Introverts and Extroverts Working from Home
Escaping the hustle and bustle of the office to work from the privacy of
their own home must surely be a boon for introverts. They have, after all, prepared for this all their lives.
In fact, the notion that working in isolation is giving introverts the edge over extroverts may be an overgeneralization. For sure, introverts who live solo can concentrate on their work and no longer need to find excuses for not mingling with the crowd.
But introverts who are housebound with an extroverted partner 24/7 may find this particularly challenging, given that they likely have different needs when it comes to social interactions.
New patterns of work
The future of work is pointing to hybrid organizations , with many employees permanently working from home, while others will do a mix of both. For example, a recent Gartner CFO Survey reveals that 74 percent of organizations intend to shift some employees permanently to remote work . And Deutsche Bank's latest survey of about 450 financial services workers around the world found that 57 percent thought they'd work from home between one and three days a week once the lockdown has ended.
Hile Rutledge, President and Principal Consultant of organization development firm OKA, and author of numerous books on personality assessments, told us, "Sheltering in a place and working from home are highlighting the core differences between those of us who prefer extroversion and [those who prefer] introversion. Extroverts fret over their introverted partners' foot-dragging over a conversation or small social check-in, while introverts low boil over their extroverts' seemingly bottomless need to 'plug in'."
Rutledge reminds us that "introverts tend to feel that parallel play is binding." That is, "I can be here doing my work while you are right there doing your project, and even though we are not talking directly, we are 'together.'" Rutledge recommends that we "allow - and even invite - others to have space and quiet time from each other."
One strategy is to set up an agreed-upon time where each person sharing a cramped apartment can don their headphones and lose themselves in whatever they enjoy, whether reading a book, listening to a podcast, or taking a virtual tour of a museum. Both can look forward to their quiet time, while in the same room.
Virtual socializing when working from home
Office social activities are increasingly online too, with movie nights, virtual board games, recipe swaps, and "happy hours" to name a few. These can be a kind of a lifeline for extroverts who may be getting "cabin fever."
Some introverts have reported their anxiety levels at their lowest during lockdown. But the recent rise in invitations to participate in office social activities can be troublesome. The sharing of bucket lists in a Zoom party or a video peek into one another’s homes might be well-meaning fun, but can intrude into highly-valued routine and mental space, and cause a spike in anxiety. Yet declining only risks being judged as a less sociable team member.
Designing for both introverts and extroverts
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces , told us, "Organizations don't want to lose touch with their teams, and are concerned about relationships suffering and motivation dropping. However, what they need to realize is that introverts working at home crave quiet time where they can think and decompress . By adding another social 'to do' to the list they are actually having the opposite impact."
Introverts may be observant and reserved, but they are not anti-social. They value social connection as everybody else does, but they don’t like to overdo it.
Kahnweiler mentions one solution to consider. She said, "I heard about one global company that matched people up randomly for a phone call. They called it 'Mystery Caller.' Introverts liked it because it was low-key, they could do it on their own schedule, and it allowed for a deeper, one-on-one conversation."
Here are a few other suggestions to help working and socializing remotely be a pleasure for all:
Don't expect everyone's digital door to be open at all times. Making an appointment for a call can go a long way to help both extrovert and introvert colleagues better manage their schedule, especially when children are a part of their work environment, too.
Schedule enough breaks between online meetings so that people don’t feel overwhelmed and can recover from "Zoom fatigue."
Make it acceptable for people to turn off their camera during group video calls if they so wish.
Give people a reprieve from video calls altogether and make it known that it’s OK to use the old-fashioned telephone instead.
Make virtual fun or team building events a choice, not an obligation.
Make it ok for people to drop in and out of social events. For example, don’t pressure people to stay for the duration of the happy hour.
Making space to accommodate different preferences will go a long way to help all employees better operate in a digital world and to feel more understood and cared for in these challenging times.
-Courtesy of the Chartered Inst. Bankers UK-
Express Business Funding