Are you an introvert? How have you found the experience of remote working? Many introverts have discovered that negligible social interaction and the enhanced feeling of independence have made their experience of work more satisfying than in pre-pandemic days.
Not so, however, if you’re an extrovert. In this case, you may have found yourself less productive with work and generally more irritable. You may have found you’ve missed the buzz of office life.
But what about the hybrid model? With many introverts opting to work remotely and extroverts more likely to want to go back to the office, how does an organisation ensure their teams remain engaged, productive, and happy?
Here are three approaches you can use to ensure that all your personality types flourish in your new working environment.
1. Introverts need time and space - make sure they have it
With your employees now split between home and office, it’s vital that the introverts in your team aren’t forgotten about. In conventional meetings, it’s easy for them to be overshadowed by their more outspoken colleagues. But in Zoom meetings, the danger of introverts being ignored is more serious than ever. If introverts are interrupted during the discussion by loud personalities, they may give up on contributing altogether – ultimately feeling totally side-lined.
It’s the job of every manager to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Use tools like a chat bar or hand-raising feature to designate who has the floor to speak. Practice waiting five to ten seconds before jumping in. It can also be helpful to send questions out in advance, so everyone has more time to prepare.
At the end of a meeting, encourage people to email their meeting feedback or create a Google doc where people can share input. This will give the introverts a chance to have their voices heard.
2. Give extroverts airtime
You might find that the extroverts in your teams are struggling to feel connected. Try setting up regular face-to-face or video meetings with them so that they can talk things through with you. Encourage them also to use breakout groups on Zoom or Slack, enabling them to express their ideas without dominating team meetings.
Back in the office, encourage those ‘watercooler moments’. Research shows that more socially orientated workers have missed these the most. They help people to find spontaneous moments of social connection - keeping managers in touch with what’s really going on in the company, and building camaraderie, morale, and trust between team members.
Of course, it’s massively over-simplistic to suggest that, from now on, introverts will work from home, with extroverts being office-based. Inevitably, there will be a degree of ‘mix’. It’s up to your managers to ensure that, as far as possible, all personality types are considered. For example, to avoid excluding those staying home from social activities, organise more optional hybrid team bonding events. These could take the form of Zoom lunch chats to hybrid meeting happy hours. Hybrid lunches are now the new social cafeteria, where team members can come together to share a 15-30 minute meal, whether they’re in-person or online.
3. Encourage a range of communication styles
It’s the duty of managers to create a healthy, collaborative team. That doesn’t mean forcing everyone to communicate in precisely the same way. It means creating the opportunity for different communication styles to thrive. Everyone needs to feel they can communicate authentically, in their own time. Provided individuals can get their message across clearly and in their own voice, there’s no right or wrong.
Regardless of where your team members fall on the extroversion-introversion spectrum, the overnight switch to virtual work has forced everyone to adjust to new, sometimes uncomfortable ways of working. Your people will have been forced to make compromises of one sort or another, as teams and as individuals. With the support and encouragement of team leaders, these compromises will, in the long term, make teams stronger and more cohesive.
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