Extrovert or introvert? Thriving in a world where remote work is here to stay
The pandemic disrupted corporate life across the world by literally bringing the digital revolution home. The way we work, and from where we work, has drastically changed over the past nine months.
Direct human interaction has decreased and this has negatively affected 78% of employees, according to a recent study conducted by Oracle.
Before COVID, working from home was considered a top employee perk. But with a full-time shift to remote working for the majority of office workers, it remains to be seen if that is still the case.
Work-from-home format -
how do the different personalities fare?
So, working remotely and being socially distanced - is this new world of working an introvert’s paradise and an extrovert’s hell?
We know that introverts prefer less interaction and like their quiet time. Extroverts on the other hand tend to thrive on large groups and get energized by interacting with others.
The crisis has suddenly created physical distance and large amounts of uninterrupted time. That clearly rates high on an introvert’s preference list as it helps them better focus and that additionally boosts their productivity.
Introverts also tend to find it easier to communicate remotely because they can do it in a space they are more comfortable and familiar with. It also reduces the risk of over-stimulation, such as a busy office setting, which many introverts struggle with as it can put a strain on their energy levels.
For extroverts, social distancing and isolation have been harder. Unlike introverts, they miss the stimulation. Connecting with people is their main source of energy. They tend to prefer in-person interaction and remote working does not really deliver on that front.
Being remote can be a big adjustment for them, solitude may feel limiting. This may then take a toll on their performance, motivation, and mental well-being.
A healthy mix of both
Truth to be told, extremes are usually quite rare. So, while we may classify ourselves as being an introvert or an extrovert, we all carry elements of the opposite personality type. Different situations may cater to different parts of our personality. Even the most outgoing of all extroverts will enjoy a quiet moment of reflection, just as an introvert will also enjoy mingling with people.
People who don’t really fall into either camp are also called ambivert as they balance introvert and extrovert features. They will find that elements of the extrovert, as well as the introvert personality, may resonate with them.
Some key challenges
Working fully remote surely does not cater to all preferences and personalities and not everyone will love it. It is a mixed bag, and some people will fare better in one work situation while others in a different one.
A good strategy to success is by increasing awareness of one’s type, people can then develop a better sense of their tendencies, understand the challenges and limitations, as well as play to their strengths.
Staying connected as an introvert
Without doubt introverts may naturally be more suited to working from home full-time. But they still face the challenge of staying connected with colleagues. Reaching out actively does not come as easy to them unlike for extroverts.
Therefore, it is essential that they are properly supported by their managers so that they do not disengage and disconnect. This includes making sure they don’t fall off the radar. For example, specifically asking for them to share their accomplishments and requesting for input regularly will help keep them more visible.
Additionally, introverts staying in regular contact with colleagues – even though it might sound counter-intuitive from an introvert’s perspective – will find that they don't become too absorbed in their world. Examples include scheduling 1:1 calls with colleagues to build informal relationships, as well as joining projects that may be beyond the assigned role. What seems stressful at first is a good way to bond with colleagues which in return raises the profile. This also creates work allies that an introvert will find more easy to reach out to during everyday business.
Staying engaged as an extrovert
Proactively communicating, maintaining social connections and conversations comes more naturally to extroverts, also in a remote setting.
But as they find working remotely more taxing than introverts, they need to also be able to find ways to engage and connect with colleagues beyond the standard work calls.
Regular virtual meetings, be it via Zoom, Google Hangout are important to stay socially - and very importantly for an extrovert - visually connected. Having some face time helps them feel more motivated. Meaningful interaction gives their performance an additional boost and contributes to their overall well-being.
By changing the scenery, an extrovert can also feel re-energized. This can be as simple as working from a different part of the home or going outside for a walk while participating in a meeting, assuming it is safe to do so. Building in a daily walk or exercise is great for cleansing the mind and giving perspective.
Finding the right balance
Both introverts and extroverts have the opportunity to thrive at working remotely and it is important to leverage the strengths each personality type offers.
As the saying goes: Extroverts talk to think and introverts think to talk. In this new world of working, creating a balanced business environment that caters to both personality types is essential.
This ensures that both can successfully contribute to the business and the projects they are working on.