There’s little doubt that the principles of office design have changed pretty dramatically since the advent of the Information Age. Over the course of the past two decades, there’s been a general tendency to abandon the cubicle in favor of more open floor plans. Back in the 1980s and 90s, the cubicle was a ubiquitous feature of office like. Today, it’s come to be viewed as a symbol of workplace isolation. While open floor plans have been embraced by a large part of the workforce, a recent study conducted by the business psychologists at OPP concluded that many introverts are not so fond of the design trend.
OPP, who is the European distributer of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, surveyed the 300 people who had previously completed a personality test. The survey asked a series of questions regarding the participants’ workplaces and their attitudes towards them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, extroverts were generally happier and more satisfied with their jobs.
They also found that open floor plans and shared workspaces tended to make introverts feel uncomfortable, rather than more at ease. John Hackston, head of R&D at OPP had this to say about the study’s findings. “Understanding how personality interacts with the office environment is key to improving job satisfaction and productivity. These results support previous research into the unpopularity of open-plan offices and hot desking and the positive effects of personalization. However, there are some simple changes that can be made to improve staff satisfaction and increase productivity.”
The bottom line, according to Hackson, is that companies should do their best to stay mindful of the diverse sets of personalities that their workforces are composed of. By including quiet, secluded spaces in their office design, they can help introverted employees to be as satisfied and productive as their extroverted counterparts.