Posted: 17 Apr. 2020 8 min. read

Business Chemistry: our differences revealed in the virtual world

At a time when our safety and wellbeing is the main topic of discussion amongst friends, family, colleagues and clients, the importance of working together has never been greater. The challenges posed by the global pandemic are vast and varied for companies and people, and have changed how we work and the nature of our interactions.

This got us thinking; how are the different Business Chemistry types responding to this new virtual world? So we asked our PioneersGuardiansDrivers and Integrators what they enjoy about working from home and what they find challenging.

Some responses were unanimous. When asked about the advantages of working from home, every type appreciated the additional time with family. They also valued having their ‘commuting’ time back, and having more control over how their time is spent in terms of workload and personal activities.

Unsurprising all types reported difficulties of juggling work and childcare, and having a less than ideal workspace at home. They also shared some level of emotional conflict when it came to balancing work life and home life, with boundaries between the two now blurred. And contrary to what you might think about Guardians, typically the most introverted Business Chemistry type, they reported missing face-to-face interactions of the office as much as anyone.

But how do the types differ when it comes to operating in a virtual world?

Pioneers were positive about losing a rigid daily structure, and enjoy working without constraints and at their own pace, rather than conforming to office rituals. Pioneers don’t need to be sat at a desk to take work calls; some found pacing up and down the garden a way to get rid of their fidgety Pioneer energy. Pioneers are very comfortable sharing their video on team calls, with babies and pets making casual and amusing appearances.

Pioneers dislike the lack of casual social interactions and the ability to bounce ideas off others which the office provides. They also struggle to focus on one task for an extended period of time which can make them feel restless and demotivated; they prefer a little more to be going on around them to stop them getting bored.

Guardians find working from home with less noise and fewer distractions from colleagues a breath of fresh air while they’re trying to work, particularly if they have a heavy workload which can cause more stress. Assuming they don’t have disruptions from family, quiet time helps Guardians to concentrate on individual tasks.

As Guardians value stability and structure they're more inclined to set up a formal, orderly and practical workspace at home, away from potential disruptions if possible. Guardians reported feeling overwhelmed by the increased communications and pressure to stay abreast of multiple channels. They also find days spent on video calls exhausting, and are more likely to shy away from being on video. More than the other types, they struggle with logging off at a reasonable time.

Drivers appreciate working in a virtual world. It allows them to achieve more in their day by avoiding interruptions and distractions. The virtual world plays to Drivers’ efficiency, as they use their additional time to complete all the tasks on their to-do list. They also like working to their own rules. They told us they relish not being confined by the office environment and being able to listen to the radio while they work if they so please.

However, our Driver respondents dislike the lack of visibility of their teams in a virtual world and can feel frustrated if they feel others might not be keeping on top of their tasks. Drivers also feel drained by what they view as an ‘excessive’ need for virtual check-ins; they deem these as unnecessary and time consuming.

Integrators recognise the benefits that working from home brings, in particular to their health and well-being. Many of them told us that they’re able to concentrate on improving their well-being by staying home; they are cooking healthier meals, exercising more, not rushing about as much, and getting more sunshine.

However, Integrators may be suffering most with the lack of casual exchanges that the office environment curates, noting that interactions are now dominated more or less solely about work. They enjoy collaborating with others and operating virtually makes this more challenging. They will feel the need for social check-ins and for general support from their team more than most.

Understanding what is likely to be driving or stalling your colleagues of different Business Chemistry types when operating virtually can help us to offer the right support to our team members. And remember, although some types are typically more comfortable with change and uncertainty than others, everyone is adapting so it’s important to stay connected.

In our next blog we will look at the value each Business Chemistry type can bring to their teams during these unprecedented times, and we'll explore what leaders can do to help each type thrive.

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Key contact

Jessica Dooley

Jessica Dooley

Senior Manager

Jessica founded and leads Deloitte’s Business Chemistry client practice for the UK and North South Europe member firms. A business behavioural tool designed to help teams communicate and collaborate better for greater success, Business Chemistry is a proprietary self-assessment tool used to support boards, executive, and senior leadership teams across the FTSE, private, and public sectors. She helps teams understand each other’s working styles; hold honest conversations; be better leaders of diverse teams; build plans for enhanced collaboration; team deliberately for a common purpose; and build trust quickly to achieve strategic and organisational goals. The book ‘Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Relationships – a guide to putting cognitive diversity to work’ was released in the US and UK in May 2018.