Introversion and Working at Home

Last month’s decision by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! Inc. to end telecommunting and require all employees to the report to the office has ignited heated discussions.  But most of the objections have been related to women’s issues.  Mayer has been accused of backstabbing the sisterhood.  Columnist Kathleen Parker called it the latest reincarnation of the “mommy war.”

But for me personally, there is another reason for discussing Mayer’s decision; in most cases, I work better alone.  And in this age of the Internet and social media, it is very easy to stay in touch with my colleagues no matter where they are or where I am.

I choose to work in my office.  But I’m located in an isolated corner of our building and I have floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a panoramic view of the generally snow-capped Wasatch Mountains.  Because my colleagues know I’m a bit of an introvert, they rarely interrupt me.

At Times, Groups Make Me Feel Uncomfortable

At Times, Groups Make Me Feel Uncomfortable

I do work in a cubical, but I have been able to fashion a door for use when I need complete alone time.  The only real interrruption is the PA system, but these days it is rarely used.  To make matters even better, I get few telephone calls.  Most of my colleagues, customers, relatives, and friends use email to contact me.

But if circumstances were different, I would want to work at home.  According to The Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. (and reprinted at sltrib.com, 11 Mar 2013):

I’ve worked mainly from home for more than 20 years, going into the office just enough that they don’t give my desk away.  I don’t do it because it’s more convient, I don’t do it because I’m an introvert.

For years, I struggled with that, wondered why I prefer the rainy afternoon spent watching old movies or reading a book to the sunny afternoon at a backyard barbecue watching people do the electric slide.  Then, last year, I chanced upon a book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  It was the first time anyone had explained me to me.  Turns out I’m not the only one.  Turns out introversion is perfectly normal.

As Cain notes, it is not that the introvert doesn’t enjoy the company of others.  Rather, it’s that after a certain point, it leaves him feeling physically drained.  That’s who I am and I’ve given myself permission to stop fighting it.

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