A-Z of the future workplace:

Quiet

The modern-day workplace is designed with the extrovert in mind, but with between one third to half of the population introverts, it raises the very important question; how can we design offices to suit all employees?

 

Carl Jung, who came up with the theory between introverts, extroverts and ambiverts, believes that what appears to be random behavior is really the result of differences in the way people prefer to use their mental capacities. Whilst many believe introverts to be shy and quiet, they are instead more stimulated and switched on in quieter environments.

What’s the difference between introverts and extroverts?

Introverts, people whose interests are generally directed inward towards their own feelings and thoughts, find the typical open plan office layout challenging. These types of offices will have constant noise and distractions, with nowhere for introverts to get away and get their heads down. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to be outgoing, responsive to other people, and can make quick decisions.

Designing for different personalities

For many extroverts, group discussions and working in teams collaboratively are when they generate their best ideas, but for introverts, they need quite the opposite setting to get ideas flowing. Whilst furniture can’t redefine your job or the tasks that work involves, it can support you and create a better place for you to work. For this reason, introverts working in an agile environment may prefer to work in quiet areas such as private booths, acoustic pods or private working settings.

Whilst it may seem that the open plan office is the perfect solution for an extrovert, they also need different work settings to fully stimulate them. Scribble walls are a great informal space for extroverts to voice their opinions and get them down for everyone to see. They may also enjoy sitting in a kitchen / café environment, or at collaborative desks, thriving off the busy buzz of office life.

Can extroverts and introverts work together?

All of this, however, doesn’t mean that introverts and extroverts shouldn’t collaborate. Over the years there have been many worthwhile partnerships, made brilliant due to the different ways they approach a task. A great example of this is Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the creators of Apple. Wozniak, an introvert, came up with the idea for the first Apple computer, but nothing came of it until his extroverted friend, Steve Jobs, stepped in to help bring this dream to life.

A common misconception of introverts in the workplace is that they can’t be managers or leaders, where this is quite the opposite. An introvert manager will listen and consider your point of view in a discussion before putting their own thoughts across, their subdued nature makes employees feel more comfortable speaking up in meetings. Extrovert managers can use their outgoing nature to encourage employees to put ideas forward and collaborate effectively, even when it may feel unnatural to.

So, what’s the answer?

Companies should be encouraging casual, chatty interaction within different work settings, offering employees the freedom and privacy to work in the best way for them. Introverts shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be alone, nor should extroverts for wanting their voice to be heard.

If you would like to hear more about how we design and plan offices around introverted and extroverted personalities, get in touch today.