As a tested and retested ambivert, I thrive in the ebb and flow environment of a coworking space. It seems like there are just enough people around when I need them and just enough quiet spaces available when I don’t. However, if you’re a hardcore introvert, the kind that confidently proclaims you don’t even like people, you may be wondering if coworking is for you.
Shouldn’t we just stay home?
Work from home opportunities abound these days, and introverts tend to gravitate to them. Control over your environment, the ability to work without feeling stared at, and autonomy over your work-flow and wardrobe cater to the independent and intrinsically motivated, two common traits of introverts. However, being introverted doesn’t mean you want to be perpetually isolated from people, so what can coworking offer that a home or public office can’t? In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain defines introversion by relying on terminology from Carl Jung, the psychologist who first popularized the words introvert and extrovert. Cain says, “Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling…Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them, extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.” Before you get too hung up on how true or false those statements may be for you, Jung also said, “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.” Therefore, it’s okay to generalize a bit when talking about the traits and preferences of introverts and extroverts.
What do introverts need to work well with others?
In general, introverts work best when they:
- Have a private place to work
- Can remove themselves from social situations when they need downtime
- Aren’t forced into group projects or have to depend on others to complete tasks
- Have a certain amount of freedom with their schedule, environment, and workflow
- Have a workspace that feels calm and orderly
- Can be themselves and don’t feel pressured to conform to an environment that is wildly out of their comfort zone
When I performed a very un-scientific poll of my coworkers at The Roost & The Hatch, I found it interesting that all of the extroverts simply answered the question, “Would you define yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?” directly and with very few words. The introverts? They all gave lengthy answers, some even expressed ambiguity, and one outright requested to answer in person so they could discuss their response. The way my coworkers answered says a lot about the difference between the groups, and it affirms many of Susan Cain’s observances in Quiet. It is also interesting to note that our coworking community is made up of a majority of introverts or ambiverts. Apparently, in our community at least, coworking works well for many introverts.
Could coworking be the perfect fit for an introvert?
I believe all personality types can thrive in a coworking environment, but their dynamic and structure may include many benefits for introverts. For introverts who need more social interaction than their family or pet can offer at the home office, here are a couple of key reasons they should consider coworking. First of all, coworking spaces are filled with people who work in different industries. Those people aren’t usually directly connected to your own team or company which can be a lot less threatening in the social realm. Because you don’t have to interact with them, and success in your work isn’t tied to getting along with them, relationships with coworkers are a lot less complicated than relationships with actual co-workers in your own company.
Intentional relationships inspire meaningful conversations, something introverts thrive on.
Secondly, coworking spaces offer a variety of workspaces designed for the preferences of a variety of people. Group spaces, lounge areas, private offices, common areas, and workstations with varied layouts and vibes offer a multitude of options for where to work. Introverts can choose where they want to work permanently, or they can have flexibility depending on the rules at their coworking space and their personal preferences.
Freedom to work where they want in the environment they prefer makes introverts feel peaceful and calm.
Lastly, unlike working from home in total isolation, there are social activities in coworking spaces, and they tend to be optional. Because these events are optional, there is a lot less pressure to conform. People understand if you have a meeting, or a deadline, or are just not in the mood to socialize. Free spirits are encouraged because most coworkers are, well, free spirits. Having the freedom to be with people when you’re up for it and opt out when you’re not is a huge benefit for introverts.
Low pressure social events reduce social anxiety for introverts.
We’ve got good news for you… It’s totally up to you to decide. If you’re a remote worker, and you’re looking for a place to connect with others, introversion alone shouldn’t deter you from considering coworking as a solid option for creating a successful work environment. With the key ingredients of flexibility, diversity, and freedom in both environment and company, a coworking space may be just the thing you need to enjoy the benefits of working with others while continuing to stay true to your personality traits.