Remote work has moved from an experiment to more the norm for millions of office workers around the world. Late last year, our company conducted a survey to discover how introverts, in particular, were responding to working from home full time. We had almost 200 responses. Were the assumptions about introverts finding their bliss true? Were they thriving in quiet and solitude?
The Positives of Introverts Working at Home
The answers were overwhelmingly in favor of remote work. In fact, over 85% of the respondents indicated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with the arrangement.
The three main positives listed were not having a commute, being more productive and having less stress.
Not commuting was hands down the #1 reason for liking remote work. Over 90% of respondents listed this as a benefit.
“Not being subjected to road rage, and general negative moods has been a blessing.”
Many commented on being able to use that former commuting time to exercise, have more “time and energy for hobbies” and one compared it to the past when she did a lot of “in office” commuting between conference rooms which chews up a lot of time every day.”
Having a “Flexible Schedule” (64%), Lack of Interruptions (57%”) , Focus (45%) and Autonomy (47%) were also listed as benefits.
These numbers reflect what we know about introverts and their preference for working independently and going at their own pace, not at the quick tempo imposed by an extroverted work environment.
In fact, in a 2019 workplace survey we had found that only 35% of respondents reported that their office offered ways for introverts to be productive. The result of this current study is evidence that many introverts feel that being at home allows them to get more work done.
In addition, Interruptions are typically a huge pain point for introverts who can be thrown off their focused, deep work. Being alone gives them this important, quiet time to reflect.
Another positive trend identified in this current study was less stress. One respondent wrote that she had “less stress in every area of my life, and better personal and professional balance.” Another said they liked “ Not having to put on my “workday face” every day…..preparing myself mentally for the random social interactions and general social noise which are particularly prevalent in an open office.”
Others expressed thoughts like “being home with my dog.” “healthier days and” “more exercise.” Another wrote, “ I have so much more energy when working from home. It’s amazing how much I can get done, and how not exhausted I am when the work day is done.” “I don’t have to worry about having a closed door during moments of recovery from overstimulation.”
Time with family was ranked as an important advantage by 43% of the respondents. This is different than the prevailing assumption that families are solely sources of distraction.
For organizations, there are many factors to weigh in deciding whether to return to the office, go fully remote or create some type of hybrid scenario. It is important to understand what individual situations are and not treat introverts monolithically.
Consider how you can sustain the positives of working from home by taking these steps:
· Continue to enhance home office support with upgraded equipment and technology tools.
· Stay connected to your team and monitor changing conditions. Don’t forget to check on their welfare as well as their work production.
· Avoid overloading people with work because they are “available.” Monitor people’s schedules to make sure they are not accumulating stress by piling on meetings.
· Encourage people to take vacation time to recharge their batteries.
· Decide as a team, what forms of communication will be most effective. You can create general guidelines around when to use email, texts, Slack channels, phone calls and video calls. And evaluate these methods regularly to make sure they are working for everyone.
Introverts have benefited from the positive results of remote work and we should listen to them as we move into transformed workplace scenarios.