The popular image of coworking spaces is typically very social, with lots of fun activities, gaming/recreation pool tables, group outings, cappuccinos and free-flowing beer on demand, all to keep members energized, relaxed, and networking with one another. Home away from home. Extrovert’s haven!
What about coworking for introverts and those with other personality types?
The truth is, coworking spaces support various work styles. Quieter folks can flourish in coworking spaces.
Indeed, coworking can be great for introverts because it provides the opportunity to work in an incredibly focused, driven atmosphere, surrounded by passionate, like-minded professionals.
The Introvert and Their Comfort Zone
An introverted personality, I discovered, is a relative concept. It changes over time, and in different settings. There are a wide range of ways to be an introvert. It is about where an individual gets their energy from. Being an introvert isn’t a personality stamp or fixed set of traits, but more like qualities that fall somewhere on a spectrum.
There are days when introverts would love to collaborate with others or just crave casual conversations.
The Workspace Design
The ultimate in intentional space design to attract introverts is found in the collaboration between Steelcase and Susan Cain, author of the best seller, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The author and the furniture company recently teamed up to form Susan Cain Quiet Spaces by Steelcase which offers five diverse ways to support introverts at work. Cain suggests workers are often left dealing with the stimulation of their workplace with little opportunity to tailor their environment based on their mood or need for privacy and focus.
A key element in Quiet Spaces is “Permission to be alone” This means having access to private, quiet spaces free from interruption, spaces that support focus and innovation, providing a respite from an otherwise highly stimulating workplace. Making these spaces available to introverts signals that the organization understands and respects their need to work differently. When shopping for a coworking space as an introvert, ask about how collegiality and quiet are balanced within the physical space itself.
How Can Introverts Make the Most of the Co-Working Experience?
“A vibrant coworking community doesn’t usually blossom without a bit of help. Coworking spaces which employ a designated community curator are amongst the most successful because they actively encourage a diverse set of skills and collaboration. People sometimes need a helping hand to interact and work together, which is why curated coworking spaces are a great option.” (The Overlooked Attributes of Every Successful Coworking Space)
Opting for a curated space is critical to success as a coworking introvert. That means looking for a space staffed with a team who does more than just keep the coffee machine working. Here at Impact Hub Boston, our Hosts act as community facilitators, engaging with members to help them build connections and enjoy the space. In addition, our Hosting Team work-trade members trade a few hours of their time each week in exchange for membership. This program identifies potential community curators of all personality types who can bring care and connection to the space by helping their fellow members.
Facilitated community, quiet spaces, and a welcoming attitude towards all work styles all make for an introvert-friendly office. Here are some more ways to thrive while coworking as an introvert:
- Tap Into the Expertise of Community Managers:
From making formal introductions to helping identify members with a common interest,
Community Managers serve as guides to facilitate networking. Ask for the best places or people to sit by to relax during these times. They know exactly who the quiet ones are in the coworking space and you may just make a connection at the end of it.
- Attend events hosted by the facility.
Participating in hosted events is a great way to take the pressure off making new friends and connections at a new job or work environment. These events are opportunities for introverts to break the ice with the workers they interact with daily
- Take Time to Recharge
When you have just had enough social interaction, take time for yourself to recharge and collect your thoughts.
Many coworking spaces also offer quiet zones designed for this very purpose. Be sure to utilize these tools when needed to relax. Put on headphones, sit quietly for a while and refocus.
Advantages of Coworking for Introverts
Introverts often enjoy being around other people, and even need that company to keep themselves sane. They chose coworking to gain a focused working environment that provides company and small talk, observed
Ziosk, a Kolkata-based shared space facility that explored ways co-working spaces are valuable for many different personalities.
- Shared workplaces generate a powerful sense of community
Working in seclusion often creates an insular feeling that has a negative impact. The community is one of the biggest positives of coworking and the reason why introverts switch from work-from-home. At a coworking space, even when you are working alone, you are never lonely.
- The flexibility to work alone, while together.
Shared workplaces give introverts a choice and flexibility. They can work with other entrepreneurs or work away in solitude. The choices of environments are designed to support various needs and personality types at a given time.
- Increased well-being: For introverts, their well-being was increased through more social opportunities. The value for introverts is more likely to be an increase in their well-being, (Insights from the Global Coworking Survey)
As an introvert myself, I have found coworking at Impact Hub Boston has kept me connected while allowing me to focus. The community offers a good blend of lively activity and quiet focus time, with no pressure to engage in socializing. The relaxed atmosphere means you can network, then recharge, on your schedule – or opt not to network at all, just enjoying the peaceful environment, pretty views, and coffee.