Are you an extrovert? About half of the people in the U.S. are. But what exactly does that mean? The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality assessment model says extroverts tend to focus attention on — and are energized by — interaction with the outside world of people, things, and experiences. In contrast, introverts focus on — and are energized by — inner thoughts and feelings.
To be clear, this is not binary. It’s a spectrum. In other words, extroverts have an inner life, and introverts interact with the outside world. But everyone leans in one direction or the other.
Historically, the business world has aligned more closely with extroverts’ needs. For example, think about open-plan offices that define so many work environments. As Susan Cain notes in her book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the modern office is “designed for extraverts.”
However, the pandemic has dramatically changed workplace norms. Now, many people work from home, at least part of the time. How is this shift affecting extroverts? Are they adapting successfully? Let’s take a closer look:
How Extroverts Feel About Working From Home
You might think extroverts would resist working from home, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, 78% of extroverts recently told us they enjoy working from home, while 74% said they appreciate the peace and quiet of a home office. (Not surprisingly, introverts are even more enthusiastic, with 88% and 86% answering affirmatively.)
Yet, some aspects of home-based work are particularly challenging for extroverts. For instance, 69% said they miss having people around them (compared with only 39% of introverts).
Work-From-Home Guidelines For Extroverts
If your personality preference leans toward extroversion, how can you improve your work-from-home experience? Here are some suggestions:
- Extroversion isn’t just about connecting with people — it’s also about connecting with your surroundings. Make your home an interesting, stimulating place to work. If possible, choose a location with a window and natural light. Hang pictures around the room, add items you can interact with, and play music you enjoy.
- Take hourly breaks by briefly “visiting” another room in your home — even if it’s just the hallway. If needed, set an alarm as a reminder.
- Spaces outside your house or apartment are great places to connect with the external world. Take a walk around the block before work, at lunch, or at the end of the day. If you have a garden or a balcony, step outside occasionally to enjoy some fresh air.
- Regular contact with others in your world is important. Take time to interact with family members. If possible, join them for lunch or coffee and a chat. Take time to say hello to your neighbors whenever you cross paths. And when participating in online calls, use video if possible.
- Reach out to connect and communicate with co-workers. Schedule regular informal meetings and get-togethers. Seek out opportunities to collaborate on projects. Working together virtually can foster social interaction and build a sense of teamwork. Look for industry-related communities you can join, so you can develop a broader professional network. Reach out to introverted colleagues, too — they may want to participate.
- Invite co-workers to meet up in person. If possible, rather than working exclusively from home, choose a hybrid work schedule or consider a co-working space, so you can feel part of a more socially connected environment.
- To be sure you don’t forget breaks and meetings, schedule them. Also, schedule breaks between online meetings. Back-to-back sessions can be tiring for everyone — even extroverts!
- It’s easy to get distracted when working from home. Therefore, book specific times on your calendar for focused work. Also, choose a quiet space for this kind of work, so you can minimize disruptions.
Work-From-Home Success Tips For Each Extrovert Personality Type
Extroversion and introversion are not the only aspects of personality covered by the MBTI model. The framework also considers 3 other characteristics. Specifically, how individuals prefer to:
- Process information (Sensing “S” or Intuition “N”)
- Make decisions (Thinking “T” or Feeling “F”)
- Interact with the outside world (Judging “J” or Perceiving “P”).
Together, these traits combine to define eight distinct extrovert types:
ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ENTJ.
Below are detailed tips to help people with each of these extrovert personality types work effectively from home:
- Add variety to your day by pursuing diverse tasks.
- Between each activity, do something to stimulate your senses. Look out the window, go outdoors, or talk to someone.
- Make use of the flexibility remote working offers — but remember that others may not appreciate a late-night email or video call.
- Plan blocks of time when you’ll be able to avoid distractions. Assign focused work to these time slots.
- In your leisure time, do something physically active and energizing.
- Make work interesting by involving others in your projects.
- Fill your day with a variety of people and tasks.
- Set aside time when you won’t allow yourself to be distracted by people or unrelated conversations. Use this time to concentrate on tasks you need to get done.
- Try not to snack too much, overindulge in treats, or binge-watch TV.
- In your leisure time, go dancing, play a team sport, or pursue other physical activities with people you enjoy.
- Find trusted co-workers with whom you can share ideas online.
- Immerse yourself in a creative work project.
- Take a break from routine tasks to connect with people.
- Working from home frees you to be flexible about where, when, and how you work. But remember to consider others’ work priorities and patterns before contacting them.
- Even when working remotely, some people or situations may require a quick response. Act accordingly.
- Seek out co-workers who are open to regular online communication.
- Develop remote communication channels and use them to ask questions and recommend ideas to others.
- Take frequent breaks when working on routine tasks.
- When working from home it’s easier to be flexible about where, when, and how you work. But be sure to consider others’ work patterns and preferences before you contact them.
- Some messages or requests from others require a quick response. Don’t forget to reply and don’t spend too long deliberating.
- Start your day by planning and prioritizing the tasks ahead.
- Use video in online meetings. Pay attention to how people react when you’re speaking, and respond appropriately.
- Be tactful in online communication and avoid being overly direct or aggressive. Check emails or messages for tone before you send them, especially if you feel rushed, stressed, or upset.
- Be sure to establish a dedicated home office or working area. If it seems too quiet, take a break, go for a walk, or connect with family and friends. You’re allowed to be flexible!
- When family, friends, and co-workers are facing challenges, they may need emotional support. You’re likely to be more effective by listening first, rather than jumping directly into problem-solving mode.
- Create a separate home office or work space, away from others. This will help you concentrate and focus.
- Find ways to stay in contact with the people you know. Schedule regular informal meetings and get-togethers to nurture those relationships.
- Establish virtual work traditions and rituals to help bring people together online and support a connected culture.
- Communication is more difficult when working remotely. Be careful not to jump to conclusions or take offense when none was intended. Feel free to ask questions when you’re unclear, and encourage others to do the same.
- Colleagues and business contacts might not want to meet in person, via video, or on the phone. Email and direct messaging are legitimate channels that keep you connected with others throughout your work day.
- Keep in touch with people and keep track of what’s going on by participating in regular informal meetings or virtual meetups. Invite friends and co-workers, old and new, to participate — but keep in mind that others may prefer not to join in.
- Build consensus by soliciting ideas, bringing them together, and providing online discussion forums or feedback channels.
- Others might skip the pleasantries in an email or IM, particularly if they’re busy or distracted. Try not to assume you’re being criticized when no offense is intended.
- If your working day is too quiet, take a moment to connect with family or friends periodically.
- Remember, you can’t support everyone all the time. Don’t forget your own needs!
- Pay attention to details when developing and implementing plans.
- Working from home may seem productive. But take care not to push decisions through without seeking input from others about their views, opinions, and ideas.
- In online meetings, picking up on social cues can be difficult. Give everyone a chance to speak. Use video if possible.
- Try not to be overly directive when interacting online. Maintain a balance between directing and listening.
- Check emails or other written communications before you send them, especially if you’re feeling stressed or you’re in a hurry.