After reading Quiet, I was a lot more aware of the way the open plan office I previously worked in affected me and my quality of work, so I was able to adopt some practices that allowed me to stay in my happy introvert bubble. The two most helpful changes I made were 1) giving myself permission to put my earphones in and listen to music during the day, and 2) making the conscious effort to avoid the communal break room and take my lunch by myself in order to recharge.
I loved the space, and so did several of my (quieter) work colleagues. But not everyone felt that way. One bubbly personality thought the distance between people was too far, and he would have preferred people's desks to face each other instead of out the window - he thought the office was isolating. I was taken aback by his comments, not because someone had the temerity to question my design intent (I failed the only first year architecture subject I attempted) but because I'd designed the site office during the period when I'd had introverted and extroverted working styles on my mind, and the thought never entered my head that I was designing an office that was biased toward me, an introvert. No, I'd designed the office based on what I thought was sensible, but I completely missed the fact that my ideas about a good working environment were weighted towards my own introverted preferences. Doh!
It got me wondering if it is possible to design an office that is equally inviting to both introverts and extroverts. I consulted an architect friend, and we both doubted that it was feasible (hot desking being a possible but impractical solution). That said, we're both at early stages in our careers, and there is much we don't know. But surely there is some way to get around this? It shouldn't be a zero sum game. We should be able to come up with design solutions that allow extroverts and introverts to feel comfortable in their working environments. If you have any ideas on how to achieve this, or on ways you've seen this done well, please let me know. I'll file it all away for the next time I'm designing a site office.
PS Cain's TED talk is a treat. I really recommend it if you haven't seen it already.