It has been noted that extroverts thrive from social interactions, but remote teams have dramatically decreased social encounters, which in turn can have a detrimental effect upon an individual’s wellbeing. However, virtual reality can be used to combat the negative effect of remote teams upon extroverts, promoting connections with fellow colleagues.
Extroversion is a type of personality which is characterized by talkativeness, assertiveness, and warmth with a focus on external sources of stimulation. Extraverts are often outgoing, sociable, friendly, and action-orientated, as well as being less likely to dwell on problems or difficulties. They thrive on socializing with others and generate their energy from this. This is in direct contract to introverts, who focus on internal feelings and are more quiet, reserved, and thoughtful. Introverts prefer to be alone to recharge their energy. Concerning extraverts within workplace environments, it has been seen that extraverts are more inclined to be natural leaders, who can naturally organize work and take charge. This is due to them being socially self-confident, competitive, and energetic. On the other hand, introverts who naturally focus on relationships, are attuned to other’s feelings and are therefore warm and approachable.
In order to measure levels of extraversion numerous personality questionnaires and inventories have been developed, with one being the Eysneck’s Personality Inventory (Eysneck & Eysneck, 1964), who are thought to be pioneers in the field of personality research. This inventory measures a total of four personality types: Extraversion – Introversion and Neuroticism – Stability. Furthermore, the Big Five Personality Test is another widely implemented measure of personality and is the most commonly used model of personality in academic psychology. This test consists of 50 items that are rated on how true they are on a five-point Likert scale, from Disagree (1) to Agree (5). This evaluates personality by measuring five personality traits: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion-Introversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism on a continuous scale.
Extroverts and Remote Teams
One main problem that has arisen from remote teams is that extraverts cannot physically meet co-workers in their workplace, which is an issue due to extraverts thriving from group discussions and challenges. Due to the isolation of working from home, extraverts can feel socially unfulfilled, less motivated, and therefore more susceptible to distractions which allow for connections with other people. Personality trait adaptation can increase these negative feelings, in turn decreasing the individual’s overall satisfaction, productivity, and quality of their work.
What happens when Personality Trait does not match the Environment?
Forced personality adaptation in order to suit the environment can have detrimental effects for the individual. The effort it takes to act differently to one’s own personality type can be psychologically and physically depleting, increasing fatigue, and causing burnout (Little, 2008). Zelenski et al (2012) highlighted that extraverts who were required to act in an introverted manner experienced a rise in negative emotions and a decrease in job performance. Furthering this, unlike introverts who may act extraverted in order to achieve their own goals (such as social or career), develop mastery in doing so, extraverts have been seen to feel a deeper loss of control over their new environment, which can increase levels of stress and anxiety. Therefore, questions have arisen concerning how the risk of fatigue, stress, and burnout can be decreased for extraverts who have found themselves to be required to adapt their personality type to match remote team environments.
In a personality perspective, restorative niches are environments which allow for an individual’s natural personality type to transpire. This means that individuals are able to recharge in a personalised environment which best suits their personality type. Extraverts naturally seek for restorative niches which satisfy their social needs and energy, which is readily available in office environments but less so in remote teams’ environments. Within remote team environments, regular virtual team meetings can take place in order create these restorative niches. However, this may increase levels of meeting fatigue, which is tiredness and burnout caused by remote team meetings and the lack, as well as mismatch, of social cues (Epstein, 2020; Nesher Shoshan & Wehrt, 2021; Ratan et al., 2022).
The Role of Virtual Reality
Virtual reality can offer an environment in which individuals are fully immersed, creating a strong sense of presence. This sense of presence allows for a subjective experience, rather than a purely observational one, which gives people the feeling that they are in that environment with their fellow colleagues. Furthermore, this dramatically decreases levels of remote meeting fatigue which is often associated with virtual team meetings (Torisu, 2016). This means that extroverts will be able to escape their four walls of isolation and situate themselves into a completely different environment with their colleagues, generated in virtual reality. Consequently, the development of restorative niches is achieved within the virtual environment as extraverts are able to interact with their peers as if they were seeing each other in a physical environment. In turn, this will decrease the negative emotions associated with personality type mismatch and promote positive feelings which will increase the individual’s overall satisfaction, motivations, and productivity. Virtual reality niches can also be implemented for introverts, such as meditation environments where individuals are able to escape social demands and focus internally upon themselves.
How do we Utilize these Findings at VRE?
Here at VRE we implement virtual environments in which individuals are able to meet and perform activities in a virtual space. This means that a restorative niche is created for those who require an environment where their extraversion can emerge successfully. Not only do we create these environments which suit extraverts, but introverts can partake in virtual activities, such as mindfulness and meditation, to suit their personality needs. Overall, this will create a stronger, healthier work force who have high levels of satisfaction, productivity, and quality of work.
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