In light of recent events, I wanted to come back to my COVID updates in the Designer Desk Diaries and share somewhat of a “where are they now approach”. Today’s topic: Intro/Extro-version and what #WFH has taught me.
Seven months ago, I packed up my work computer and began the work-from-home journey. At the time, I was ecstatic to completely eliminate the need for a commute to work, and still get all I needed to get done. And, that feeling: hasn’t changed.
What I am grappling with is, the affect it has had on people, as a whole.
As an introvert, and very much a homebody, I don’t see the struggle in staying at my home. I don’t get cabin fervor (maybe because I have worked on my home to be the best place for recovery it can be? Maybe that’s just in my nature?). But, I do remember shortly after #WFH became a trending everyday topic, I gained this sense of relief. For so long, I have witnessed individuals (both self-proclaimed, as well as those nominated) to be extroverts push their ideals into every work environment. The open office didn’t bother me so as much as the benching-type furniture did.
I was reminded of a day in my first year of college, where I attended a class where the professor spent a lecture discussing the human’s innate sense of creating space for themselves. You had a very large circle around you from a public perspective, and that circle shrank the closer to you to symbolize a more personal and private size of space around us. Family would be closer than friends, but at the center of it all – was you. We post photos of our loved ones at our desk to remind us of what we get to look forward to at the end of the day. As an introvert, these are things I want to hold close to me and enjoy on my own time and in my own way. But, from an extrovert’s eyes, by not wanting a five-foot desk flanked by a co-worker’s desk seemed to indicate an unwillingness to “be a team player” and “collaborate more”.
So, as the weeks carried on in the pandemic and #WFH became: “The New Normal”, I was finding the days to be easier and easier. More work was getting done – in fact, so much so that even though I continued to be ready for the day by seven to act as if I still needed to plan for my hour’s drive to work, I started using that hour to either start work early, or do some extra-curricular things. I was thriving – I am thriving! And I had this feeling of finally!
Articles began to appear about people going a little stir-crazy and missing their co-workers. To me, I saw an experience where extroverts were finally living in a working situation that made them uncomfortable (much like what I have had, on occasion, from the other side). I didn’t miss my co-workers, I saw them every day (well, they saw me . . . I make it a point to always use my camera to maintain that interaction).
But recently, something happened.
As a call to action to express our perspectives for this absolutely insane year we call 2020 came on to my lap, I wrote down these very thoughts. Me, an introvert, was finally happy to work in an atmosphere catered to who I am and how I work best. And finally, the extroverts who have evolved the workplace to open, white, banks of computer screens, were getting a taste of having to produce in a situation that made them claustrophobic.
But as I wrote my thoughts about this, I started to wonder if I had lost something during this experience. Had I lost my empathy?
As a designer, I must create the best, safest space I can base on the preference of others. Just because I may absolutely love a specific design or color combination doesn’t mean my client will. And, although I have my own education, my own experiences, and my own perspectives, perhaps, this crazy 2020 new working environment situation hasn’t given me a “revenge” I assumed it did.
Perhaps, this reflection has allowed me to re-evaluate how I work with others. Understand how situations are different for each person, and that I may not have all the right answers the first time – but will be better at working on how to get there.