This article comes from Entrepreneur.
I’m a textbook extrovert, and I’m also the founder and CEO of my company, Hint Water. But no matter your personality, there’s a good chance that you work with introverts. If you’re a CEO or manager, you likely have some reporting to you. I don’t want to surround myself with only people who operate the way I do, because diverse minds make better decisions. It helps me avoid groupthink and blind spots.
This means that I had to consciously create a workplace that helps introverts feel supported and validated, so they can truly shine. From tweaking your office’s physical space to re-thinking how you run meetings, here’s how to make sure all your employees feel comfortable enough to bring their best to the table.
About 70 percent of workplaces use an open office plan, according to the International Management Facility Association. Sure, this saves money on real estate, but employees, especially introverts, hate it. A study by Harvard researchers found that open office layouts cut employees’ face-to-face conversations at these companies by 73 percent and increased email and instant message by 67 percent. Another study in Frontiers in Psychology showed that working in an open-plan office kills privacy and intensifies the perception of intrusion among employees. Employees without a sense of privacy had lower job satisfaction, work engagement and were more likely to call in sick.
If you’re running a small company, you may not have the luxury of choosing the layout for your office, but you can make sure there are conference rooms or phone rooms that employees can duck into whenever they need a moment to themselves. Or, you can invest in pop-up “booths” from companies like Zenbooth or Talkbox.
Consider introverted personalities when you’re planning company events, like happy hours and team-building. A lot of introverts get extremely anxious in a cocktail party setting. But on the flip side, getting to know their co-workers better can reduce their overall anxiety. So, what’s the best way to strike a balance and make sure everyone has a good time?
I plan company outings to center around an activity, such as bowling, pottery making or wine tasting. (Keep in mind that some events, like trivia nights and escape rooms, may prioritize extroverts.) By providing structure to company events, I find that employees who find small talk and networking to be draining don’t feel left out. When you do host happy hours or less structured gatherings, consider letting employees bring a plus-one, whether it’s a spouse or a roommate or an industry colleague. This may make them more at ease and sociable in a setting that might otherwise not be their speed.
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