Posted November 19, 2021 by Mark Perna
Introvert, extrovert, visual processor or asynchronous worker—whatever your working persona, a tech-driven hybrid workplace can unlock your best contribution. Mark’s article, “4 Different Working Personas—And How Hybrid Work Can Empower Them All,” published at Forbes.com on October 19, 2021.
We are at a unique time in history when circumstances outside our control are causing us to adopt new ways of working, collaborating and learning. While the rapid shift to remote work proved difficult for many, our new distributed work environment has also provided new opportunities for others to thrive.
“Creativity and innovation suffer the most when people are apart,” says Nathan Rawlins, Chief Marketing Officer at visual collaboration suite Lucid. “So, it’s imperative that businesses break down the silos from our standard ways of working and find ways to bring employees with different workstyles together to benefit all.”
I asked Rawlins to share his insights into how our new hybrid workplace gives a “voice” to workers no matter what their work persona is, how flexible virtual workspaces can help employees (i.e. parents) with more fluid schedules work asynchronously and why employers need to understand the multi-generational impact of hybrid work.
The emerging hybrid workplace offers opportunities for people with different working “personas”—introverts, extroverts, visual processors and asynchronous workers—to have a voice in new ways.
Introverts: Consider that the open-office floor plans we’re all used to, with an array of conference rooms and informal meeting spaces where colleagues can gather in groups, may not be the ideal workspace for people who identify as introverted. Instead, they may feel more comfortable in their own home office where face-to-face interaction is not expected or essential to their roles, and where they can connect virtually with their colleagues while having the needed space for independent work.
“With modern collaboration products built to support remote work, these employees can still have a ‘voice’ in virtual group meetings without having to literally speak up and become the loudest person in the room,” says Rawlins. “Employees who had previously been hesitant to speak up in a physical brainstorming session might find it much easier to share ideas and express ideas when working virtually.” Hybrid work can give introverts a balance of in-person and remote work opportunities.
Extroverts: On the other end of the spectrum, workplace extroverts may have chafed at how remote work deprived them of the opportunity to connect and engage with colleagues in office settings. Though solutions like Google Meet, Slack Huddles, Microsoft Teams and Zoom still allowed them to connect for face-to-face conversations, we all know it’s not the same. That’s why hybrid work can be a welcome way for these highly interactive employees to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Visual Processors: Visual processors are those who prefer to draw out their thought processes. They no longer must seek out the handful of conference rooms with a whiteboard to express their ideas. Various collaborative tools, like those offered by Lucid, give them access to an online canvas to sketch out their ideas and help others see their vision. With the right tools, visual processors can also thrive in a hybrid work environment.
Asynchronous Workers: Employees who need an extra level of flexibility to accommodate their fluid schedules are apt to become asynchronous workers. Many working parents, for instance, had to juggle their careers with caregiving and supporting virtual school for their children in the past year. For these workers, the typical 9-to-5 workday quickly gave way to a schedule built around math and science classes—not to mention lunchtime and recess. That meant working hours extended into the early morning and late evening hours, and it became necessary to find ways to contribute asynchronously to team projects without missing a beat.
“As hybrid and distributed workforces become the norm moving forward, business leaders will need to find ways to support and engage these asynchronous collaborators,” says Rawlins.
Which working persona do you identify most closely with? Of course, it’s entirely possible to adopt multiple working personas at once. Asynchronous workers especially may identify with more than one work style, as the asynchronous style is more about a worker’s schedule than their innate personality.
Another shift to keep in mind about the hybrid workplace is how it impacts members of different generations. For example, members of the “sandwich generation,” who find themselves acting as caregivers to both children and aging parents, have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Many of these employees have embraced the asynchronous worker persona—where they’ve crafting a work schedule that molds around their hectic and variable schedules.
Meanwhile, members of the Baby Boomer generation, who were long viewed as staunch advocates for the traditional, in-office workplace, have embraced remote work more easily than Millennial workers. According to Lucid research, one in four Millennial workers reported a decline in their creativity during working from home and would prefer a dedicated workspace again without the distractions of working remotely. This is notably higher than the older Gen-X (18%) and Boomer (14%) generations. Nearly half (43%) of Millennials have even said that working from home has made them more stressed, significantly more than Gen-X (33%) and Boomers (30%).
“When we look more broadly at the workforce though,” says Rawlins, “older employees do tend to prefer individual work over team collaboration.” A survey from GoToMeeting found that Baby Boomers prefer to work on their own (41%) more so than their Millennial colleagues (33%).
When it comes to communication preferences, different generations tend to favor the platforms they feel comfortable with. A study from Creative Strategies last year found that workers over the age of 30 preferred email as their primary collaboration tool, whereas workers under 30 preferred Google Docs for collaboration, followed by Zoom and iMessage.
“Whatever the preferred style, organizations must be able to address these varied needs and preferences to enable all types of workers to effectively collaborate and innovate,” says Rawlins.
What’s essential to recognize moving forward is that simply implementing new technology to power the hybrid workplace is not enough. We all must embrace an inclusive approach to collaboration and make it a cornerstone of organizational culture. Every working persona has its value in the workplace and should be supported as companies build their hybrid work culture.
“Employers will need to accept that ensuring effective workplace collaboration and productivity cannot just be a one-time or one-location occurrence; it needs to be an ongoing and fluid process,” says Rawlins. “Business leaders must help people connect no matter when or where they’re working—or risk losing talent.”