Steelcase is offering a solution for introverts rattled by the cacophony of open-layout offices, reports Rachel Feintzeig in The Wall Street Journal (6/3/14). Open offices are fashionable because they "improve communication, foster collaboration and save money by packing more workers into less space." It’s great for some, but not for introverts whose "nervous systems are more sensitive to stimulation than extroverts’ are."
"When introverts get too much stimulation, they feel overwhelmed and jangled," says Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking." It’s an issue because introverts are "estimated to make up one-third to one-half of the population," according to Susan. Steelcase, the office furniture maker, is addressing this by introducing soundproof "quiet spaces" designed to "help introverts relax and focus."
The enclosed rooms "feature glass doors frosted in patterns that largely shield occupants from view but allow them to tell if someone is approaching. Introverts can also indulge in dim and tinted lighting to help them rejuvenate after a stressful two-hour meeting." "It’s not about protecting them or thinking about them as fragile in any way," says Steelcase chief executive Jim Keane. "This is a productive part of your workforce that isn’t as engaged and energized as they can be."