Introverts vs. Extroverts – Designing an office for different personalities
No two people are the same. We each possess a unique set of fingerprints and DNA. Our strengths and weaknesses are spread unevenly, allowing us to excel in some areas and struggle in others. Many workplaces seem to incorporate a ‘one size fits all’ approach; high spec but low-level productivity.
Our personalities are typically categorised by ‘introverts’ or ‘extroverts.’ Introverts account for 50% of the population, and yet more modern offices seem to accommodate for more extroverted personalities. By incorporating fully open-plan designs with little to no individual workstations, or private working spaces, you risk hindering half your workforces ability.
Tony Robbins’ larger-than-life personality has created him a multi-million dollar fortune. While thousands gather to see and learn from him, millions click and search for him online to be inspired and try desperately to tap into his persona and take on his charisma.
Modern workplaces encourage Robbins’ methods and approach and want their employees to be louder, faster and more prominent. To quote the great Alec Baldwin from the film Glengarry Glen Ross, “Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers.”
In Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, he compares a leader to a shepherd – “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they are being directed from behind.”
Some of our most prolific leaders, influencers and creative minds are introverts; Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, to name a few. A workplace that does not support these individuals, who account for approximately half your staff, can hugely affect their productivity output and your company’s success.
Companies are quick to recognise the achievements and support the working environment of the extroverted employees and may be slower to identify the work and results of the more introverted, reserved employees. But how can a company expect to reach 100% of their potential, if they aren’t catering for the other 50%?
Agile working is not to be confused with ‘flexible working’, and a workplace is not agile merely because they ‘hot-desk’. Agile working is a work culture unto itself, empowering the workforce and giving choice and control. More companies are introducing agile work styles to suit the entire workforce better.
Autonomous job roles are more beneficial to individuals, rather than having the micromanager nightmare that unfortunately still pervades many workplaces. It is essential to give employees responsibility and allow them a choice of how and where they work.
Introverts are often very self-motivated people. They work best under an agile environment because they usually thrive when given autonomy over their work. They can take pride in it and tackle it without restrictions.
Company’s like Microsoft, Google and BT implement this agile work style throughout their workplaces, and they have seen huge benefits from increased productivity, staff loyalty, and attracting new talent to their company.
Workplace designers should praise the evolution of over one hundred years of office design; from Frederick Taylor’s 1920s open-plan design, to Herman Miller and Robert Propst’s, Action Office. Modern workplace designers have learned that no one style or design works. Modern offices ought to be a culmination of innovative designs, old and new.
Many modern offices limit themselves by having big and small teams work together on communal work-benches without any choice of individual desks. Collaboration benches and breakout points have a massive impact on the work culture and employee well-being. But productivity can decrease if employees are not offered the choice to their own workstation. Individual workstations allow for uninterrupted, concentrated working, whereby staff can develop their work without added distractions that shared space can bring.
Meeting Rooms offer the workplace a necessary private environment for meeting and presenting to clients. But this private space is also an ideal area for solitary, focused working for any individual, allowing them to set themselves apart from others and work distraction-free.
Having this room limited only to clients and guests is a waste of space, and it should be made adaptable to the workspace and the employees’ needs.
A communal environment, with group workstations and tea points, is an excellent attribute to a workplace but tends to favour the more extroverted personality with its more interconnected, social atmosphere.
Make your meeting/boardrooms adapt to your needs by incorporating creative design solutions. Modular furniture and melamine tabletops with metal table supports, allows you to repurpose an area for when it isn’t in use.
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