Forget free food, forget our preference for natural light:  what we workers want is not be interrupted all the time.

The ability to focus on work without interruption is employees’ top priority, according to an Oxford Economics survey of 600 employees and 600 executives.  Forbes magazine’s Katie Sola has three helpful suggestions to allow us to cope with this noisy environment:

1. Buy some noise cancelling headphones (Beware – these may be expensive)

2.  Play the right sort of music. (Instrumental, apparently.  And there was me thinking Led Zeppelin helped me to get my productivity up)

3.  Go outside more.  (Yeah, right.  I don’t have time to buy a sandwich, let alone step  away from my desk to eat it.  Since when do I get time to go outside?)

As you may have detected, I have my sceptical hat on today.  I think the people who prefer to work uninterrupted are the Introverts in life.  As roughly half the human population has a preference for Introversion, this is a significant proportion, admittedly.  These are people who prefer to think deeply about things, who prefer their own company to that of others, and whose creativity is best accessed in a quiet environment.  It’s a preference for sticking with questions and nibbling at them over time, and getting energy from within rather than from other people and external stimuli.

(For more on the world of Introversion, read Susan Cain‘s superb book “Quiet:  the power of the intoverted mind in a world that can’t stop talking.”)

HOWEVER, what about the Extraverts?  We’re the ones who prefer working with other people , who are stimulated by interaction with other humans, and whose best ideas are stimulated not by quiet reflection but by discussion, debate, brainstorms and all that jazz.  People like me, in fact.  There are lots of us.

I used to work in an open plan office along with about a dozen other training consultants.  Most of us were Extraverts.  We used to come into the office in order to re-energise after yet another business trip to some far off place, sitting in our lonely hotel rooms at night and in our ecomony seat long haul flights.  For us the open plan office was like a playground.  I had a desk sitting directly opposite another, and we set up a ping pong net across the middle to give us some extra energy.  Extraverts like variety, and many of them crave interruptions (my ENFP Myers Briggs profile – common amongst trainers, is sometimes known as the Butterfly profile).

Now that I am self employed I work from home in an office all by myself.  I might not see any other humans for hours at a time.  Thankfully the dog keeps me company, but he’s asleep most of the time.  Do I get bored?  Yes.  Do I find it hard to stick at stuff?  Yes.  Do I get stuck?  Often.  Am I more productive than when I worked surrounded by other people?  Definitely not.

I have a theory I’d like to put to you:  if you are an Extravert and you had a choice you would choose to work surrounded by other people.  If you’re an Introvert you’d choose not to.  If you don’t know which of these you are, let me know and I’ll help you to find out.  But if you do know, could you help me to validate my theory with a quick comment please?  Am I right, and has the Oxford Economics Survey accidentally researched an Introverted sample?

Or, as is more likely, am I completely wide of the mark and jumping to conclusions?  If so, it’s probably because I’m bored and needed to write a Blog for something to do.

AsleepNow Ross, how about a game of table tennis?