A conversation is percolating throughout offices across the country. It is not about productivity, profitability or even collaboration – though it is indirectly about all of these things. The conversation taking place is about the biggest, most costly part of your expense sheet: your staff. It is a conversation about personalities, how they work together and, most importantly, what happens when they don’t.
Now more than ever, businesses are trying to appeal to both introverts and extroverts in ways that will play to their unique strengths while mitigating their weaknesses. How can employers help? Though it seems like a simple fix, the design of an office layout can create a more productive and collaborative work space for both introverted and extroverted employees. Through strategic office space planning, you can increase productivity and meet the disparate needs of your staff.
Understanding the Differences Between Extroverts and Introverts
In order to design an office layout that appeals to the energetic and collaborative nature of extroverts, it helps to first understand the differences between these individuals and their introverted counterparts.
On the surface, extroverts are often portrayed as loud and vivacious; they can be viewed as poor listeners or excellent public speakers. Introverts, on the other hand, are seen as quiet and shy individuals who can be typecast as anti-social loners. While this is sometimes the case for both of these groups, there are layers of nuance that make such generalizations overly simple. Falling for these misconceptions can set up people for failure in the office.
Rather than thinking about personalities in terms of how they interact with their world, it may be more beneficial to think about how they recharge their batteries. Extroverts tend to thrive when bouncing ideas off peers and working in a team. They excel when they are surrounded by buzz and feed off a frenetic energy in the office. As a whole, extroverts are revitalized when they can tap into the shared energy of their peers.
Introverts are energized when they have alone time to regroup and reflect. They tend to come up with their best ideas when working alone, rather than when brainstorming with colleagues. Unlike extroverts, they can feel distracted when others are chatting or swapping ideas all around them.
Office Layout For Extroverts
In order to capture the passion and excitement that extroverts can bring to the office, it is important to offer different ways for them to connect. Here are several inexpensive things you can do to encourage collaboration in your office:
- Centrally locate meetings rooms and collaborative spaces to make collaboration front and center of the office.
- Offer a scattering of small breakout spaces with couches and chairs – rather than conference tables – to allow smaller teams to work together in spaces that aren’t so formal.
- Focus on acoustics in the office. Sound masking, or the use of “white noise” to reduce distraction, can buffer unwanted noises that may act as a distraction to both introverts and extroverts. A little noise to allow for a vibrant “hum” is a good thing; a low roar in the office is not.
- Create social spaces for serendipitous conversation. Create your own “water cooler” areas in the office as a way for extroverts to gather and converse in a slightly social setting. These conversations may lead to unexpected breakthroughs that will drive creativity in the office in a way a conference room cannot.
Office Layout For Introverts
To give your introverted employees space to do their best work, think focus. Here are several ways to arrange your office space for the introverts on staff.
- Offer “quiet spaces” – rooms, prefabricated or traditional, that can be reserved for employees that prefer to work in silence.
- Allow introverted employees to work remotely.
- Give introverts spaces to collaborate with colleagues one-on-one. A quiet corner with a couple of armchairs – or a two-person desk in a designated space – can do the trick.
- Whichever design method you employ, diverse spaces that can accommodate different working styles are the way to go.
Our Design Professionals Offer Solutions for Offices of All Sizes
How can managers utilize office space planning to achieve a productive work place when it’s hard to please everyone? We recommend you try a multi-functional approach with different zones for different kinds of work. This will allow you to have a semi-open office without sacrificing productivity.
Weaving together seemingly disparate office needs through compelling design is a specialty of Office Designs. We provide complementary design services, to help integrate the full needs of any office. Sign up for a free consultation today!
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