Every week I have a prospect or two asking about “open space” to do their work. They want to know if I accommodate for “younger” and “hipper” professionals who think that an open kitchen, foosball, ping pong, bean bags, long and sleek white tables with minor partitions, and see-through offices with high ceilings are the places to be and to be seen.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there is a market for these open plans and more frequent social interactions. In fact, several large global companies have sprung out of this movement. I question its sustainability over many years, however. It seems like our workplaces are designed mostly for extroverts and their need for lots of stimulation. We have this newfound belief system –a kind of groupthink-- which holds that all creativity and all productivity comes from a place where you socialize and where you get to see others, preferably “entrepreneurs” touting some new gig.*
But what happened to introverts? Where are they now? Isn’t there room for quiet places to focus, think and reflect? Introverted qualities are indeed coming back. Just as we have been seeing the almost sexy appeal of the open space, we also see a group of people –not necessarily middle-aged or in pre-retirement mode-- rebelling against the open-plan office. Frankly, if you want to think and plan strategy, the best place is the closed office or room where you can actually focus.
Typical co-working operations are “hotbeds of emotional contagion in which one person’s mood potentially affects everyone.” This is a double-edged sword because cheerful people may lift everyone else but negative workers can drag everyone into dissatisfaction and complaints.*
Introverts can think in practical terms, listen and stay calm, learn about their co-workers, be humble and be great leaders because they don’t wait for applause.*
I will tell you that in my six years in the virtual officing, on demand, shared office and co-working facility business world, the clients who are the most successful are those who set aside time to privately figure out what they need to do to move their business to the next level.
*"The 5 blessings of introverts at work”, Jane Burnett, theladders.com, May 23, 2017