“I love remote working, and now wouldn’t take a role that had me in the office every day… I think more companies need to implement flexible work weeks.”
We uncovered this comment and many like it about remote work in a survey of 200 introverts for Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces. This was before the pandemic hit. Little did we know that circumstances would shift millions of jobs to our homes, where many of them will now remain for the foreseeable future.
About a year into the pandemic, we conducted another survey focusing on introverts. It revealed that remote work was a hands down winner due primarily to less stress, no commutes, and less interruptions.
Against a backdrop of intense change (termed Flux by author April Rinne) we have also had a chance to learn and weigh the impacts of these changes on all types of “verts” – introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts.
Lessons to Apply
Want to keep everyone involved and contributing? We’ve gathered ideas from our discussions with leaders in a wide variety of fields and organizations as they straddle decisions about remote work. Some of them are new ideas, but most draw on sound leadership theory and practice. Here are three lessons.
- Connect – Be intentional about doing this as a leader and teammate. “Check in” calls can be short but should be a regular part of our interactions. Ask people how they are doing before diving straight into the work. This is a best practice from the pandemic and we know people appreciated it more than anything. It builds trust. It also helps us be more effective at our jobs by knowing what others are focused on at work and at home.
Be creative by getting people to meet across functions through ERG’s, Book Clubs, and Mentoring programs.
Extroverts will get energized from these connections and introverts will appreciate the opportunity to share more than small talk and engage in authentic one-on-one conversations.
Call introverts if you have scheduled some time first. Extroverts might be okay if you call spontaneously, but do ask if they prefer an appointment.
- Be a Virtual Ninja – Even the neophytes among us have amped up our Zoom skills over the last few years. Agree on your cameras on/off guidelines together and know that it helps to see faces whenever possible. Balance this with the fatigue factor.
Use those breakouts, chats, shared screens, and polls to engage everyone in meetings and trainings. Schedule your meetings so that there is some space between them. You can agree on this as a team or even as companies like Capital One and Synchrony have. That means ending meetings 5-10 minutes early to give people breathing room and bio breaks.
- Listen, Really Listen – This goes with point #1, but is important in all your interactions. It is so easy to multitask when on calls all day – but don’t. You might miss a key point that will help you gain insight into a project, task, or person.
In a typical group session, the ideas of quieter contributors rarely surface. One sales leader realized that none of the introverts shared during weekly conference calls and so he gave others a chance to be heard. “I decided to wait for at least five comments before I spoke up. It was hard, but worth it because we heard many new voices.”
My hats off to all of you who are faced with the decisions about remote, hybrid, and office work. You have done it with grace. We will see how the future unfolds and if verts of all kind continue to weigh in with resounding nods to remote work. Putting some of these lessons into play will increase the chances of success while we are figuring it out.