Can’t we all just get along?  Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question.  As humans, we are all taught to respect everyone’s individuality.  This is especially true in the business world.  When we work with a group of people, we learn to embrace and appreciate all different working styles.  Whether your personality leans towards being more of an introvert or extrovert or somewhere in between, we can all agree that the need for quiet space sometimes is required.  There’s a battle of the personalities going on in today’s workplace.  Managing a team of mixed work styles can be challenging especially when trying to resolve conflict between these two groups.  The need for focus and quiet with introverts vs. the need for discussion and collaboration with extroverts can be tricky.  This issue has been a growing concern especially for companies who have moved to a more open office work environment thanks in part to the growing trend of activity-based office design.

Considering an open office plan should be carefully considered by the type of business you are in, the function of the role and who will be in this seat.  While the extroverts are described as the movers and shakers of the organization, the quiet more focused introverts may not be as vocal but certainly hold equal value in their roles for any company.  Everyone matters.  Companies need to take this one step further as everyone has different views on what a collaborative environment really is.  For example, an extrovert may visualize a large table surrounded by 10 or more people whereas an introvert may be thinking of taking the discussion to a small corner of the open office with a smaller group of 2 or 3 people.

woman on laptop

These groups, both equally valued, can learn to work together to appreciate one another’s work style preferences and combine their business strengths on a more united front.  Here are some ideas to keep in mind for both introverts and extroverts to create a harmonious work environment:

Acoustic meeting spaces

While extroverts enjoy expansive open-concept areas for collaboration, employers should also consider corners of the office.  These semi-private more intimate areas can come in the form of providing deep seating options with high backs which can reduce noise or other office distractions.  For some, this type of set-up can bring a sense of comfort and security to freely express one’s ideas in an open concept area.

Discuss and Promote Awareness of Different Work Personalities 

By creating awareness and a culture of understanding for work space etiquette this will satisfy all levels of introverts and extroverts.  By communicating various work personalities in the office, this will help for all staff to be better informed and more considerate of others.

Create Designated Zones in Your Office Space

You don’t need to invest in a complete overhaul for this endeavour.  You can easily designate space for conversations or group collaboration where people can express ideas without any guilt.  Some companies designate work zones by colour to classify if you are in a more quieter area of the office or a more collaborative environment.  Having some quiet conference rooms and encouraging staff to use these rooms when things get a little hairy in an open office design are highly valued.

Develop Standard Practices and Phrases in the Office

By casually saying, “Let’s take this conversation to the quiet zone,” and steering others to the proper work areas this can help resolve issues quickly and efficiently while you are in the moment.  Developing a consistent office culture and a strong awareness will help to direct each staff member to the appropriate areas.  This will help to maximize on productivity for both extroverts and introverts while recognizing their different areas of workspace immediately.

Think about Acoustics and other Sound Blockers

There is a lot of controversy on acoustics and how effective they can be with noise reduction especially when you have that one cheerleader in the office (you know which one I’m talking about) who has the greatest idea (ever!) and needs to share with the entire office.  This would be a deterrent for any introvert and most times anyone else for that matter! However, the use of acoustic panels has shown a significant reduction in sound reverberation and acts as an effective sound barrier in an open area.  Carpeting, or natural materials like cork or textiles also help to absorb sound and are cost-efficient options to consider when designing an open office space plan.

Putting these ideas into place can create a harmonious work environment that will ensure business success and most of all maintain the balance and peace among staff.  Call our consultants for your next office design 1-888-304-3114.