Have you ever wondered whether your workspace, environment and working style are aligned with your personality?
One of the things I missed a lot when I began working from home was the social interaction. It only really became apparent a few days in but suddenly everything seemed very quiet. It wasn’t so much that I missed the noise; I didn’t miss that annoying tapping Dave did with his right hand; I didn’t miss the constant clicking of the biro, which Lucy did when she was trying to figure something out; I didn’t miss the way Fiona always slurped her tea really loudly, probably just to irritate me. It worked.
It wasn’t that I necessarily missed the chatter; I didn’t miss the whispering huddle in the kitchen; I didn’t miss the under-the-breath, mumbled moanings; I didn’t miss the fake laughter when the boss told a(nother) really poor joke.
No, what I missed was the positive, purposeful interactions; the discussions about projects or reports; the general feeling of camaraderie, knowing (most) people had your back and could relate to the frenzied feelings as deadlines approached; the general talk about life, families, relationships.
Being social suddenly took on a new meaning; it was responding to DMs, messages and emails and liking a Facebook post. Yet none of it involved meeting another person.
As an extrovert, this is what was missing. It’s not always something people consider when they think about working for themselves or going it alone and working from home.
Extrovert or Introvert
Extroverts are people who get their energy from others. They are not, as the common perception goes, always behaving wildly and only content if there’s a party going on. I mean, there are some like that, but as with most behaviours and traits, there’s a spectrum.
If you take the personality tests like this one, which is free, you can discover for yourself where on the spectrum you lie between extrovert and introvert.
Introverts prefer solitude and smaller groups and there is often a misconception that introversion=shyness. I know of introverts who give TED Talks, attend regular networking events and will appear outwardly, outgoing. But after being around a lot of people they feel drained and need to retreat for some quiet time, read a book and be alone for a bit to recharge.
People are multidimensional. We all slide back and forth to some degree along the continuum.
If you find your work is leaving you drained, or your environment not stimulating enough, it might be that you’re not working in a way suited to your personality type.
I tend to fall just over the halfway line into being extrovert. In fact, I could well be an ambivert.
I admit I love a good dance and a good party but I wasn’t the colleague who felt their voice had to be heard above everyone else’s. I have quiet moments. I sometimes love peace and quiet and a time for reflection. I am also self-aware and will give thought to situations, which are often identified as introverted traits. But, I do not like shutting myself away in an office on my own and would rather work in the hustle and bustle of family life. If I feel a little down or a little lacklustre, a face to face catch up, meeting up with friends or heading to a space where there are people, can generally give me back some mojo.
It’s why I often find myself heading to a coffee shop to get around some buzz, and maybe, casually strike up a conversation. I enjoy talking; my husband will testify to that.
Work From Home Strategies For Extroverts
Extreme extroverts who work for themselves may well find co-working spaces the next best thing to the office environment. Coffee shops are good places to head to switch up the work-from-home routine.
Being at home might be good for short bursts, and if there are other distractions around, such as family, or the noise of TV or radio in earshot, extroverts are often better at coping with these kinds of intrusions.
Think about the colour of the environment. If you’re an extrovert, you are can feel energised by vibrant colours, pattern and brighter palettes. It can be useful to think about this when furnishing and decorating your home office space.
One of the common traits of an extrovert is the enjoyment of a good conversation but more than that, the need to talk things through and solve problems through discussion.
Therefore, it can be a good idea to have trusted friends or a coach with whom you can have regular contact to talk through any issues or engage in a brainstorming session.
An understanding and supportive partner can be a good person to connect with at the end of the day to talk through any problems and also for the homeworking extrovert to regain some energy after a day in solitude.
Extroverts like social gatherings. It’s where they get their energy, it’s where they can feel inspired and so making regular appointments to network and meet other people can be a good opportunity for you to get the brain sparking again.
Self-development and Training
When running your own business you are responsible for your personal and professional development. Despite the plethora of online courses out there, extroverts may well benefit from looking for courses which offer a face-to-face component or the chance to meet up with fellow students. If the course is being taken through a college or university, there are often mixed-platform options where there are some on-campus days.
Night classes or evening courses can also be good alternatives and are often available through colleges and community centres where you can get to meet and know the people training with you.
Some online courses include access to Facebook groups which can offer a level of interaction and the chance to connect with people who may then be interested in meeting in person.
Working From Home Strategies For Introverts
It might appear that the work-from-home scenario is perfect for an introvert. Introverts tend to focus better in a quiet environment so the solitude and peace that comes with homeworking provide that need. However, it’s more important to have a dedicated workspace or separate office that can be closed off from the rest of the house to avoid the potential distraction of life at home.
Psychologists have found that a cosier, enclosed office space is more comfortable for an introvert and that colour choice can be an important factor to consider, with many preferring more neutral or cooler shades.
While introverts might relish the lone time and the opportunities to take themselves off for a walk or do something quiet. If in need of company or a change of working scene, a library can be a good place to go.
For an introvert who likes to have time and space to think to work through problems, planning time in the working day to do this can be very helpful.
Not all working days are solely spent sitting at the desk alone. There could be meetings, there might be client calls and customers to deal with. A day can be unpredictable and some days may involve a lot of interaction and feel quite harried and overwhelming.
Scheduling periods of downtime and reflection give an introvert the reassurance that they’ll have an opportunity in the day for their own thoughts and space to process, and in some situations, recover, from a busy and social schedule.
Self-development and Training
There are endless courses that you can enrol on through online platforms and plenty of brands offering online coaching or programmes with downloadable worksheets. Online courses are ideal for an introvert who likes to work at their own pace and in solitude.
The social media side and groups and communities that spring up in conjunction with some courses can be a great space for inspiration but can also feel overwhelming, especially when they involve thousands of people.
Being disciplined around the time spent on these groups and being selective as to the posts you engage with so you’re not bombarded with notifications can be useful.
Introverts are not necessarily shy and might still benefit from and enjoy a course that contains a face-to-face element. Searching for programmes that are taught via small seminar groups or include one on one time with the trainer or coach can be more appealing than large classes and lectures.
Do you tend to the introvert or extrovert side of the spectrum? There are many different types of each and 16 personality types that have been identified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Check them out here.