As organizations are working hard to determine their back-to-the-office policy, I have been doing an informal poll with my clients.
The question I have been asking people is:
“How are you feeling about going back into the office?”
The response has been greatly divided.
After pondering this divide, I’ve realized that’s it’s mainly related to whether someone is introverted or extroverted.
Introverts get their energy from themselves, so a classic response is, “I am very happy and productive working from home and have no desire to go back to the office.”
Extroverts get their energy from others, so a typical response is, “I can’t wait to be around people again. It helps me to work more productively and is more engaging for me.”
Now, for anyone in a leadership role, transitioning your team back into the office will have its challenges.
Not only do you have to navigate a hybrid work model, but you also have to navigate reactions that both introverts and extroverts will have to this transition.
So here are some tips and things to remember as you adjust your style to meet the needs of all work styles on your team.
Let’s start with extroverts since they are typically happy to return to the office in some capacity.
The extroverts on your team can be your biggest ally on days when you are back in the office.
Here are some of their strengths that you can leverage…
- Comfortable with verbal communication and can be very helpful during a debate, discussion, or brainstorming session
- Sociable and outgoing and will be welcoming to everyone on the team
- Energized when working with others and highly productive in a social setting
- Comfortable working in environments that can be noisy or busy
In contrast, some of the introverts on your team may resent coming back into the office. So, it’s important not to judge their reaction but to be understanding and supportive.
Here are some things to remember about how introverts prefer to work…
- Independent and self-sufficient, so don’t need teamwork to feel motivated
- Reflective and like to take information and process it before responding to a question
- Thoughtful and typically prefer to share their insights one-on-one rather than in a large group
- Analytical and prefer a working environment that is quiet which allows them to concentrate and problem solve
So, to manage the people on your team who are introverted, here are some ideas:
- Provide them with time to respond. Introverts appreciate time to respond to a question in an email where they can fully think about their response. So, don’t bombard them with a plethora of questions in a meeting and expect a fully thought-through answer in real-time.
- Be empathetic. Coming back to the office may cause anxiety for introverts. They are letting go of a comfortable, quiet routine at home and heading into a busy social setting.
- Provide time for quiet work. Just because everyone is back in the office doesn’t mean that you need to be working collaboratively all the time. Introverts do their best work when they have space and time to themselves.
Whether your direct reports are introverted or extroverted, everyone brings a unique skill set, approach, and value to the team.
The goal of every leader is to have a diverse team.
You need both work styles to be balanced and effective.
Neither style is good or bad…they are just different.
Remembering this will really help you to balance the needs and strengths of the people on your team as you navigate the challenges of a hybrid workplace model.