The notion that successful business people are both confident and gregarious has been around for decades, but the tide began to shift against so-called extroverts following the 2012 release of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Her argument: Assuming that extroverts are more talented—just because they’re louder and more apt to speak up in meetings—has actually meant that we’re wasting a huge talent resource. She describes in her book that the “Extrovert Ideal” has totally transformed workplaces for the worse, placing too high a value on teamwork over independent, autonomous work. Introverts, Cain argues, have skills that extroverts don’t have, like being better listeners and critical thinkers—and considering some studies show that almost half of the population are actually introverts, Cain argues that it would be a huge misstep to ignore this group.
Just like that, all of a sudden it was cool to be an introvert, with the likes of J.K. Rowling, Warren Buffett, and Google Founder Larry Page being labeled as such (and fueling the rise of viral articles like 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand).
Considering that private offices are fast becoming a relic of the past, even for senior executives (Facebook, for instance, is unveiling a room at its new campus big enough to hold 10,000 employees), Cain is especially insistent that open offices should be adjusted to help introverts work more efficiently.
Now, it looks like introverts may get the offices they deserve. Cain has partnered with Steelcase, the office furniture maker, to create “Quiet Spaces” designed especially for introverts. The collaboration consists of five pods which can be dropped into offices—one includes a desk, for instance, and another is designed around a yoga mat. The key here is that all will have walls, as each room is built with glass that, according to Steelcase, is 100 percent sound proof. The opacity of the walls can even be adjusted for added privacy.
Cain told Fast Company: “These are spaces where people can innovate. Solitude is a crucial ingredient in innovation.”
The first prototypes will apparently roll out this month at NeoCon, the biggest interior design conference in the country, and they’ll be officially available later this summer. Being an introvert apparently doesn’t come cheap, though! The rooms start at around $10,000 a piece and go up from there.
What environment do you work best in? Share your thoughts in the comments below!