Psychology’s definition of an introvert is a person characterised by concern primarily with her or his own thoughts and feelings. This personality type is often seen as opposite to the extrovert, who is concerned primarily with the physical and social environment. These classic definitions, the shy introvert and the outgoing, gregarious extrovert, have created stereotypes in the workplace. However, lately the introvert has received not only acknowledgement but also understanding. Being a good co-worker is today not defined by being a classic extrovert.

More workplaces are adapting to this diversity to make both personality types feel welcome and create a culture constructed for the two ways of thinking.

Notably, the book Quiet by Susan Cain has shown just how different people are. Introverts need solitude and quiet nooks and crannies where they can concentrate on the task at hand, while extroverts may be able to concentrate and thrive better in an open landscape with chatter and social energy.

Today’s environments often favour the loud and more socially confident but expanded progression into a world driven by ideas, and the increasing demand for a broad spectrum of competences, have led to companies realising that both types are needed. Therefore making sure there is a design logic that fits both the introvert and extrovert will become important. This is supported by findings in a Leesman survey, where desk-based, individually focused work, is ranked as the most important activity in the surveyed database of over 70,000 people.

The rise of the introvert – or the rise in recognition of people who need to focus on tasks in other ways than the extrovert norm – is a core aspect to evolve from the previous trend for open plan offices. The contract furniture market has responded by offering ever more elaborate acoustic products. While this works as a temporary fix, it doesn’t necessarily solve diversity challenges as effectively as intelligent inclusive design.

This article has been taken from the Kinnarps Trend Report 2015. Click here to download the full research paper.