Introverts and the Open Floor Plan

WRITTEN BY rightsize


How to manage the open office environment regardless of personality type.

As the open office floor plan continues to trend in the world of office space design, multiple studies have been conducted as to how different generations and personality types thrive (or don’t thrive) in this type of environment. The results show that there are some people who are less apt to succeed in the open workplace, preferring the option of privacy to conduct conference calls, decompress and concentrate on a specific task distraction free.

In a recent study by IPSOS and Steelcase, they found that office workers have five key privacy needs that managers and business owners should attempt to address, ranging from strategic anonymity to intentional shielding. “People not only expect privacy in their private lives – they want it at the office as well”, say Bostjan Ljubic, of Steelcase in a recent article. ”For people to collaborate with their colleagues more effectively they need less ‘we’ time and more ‘me’ time than they are getting today.”

Rightsize breaks down a few of the basic privacy needs Steelcase identifies in the study, and how to conquer them to create a more productive workplace.

Strategic Anonymity: This is the ability to become invisible for a time, free of normal social surveillance that can detract from conversation. Rightsize Tip: Buildout private meeting rooms, cafeterias and other alternative work spaces to allow workers to get away temporarily if the workspace gets too loud to be productive.

Selective Exposure: Not every person wants their work product and personal information “out there” for all to see, and the choice varies based on the individual. Rightsize Tip: Set up small conference areas where people can privately conduct video conferences, discuss proposals and have phone calls without having to publicly divulge their presentations, client information and ideas.

Entrusted Confidence: Many workers want to be able to conduct private conversations with managers and colleagues in an anonymous setting. Rightsize Tip: Encourage managers to hold meetings in less visible locations, ideally a place that is offset by doors and opaque glass. This will help build trust and camaraderie among managers and workers.

Intentional Shielding: Many workers like to create a personal space by the use of earphones or sitting with their backs against a wall. Rightsize Tip: Allow the more introverted workers to utilize the more private areas of the open offices. Embrace the use of headphones and panels to create privacy when needed.

Purposeful Solitude: Some workers prefer to work within quiet spaces in the office, or sit in empty corners of larger rooms—physically separating themselves from coworkers in order to “concentrate, recharge, express emotions, rejuvenate or engage in personal activities.” Rightsize Tip: When a worker figures out the environment that works best for them, encourage managers to embrace that. The additional flexibility will work wonders in overall flexibility for the whole team.

The key to creating a productive workspace is to embrace the different ways that people work and design a workplace that supports different personality types. While trends in workplace design will continue to arise, businesses are best served embracing the layout that works best for their employees. The end result will be increased efficiency, higher workplace satisfaction and a team that knows how to work together more effectively.

About Rightsize:

Rightsize Facility Performance, headquartered in Chicago, IL, is a nationwide office interiors and facilities services firm serving corporate clients in transition. Founded in 2004, Rightsize employs an industry leading “Design/Furnish” approach to ensure seamless workplace transitions and is a single source for interior design, furniture procurement, delivery and installation, asset disposition, facility decommissioning and ancillary project services.  Through its Office Furniture Center brand, which includes and a 200,000-square-foot showroom, Rightsize also provides a single source for quality workstations, desks, seating, filing, conference and reception furniture. For more information please visit

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