Less small talk and fewer interruptions are definitely perks.
While the world pandemic has been stressful and anxiety-inducing to say the least, for many people, one positive has been that their productivity has actually gone up due to working from home.
Personally, for this introvert, working remotely has been absolutely delightful. Thanks to copious amounts of alone time, a reduction in energy-zapping interruptions and small talk, and less rushing around, I am more productive and an all-around happier person.
Not everyone has their home to themselves during the work day — due to kids, roommates, or a spouse sharing the space — but if you’re an introvert and you get that sweet solitude each day, maybe you’ve noticed a more fruitful work and personal life.
How Working From Home Increases Productivity for Introverts
1. Fewer interruptions
I cringe thinking back to when I would hear a faint knock on my office door and look up from my computer screen, only to see a colleague’s head peeking through my window. They’d raise their eyebrows and give a little wave — the universal nonverbal way to ask, “Hey, can I come in?”
In the office, I would get about 10-15 of these interruptions per day — which is miniscule compared to the 40 average interruptions per day that most workers experience. Some of my interruptions were work-related, some of them were not.
Though I do miss catching up with my coworkers every once in a while, I am willing to give that up if it means all-around fewer heads popping into my office offering idle chatter. I have found it much easier to focus and complete large tasks without these small, yet frequent, intervals of interruptions.
Additionally, without people stopping by my office every 15 minutes, I’ve had to do less small talk, which can be particularly draining for an introvert. Working remotely has triggered a decrease in the typical go-to questions such as: “How was your weekend?” “What about this weather?” “What’s your day look like?”
I am happy to have fewer of these mindless inquiries and more productive, meaningful conversations during meetings.
2. Our limited energy is conserved
Though my coworkers are great, kind people, they, like any other acquaintance of mine, are draining for introverts like me to be around for long periods of time. Spending hours a day in meetings and on the phone, talking in circles, was arduous — not to mention the pre-meeting discussions and the post-meeting follow-ups as you stroll back to your office.
I still have video meetings and daily phone calls, but the amount has been significantly reduced compared to before; when the meeting is over, that’s it! There are no one-on-one conversations or sneaky, “Hey, can I talk to you after this meeting?” remarks.
I didn’t realize that my sheer exhaustion before was from being overstimulated and overwhelmed. It wasn’t until I began working remotely that I noticed a shift in my energy, for the better.
When I was in the office, I remember sometimes hearing three conversations going on at once, even with my door shut (my office walls were thin). On top of that, I’d be trying to read or write something for a project I was working on and it was impossible to concentrate.
And, usually by the end of my work day, I was running on empty because I had been around people for the majority of the day and had been processing large amounts of external stimuli. Now, since I am alone for the majority of the day, I have more energy to spend with my friends and family outside of work hours.
Also, exercising, writing for pleasure, reading, and cooking are all activities I have found myself doing more of now that my work day is less socially taxing. When 5 o’clock rolls around, I still have energy in my tank to spend time with people I love and enjoy activities that are life-giving to me.
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3. More time to think
Working in the serene silence of my home has brought a surge of productivity to my work day due to the slower pace and, hence, more time to think — which is second nature to many introverts.
These days, my favorite part of the morning is pouring myself a cup of coffee, walking down the hallway, and sitting at my computer to start my day. It is the slowness of this new morning ritual that sets the tone for the rest of my day. It’s calm. It’s intentional. It’s purposeful.
In contrast, I used to slosh my hot coffee into a tumbler I hadn’t washed in two weeks, sling my way-too-heavy work bag into my car, drive hastily to whatever building my first meeting was at, and reply “good morning” several times (as if on autopilot) to various coworkers on my way in the door.
I’d finally sit down at my destination only to realize the coffee tumbler had leaked on my way in and I had coffee dripping down my pant leg. That type of hectic morning happened far too frequently and never set a positive tone for the rest of my day. I was trying to do too much in too little time, and not doing any of it well.
Now, I can focus on my work. My mind isn’t occupied with my commute, where I am going to grab lunch, or my coffee-stained pants.
Also, I have found that with everyone working remotely, there are fewer impromptu meetings. I will admit that it makes collaboration a bit more difficult at times, but I’ve had more time to respond and come up with creative solutions before meetings, which is another thing introverts tend to prefer.
When my team was working in person, I’d get put on the spot and have little time to think when meetings were thrown together at the last minute. As an introvert, time to think ahead is critical for me.
I often need to sort out my thoughts before I can make, what I feel is, an intelligent contribution to a discussion. I have appreciated intentional meetings where I can bring my thoughts to the table — or screen.
Working Remotely Is Not Ideal for Everyone
I realize not every introvert has the luxury of working remotely, and even if they do, home may not be an ideal work environment. As of now, my one-year-old still attends daycare and my spouse is an essential worker, so he’s often out of the house.
Early on in the pandemic, we did traverse through four weeks of my spouse being furloughed, while daycare was not an option. With all three of us at home for nearly a month, working from home as an introvert parent was chaotic and far from paradise, so I feel for individuals who are struggling with this new normal.
Thankfully, that time is behind me and I am living my best introverted life working alone in my home. Hopefully, you are, too.