Is your office a one size fits all environment?

Harnessing the creativity of your people and fostering their next great multi-million dollar idea means paying attention to how your people work. When you do this, you’ll discover that not everyone works in the same way and that different environments inspire different results.

Psychological profiling in the workplace

Legendary psychiatrist Carl Jung, invented many of the cornerstone concepts that modern psychology rests on today. One of those concepts, is to see a person’s energy through their inclination to either introversion or extraversion. As we all know, introverts need to be alone to recharge, whereas an extravert recharges through the stimulation of being with others. Carl Jung rightly points out that no one person is totally one or the other, and in different settings, each of us will experience different levels of introversion/extraversion – with some people sitting bang in the middle, known by the pop psychologists of today as ambiversion. While you would likely have a sense of which one you are, it’s possible to reach a more definitive answer by taking the Myers Briggs test – a test that executives have taken for decades to work out where their talents are best used and a test that has helped senior executives place the right people in the right roles in their companies.

Architecture meets psychological profiling

While people have long used psychological profiling to determine who’s best suited for a role, this kind of thinking has yet to filter deeper into the modern company. Take, for example, the current trend of designing open plan offices. While the initial benefits of collaboration seem obvious, it has taken some years of actually using open plan workspaces to discover the downsides.

For example, even the most social of workers who thrive on collaboration, need quiet time to write a speech or devise strategic insights for a new initiative. Different types of companies will require purpose-built workspaces – industries like fashion or advertising may require large open plan spaces with integrated workshop areas to create prototypes and/or enable brainstorming, whereas engineering companies may require closed offices and small desk-clusters for deep concentration.

Things to consider for the future of your workplace

While not everyone’s in the position to acquire an empty plot of land and hire Frank Gehry to design a brand new world-class campus (as Facebook recently did), there are things you can do in your environment right now to ensure you’re harnessing the best your talent-base has to offer.

1. Profile your people

Either by using the Myer Briggs test, or simply by feel, work out which roles are likely to require stimulation by others and/or alone-time to recharge. According to research conducted by Wharton’s Dr Grant, roughly two-thirds of people are ambiverts, while one-third are strong introverts or extraverts.

2. Take a holistic view of your office footprint

Based on the results of psychological profiling, take a bird’s eye view of your workplace. Does it reflect how your people work? If your organization is mostly full of introverts, yet the majority of their office space is open plan, you may want to break things up – by creating nooks, pockets and intimate clusters for quiet collaboration.

3. Review your office space annually

You can link in an office space review with routine building functions, like checking your emergency procedures. This way, you can re-arrange office furniture and spaces as your company grows and changes.

Ultimately, there’s just one golden rule to making sure your environment is working for your company and that is: design your office space to respond to the needs of your workers – not the other way around.