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Introverts and extroverts: who has fared better in 100 days of lockdown?


By Georgina Procter, Executive

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst popularised the concept of categorising personality types by extraversion and introversion; an introvert being seen as quiet, reserved, curious and thoughtful, while an extrovert should be loud, sociable, enthusiastic and a communicator.

As a self-proclaimed introvert, it would mean that, by the above standards, a career in communications isn’t the best fit. However, as my relationships with my colleagues have grown, the transformation from my cocooned personality upon arrival at Newgate Communications has quickly unravelled, and the extrovert in me has become even more present. In fact, my team would probably now side with family and friends in disputing my previous claim due to the fact that neither they nor my family ‘can never get you to shut up!’

The office environment allowed me to shed my shy skin and the support and guidance from those around me has led me to feel established, meaning I can now perform my role with confidence. However, without a physical office, we now find ourselves without a central meeting point for spontaneous interaction and where it can be much easier to understand someone’s tone and nuance through a face to face conversation. So, after 100 days of lockdown, how are introverts and extroverts handling a virtual office?

There have been benefits and development opportunities for those who identify as introverts. While the office provided the opportunity to informally gather and brainstorm ideas, creating ideas and relationships, this might not always yield the best results. For an introvert, sitting around in a big group expressing ideas can be daunting and, by the time you have mustered up the courage to say your idea, you’ve missed your chance. In comparison, the virtual world offers an easy route in for an introvert wanting to share their ideas and unleash their inner extrovert: functions like ‘raise hand’ or the ‘chat box’ on Zoom gives you a chance to be heard and the thought of speaking to a large group of people is less intimidating when it’s through a computer.

Lockdown has been widely acknowledged as a challenge for those with extroverted personalities, particularly as some now find themselves working in silence, with only Radio 1 DJs to mask the stillness. The extrovert in me desperately misses my teammates, the noise of the office and the chance to have a good old natter in the kitchen. This has now all been swapped for virtual breakfast catch-ups, tea breaks and huddling into a zoom call to sing a teammate Happy Birthday, which is both hilariously awkward and uplifting, with the benefit that I’m not packing on the pounds by having seconds of Collin the Caterpillar. Despite all of the excitement through the virtual office, the extrovert in me has had time to reflect on my work, take a step back and gauge what is going on, and allowed me to express my ideas on opportunities I may have missed in the hustle and bustle of the office.

I, like many, find myself identifying with the characteristics of both an introvert and extrovert, meaning there are both challenges and opportunities in both remote working and the physical office. However, having learned a lot in my year in the office, and even more in the three months of lockdown, the key I’ve found is not to understand yourself as someone who is either good or bad at something as a defined personality trait, but to understand that each challenge is an opportunity for growth. This is the case for introverts and extroverts, whether in the office, working at home, or, as we move to next stage, somewhere in between. I’m looking forward to the next 100 days.