Whether you are an introvert or your job requires elements of introversion, new research has suggested that workspaces don’t make adequate provision for quiet working.
The Steelcase Workplace Survey of more than 39,000 workers revealed that 95 percent said they needed quiet, private places, yet 41 percent don’t have access. With introverts also thought to make up approximately 1/3 of the working population it begs the question why has this not been considered sooner.
Over the last few years the workplace design conversation has been dominated by the importance of sociability, interactivity and collaboration. The focus has been on the value of bringing people together and has given little consideration to our innate need to get away and reflect, to be mindful, to seek quiet.
We have all experienced being sat in an open plan office desperately trying to concentrate to no avail. Sound from other colleagues, visual distractions and the interruptions that come from emails and phones can all get in the way of real concentration, making work take longer and affecting its quality too.
The dawn of activity-based working has helped to address this in part – highlighting that different tasks require different workplace settings. So a colleague appraisal, a client conference call, a personal call to the doctor, or writing that board presentation are all be better suited to quiet locations away from your desk. While the solution might be to use a meeting room, there are better alternative spaces to suit these needs such as quiet pods for lone working, booths with integrated technology to work on that presentation, sound proofed pods for lone working and telephone hoods and booths for private phone calls.
Workplace wellbeing is closely linked to our need for quiet too. Effective workplaces should comprise a collection of spaces – spaces that support different tasks and requirements, suit different personalities and reflect our need to think, recharge and problem solve. The wellbeing agenda is not just about promoting healthy eating, physical exercise and work life balance. It is about our full range of emotional, physical, mental and spatial needs within the workplace.
We live in a knowledge economy age, where much of our wealth and economic growth is dependent on the quantity, quality and accessibility of the information and the people we have. People and minds are the new machines. It is vital that we give our minds all the care, support and stimuli they require – including sociability, interactivity, belonging, quiet and mindfulness too.
To find out more about workplace wellbeing and how to write a wellbeing agenda, download our Workplace Wellbeing whitepaper, which is full of guidance and advice: