Open plan offices, brainstorming sessions, group collaboration…a set-up that works beautifully for extroverts.
Nurturing their need for social interaction and ‘buzzy’ environments, the modern offices of today have become increasingly biased towards extroverts who happily gain energy from being around others.
However, for the quieter introverts amongst us? It’s quite a different story.
As someone who is highly introverted, working in a busy and open plan environment leaves me completely and utterly exhausted. So much so that during my days as an employee I used to get into work one hour before everyone else just so I could claim a solitary moment alone before the crowds arrived.
I never got paid for that hour which ultimately meant I was working 5 hours every week for free. That’s 20 hours a month, and around 240 hours a year. Not a great situation to be in, right?
But here’s the thing. No one was making me arrive at the crack of dawn. Setting my alarm an hour earlier than everyone else was a decision that I personally chose to make. Why? Because I knew it was the only way I could get through the day – I savored that hour on my own every morning.
Sitting alone in that huge office surrounded by empty chairs and silent telephones was my favorite moment of the day.
It was quiet, peaceful and the only time I felt I could really and truly breathe. I was more productive, more creative and more focused than at any other time at work, and I loved it.
But there was always a problem. That quiet time? It was temporary.
At 8.50am I would gradually begin to hear the distant and familiar sounds that made my heart sink.
The creak of the front door opening…the murmurs of early chit-chat…the click of the kettle being switched on… My colleagues were starting to arrive.
And as the chairs slowly filled up around me, the peaceful environment that had suited me so perfectly quickly made its getaway to be replaced with the regular hustle and bustle that everyone else seemed so comfortable with.
Exhaustion ensued as day after day I turned up to a job and an office that drained my energy and left me feeling numb.
And so one day I made a change. And I started a business.
That situation I described above doesn’t happen to me anymore – these days life is a little different.
For starters, I’m not writing this blog post from a busy open plan office. Instead, I’m sitting in a lush green park. The sun is shining down on me, I can hear the birds singing, and there isn’t a telephone in site – for me, it’s absolute bliss.
And the best part? If I wanted to, I could work like this every single day. Pretty sweet, huh?
But starting a business wasn’t always in the cards for me.
In fact when I was in my twenties it never even crossed my mind to set up on my own. The world of business seemed scary, risky and the kind of thing that was designed for big personalities with bags of confidence and swagger – hardly something a quiet, softly spoken creative type would be successful in, right?
Over the last few years I’ve realized something. Business has changed. And for introverts across the world, doors have been opening onto new and life-changing opportunities that simply didn’t exist twenty years ago.
Not only that but introverts are doing incredibly well. It turns out that the quiet, deep thinkers of this world can make wonderful leaders, creators and entrepreneurs. It’s almost as though the modern style of business was designed with introverts in mind.
And here’s why:
You can use technology to your advantage
The internet has become a savior for introverts. The development of internet based businesses has opened up massive opportunities for earning a living from home, whilst the growth of online resources have allowed introverts to market themselves in a way that is in line with their strengths.
By using resources such as social media, blogging and newsletters, introverts can successfully build up a strong following and sell their products and services in a way that fits comfortably with their personalities. So you see, you don’t have to go to lots of scary networking events to be successful!
You get to choose when and where you work
Whether you want to spend your days working quietly from home or travelling the world, becoming your own boss allows you the freedom to choose.
It means that when you want some alone time, you can make it happen. Anytime of day, any day of the week. With no barriers, no manager and no open plan office, you are left free to find the space you need for daydreaming, reflecting, re-energizing, and finding your wonderful creativity.
You have full creative control
When you’re in charge, YOU call the shots which ultimately means you can create a business that fits beautifully with your natural born strengths. You can allow your gut instincts, intuition and reflections to guide you and you have the freedom to work only with individuals who are on your wavelength.
Forget jumping through hoops or asking permission, once you start a business you’re liberated from that. And speaking from personal experience? It’s pretty damn amazing.
Running a business isn’t going to be for everyone and I won’t lie – it takes hard work, determination and commitment. But do you know what? The day I decided to take hold of the reigns and create positive change in my life was the best decision I ever made. I’m free to live life the way I want, and I’ve truly never been happier.
Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to individuals across the globe who want more freedom, solitude and creativity in their careers.
Through her blog and Quiet Creations: Kick-Start course she helps people to embrace their introversion in all it’s glory while creating a life they love.
Find out more about Quiet Creations: Kick-Start here.
I LOVE your article! I,, too, know exactly what you mean about feeling “sad” when the crowd–even a few other people–begin to arrive. I ALSO either worked early or late to savor the “alone” time I found so productive. I, too, would like to start my own business, but I detest trying to learn the whole media thing. It’s not my “thing”, and I know that will stop me cold from moving forward. I know I’ll need to make myself do this technological part of my learning curve, but it feels horrible to learn something I don’t like. (Much of what I’ve always done involves being forced to learn things I have absolutely no interest in, but that I know are necessary.) Do you have any suggestions for making swallowing that part of the pill easier? Thanks!