Our recent post about the challenges that introverts face in the modern workplace--particularly, the trend toward open plan work spaces--garnered some interesting feedback and a few questions from readers.
One reader talked about the challenges he faces in his office, which features an open "bullpen" of desks for sales personnel, including executives. "As a self-admitted introvert," he said, "I find the area extremely fun and energetic, though very, very unproductive. What have you found to be a suitable balance?"
That's a great question. We have a similar open space in our Chicago office. I (Bill)--the introvert in my partnership with Karl--find it hard to work in this open space, so I usually retreat to a conference room to get work done. Understanding the potentially mixed message from a boss who "hides" in a conference room all day, I balance this in a couple of ways:
Needless to say, if I were designing an office space to fit my needs, it might be less open and have more private space. However, I think on balance our office meets the need of most of our team, with plenty of places to retreat to and plenty of open space. We have three meeting rooms, two full-sized offices and three "phone booth" desks, all with closing doors. Only on our most crowded days do we find we run out of space.
We asked our reader how he achieves balance. His response:
"At the office, I've similarly just accepted that I'll be less productive or retreat to the conference room when I need to put my head down and get 'thought required' work done. It often leads to somewhat longer days at the office, but such is life in the world of a younger company."
We also heard from Vanessa Piccinini of Dotted Line Communications, who guided us to a recent study on workplace "productivity killers"conducted by Ask.com and Harris Interactive.
Some key points from the online survey:
These are some interesting results, especially the last one. As the "bosses," we'll make a point of sitting next to each of our team members some point soon to identify the 38 percent--and find ways to make them more comfortable!