Offices Designed For Introverts?

A leader is someone who is outspoken, jovial, friendly and holds his liquor well in front of huge crowds. Really, now? Those are expected of leaders only because they are loud and are easier to hear. Ever heard of introverted leaders? There are lots, we just need to perk our ears up and listen to the soft and powerful whispers. Susan Cain saw that introverted people are simply quieter than the rest of us, but they too have the same skills and abilities as anyone else.

Susan Cain is planning a Quiet Revolution. In her classic talk from TED2012, she spoke up for introverts, pointing out the many ways our culture encourages extroversion. “I wasn’t prepared for the intensity and voracity of response to these ideas,” Cain tells the TED Blog two years later. “There’s an enormous hunger for recognition, understanding and advancement.”


In her talk during All-Stars session 5 at TED2014, Cain shared how she plans to empower introverts—for the benefit of us all—by creating quiet places at work, training quiet leaders, and empowering introverts in the classroom. The TED Blog caught up with Cain to learn more about the details of the movement that she didn’t have time to share in her short talk. Along with her extroverted business partner, Paul Scibetta, Cain is introducing a series of programs and tools to make the world a quieter and happier place for everyone. Read more below.

“Open offices are a tremendous problem for introverts and extroverts alike. People can’t focus, they can’t concentrate,” says Cain. “There’s a need for more privacy in the office.”

To address this need, Cain has partnered with office design company Steelcase to create readily available quiet spaces in offices for introverts to find respite. This partnership was borne at TED two years ago. Right after she gave her talk, she met Jim Keane, the CEO of Steelcase, who’d wanted to address the erosion of privacy in office plans for years.

Together, Cain and Steelcase developed a series of designs for open offices, chock-full of options for introverts and extroverts alike. The idea is to create a series of shared spaces that employees can flow between. The first images of “Quiet Spaces” show an airy office with cozy nooks and crannies—some for alone time, some for two-person brainstorming, some for group collaboration. All the spaces use sound-dampening wall finishes to keep things quiet.

Read more at Ted blog

Understand yourself, understand your situation, and you can start brainstorming and getting creative on ways to bring out the best of people. Who knows, you might even bring out the best of yourself along the way!