August 24, 2012

"Allow for a mix of introverted and extroverted spaces when shaping an office space."

"It is important to have areas where employees can interact and communicate. It is equally important however to have space where employees can be alone and work undisturbed...."
Creating open office spaces does not allow for areas for introverts to work alone and really center themselves for the day. Work days are now so often characterized by group collaboration and meeting that some employees can often feel overwhelmed with all the interaction.
I felt overwhelmed just reading that last sentence.

***

Dialogue at Meadhouse: "I'm taking a quiz about whether I'm an introvert or an extrovert. Leave me alone."

61 comments:

EMD said...

In advertising, I have the luxury of being able to leave the building whenever I need to work on ideation — either by myself or with a partner.

Sorun said...

And there needs to be a mechanism that prevents the extroverts from walking the halls looking for introverts to bother.

Shouting Thomas said...

Why in the hell do we even go to the office any more?

It's unnecessay, except when you need to attend a meeting.

Some of my consulting clients understand this. Some just seem to have a deep need to keep their people under management's thumb.

The quick solution to all those millions of people driving their cars into cities and guzzling billions of gallons of gas is setting them up with a networked computer at home. The technology is quite mature.

I don't understand why environmentalists haven't seized this as their #1 priority. Most of the desk jockeys commuting into the city don't really have to be in their office in the skyscraper.

Methadras said...

I'm in product development, so I need 'alone' time to think on problems and how to solve them. It's nice to work undisturbed for long stretches and thankfully I work at a place that allows for that. The perks are quite nice. Not Google nice, but honestly, I'm amazed they exist at this point.

Brian said...
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Methadras said...
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Methadras said...
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TosaGuy said...

"I don't understand why environmentalists haven't seized this as their #1 priority. Most of the desk jockeys commuting into the city don't really have to be in their office in the skyscraper."

Because most who claim to be enviros like to have lunch at downtown restaurants. No office towers, no lunch scene.

Snark aside, ponder the incredible economic shifts if everyone got to telecommute. Like any change, some would be beneficial and some detrimental.

Methadras said...

TosaGuy said...

"I don't understand why environmentalists haven't seized this as their #1 priority. Most of the desk jockeys commuting into the city don't really have to be in their office in the skyscraper."

Because most who claim to be enviros like to have lunch at downtown restaurants. No office towers, no lunch scene.

Snark aside, ponder the incredible economic shifts if everyone got to telecommute. Like any change, some would be beneficial and some detrimental.


That requires a serious mental shift in attitudes by management. I've worked at companies that allow for telecommuting if you so desire and I've worked at companies that shun the mere idea of if. Even though both companies are technologically advanced and capable of it. Also, I'd like to see the standard 5/8 work week get shifted to a 4/10. Think of what you can get done with an extra day instead of cramming everything into the weekend. Plus being able to on a Friday or even a rotating off day, to go and take care of errands and business that you normally can't during a 9 to 5.

Also, one of the perks in my company is that it's dog friendly. You can bring in your dogs with you, but there are rules. But it's still cool.

TosaGuy said...

"Also, I'd like to see the standard 5/8 work week get shifted to a 4/10. Think of what you can get done with an extra day instead of cramming everything into the weekend. Plus being able to on a Friday or even a rotating off day, to go and take care of errands and business that you normally can't during a 9 to 5."

I loved that concept, except when I worked in a job that applied it, it was pretty easy for the boss to make you come in on friday. I got overtime, but pretty much spent the weekend recovering from the week.

Freeman Hunt said...

Don't regular office spaces already offer this?

Open door = you can talk to me
Closed door = if you come in here, it had better be really important

Hooray. Now people can just move into less modern, less expensive office buildings.

ndspinelli said...

Read a great book for introverts and extroverts called The Intovert Advantage. I took the quiz and I am an uber introvert. Another good book is Quiet, but that's more just for extroverts. This topic is exploding. It's an extroverts world and we introverts are the minority. We are looked upon as needing to be fixed by nanny introverts. You both should take the quiz. My bride is ambidextruous

ndspinelli said...

Both books available on AMAZON. Quiet was on the NYT bestsellers list for weeks earlier this year.

The Crack Emcee said...

Work days are now so often characterized by group collaboration and meeting that some employees can often feel overwhelmed with all the interaction.

Sigh. I wish you would label these posts CRACK IS RIGHT so I wouldn't have to point it out.

Another one was that Taranto post you featured yesterday - you know, about his column that said Leftists are Gnostics? Kind of fits with my blog's motto, no?

"America is fighting a belief system:

Defeat the Left and they'll be back.

Defeat NewAge and we're done with them!"

Would it have more power for you if I wrote:

Taranto agrees with me - what say you now?

Shanna said...

Freemen, you are assuming everyone has an office with a door. (or their own office, or that management doesn't freak out if the door is shut!)

Like any change, some would be beneficial and some detrimental.

I think I would enjoy working at home a few days a week, but if I did it every day I would go completely stir crazy. Some people need interaction with others.

ndspinelli said...

Shouting Thomas, I agree w/ much of what you say. And, based on that I think you're maybe an introvert. I had a home office for 25 years. However, extroverts need the constant interaction to re-supply their energy. Introverts re-supply their energy by solitude. They have to expend energy to socialize, particularly w/ people they don't know. Intoverts hate cocktail parties, extroverts flourish @ them There's no reward w/ introverts for socializing just for socializing sake, it just depletes their energy. For extroverts, it's a big reward to just "chat." Larry David is an uber introvert. He hates the "stop and chat." Although the distinct minority[~25%], introverts make up 60% of students considered gifted. Introverts need a different setting than public school cookie cutter. However, like southpaws in this northpaw world, we adapt or perish. Most gifted classrooms honor the needs of introverts because there they are the majority.


Oso Negro said...

Of the losses to public space in my lifetime, one I particularly miss is the phone booth. With everyone packing a cell phone these days, why architects haven't included phone booths is a mystery to me. Small, efficient and soundproof. No need to even install a phone these days! We don't all need to be part of everyone else's conversation.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I've always wondered why (and when) "extravert" turned into "extrovert." The former makes etymological sense, and the latter doesn't, but I've seen "extravert" only in writings from the earlier part of the last century.

FleetUSA said...

"Team" meetings need to be carefully planned and limited in time and numbers to be really productive. Endless meetings without clear objectives and organization result in chaos. Of course, there needs to be time for brainstorming - but tell the participants a day or more in advance what the subject will be and be prepared to brainstorm all alternatives. Then someone needs to be in control of the meeting and timing.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Anyway, "introvert" for me. I'm with Florence King, who never could understand why solitary confinement was considered an especially nasty punishment.

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm an introvert sometimes, and I'm an extrovert sometimes. After all, I am a performing musician.

A lot of my work is programming in a variety of languages. The other half is design and conceptualization.

Programming is a solitary skill. When my brain locks, picking up a guitar and playing for a while really helps to unlock and find a solution. You can't do that in an office.

The design and conceptualizaion parts are social and often require extended meetings.

rhhardin said...

Sometimes when I'm working the dog comes in to indicate she's bored.

Then we go out and frolic and take some pictures, which is enough for her, and I've had a break.

Should I redesign the office for this.

edutcher said...

The one work day I always loved when I was at the IRS was the Friday after Thanksgiving. We always had to have a quorum there and it meant skeleton staff. No managers, no supervisors, and you could actually get some work done.

Loved it!

Shouting Thomas said...

Why in the hell do we even go to the office any more?

Good point; with modern telecommunications, the office building is a white elephant.

Freeman Hunt said...

Don't regular office spaces already offer this?

Open door = you can talk to me
Closed door = if you come in here, it had better be really important


You've never worked in a place where it's all cubes, all the time.

Roger J. said...

Check out the Myer-Briggs (or Keirsey Temperament) personality inventories--they use Introvert and extravert.

rehajm said...

It is equally important however to have space where employees can be alone and work undisturbed...

Translation: Nap room!

ndspinelli said...

Oso, Intoverts hate noise and distration, it's a hard wired thing. I can't talk on a phone w/ noise around me.

ST, Introverts socialize well w/ people they love. And, they socialize well w/ stangers if engaged in something that interests them.

ndspinelli said...

A fascinating part of the Introverts Advantage is relating back to your nuclear family. It gave me great perspective. My fam was 6 people. Myself and my old man are uber introverts. I had a sister who was ambidextruous. The other 3 uber extroverts.

ndspinelli said...

Take the quiz @ the link, it's fun and quite edifying. See where you score and see if it comports w/ your self image. You have to be brutally honest to get an accurate score!

Dante said...

I worked at a company that was experimenting with what they thought would be the next thing since cubicles (i.e., how to push more people into tinier and tinier spaces without impacting productivity).

In some ways, I don't mind the design, but the open floor plan meant anyone could see your access to the bathroom from their cube. I don't know, but the thought of people thinking "OK, the guy has been in there for five minutes now, he is taking a crap," from some female stranger bothers me a bit.

caplight45 said...

I am an off the chart extrovert and I am highly distractable. I get depressed if I am deprived of social interaction for any length of time.

I wonder what effect open classrooms have had on several generations of school children and teens.

wyo sis said...

As about an 80% introvert I still find I need the energy and structure of a workplace to help me shape my ideas. It's too easy to get wrapped up in small details and lose the big picture. You need to be able to sense the dynamics so you can respond appropriately.
Of course a school setting isn't going to provide much alone time. I might feel differently in a more corporate atmosphere.

Ann Althouse said...

"I've always wondered why (and when) "extravert" turned into "extrovert." The former makes etymological sense, and the latter doesn't, but I've seen "extravert" only in writings from the earlier part of the last century."

"Extroversion" and "extraversion" as a psychological term both go back to about 1915. From the OED:

"1915 Jung in Jrnl. Abnormal Psychol. IX. 396, I called the hysterical type the extraversion type and the psychasthénic type the introversion type."

"1918 P. Blanchard in Amer. Jrnl. Psychol. Apr. 163 Jung's hypothesis of the two psychological types, the introvert and extrovert,—the thinking type and the feeling type."

So it looks like Jung spelled it with the "a." The word "extraversion," meaning " A turning out; a rendering manifest," goes back to 1675. Then within 3 years, the "o" form emerged making it more like "introversion."

Introversion, meaning "The action of turning the thoughts inwards, i.e. to one's own mind or soul, or to the contemplation of inward or spiritual things" goes back to the 17th century.

Hagar said...

Odd that none of the comments above mentions the need for employees may need to learn from each other.

In engineering drafting it has become a real problem as the world have shifted from drafting tables in an open floorplan to being isolated in a cubicle, or indeed a separate office, staring at a computer.

Freeman Hunt said...

Freemen, you are assuming everyone has an office with a door. (or their own office, or that management doesn't freak out if the door is shut!)

No, just that they should. A lot of pre-cube, old buildings have offices with doors.

When I worked, I almost always had my door open. Near the end of a major project, I might go a few days with the door shut but the blinds open. That meant, "See me? Really busy. Don't come in unless you must." On one or two occasions I had both the door and blinds shut. That meant, "STAY OUT."

traditionalguy said...

We need each other The extroverts keep people happy and sociable creating strength in the group while the introverts are figuring out what the group really needs to learn.

But both can be trained in the other's natural arts so that the introverts with real answers can communicate them with a smile for the group while the extroverts can study sciences to perfect the presentations they so beautifully make.

The golden mean is the goal.

Sorun said...

It would be convenient if people wore a pin indicating 'I' or 'E'.

jimbino said...

If you want to discriminate against extroverts in the office, get rid of the coffee machine.

If you want to harm non-believers in the hospital, hang crucifixes in the rooms.

If you want to discriminate against our Blacks and Browns, put the national parks and forests in the West.

If you want to ruin conversation, give discounts to kids in restaurants.

Shana said...

My husband's former company had everyone color-coded by temperament, and they had to waer their colors on their hard hats. Supposedly that way you knew what you were dealing with. I need to ask him what the color for crazy train was.

ndspinelli said...

Althouse has the uncanny ability to take an interesting topic and make it tedious.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Prof. Althouse,


So it looks like Jung spelled it with the "a." The word "extraversion," meaning " A turning out; a rendering manifest," goes back to 1675. Then within 3 years, the "o" form emerged making it more like "introversion."


Are you sure you have this right? "Extraversion" dates to 1675, and "extroversion" to 1678? Or do you mean that the modern career of "extraversion" can be dated from Jung's using it in 1915, and "extroversion" from three years later than that?

Eric said...

I'm in product development, so I need 'alone' time to think on problems and how to solve them. It's nice to work undisturbed for long stretches and thankfully I work at a place that allows for that. The perks are quite nice. Not Google nice, but honestly, I'm amazed they exist at this point.

I'm a software developer and would love to have the same environment. But I work at a very large company with a one-size-fits-all-you-will-work-in-a-cube-farm-and-like-it policy. I suppose it could be worse - I could be stuck on one of those ridiculous "open" offices and accomplish nothing.

Eric said...

Don't regular office spaces already offer this?

Sure, if you work somewhere with actual offices. Where I work only the second tier of managers and above have private offices. Which is stupid, by the way, since when the lowest-tier manager needs a private talk with an employee he has to find an open conference room.

They considered allowing telecommuting for awhile, and then rejected the idea because clearly people won't work without a company overseer nearby.

Kirk Parker said...

Shanna,

"I think I would enjoy working at home a few days a week, but if I did it every day I would go completely stir crazy. Some people need interaction with others. "

Why do you think God created Facebook?

Murph said...

Uber-introvert here. I make a practice of sharing a copy of Jonathan Rauch's article whenever the topic of intro v. extro comes up:
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/302696/

Michael said...

All this corporate speak is code for "i want my own office". Tough shit. Sit at an open desk and learn to deal with it or, better yet, start your own company to compete with the one you now work for, you know, the one you could run better.

sydney said...

I wonder what the majority of blog commenters are - introvert or extravert? I'm guessing introvert. If we were extraverts we would be out chatting with people we could see!

Astro said...

When I first started in engineering I had my own office. Twenty five years later I had a cubicle in a cube farm. (My salary was 5X higher, so it was a somewhat ok tradeoff.)
Finding some level of privacy, to be able to concentrate, was a challenge. The worst part was the guys who would hang their arms over the wall into my cube while talking to the guy in the next cube. I found that a layer of sticky grease smeared onto the top of the wall discouraged that.
I'm glad now to be a consultant working mostly from home; I'd never go back to that madness.

Sorun said...

"I wonder what the majority of blog commenters are - introvert or extravert?"

I was on good internet forum long ago where this discussion came up. Many of the commenters were INTJ's -- which is one the rarest types -- and they were proud of it. I'm an INTJ also.

Eric said...

All this corporate speak is code for "i want my own office". Tough shit. Sit at an open desk and learn to deal with it or, better yet, start your own company to compete with the one you now work for, you know, the one you could run better.

I see you have a job that doesn't require much concentration. Are you in sales, by any chance?

ricpic said...

So when you've passed a fellow office worker in the hall, said something innocuous and safe and then pass him a second time...what do you say?

This is a dilemma...but only for an introvert.

Johnny Carson spoke of this problem more than once on the Tonight Show. Which leads me to believe that Carson, despite the many human contacts he had each day, could not help but have in order to put on his show, was an introvert. His solution, one that many introverts contrive, was to have many contacts daily with a very limited number of intimates.

Methadras said...

Eric said...

I'm a software developer and would love to have the same environment. But I work at a very large company with a one-size-fits-all-you-will-work-in-a-cube-farm-and-like-it policy. I suppose it could be worse - I could be stuck on one of those ridiculous "open" offices and accomplish nothing.


Yeah, the Office Space, GenTech cube farm I've done. Worked at a medical device manufacturer and it was cubical hell. You could here everyone and everything. The clicking of people mice and keyboards. The bitching and moaning. The phone calls from spouses that turned into shouting matches. Chaos.

Paddy O said...

Many of the commenters were INTJ's -- which is one the rarest types -- and they were proud of it. I'm an INTJ also.

Me too!

High self-confidence coupled with being highly opinionated = lots of blog commenting.

I'm an off the chart introvert but can turn a switch on to being personable when I need to be. Just have to spend a lot of time in relative isolation.

ndspinelli said...

ricpic, Both Carson and Letterman are self professed uber inteoverts. That was their connection. Neither had many friends, but the two great comedians were confidantes.

PafddyO, Your routine is the best routine for us uber introverts. Did you come about it routinely or did you read about our strength and adapt?

Paddy O said...

ND, adapted, but it wasn't really routinely. Had a bad spell learning to adapt during my 20s. Read about it later. Learning the hard way, though, gives me lots of confidence to insist on space when I need it. Fortunately, I married an introvert too.

Shana said...

75% Introvert here.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Cain's book is excellent. And probably available via Althouse's Amazon link, too.

In the book, she details Steve Wozniak's youth and extreme introversion as an example of someone who need isolation, and who has phenomenal creativity which is unleashed when he is left alone. This was absolutely critical to the launch phase of Apple. If you want to see what in introverted geek he is - look at this.

themightypuck said...

I don't need to take the test as I'm "that guy" who stalks the halls looking for introverts to annoy. I'm getting better though. This whole topic has me thinking about Valve. It seems very extraverty: Valve

Eric said...

Johnny Carson spoke of this problem more than once on the Tonight Show. Which leads me to believe that Carson, despite the many human contacts he had each day, could not help but have in order to put on his show, was an introvert.

Carson used to take a beta blocker before every show so he was calm enough to go on the air.

ndspinelli said...

PaddyO, The Introvert Advantage will explain the plus and minus of 2 introvert couples. The author is uber introvert and husband an extrovert. That's a rare combo. There are many mixed couples but it's more often extro bride and intro groom.

I look forward to your story.

Strelnikov said...

As far as I'm concerned, this issue was settled long ago by Initech. Why monkey with perfection?

traditionalguy said...

Susan Cain on TED TV has a talk on the power of introverts that is spot on.