Introverts: Working From Home Works
If someone had told us five years ago that 40 percent (or more) of the American labor force would be working from home in 2020, I don’t know that we would have believed them.
Sure, the number of people working partially or fully remote has been climbing for years now. But until Covid-19 hit, the upward trend was gradual.
Today, and perhaps for many more months still, we’re navigating a “new normal” while we run our businesses remotely, with team members connected solely through email, phone, and video conferencing.
For some, the change has been a hard adjustment; people who thrive in busy work environments find it difficult to stay focused at home, and they crave the human interaction they get from checking in at the office every day.
For others, having the option to sometimes work from home gives them the work-life balance they need and saves them from a daily commute five days a week.
In fact, according to a recent State of Remote Report by Buffer, 98 percent of people surveyed said they’d like to work remotely—at least some of the time—permanently.
That brings us to the group of people who’ve wholeheartedly embraced working from home: introverts.
Introverts Can Succeed in the Workplace
It’s estimated that introverts make up as much as 40 percent of the population, yet there’s still a common misconception that introverts are shy, withdrawn, and socially anxious people.
Compared to extroverts who are typically loud, outgoing, and enthusiastic, introverts may appear quiet, passive, and withdrawn.
What people may not realize, however, is introverts are just as outgoing and enthusiastic. What sets them apart from extroverts is the way they gain energy.
Introverts “recharge” by spending time alone; extroverts gain energy from social interaction. But when it comes to business, introverts are just as capable of succeeding in the workplace.
Some would argue introverts are better business people because they listen more than they speak. And we all know how important listening is to effective communication.
So if you identify as an introvert who prefers to spend time in smaller groups, the transition to a largely digital world amid a global pandemic works in your favor. You can succeed in the workplace just by working the way you’ve always wanted to.
This is where you shine. You excel in situations where you connect one-on-one or in smaller groups. You’re no longer competing to be heard over the extroverts; you feel more comfortable speaking up to share your ideas.
You may not be the best public speaker, but your listening skills and ability to ask good questions make up for it. That gives you an advantage, especially in sales and marketing, where listening is always better than talking.
Tips to Succeed in a Virtual World
Introverts, you’ve been preparing your entire life for this. Never before have we seen ourselves in a position where company meetings have been forced to take place over Zoom or Google Hangouts, and more communication has to happen over the phone or through email and text.
As someone who prefers these methods of communication, you’re in a position to show just how valuable having an introvert on the team can be.
Here are 3 ways introverts working from home can excel:
Stay connected. Now that you and your colleagues are no longer working in a shared space, you have to establish strong connections in other ways. Working from home means you put an effort into making sure you all know where you are on a project or task.
It’s a good idea to come up with a plan to communicate with your boss, manager, or others on your team daily, even if it’s just to check in or give an update on your progress. It could be as simple as a phone call or an email. Whatever method you choose, be consistent. Don’t call only when there are problems; set up a time regularly to ask or invite questions.
By setting up these connection points, you’ll build trust among your colleagues and your boss. Communication will also go a long way to eliminating mistakes and misunderstandings because you’re staying connected and setting a system in which questions can be asked promptly.
Take Initiative. As impressive as the technology is, there are still a lot of challenges associated with working remotely. One of the biggest is communicating effectively.
Here’s an opportunity for you to find ways for your team to communicate better. Or you could suggest virtual processes that can help the business operate more efficiently while everyone is separated.
As an introvert, you may not always be recognized as a leader, and that’s a shame. A research study conducted by Harvard Business Review actually showed that introverts in business are more effective leaders in complex and unpredictable settings. Has there been a more complex or unpredictable setting than Covid-19 in 2020?
Furthermore, the brain of an introverted person is wired to value productivity over recognition, which means you’re motivated by productivity rather than ambition. That’s beneficial to businesses struggling through the pandemic.
Be comfortable on camera. It’s not necessarily true that all introverts dislike public speaking. I’d wager the number of introverts who dislike talking on camera matches the number of all people who prefer not to do it.
However, video conferencing is now a commonplace substitute for in-person meetings, so if you’re an introvert working from home, you might as well learn how to do it well.
Not only that, but video marketing continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As a business owner who’s looking to expand or diversify your marketing, you have to get comfortable with being on camera.
Here’s what we recommend to get you started: Go through your message several times out loud until you’re comfortable with what you want to say. Then turn on the camera and do a practice run delivering your presentation. Do this before your actual presentation so you can play it back and see for yourself what you look and sound like.
For many people, the thought of being on camera is worrisome because they’re concerned with how they look—just like in a live presentation.
By recording yourself first, you can see exactly what your audience sees, and—hopefully—you’ll realize your on-camera performance isn’t as bad as you think.
Every chance you have to talk to the camera will help alleviate the anxiety around doing it. And when the time comes to deliver your presentation, you won’t feel so nervous.
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In Business, Being an Introvert is Good
If you’re an introvert, working remotely has probably been a welcome change from reporting to an office every day, where the setting doesn’t match your personality.
Here’s your chance to demonstrate all the ways being introverted can serve your business and benefit its productivity. Until now, it may not have been obvious to the people you work with.
Introvert or not, we’re all social creatures who need human interaction to survive. Introverts just don’t need to interact with so many other people at once to boost their energy levels.
By putting a greater emphasis on one-to-one connections to brainstorm or have ad hoc discussions, you eliminate the noise that goes along with bigger group meetings that sometimes aren’t very productive. And that’s always good for business.