JOHANNESBURG - It is estimated that between a third and a half of the population are introverts, but workplaces seem to increasingly favour noisy extroverts, often to the detriment of those who prefer to work in quieter environments.

Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, said that with the rise of the open plan office and the culture of speaking often and loudly as a way to gain career advancement, many offices risked sidelining up to half their workforces.

Trim noted that it was important for offices to embrace flexibility for introverts.

“It is imperative to remember not all introverts are the same. Some prefer visual privacy to focus and recharge, therefore a booth or screen can provide the needed barrier for added comfort.

“On the other hand, our experience shows that introverts and extroverts alike require audible privacy to focus, yet some prefer not to be isolated. This has led to the popular concept of library-like settings, where employees can easily plug-in and work silently in a shared environment.”

She added, however, that some introverts thrived in an isolated environment.

Said Trim: “A small focus room that is set up with multiple screens, a comfortable work surface, whiteboard and natural light will allow those people to quickly focus.”

Trim said research also indicated that introverts were more successful when they hosted industry or client events in their own space, as participants would seek them out as the key person to engage with. “Designing a space that can easily accommodate events could create an area that has a variety of uses as well.”  

PERSONAL FINANCE