The ideal working pattern
The shift towards working from home was already happening before Covid. As Millennials joined the workforce, along with their expectations for more work/life balance, the 8 hour workday, followed by a 1 hour commute, didn’t appeal anymore.
Back in 2017, when YPulse marketing explored what Millennial employees really wanted out of work, flexibility was a recurring theme. 68% of 18-34-year-olds believed they would enjoy a job more if it allowed working from home/remotely.
Lockdown simply escalated this shift, forcing workplaces to close for what we all thought was a temporary fix, a few months at the most.
Fast forward to early 2021, and well into the third national lockdown, the initial gimmick of working from home has become a daily reality, with its own challenges (hello video calls), along with its own positives (goodbye commute).
Data from workspace consultants WK Space, found that 23% of UK workers would now prefer to only work from home. That’s almost a quarter of the workforce. And of that 23%, a staggering 97% have an introvert personality.
Managing introvert and extrovert workplace needs
For business leaders, managing a team of different personalities is part and parcel of the job, but remote working has really highlighted the vast contrast in working styles of the introvert and extrovert personality types. While extroverts need the social interaction that an office provides, working from home in quiet solitude is ideal for introverts.
Writer Jonathan Rauch, defines himself as an introvert, in his article for The Atlantic, he explained "Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.
Given these traits, it’s not difficult to understand why your introvert team members prefer to work from home, while your extroverts can’t wait to get back to office life.
A tempting solution might be to let the introverts continue to work from home, and welcome the extroverts back into the office, everyone wins right? But as Gay Gaddis warns in her Forbes article, extrovert-only offices are a recipe for disaster:
If introverts stay at home, we’re going to see rooms full of extroverts feeding off of each other, each one with absolute confidence their idea is best. Meanwhile, introverts will be on the conference line (if invited to the meeting at all), struggling to get a word in edgewise. This is problematic, since introverts play a valuable role in grounding teams and forcing them to look at ideas from many different points of view. They provide a critical balance of thought by finding the weaknesses in ideas that excited extroverts may overlook. But when introverts aren’t physically in the room, team dynamics could take a quick turn
Given the importance of a diverse range of personalities in your team, nurturing both extrovert and introvert personalities in your office to meet their highest potential, is an important part of a business leader’s role.
The Solution: Hybrid Working
Hybrid working is in essence, the best of both worlds. The freedom to work both when and where you choose. A mix of work from days along with office days, results in a fair compromise for both personality types that also works for your business. Granting this independence to your employees of course entails a new level of trust, and that can be tricky to navigate.
WK Space suggest taking a very practical approach to ‘establish a formal framework with no room for interpretation.’
Physical presence might be needed in the office for project kick-offs, strategy sessions and team building. But for tasks that require more focused concentration, working from home is more ideal.
“We try to use home working days less for video sessions and more for the tasks that require concentration. A task that may take several hours in the office may be completed in just an hour or two at home,” says Baruch Silverman, founder of personal finance website The Smart Investor.
The Hybrid office design
To really embrace Hybrid working, you need to go beyond a flexible schedule and look at your office design. To get the best both from personality traits, your office design must be hybrid too.
For introverts, if they really must be in the office, you can make areas that play to their strengths of focused concentration and deep thought, private areas, pods, longer breaks to recharge and quiet zones would all be beneficial. Likewise, for extroverts, social spaces, mixing teams, facilitating conversation and group work is how they shine.
Choose Zentura for your office design
It’s unlikely that in the future, we will go back to offices packed full of desks, or trains crammed full of people on the same rush-hour commute.
Practically, the footfall to your office is day is going to be much less than before Covid. This reduction in your daily office traffic also means your floorspace requirements shrink.
You might choose to repurpose your existing floorspace, or perhaps you will downsize to a smaller space. Either way, make sure that your new hybrid office offers a productive, thoughtful and intelligent design that works for all personalities!
Get in touch to find out how Zentura can design your ideal hybrid office.