A great realisation may have occurred to some while working from home; you might be more introverted than you thought. According to MBTI 9/10 people in the UK feel pressure to act extroverted. So, during the pandemic many of those pseudo extroverts may have realised they are in fact introverts.
Despite the fact that 50% of the population are introverted, extroverted character traits are more valued in the workplace leaving many introverts feeling they need to show up in an extroverted manner to succeed. While working remotely we may have been able to shield ourselves within a bubble, but if we now face a return to office how do we cope with this?
Here are some tips to help introverts navigate the return to office:
- Appreciate your temperament – your natural temperament is genetic so it is very important for building wellbeing that you recognise your needs. If you have found you need quiet spaces to recharge during the day, how can you find those opportunities in the office? Giving yourself space to recharge will allow you to show up better particularly when facing any challenges.
- Reflect on your work experience – what have you found has worked well for you while working remotely? Have you been able to focus more or found improved productivity while working in a quiet space? Can you request access to a quieter work area in the office or negotiate a flexible work schedule to allow you to do your focused work perhaps at home and use the time in the office for collaborative work? Maybe, you have found using technology such as contributing in chat functions in zoom much easier than trying to speak up in a meeting. Are there ways to incorporate technology to enable communication and create an inclusive approach?
- Have open conversations – sharing that you are an introvert with colleagues might allow others to open up also, it can still be taboo to admit you are an introvert! Extroverts may appreciate getting a better understanding of your ways of working and through improved understanding you can all learn to work better as a team.
- Take it slowly – we can’t erase the past 18 months. As an introvert you may have found it lonely, you may have experienced anxiety and worry, you may be experiencing re-entry fear. All of those are natural. If you are experiencing these, can you confide in a trusted colleague? Chances are, they may be feeling the same as you. Social connection is important for our wellbeing and for introverts who have a smaller social and professional network going back to the office can actually facilitate opportunity to connect with others. Remember social skills, communication and overcoming shyness are all skills that can be learned and we may feel a little out of practice.
- Put Well Being first – when we make wellbeing our goal it allows us to really listen to what we need and in turn design a work and life that suits us. It means taking a strengths approach rather than weakness fixing. If you are great at research but don’t like presenting it, partner up with a colleague or if your strength is curiosity ask the questions and highlight the issues leading others into conversation.
We have a moment in time to redesign work and I hope we can take that opportunity and make work fit around our needs.
Aoife Lenox as the founder of Inside Strategies is an Introvert Well-Being Coach and Engagement Specialist. Through training, coaching and consultancy she helps individuals and organisations to create positive and meaningful work experiences.