By: Francesca Pendola, Copywriter, and Danielle Yuede, Art Director
We’ve officially reached a point where the phrase “new normal” is old news. And as we navigate this not-so-new normal, differences in how creative workstyles have come into sharp relief. Not amongst different specialties like art directors and copywriters, but rather among work styles of introverts and extroverts.
A quick refresher, although definitions can vary, in general these two styles gain energy in different ways:
- Extrovert – a person who most often gains energy from social interaction and human connection.
- Introvert – a person who tends to use alone time to replenish and fuel their energy.
We often think of them as opposite poles of a magnet, but really, they’re more like two sides of the same coin. “…their key objective is exactly the same, which is to maintain some sense of control and mastery in their world,” says organizational and consulting psychologist Richard Citrin.
And in a world that shifted rapidly over the course of mere days, that need for control became more relevant than ever. Creative agencies thrive on collaboration, and as a result of the pandemic, we have been forced to find ways to bring that collaboration to a purely digital space. Here is a breakdown of what introverts vs. extroverts might be experiencing working from home, and things to keep in mind in order to thrive as a team in a digital environment.
Even before quarantine, extroverts tended to “use social media platforms more frequently, and have larger online social networks,” according to Christopher Soto, Professor of personality psychology at Colby College in Maine. So, in the transition to a digital social approach to concepting and producing work, extroverts are relying heavily on digital outlets to take the place of the face-to-face socialization they thrive on. Beyond the necessary communication involved in working through day-to-day tasks, extrovert creatives use video brainstorms and group chats as social forums to distract from the fact that work is no longer the 8-hour escape from their home that they need.
The Drain Game
Regardless of their larger virtual social networks, extroverts’ intrapersonal needs still fail to be met. Because of this, extroverts have made themselves more available to their coworkers than they might have otherwise. They’re not just jumping on video chats for work, they’re organizing Zoom Happy Hours, taking on extra projects and generally speaking not giving themselves time to come up for air. Unsurprisingly, burnout has ensued.
Extroverts seeking balance can take a cue from their introvert counterparts by setting healthy boundaries to maintain their mental energy and health.
- Don’t fall into the trap of “busy”. Extroverts tend to seek external stimulus to energize them. But don’t use “busy” a distraction from processing our emotions. Check in to make sure you’re not taking on too much just to fill the days.
- Find the off switch. Creativity thrives on downtime – it allows your brain space to marinate. Take time to make room for your own thoughts in order to let your ideas flow.
- Refine your social outlets. Rather than running yourself ragged trying to say yes to every invite, set up a few standing appointments that you enjoy. Organize a weekly chat with your favorite creatives or a standing Zoom happy hour that you can look forward to.
Space to Recharge
Introverts often see their homes as their sanctuaries. Working from home has given them space from the overstimulation that an office environment can sometimes create. The increased ability to choose when and where they interact with others has helped introvert creatives to focus their time and energy more purposefully.
Even though they have a greater ability to choose their level of interaction with others, the outlets that quarantine provides for that interaction are not ideal for introverts. Video calls and group chats can feel performative and be draining. The decreased in-person interaction has led to an increase in digital connection in what already felt like an “always on call” environment. Emails, group chats and other forms of communication are only increasing, leading to added stress for easily overstimulated introverts.
Introverts looking to restore balance and turn their homes back into an oasis should lean into the communication instincts of extroverts.
- Give voice to your needs. Introverts tend to internalize stress. While an in-person work environment allows people to see how busy you are, digital workspaces can’t. Let team members know when you’re at capacity to avoid added stress.
- Divide your home into zones. Working from bed may sound like a dream, but it tends to only send your brain mixed signals. By creating a space for work and a space for relaxing, you’re better able to turn your brain on and off at will.
- Cut down on the Zoom calls. While face-to-face communication may sound like the best way to bridge the workability gap, they tend to zap your energy. When you can, stick to less labor-intensive forms of communication, like traditional calls.
Everyone finds energy through different means and needs to feel heard and supported. But when it comes to support, we tend to give people what we would want, not necessarily what they need. In quarantine, we have the unique opportunity to re-learn how to work with people we’re used to communicating with on a daily basis. That means getting back to the basics of identifying how people think and get energy in order to forge fundamental connections that will propel us into a future where remote working will only become more common. And we get to do it all in sweatpants – not bad.