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FCW : November 30, 2013
Extroverts, introverts and GSA s new of ce The General Services Administra- tion has promoted its new of ce space in downtown Washington as the latest stage in the evolu- tion of the modern workplace. The of ce is open, non-hierarchical and designed with teamwork in mind. Although GSA of cials are quick to point out that the new workspace includes 232 private rooms, with more than 150 that can easily be reserved and 80 that don t require reservations, the whole idea is to knock down walls, make cubicles a thing of the past and ing open the doors to the of ce of tomorrow. But what about people who pre- fer to work in peace and privacy? Is the modern of ce space too accommodating of extroverts at the expense of introverts? For another take on GSA s work- place transformation, FCW talked with Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can t Stop Talking." What are your thoughts about the move to more open workspaces? I think that these kinds of spaces can be really problematic. I think they re problematic for everybody, by the way, for extroverts as well as introverts, because in an open of ce plan it s extremely hard for people to focus, [and] they are subject to constant interruptions. People actually get sick more often because they re out there all the time. But it s particularly problematic for introverts because introverts by de nition need more quiet time in order to be able to focus. We know from research that introverts do their best work when they re in quieter spaces. When they have fewer distractions around them, they will literally perform better. So I think it s a real mistake for com- panies to be designing of ce plans that put everybody out there into a big, open, noisy, distractible space. Now the reality is that many companies are looking to save real-estate costs, and open of ce plans are much, much cheaper than traditional of ce spaces, so what I would say to those companies is if you must have an open of ce plan, at least make sure to introduce quiet spaces within that of ce plan --- places where people can go to be alone or to be with other people but to be in a very quiet, non-social place. If these open spaces aren't con- ducive to introverts, should we go back to the old cubicle workspace, or is there a happy medium? Obviously, most people don t really like cubicles either, so I think a happy medium would be an attrac- tive open-plan space that really has many, many places within it where people can go to be quiet --- so basically an open-plan arrange- ment that gives people choice of what kind of space they want to work in at any given moment, whether they want to be solitary FCW's Reid Davenport speaks with author Susan Cain about how to make sure all employees thrive in open workspaces BY REID DAVENPORT Bookshelf 28 November 30, 2013 FCW.COM Most introverts get into the habit at work of acting much more extroverted than they really are.
November 15, 2013