Businesses hope that by having an open-plan workspace, staff will work together collaboratively, there will be a strong team ethos and the company will benefit from greater levels of productivity. But this isn’t always the case.
We spend some 40 hours, if not more, per week at work and it should be an environment we are comfortable and happy to work in. But we all have different needs. There are certainly advantages to open-plan working – for starters they are cheaper to set up and run, they require less space per person, less furniture and of course there are no walls or partitions to erect.
It is estimated between 50 and 75% of the population are extroverts and would typically have some or all of the following traits – they enjoy being on the phone and see interruptions as a welcome diversion; they develop ideas through verbal discussions, and by asking or answering questions. They enjoy attention and thrive in social situations. An open-plan workspace for this kind of person is ideal and works well.
Introverts on the other hand often have to be asked to participate in group discussions and find it easier to concentrate in a quiet, non-disruptive environment. They would probably prefer to sit in an office alone or in a small working group.
So can you find a happy medium – somewhere that suits all? The answer to this is yes but you have to know your staff and really understand them. If you have an open-plan space, think about adding a ‘quiet’ or third space area where staff can sit and work if they feel the need to get away from the buzz of the main office, or have some more private meeting room space available. Consider break-out areas. These areas are essential for an introvert and they will welcome the peace and quiet.
So with careful and thoughtful planning, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, there is no reason why we can’t all work together harmoniously.