Tuesday, 17 January 2012

If you want to get things done, find an introvert

If you want to get things done, then don’t work in an open plan office.

Most of us now work in teams [notes the New York Times], in offices without walls, for managers who prize “people skills” above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in.
    But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the
psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.
    One explanation for these findings is that introverts are comfortable working alone — and solitude is a catalyst to innovation…

SOME teamwork is fine and offers a fun, stimulating, useful way to exchange ideas, manage information and build trust.
    But it’s one thing to associate with a group in which each member works autonomously on his piece of the puzzle; it’s another to be corralled into endless meetings or conference calls conducted in offices that afford no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers. Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They’re also more likely to suffer from
high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it. ….
    [Creative people] many of whom are introverts, are unhappy….  Privacy also makes us productive… Solitude can even help us learn…
    Conversely, brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity… decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases.


  1. Interesting, but not my personal experience at all. I'm an extrovert, and extremely so. I worked in a call center on an open floor of an office building with only low cubicles separating some 200 workers. I was consistently the most productive person in my group, doing 1/3 more the work of my peers. (Yet my pay was the same.) =P

    As a worker, I'm known for my efficiency, accuracy, proactiveness, and the ability to exceed client expectations. The office I'm in now has separate office spaces for each worker and although we communicate often, I sometimes miss the cubicle environment.

    When you're an extrovert, you gain strength from social interaction, so I think it makes me more efficient, more happy and more creative. Obviously, the same would not be true for an introvert, but I don't think that makes one type of employee better than another, just different with different environmental needs.

  2. Agree with the blog. Working with others who have low levels of self control, verbal diarrheoia (sp?) as it were, is maddeningly distracting. Evenings after the 'talkers' have long departed is far more productive I find.
    Um . . . . and since when has 'call centre' work been considered creative???!!! Ack!!!


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