Tips for being a happy and satisfied web worker

We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and while it’s important for everyone to know what they are, it is especially critical for people who work mostly online. As Jessica noted, many employee evaluation techniques have limitations, and web workers are less likely than more traditional employees to get career help. So it’s important to be proactive and figure out for yourself how your strengths and weaknesses drive your web working preferences. You can improve your job satisfaction and make you happier in your work by finding projects and jobs that play to your strengths and preferences.

Think about the following questions in relation to past jobs that you loved or hated. They will help you figure out what kind of projects you really want to work on now.

  1. Teamwork. Do you prefer to work as part of a team where you can collaborate closely with other people on regular basis? Or are you happiest when people leave you alone and you can just get things done with minimal interaction? If you prefer to work alone and you end up in a job where you have to work very closely with other people, the chances of being happy are slim. Likewise, if you want to work as part of a team, you will likely feel alone, isolated and unhappy on solo projects. Finding a project or job that matches your team style can make a big difference in your job satisfaction.
  2. Leadership. Are you happiest when leading a team of people on a project, where you can be in the driver’s seat? Or would you rather stay out of the limelight and work in the background? Just because you want to be in a leadership position doesn’t mean you can jump right into one right away, but you can look for opportunities to lead smaller portions of a project, to prove your leadership capabilities and set yourself up to move into leadership. On the other hand, if you aren’t happy leading, don’t get suckered into taking a lead job, even if it comes with a little more money. If you hate your job, a few extra dollars a month probably won’t make up for it.
  3. Innovation. Do you like to come up with ideas that are revolutionary and new? Or do you prefer to take an evolutionary approach to make existing ideas and projects better? If you enjoy the latter, then you should be careful not to get into positions where you are responsible for coming up with groundbreaking ideas. It can also be a good idea to pair up with team members of the other type so that people are coming up with new ideas and others are working to make them better over time.
  4. Employment. Do you crave stability and the benefits that come with being a full-time employee? Or are you happiest when you are working as an independent consultant with flexibility and the ability to control your work? There are many advantages and disadvantages of both, so it helps to know what you prefer.
  5. Technology. Do you have specific technologies that you can’t live without? Or do you use whatever your employer or client prefers? If you are a diehard Apple (s aapl) fan, the chances of being happy in a job where you have to use a Windows (s msft) laptop and BlackBerry (s rim) phone are slim. Some companies run on email while others use more collaborative technologies, so make sure you ask about technology usage if you have any strong preferences.

A few other things that are important to keep in mind:

  • Is the project interesting to you?
  • Do you get to work with people whom you want to spend time with?
  • Do you like working for your manager or client?

Finding a project or job that plays into your preferences can mean the difference between a miserable experience and a happy one. Think about how you really want to work, then work toward a position that matches your preferences and makes you enjoy your work.

How do you stay happy on the job?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Lars Plougmann.