- For introverts, spending some time around people is essential, and for extroverts, spending some time alone is vital.
- During COVID lockdowns, for introverts, it was a meme of sorts that the world has finally changed for their benefit.
- On the flip side, the mental health toll of COVID seems to have disproportionately affected extroverts due to social distancing. Remote work might not be the best option for extroverts, who prefer being around people most of the time.
Most people are extroverts. By psychometric testing, roughly 50% to 74% of the human population are considered extroverts.
Most infrastructure – including work infrastructure – is built for the majority. Hence, social-life, work-life, school-life, and society overwhelmingly cater to the needs of extroverts – often at the expense of introverts.
Introverts make up roughly 25% to 40% of the human population, so while introverts are not a majority, there are billions of introverts.
Extroverts get their energy and well-being from being around other people. In contrast, introverts get their energy and well-being from being alone most of the time.
Introverts might find working around others distressing
If you made introverts and extroverts swap places, it would be quite distressing for both parties.
Making someone who thrives being around other people be alone will make them depressed and anxious, and making someone who flourishes when they’re alone be around other people all day will make them depressed and anxious.
For introverts, spending some time around people is essential, and for extroverts, spending some time alone is vital. Without breaks on either end, social and psychological difficulties can develop, such as isolation and the inability to be alone.
But for the most part, introverts need to be alone most of the time, or else it will become difficult for them to regulate their energy levels and emotions. During COVID lockdowns, for introverts, it was a meme of sorts that the world has finally changed for their benefit: mandatory alone time!
On the flip side, the mental health toll of COVID seems to have disproportionately affected extroverts due to social distancing. Remote work might not be the best option for extroverts, who prefer being around people most of the time.
Having work options is fair and far more efficient
Nevertheless, the world of work – e.g., office culture – has always catered to extroverts, often ignoring introverts altogether. The world and its socio-cultural structural dynamics are called the “extrovert’s world” by psychologists for this very reason.
Introverts, however, are not a small number of the population. Introverts are very common.
Many people at work who appear extroverted are the opposite on the inside and are placing immense pressure on themselves to exhaust their efforts to appear “normal” in the extrovert’s world.
The world of work is more often than not catered to extroverts, at least in part because most of the people calling the shots are themselves extroverts, who perpetuate what is known as the “similarity bias” in psychology. We’d all be working alone if the world mostly had introverts.
Not to mention that introverts who fail to disguise themselves as extroverts seldom appear to the extrovert’s world, as introverts deserving of understanding instead appear as snobbish misanthropes, ultimately making their situation worse through utter misrepresentation and intolerance of difference.
Even if there is a glimmer of truth to that mischaracterization, an introvert will appear snobbish in an extrovert’s environment precisely because that environment drains them of their energy and emotional fortitude – not because of the introverted person.
When introverts work alone, they are not equally productive but are more effective than their extroverted counterparts when they work around other people. It is counterproductive not to have a remote option for workers with this empirical observation in mind when so many people are introverts.
Having this option can allow them to flourish instead of making them feel as if a neutral part of their personality is something that needs fixing. Giving options does not exclude – it is simply a way of tapping into the talents of people who require solitude by accommodating that need.
When given such options, introverts can prove to be even better leaders for extroverts than extroverted leaders are. Extroversion is much less correlated with open-mindedness than introversion is. Therefore, workers will have a better chance of having their ideas heard by an introverted leader.
It is unlikely that the extrovert’s world will ever go away. Humans are highly social creatures, and extroversion as the dominant personality trait is mainly heritable.
Nevertheless, this does not mean introverts should receive no accommodations. On the contrary, companies can and should make accommodations for introverts, as the pandemic should have taught us that.
Extroverts could gain empathetic insight from the effects lockdowns had on their mental health and extrapolate those adverse effects onto the default situation for introverts, which has equally negative consequences for workers’ mental health.