual’s willingness to try new things and receptiveness to change. In the context of remote work, individuals with high levels of openness are more likely to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by virtual employment (Luse et al., 2013). These individuals perceive virtual team environments as opportunities to explore new ideas within a nontraditional setting, making them well-suited for the transition to remote work (Luse et al., 2013). Employers should consider the openness of potential virtual employees when selecting candidates for virtual or hybrid employment, as a lack of openness can hinder the successful transition to remote work.

Conscientiousness: Self-Discipline and Motivation

Conscientiousness refers to an individual’s ability to be self-disciplined, organized, and motivated. It is a key trait for success in both traditional and remote work environments (Nießen et al., 2020; Wilmot & Ones, 2019). Virtual employees with higher levels of conscientiousness are more likely to be self-motivated and able to manage their own schedules and deadlines independently (MacRae & Sawatzky, 2020). This trait becomes even more crucial in the virtual workforce, where employees often work without direct supervision. Business leaders should prioritize conscientiousness when hiring new virtual employees and consider fostering this trait through training and coaching programs.

Extraversion: Preference for Social Interaction

Extraversion is a personality trait that reflects an individual’s preference for social interaction and stimulation. While extroverted individuals generally prefer face-to-face work environments, research suggests that their openness to new experiences plays a more significant role in their success in virtual employment (Jarrett, 2020). However, it is important to consider the nature of the virtual work when hiring new employees. Positions that involve virtual group work may benefit from hiring individuals with higher levels of extraversion, while positions that primarily involve individual virtual work may be better suited for individuals with lower levels of extraversion.

Agreeableness: Cooperation and Compassion

Agreeableness is a personality trait that encompasses an individual’s level of cooperation and compassion. Research indicates that agreeableness may not be beneficial to virtual teamwork, as individuals with high agreeableness may be more likely to disregard their own ideas and follow the ideas of others (Swart & Siguaw, 2020). However, agreeableness can be advantageous in virtual employment that primarily involves individual work, as individuals with high agreeableness are more likely to take constructive criticism well (Clark, Karau, & Michalisin, 2012). When hiring for virtual teamwork, it may be beneficial to consider individuals with a lower ratio of agreeableness who can contribute their own ideas and propose opposing viewpoints. On the other hand, higher levels of agreeableness can foster a positive work environment in virtual employment that requires individual work.

Negative Emotionality: Emotional Stability and Anxiety

Negative Emotionality (neuroticism) is a personality trait associated with emotional instability, including anxiety and other negative emotions. Individuals with higher levels of neuroticism have more favorable attitudes toward virtual employment, most likely due to the remote shelter from interpersonal anxieties experienced in traditional face-to-face office environments (Clark et al., 2012). While neuroticism is often viewed negatively, it can drive individuals to meet deadlines and achieve goals due to their pursuit of perfection and fear of failure (Cuncic, 2020). Employers should not be overly concerned with high levels of neuroticism when hiring for virtual employment but should carefully consider how they may impact team performance.

The ICG Five-Factor Remote Worker Assessment

While the Five-Factor Model provides valuable insights into the personality traits associated with remote work success, there are other characteristics that employers should consider when hiring and managing virtual workers. Using the Five-Factor Model as the foundation of our new assessment, we created a tool utilizing the latest research to help business consultants work with clients to maximize team performance in a remote or hybrid work environment. The additional factors we considered are 1) job satisfaction, 2) optimism, 3) honesty, and 4) interpersonal deviance.

1. Job Satisfaction: A Key Indicator

Job satisfaction is vital to employee retention, performance, and overall well-being. Research has shown that certain personality traits, such as conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness, are positively correlated with job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002). By evaluating these traits in remote workers, organizations can gain insights into their potential for long-term satisfaction and engagement in virtual employment.

2. Optimism: Essential for Job Satisfaction and Collaboration

An optimistic outlook in life can significantly impact work success in several ways. Research has shown that individuals with optimistic personalities tend to have higher levels of motivation, resilience, and overall job satisfaction, which are crucial factors for achieving success in the workplace (Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson, 2005). Optimism is associated with increased perseverance and goal-directed behavior, and optimistic individuals are more likely to set challenging yet attainable goals (Seligman et al., 2005). Furthermore, optimistic individuals collaborate more effectively in a team environment (Tsipursky, 2020). Thus, a positive attitude and optimistic outlook can contribute to higher engagement, commitment, and overall job performance, ultimately enhancing the chances of success in a remote workgroup.

3. Honesty: A Cornerstone of Remote Employment

Honesty is vital for remote employees, as it fosters trust and integrity within the virtual workplace. Research suggests that individuals with higher levels of conscientiousness are more likely to be honest (Horn, Nelson, & Brannick, 2004). In the context of remote work, where oversight may be limited, honest employees are less likely to engage in manipulative practices such as over-employment, where they deceive employers by claiming to work full-time while only working part-time (Horn et al., 2004). Employers should prioritize hiring individuals with high moral character and a strong sense of honesty to maintain a productive and ethical remote work environment.

4. Interpersonal Deviance: The Negative Impact of Counterproductive Behavior

Counterproductive behavior, such as organizational and interpersonal deviance, can undermine the effectiveness and harmony of remote teams. Research suggests that agreeableness and conscientiousness negatively correlate with deviant behavior (Colbert et al., 2004). By assessing these traits, organizations can identify individuals who are less likely to engage in harmful actions and maintain a positive work environment.

Questions to Consider

Considering the research mentioned above, it’s imperative that employers and business consultants proceed with caution before making a strategic shift in office structure. To help you investigate the potential for success, we have included a few questions we ask in our ICG Five-Factor Remote Work Assessment to consider before making the decision to transition a worker to a remote or hybrid workplace.

For Workers with Moderate or Low Open-Mindedness

Do you consider yourself a creative person?

Do you feel as if your input at work is valued?

How do you feel about the corporate decisions to allow or restrict remote work for employees? 

For Workers with Moderate or Low Conscientiousness

Do you prefer to work alone or with a team?

How would you rank the effectiveness of the team you work with now?

How well does the technology provided help you organize your schedule and maximize your effectiveness?

For Workers with Moderate to Low Agreeableness

How likely are you to voice your opinion when you believe the decisions being made are bad for the company?

When decisions are made without your input, how does it affect your motivation?

For Workers with High Negative Emotionality

Would you say you are happy at work?

How would you rank the amount of stress you feel at work?

How would working from a remote location affect your stress level?

Rank the list below in order of the most stressful to the least (list provided in the assessment). 


The Five-Factor Model provides valuable insights into the personality traits that contribute to remote work success. Open-mindedness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Negative Emotionality each play a significant role in an individual’s adaptation to virtual employment. Businesses can build a productive and harmonious remote work environment by considering these traits when hiring new virtual employees and supporting existing remote workers. Also, business consultants and executive coaches can utilize this knowledge to guide their clients in navigating the challenges of virtual employment and fostering personal and professional growth.

Remember, when hiring remote workers, prioritize traits such as job satisfaction, optimism, honesty, and potential for interpersonal deviance to ensure the success of your virtual team. By understanding the unique characteristics contributing to remote work success, businesses can thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of virtual employment.

To find out more, or to contact an Ivy Certified Consultant, please click on the corresponding link below. 


Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1991). The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44(1), 1–26.

Clark, L. A., Karau, S. J., & Michalisin, M. D. (2012). Telecommuting Attitudes and the ‘Big Five’ Personality Dimensions. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 13(3), 31-46. Retrieved from

Cuncic, A. (2020, November 18). What High Functioning Anxiety Feels Like. Retrieved from

Horn, J., Nelson, C., & Brannick, M. (2004). Integrity, Conscientiousness, And Honesty. Psychological Reports, 95(5), 27. doi:10.2466/pr0.95.5.27-38

Jarrett, C. (2020, June 2). The personalities that benefit most from remote work. Retrieved from

Judge, T. A., & Bono, J. E. (2000). Five-factor model of personality and transformational leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(5), 751–765.

Judge, T. A., Erez, A., Bono, J. E., & Thoresen, C. J. (2002). Are measures of self-esteem, neuroticism, locus of control, and generalized self-efficacy indicators of a common core construct? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(3), 693-710.

Leigh Anne Clark, Steven J. Karau, Michael D. Michalisin, (2012) “Telecommuting Attitudes and the ‘Big Five’ Personality Dimensions,” Journal of Management Policy and Practice, Vol. 13, Iss. 3, pp.31 – 46

Lim, A. (2020). The big five personality traits. Simply Psychology. Link

Luse, A., Mcelroy, J. C., Townsend, A. M., & Demarie, S. (2013). Personality and cognitive style as predictors of preference for working in virtual teams. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1825-1832.

MacRae, I., & Sawatzky, R. (2020). Remote Working: Personality and Performance Research Results.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (2008). The five-factor theory of personality. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 159–181). The Guilford Press.

Nießen, D., Danner, D., Spengler, M., & Lechner, C. M. (2020). Big Five Personality Traits Predict Successful Transitions From School to Vocational Education and Training: A Large-Scale Study.

Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.

Swart, W., & Siguaw, J. (2020). The Transformational Impact of Intense Virtual Teamwork Experiences on Team Member Psychometrics: An Exploratory Study.

Wilmot, M. P., & Ones, D. S. (2019). A century of research on conscientiousness at work.

YEC. (2018, February 06). Council Post: 10 Traits To Look For When Hiring A Remote Employee. Forbes. Link

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