Is the Home Office Bad for Introverts?

There has been a lot of talk recently about the power of quiet and the important contributions and innovations introverts make. A spin-off of this discussion on GigaOm.com questions if working at home is bad for introverts. Will introverted telecommuters become emotionally isolated?

photo of emily dickinson

Emily Dickinson was NOT an introvert.

Introverts and extroverts handle energy differently, according to psychologist Carl Jung.  And they have different environmental stimulation thresholds.  In this context I am talking about personal emotional, cognitive and physical energy as well as the energy in an environment from the people, sights, sounds and activity in a space.

Extroverts:

  • Gain energy from other people and from places where a lot is going on
  • Are pumped up by team meetings, brainstorming sessions, loud upbeat music and physical movement
  • Need outside stimulation to recharge themselves
  • Once they are charged up they are able to tackle a project

Many stage performers are extroverts – they feed-off the energy of the audience, the bigger the better.

Introverts:

  • Use their energy to connect with other people during an interaction
  • Use their energy to buffer themselves for overwhelming stimulation from high energy environments
  • Need privacy and quiet to recharge themselves
  • Once recharged they are ready to bring innovative thinking to a problem

I am a “friendly introvert”.  I really like people and spending time with them.  As a member of the New England Chapter of the National Speakers Association I spend one day a month at a meeting with fifty fellow speakers. Picture yourself in a room with forty-five high energy extroverts. They are funny, smart, generous people, but by the end of the day I am exhausted because I have to pump-up my own energy to be in sync with theirs’.

Emotional, cognitive and physical energy come from the same “pool” or personal reserve of energy. When you are depleted of one, you are depleted of all. Have you worked hard all day on a challenging mental task and when you stopped you felt physically tired? And “all you did was sit at a desk all day”? Using up your cognitive reserves has depleted your physical and emotional energy.

Are home offices bad for introverts? Introverts are not hermits, they get lonely too and want interaction with others. Telecommuters benefit from telephone or video contact with colleagues once or twice a day for check-in/updating/idea sharing.  Solopreneurs and freelancers need to consciously schedule coffee shop connections or networking events.  Extroverts need more interaction with other people and more stimulation in their environment.

It’s all about balance.

Maybe the better question is: “Is the home office bad for extroverts”? 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What elements of a work setting are best for you? Are you happy working in a home office?

Please add your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo by Scottallenonline

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Emily Dickinson may have had some introverted qualities but her famous reclusiveness may have more to do with personally caring for her bedridden mother for thirty years – most of her adult life, an overprotective father, depression as a consequence of the deaths of  people she loved, and maybe a soupcon of situational narcissism.

Comments

  1. Margy Rydzynski says:

    Interesting question, Linda. I’m an introvert and fit all the criteria. At the same time I really enjoy teaching and presenting although I don’t think I could do it every day. My home office is my castle, but I schedule enough interactions at coffee shops, etc.,to keep myself from getting lonely.

    After a presentation or a class, I’m exhausted and want only to relax in private.Once I’m recharged, I can head out back into the world. Being constantly around extroverts can really wear me down.

    Thanks for posting!

    Margy

    • Margy-

      You are an excellent example of the classic introvert enjoying people and really connecting with them, and yet need quiet and privacy to re-charge. It sounds like you have your life in balance.