The Introvert at Work

Keyboards click all around me. I’m blissfully unaware. It’s 3pm on a sunny September afternoon, and this is my freshman composition class. We’ve been instructed to free write, individually, as a class. Alone together. My fingers punch the keys like a madwoman until the girl behind me growls, “Do you think you could type a little quieter?”

Oh. Sorry.

The spell broken, I try not to pester my classmates with frenzied keystrokes. I tiptoe along on the same thought train, and think to myself how happy I am.

Introverts don’t hate people. Introverts are sensitive to people. Introverts need walls to protect them from people and at the same time can only find so much happiness alone. As an introverted college grad and professional, I know there’s a sweet spot when it comes to social interaction and the ideal work environment, and it all boils down to the recipe discovered in English 101.

1. A lone worker is a lonely worker.

This is something I never would have believed even a few short months ago, having had to put up with arbitrary team projects for too long. But as a working professional who is able to spend some time in-office and some time working remotely, I’ve experienced firsthand that positive social motivation occurs when working in close proximity with others.

2. Alone Together

This is this introvert’s ideal work environment. Being in fairly close proximity with peers who are working on related projects, whether it’s their own creative writing or a client’s new website, provides both social motivation and the mental space needed for an introvert to get to work.

3. The Team

A sure way to destroy an introvert’s ability to be productive is to ask them to think fast in actively social situations. Brainstorm sessions always get me, because interacting with teammates usually takes all my brainpower. This isn’t to say introverts can’t handle teamwork; rather, introverts shine when allowed to do their own thing, and love to see their work helping to further a greater cause.

It’s a sunny summer afternoon in the office, and I’m hearing keyboards in surround sound. Behind me on the right is Web Dev. On my left is Marketing. They each have distinct sounds. Tap-tap-tap, fast and furious: email being sent to client. Swish, swish: mouse being dragged across screen, designing an ad. Bang bdang bang: code being typed on full-size keyboards, not these flat newfangled Mac things. And then there’s me, left mentally alone to complete my tasks, yet furthering the project we’re all working on in different specialized ways.

I’m the introvert at work. This is my ideal.

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