Introverts can easily be misunderstood. They are often thought of as shy and unsociable people, when in fact, the opposite is sometimes the case. Just like anyone else, they love to spend time with friends and family they just need some alone time as well.
They are usually people that think very deeply about any issues they have to deal with and there have been some very famous introverts who have achieved world renown. Bill Gates is just one example of an introvert who has made a difference to the world we live in as did Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, both of which were also introverts.
They tend to prefer to work alone and usually have impressive powers of concentration and problem solving, and they often make excellent leaders. This can make them brilliant employees, as long as they have the space for the peace and quiet they need.
Distractions, the feeling of being watched and having no breathing space can all be experienced by an introvert having to work in an open plan office. To them, it can seem they are in a goldfish bowl, with no privacy at all.
Any type of work environment, offices included, will be made up of people with different characteristics and traits. There is a trend for open office spaces though, and this can make life very uncomfortable for an introvert.
An office needs to be able to accommodate all types of workers, including creating a space for introverts. It is estimated that one-third of people are introverts, and that could be a significant portion of your employees.
Open Plan With A Difference
The idea of open plan offices originated with a team of designers in Germany in the 1950’s. Their aim was to increase the flow of ideas and communication with the workforce, but more recent studies have shown that this is not always the case. These sorts of setups can be bad for some people as they have to face interactions and distractions that are not always welcome.
Somewhere in the region of 70% of offices in the US are open plan. It is possible still to achieve a balance of work atmosphere and privacy though with some creativity in the design. Partitioning, whether it is permanent or moveable, can give the open plan office spaces where people can work on their own without distractions or interruptions. Alternately, a quiet room or two where introverts can retreat from the main office could be the answer.
This results in them not feeling as though everyone is watching them if they need to ask for help and advice, which is something they are far more likely to do in private. Rumors and innuendo do not take long to spread in an open plan office where everyone can hear what is being said. That simple question you might ask the person next to you can seem a nightmare for an introvert, whereas an extrovert may excel in this situation.
It is also worth considering the solution that employees do not have their own desk and chair, but are able to work where it suits them best for the task in hand. In most office these days, workers are using laptops, which they can easily take into a quiet corner if they want to. This allows employees to decide where they will sit and some companies use desk booking software to make this possible.
Be Aware From The Planning Stages
If you are thinking of looking at land for sale and building new offices, be aware at the planning stages that you need to make it suitable for all types of workers. As well as introverts, you will have extroverts among your workforce and people that are somewhere between the two.
The most productive workforce is a happy workforce, and if you are starting from scratch with your new office you have the ideal opportunity to create the right atmosphere for them all.
Multiple Communication Channels
Not everyone is good at communicating face to face. However, that does not mean they are not good at their job and given some other way to communicate they may do it very well. Verbal discussions and brainstorming sessions can be very useful but it is also important to provide different channels of communication for all employees.
Introverts usually like to consider their responses rather than be put on the spot, where extroverts will be happy to be spontaneous with their contributions. Each has their advantages and you need to make sure that there are ways for them both to communicate effectively.
Flexible Working Arrangements
The technology available now allows for more workplace flexibility than ever before. It is simple for people to work remotely from a location that is distraction free, and this is just one of the reasons it is becoming more popular to work from home.
Being flexible with the working hours can be very useful as well, for all types of characters. If they want to be there in the hustle and bustle of a busy office atmosphere, they can be. However, if they want to start a few hours earlier when there are fewer people round they would have that option as well.
With flexible working hours, you are giving your employees choice, and that is something that is always appreciated. It also can result in fewer lost man-hours. If they have, for instance, a dental appointment part way through the day, flexible hours allows them to attend that and make the time up either early morning or by staying a bit later in the evening.
Suitable For All
It is not always easy to ensure that your office is suitable for all types of people, and some of the solution lies with the staff themselves. If they know that a person is an introvert, they should not put them in uncomfortable situations or embarrass them. One study has shown that an office made up of introverts and extroverts is the perfect mix, as the two totally different types of workers can complement each others working practices, provided they are both allowed the space to do so.