Collaborative workspaces continue to be a hot subject and type of workspace design in and out of the media. Hype aside … how sensible are they really? For extroverts, they make a lot of sense, but many introverts are having a hard time adjusting.
The easiest way to make collaborative workspaces work for two very different personality types is to not make them the only type of workspaces in your office. Offer workspaces that are collaborative for your extroverts and traditional for your introverts.
As a decision maker at your company, you want your employees to conduct business in a space that maximizes their productivity and thus, your dollar. Since office design plays a huge role in productivity, your design decisions should be made through careful planning.
Understanding the Two Personalities
Before you can plan a workspace design for your extroverts and introverts, it’s important to understand the characteristics of each personality type.
|Extroverts*· Enjoy social interaction
· Tend to be verbal, animated, enthusiastic, and assertive
· Fueled by interaction
· Fans of larger groups
|Introverts*· Keep to themselves
· Tend to be more internally aware, private, and quiet
· Fueled by alone time
· Fans of smaller groups
Office Design with Extroverts and Introverts in Mind
The following are suggestions for how you can incorporate elements specifically for extroverts and introverts. Within these elements as whole, other personality types in your office will benefit as well.
Designate a section of workstations as “free for all” workstations.
This is similar to the “hoteling” concept, where employees don’t have assigned seats and instead pick where they want to sit on a daily basis. Since you’re trying to keep both your extroverts and introverts productive, conforming to “hoteling” at its finest won’t be productive for your introverts. We recommend assigning workstations but having what we like to call “free for all spaces” — a space in your office where employees can go to work in a collaborative setting. They should have tables or desks that employees can share and rotate using as often as they’d like. Here’s an idea: make your “free for all” area your employee training area or room. This will help you cut back on costs when you’re assigning workstations as well. Try to keep this space as far away as possible from where your introverts are seating, as not to disturb them.
Keep an office or two available for introverts who need additional quiet time.
In a lot of cases, employees who get offices are of higher rank. For some introverts, working in a cubicle (while it helps) does not offer them the privacy they need. Some simply need a more private space to get their work done. We recommend keeping at least one private office available that employees can reserve as needed. While this takes away from the stability that so many introverts prefer, it gives them the option to take advantage of an extra space for projects that require more concentration (when it’s not possible to give each introvert their own office)
Provide employees with laptops instead of computers, or allow them to bring their own so they have the flexibility to work where they want in the office.
Meeting areas are a must. For your extroverted employees who need even more collaboration, design meeting areas with comfortable office furniture. Include a place to take notes such a white board or flip chart. The meeting areas should be places employees can go to for brainstorming.At Sensyst, we specialize in designing workspaces for all personality types in the Greater Toronto area of Canada. Contact us for help planning and designing your collaborative workspace.