In any economy and season, introverts have been misunderstood. In today’s coronavirus world, examining how an introvert copes with work from home versus the extrovert may explain why there is such a dichotomy of how people feel about this strange time.
The basic definition of Introverts and Extroverts
To clarify this issue, I need to dispel the misconceptions of what is an introvert and what is an extrovert. The best definition I have heard is that it has much to do with energy.
Let me borrow from The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling:
Jung was the first to propose the model of psychic energy, suggesting that for introverts, energy flows inward, while for extroverts, energy flows outward. Introverts tend to embrace this definition.
In other words, introverts function well in many external-facing as well as leadership roles but they refresh and recharge by returning home. The extrovert, on the other hand, often craves being out “doing.”
A clear example of this is that I am an introvert and my husband is an extrovert. He loves to do the shopping and being out and about. Since I always work from home, this works very well.
I can and have led groups and organizations in the past. My resume writing and coaching have always been done live and interactively via Zoom sessions so on most days, I meet with three or more clients in one hour+ sessions. I re-energize by reading books, watching TV, gardening, taking naps, cooking, and many other activities.
My husband is retired and will soon be 73 but he loves to be out and about. During normal times, he found ways to get out daily to shop or do other projects. These days, he is still the shopper but I limit the number of them and he has had to find alternative projects for his energy.
How an Introvert copes with Work from Home versus an Extrovert
Many introverts even before COVID-19 may have either already worked from home or they wished they could. Introverts typically dislike the open office concept used in many corporate offices today.
As I interview clients, executives, leaders, as well as individual contributors, they often remark on how hard it is to concentrate when working in an open office concept. Though corporate offices with the open concept have conference rooms, those rooms typically are not available to take over by an individual who wants to work in a quiet space.
My colleagues often asked in career industry forums for music suggestions. I don’t even want music. Since my sessions are live, music would interrupt our work sessions.
However, even now as I am writing, I just enjoy the noises from the birds outside and occasional barks from my office companion, Buddy.
My extroverted colleagues shared lists of music they loved, plans to go out in the evenings and weekends, speaking engagements, and other events to plan.
Working from home for the extrovert can be endured but many say they miss the comradery of working in an office, going out to lunch, and meetings with clients and staff.
How does this impact the spread of the virus?
Working from home definitely limits the spread of the virus because you don’t have all the interactions with other staff members as well as the interactions with clients, vendors, and sales professionals.
Since we can’t eat in restaurants, this limits your contact with others. In addition, many people had commutes of up to two hours on both sides of their day, a fact that I can’t even imagine.
Fast Company shared an article entitled, “We’re in the midst of a massive work-from-home experiment. What if it works?”
“Coronavirus is going to expose more people to working remotely than ever,” he says. “Most people will see that it is very possible and start to grow accustomed to the benefits of [remote work], including autonomy, no commute, and less distractions than open offices. Companies that don’t allow remote work already are going to have to continue supporting it going forward, now that they have proven to themselves that it works.”
Example of how this Introvert copes with Work from Home versus an Extrovert
I personally hope never to return to an office environment. However, I have almost 40 years of working from home in one capacity or another. My commute is from the bedroom end to the office end of my house.
Often my day starts as early as 5:30am and often ends at 10pm. I work 96% of my Saturdays too. However, I am not rigid in my work-from-home philosophy. I take breaks to do housework, eat, and even take naps. I tell my clients that the naps help ensure that I have a brain for all of my clients.
Can the extrovert survive working from home?
Definitely, but the extrovert needs to find ways to get those interaction moments into the day.
- Zoom calls with clients and colleagues can break up the monotony.
- Exercise with others using Zoom or another video technology.
- Order food from restaurants to help the restaurant industry survive and give yourselves something to look forward to in this time.
- Get outside as much as you are allowed. If you have a yard, most parts of the country are warming up and have the opportunity for you to get some fresh air.
- Inject music into your day. Spotify or Pandora can be your working companion to keep it from being too quiet.
- Run the necessary errands.
I hope this article gives you some perspective on how an introvert sees work-from-home versus the extrovert. This will end eventually.
In the meantime, if you are concerned that your career will change as an aftermath of this virus or you just want to be prepared, this is the perfect time to get your resume updated, be trained on best LinkedIn practices with a new LinkedIn profile, and in general, get your career path going. Learn more.