Introverts make up nearly half of the population. However, most workplaces, by design, cater to extroverts! Office hours are packed with constant communication, be it in the form of meetings, social gatherings, or work-related discussions. Workplace events are frequently in the form of interactive games or performances, making participation easier for those who are comfortable being under the spotlight.

No wonder then, if introverts feel less capable of fitting in at work, or find it harder to make themselves heard and be recognized for their skills. In this blog, we explore ways to give introverts a fair chance to demonstrate their prowess within the workplace.

  • Design the office environment to support varying employee needs.

The recent trend of open-plan offices has all employees working in common areas in order to foster collaborative ideation. Introverts are known to prefer less in-person interaction and more privacy, meaning that despite the good intentions that open offices come with, they may end up fostering discomfort.

When asked in a study, whether open offices allowed for concentration, half of the introverts interviewed responded negatively. Research indicates that such offices impact the ability to focus for not just introverts, but most other employees as well! A good solution would be to leave collaboration to the meeting rooms, and provide cubicles for employees who prefer to work in the quiet.

  • Reduce mandatory face-to-face interaction.

Introverts are known to prefer interaction without the hassle of social cues; calls are better than in-person conversation, and texting is better than calls. Written communication allows them more processing time before they respond, bringing to their ideas a clarity that would be harder to find while communicating verbally.

Current office practices involve numerous meetings, ranging from progress check-ins to problem solving sessions. Some of them can be inefficient and time-consuming. A reduction in the number and frequency of such meetings would both increase productivity and help create introvert-friendly working conditions. That’s two birds with one stone! Status checks, for example, can be conducted via email, and excel sheets go a long way with progress tracking. And for meetings that are necessary, consider if the way in which they are conducted can be altered. For instance, having the team write down their ideas on a common brainstorming board could help them get their thoughts in order before a discussion, and also save introverts the fear of being put on the spot to speak.

  • Make work events comfortable for introverts.

Many companies hold team-building events with fun activities and games, which often involve large groups and enthusiastic interaction with acquaintances – clearly not the best conditions for introverts! The point of these events is to let employees relax, bond, and interact with each other, so it’s important to ensure that they don’t end up doing the opposite for half of the office.

Design such events to ensure they are enjoyable for introverts. Instead of conducting activities for large groups, which can get overwhelming, the games can be planned for smaller teams, allowing introverts to moderate their social interaction and loosen up with everyone else. Events that allow participation in solitude are also welcome, such as team movie outings, or art and writing related activities. Remember to keep your events optional and within work hours; introverts need time to unwind, and the trust that comes with not being forced to socialize will let them feel comfortable at work.

Balancing interactions with calm, low-activity periods seems to be the key to creating a better office experience for introverts. Providing quietude while working, reducing verbal interchanges, and toning down event crowds all involve changing the usual forms of workplace communication and interaction. By modifying this aspect, we can create a more enabling environment for a significant number of employees, and let their skills and contributions shine.

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