Done are the nine-to-five workdays. Finished is the reign of the private office. Today, with the massive onslaught of technology and hyper-connectivity between businesses and their people, office culture is changing without a break. While modern office features such as open desk plans and collaborative, discussion-based layouts are great for socializing at work--a feature that rarely existed before outside the company break room--they can actually be causing the introverts on your team to withdraw and disengage from their work, and from the companies that employ them.
In a study conducted by British business psychology firm OPP, it was revealed that extroverts are currently much happier at work than introverts. In an effort to understand how exactly personality plays into satisfaction at the office, participants were analyzed based on a determined, tested personality type and their respective reactions to their work circumstances.
Unsurprisingly, it was discovered that elimination of the more private, solitary office plan consistently led to a much lower level of satisfaction in the office among introverts. In contrast, extroverts reported being even happier at the workplace in open office plans, seeing as how they were naturally able to co-exist with others in a productive space.
Simple changes, however, can actually aid in implementing an open-floor plan that works for both introverts and extroverts in the office. John Hackson, OPP's head of research, suggests affordable, low-effort forms of personalization within open office spaces. Says Hackson, "These include allowing staff more storage for personal items when hot-desking; creating smaller neighborhoods within open-plan offices; not overdoing clear desk policies as clearing away all personal items can be demotivating to some people, and providing quiet zones for people to work in when needed."
Allowing workers to infuse their workspaces with personality or their own creative touches can go a long way for them to feel comfortable and at home. It also brings introverts a greater sense of comfort than the exposed and foreign territory of the massive, shared desk.
While it can be difficult to be introverted in an inherently social setting, it might be beneficial to look at ways such an environment affects introverts--and what we can do to alleviate that. Your people--both introverts and extroverts--will thank you for it with their engagement and loyalty.