One office – many needs

Office adjusted to needs of employees, pic Kinnarps
Space created by Kinnarps for Milano Design Week, pic Kinnarps
Two different personality types in one work place – how to reconcile needs of introverts and extraverts?

Office – second home


An average employee spends 160 hours per month in their office. In result, work place becomes their second home and thus employer should make it healthy, comfortable, encouraging to creativity and favoring effective work. Office adjusted to needs of employees may contribute to enhancement of their level of satisfaction and increase in engagement concerning ordered duties. Data of recent survey conducted by global IPSOS research company for Steelcase on the sample of 10 500 employees in 14 countries all over the world confirms this trend. According to our research, there is a strong correlation between satisfaction of employees from work environment, where they spend their time, and the level of their engagement. The most engaged people were also pleased with their work place – points out Zoë A Humphries, Senior Consultant, Applied Research and Consulting, Steelcase. However, the meeting of expectations of all employees is not easy because each of the employed has various needs resulting from differences in sex, nationality, age or physical and mental predispositions. The last mentioned factor refers to a personality type, that is division into extraverts and introverts.


Two countertypes


Differences between extraverts and introverts are substantial. In reality, these are two opposing groups. Introverts are characterized by a calm character – they appreciate silence and loneliness. Extraverts love noise as well as company and they do not have problems in establishing new contacts with other people. These dependences are also met in the office environment where employees with introversive and extrovert features cooperate with each other every day.


Every employee has different moods within a day. By providing them a work place enabling focus, concentration or – depending on the mood – possibility of team work in special zones dedicated to cooperation and interactions with collaborators, we have a guarantee that the level of their satisfaction from work will be really high. In case of introverts, it may be a calm place where they can be alone and in case of extraverts – offices enabling integration and contacts with other people – says Zoë A Humphries.


Conflict or cooperation? 


There is no doubt that the presence of introverts and extraverts in one work place is precious from the point of view of creativity, innovativeness and human capital of a company. However, employer should take care about a proper work environment adjusted to personality of each employed in order to provide comfortable work conditions and increase effectiveness of all employees. According to the report of trends conducted by Kinnarps Designing of living space in decade of diversity, closed rooms are the best work environment for introverts and open space area is a proper place for extraverts.  


There are many nuances but – generalizing – extraverts are driven to work by dynamic environments with rumor, background noise and numerous interactions. However, these areas are not a proper work place for introverts who are definitely more concentrated in calmer zones with limited background noise and little disturbance – claims Zoë A Humphries.


According to the report conducted by Kinnarps, offices adjusted to extraverted employees dominate in modern organizations – that is open space. There is a general tendency in companies choosing projects of open space office area which consists in emphasis put on application of methods based on team work. They are compliant with preferences of extraverts – points out Zoë A Humphries.


The report of Kinnarps shows that this trend will be slowly changing because of companies which started to notice benefits from presence of two personality types in a one place of work resulting from increase in needs for a wide range of skills. In result, office environments adjusted to the needs of both extraverts and introverts are becoming more and more popular. The question is how to create such a space?


Solution – proper design  


The solution is designing of space in accordance with principles of integration design, that is such a design which respects differences in personalities of employees. It is related to i.a. application of intuitive and ease-to-use solutions, preparation of a project which takes needs of minorities into consideration, concentration on emotions of people and effectiveness of certain solutions as well as designing of multifunctional work places. In the case of a project for extraverts and introverts, it may be a space in which there will be separated rooms dedicated to people who need silence and calmness in order to perform an ordered duty. The example of such an office is headquarters of Colliers International located in the Warsaw Metropolitan office.


The plan of our office was based on combination of certain functions performed by employees and their personality types which are basically very similar to each other. Therefore, we have open space where noise, loud conversations, spontaneous exchange of thoughts and brain storms are tolerated – says Sylwia Pędzińska, partner, chairman for operations, Colliers International. On the other hand, we have also space intended for quiet work where it is important to not disturb anyone at work. Thus, telephone calls take place in specially designed rooms, so called „telephone booths”. The coloring of interiors in this part of office is neutral in order to not distract anybody – adds. Except for the separated zone for quiet work, such places were also created in open space. Even extraverts sometimes need a moment of concentration – a place where they could perform their duties in silence – comments Sylwia Pędzińska.


Area intended for loud work zone constitutes ca. 75 per cent of the total area of the office. The rest is dedicated to quiet work. However, it does not mean that employees with certain personality types are forced to occupy work posts in separated zones. The choice of a work place is totally free. This possibility gives comfort because it does not limit certain personality types and associate them with a given location – emphasizes Sylwia Pędzińska.


While designing space adjusted to different needs of employees resulting from opposite personality types, sex, age and nationality, it is necessary to consider principles of integration design which will allow to create a flexible and multifunctional area.  


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