The term introvert refers to a person who processes information internally. Unlike their more boisterous and outgoing counterparts, the extroverts, introverts prefer more direct forms of communication and social interaction. Though often seen as aloof and less social, introverts are actually quite the opposite. As originally reported by USA Today, several studies have shown that introverts are excellent team players, known for their great communication and listening skills. Author Susan Cain would seem to agree. In her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” Cain argues that introverts are deeply misunderstood and that their abilities make them excellent leaders.
However, to truly maximize the potential of any true introvert, these individuals have to have a workspace that accommodates their specific needs. Though they’re not substantial shifts, and many components are already trends in current office design, they create a sense of comfort and independence that all introverts crave.
Introverts really are a study in dichotomy. Though they work eagerly on their own, often preferring the solitude, they also enjoy forging deep-seated personal bonds with co-workers. As such, desks that are portable are a great option to properly meet both needs. These desks allow the introverted access to whatever part of the office they may need at a moment’s notice. If they’re in need of solitude while compiling a report, they can roll off to a corner or near a scenic window. Then, when it’s time to discuss a new project with a colleague, they can roll their desk over to theirs. That last bit is especially vital, as introverts are often at their most effective when in their comfort zone.
Portable workspaces also approach several of the concerns that Cain has with open office plans. Speaking to Fast Company, she said that while open spaces can be effective, they’re often far too crammed with desks and equipment. It’s this clutter that can be detrimental to workers’ efficiency and creativity.
Quiet Rooms and Meeting Pods
If there’s one thing all introverted workers value most, it’s peace and quiet. Many need time away from the hustle and bustle of standard office life to recharge or contemplate their next move. Allowing them the chance to go off alone will create a sense of support and show that management is invested in their long-term well-being.
There are two core options an office manager can choose when trying to create these “bubbles” for introverted workers:
- Quiet rooms – These are essentially rooms that accommodate one person at a time. It’s best if they’re centrally located to bolster access to everyone in a given office. Sound-proofing is an option, though if that’s not possible, simply mandating a “no talking, no cell phone” rule will reduce noise pollution for those outside the quiet room. And though this is meant to be a space for quiet reflection, it’s best to maintain a set time limit as to not interfere with work schedules.
- Meeting pods – Meeting with too many people at a time can prove overwhelming to some introverts. To prevent this, meeting pods are a great alternative: They offer more privacy and less ambient noise than people meeting at desks but limit the number of people per meeting, which can alleviate any accompanying anxiety. Designs for these pods can range from standalone rooms to sofas with high walls; either way, intimacy, and privacy are the focus.
It’s important to work alongside a space planning expert to create these areas as organically as possible and without interfering with the remaining office.
Promote Hard Work
As a rule, introverts enjoy praise. They don’t necessarily need the validation but do enjoy seeing that their work is appreciated and developing per management’s expectations. So, give them this praise by physically displaying it. That could be an employee-of-the-month plaque or maybe a board that displays some sort of monthly report of various worker commendations. These additions should be featured in a highly public area, maybe near the elevators or in a break room, as office-wide access will help drive home the sheer importance.
Introverts also like to receive written communication, as it helps ensure clarity and the division of labor. The boards chronicling successes might also be accompanied by boards that share certain office updates or other bits of pertinent information.