Flexibility in the Workplace: It’s Not For Everyone

home_office_2I’m about to move into a new office.  Let me describe it to you… Beautiful hardwood floors.  Spacious, yet intimate.  Windows along the back and side walls to bring in just enough natural light.  An open doorway to a couched seating area, and another into a room with a Keurig coffee maker.  For me, it’ll be the office of my dreams.  Others, though, might simply call it my house.  Both would be correct.

Now, don’t think that I’ll necessarily spend each workday in my “office.”  I certainly won’t, as I’m a frequent and loyal visitor of about a half-dozen coffee shops around Madison’s isthmus.  And I still make it onto the Edgewood College campus at least once a week, to ensure I don’t get too “out of the loop,” an easy (and detrimental) habit for online faculty.

Over the course of the last month, though, it seems I’ve received more negative comments about the idea of working from home, though.  They aren’t critical of me for working from home, mind you.  They are simply comments about how hard it would be for others to work from home.

“I’d never get anything done.”

“I need more interaction than I could get at home.”

“I’m too social to work from home.”

Etc….etc…etc….

And my comment to each of them has been the same.  “Yep, it’s definitely not something that would work for everyone, but I love it,” I’ve responded.

Modern-office-cubiclesYou see, many of my colleagues and career contacts are “professional extroverts.”  They’ve grown up in the social work environment, with open work spaces or cubicle cities, where “drive-by” conversations are the norm.  They can’t envision a work setting without their 10 a.m. coffee break with co-workers, or the forced collaboration that marks many of their projects and all their workday.

But for me, it was precisely that constant socializing (both personal AND professional) that often drove me nuts in the corporate world.  In fact, in my final gig with a Fortune 500 giant, I became the King of the Nooks, identifying and holing myself up in the most out-of-the-way locations within our Headquarters complex just to get some actual work done.  For quite a while, I even staked out all the coffee shops within a 10 minute walk or drive, letting my boss know that if I was needed in person, I could always be at their side within 600 seconds.  Thankfully, my boss had no problem with that….likely because I proved my productivity in absentia.

Many function better, though, in their cubicle or office (even with the door open).  Many thrive on the constant buzz of others in, around, and past their workspaces.  But that simply wasn’t me.

Nope, I definitely prefer introversion.  But that doesn’t mean I work in silence or without human interactions, whether I’m in my “office” or at the coffee shop.  Heck, I’m interacting all day long!  Emails.  Skype.  YouTube.  Online course rooms.  Phone conferences.  I even coordinate project teams and deliverables remotely on a regular basis.

Yes, I prefer introversion….not simply because I’m an introvert (there are plenty of introverts who prefer a more extroverted work environment, too).  I prefer it because it works best for me.  Working from home stokes my creative processes.  Coffee shops stimulate my productivity.  And all contribute to my ability (and energy) for extroverting myself throughout the day.

It all may seem oxymoronic…an introvert extroverting, but it’s what most of us do each and every day.  We just all prefer different ways of doing that.  And that’s okay…as long as we can each work in the type of environment that does it for us.   So, yes, for some working from home simply wouldn’t work.  But for others, it just might….and does.

remote-workThat’s the beauty of the modern workplace…it’s as flexible as we allow it to be.  And what matters most is not where we each work, but where we each work best!

4 thoughts on “Flexibility in the Workplace: It’s Not For Everyone

    1. Could be any given day….I’m sure I’ll make it there at least once this next week. My choice of Starbucks changes based on my other commitments each week. Likely this week it will be at the Starbucks in Monona.

  1. There are very few businesses that have opportunity to speak casually with their Twitter followers and coffee shops are one of them. This is because you already have your own vibe and personality that is recognized by your customers. Especially as a small coffee shop, you have the ability to show off a single distinct voice.

  2. Good for you Trevor, I love my home office and get more done there than when I am in the office due to the interruptions of others. If I could work from home all of the time that would be awesome, but not the case for me. I think more employers should consider that it might be more profitable if some employees were able to work more from home. 🙂

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