Until March 2020, the dominating work organization model was being present at the office. Generally speaking, bosses and managers tended to look positively at workers who worked long hours in the office – even if it meant showing presenteeism – and to favour chatty employees, extroverts, who have the upper hand in meetings and discussions in the hallways.

All of a sudden, everyone was at home, alone, behind their computer. And all out once, the introverts found themselves like fish in the water.

From the beginning of the pandemic, HR specialists have been trying to convince as many managers and business leaders as possible to move from behavioural to results-based management.

This favours the autonomous and independent workers who have a lot of ease maneuvering in the digital world. But also, the more introverted people, who express themselves in a more optimal way behind their computer keyboard through the electronic filter of emails and chatrooms.

A study on telework leadership

In fact, a study published right at the beginning of the pandemic by researcher Radostina K. Purvanova, an associate professor at Drake University, confirmed this paradigm shift in favour of introverts. The study in question – conducted before the pandemic – wanted to explore leadership characteristics in a remote working environment.

The new data shows that the confidence, intelligence and extroversion that long propelled ambitious workers into the executive positions are not enough online, because they simply don’t translate into virtual leadership, he explains in an article in the BBC. Instead, workers who are organized, dependable and productive take the reins of virtual teams. Finally, doers lead the pack, at least remotely.”

The study shows that, in virtual mode, it is no longer “the most dynamic voices” that lead the troops, but those who carry out their tasks and achieve their objectives.

What if the stigma of laziness… changed sides?

Before the pandemic, those who preferred to work from home were often perceived as either antisocial or lazy, because they did not have the will to get dressed and deal with traffic. They preferred to work from home, but how do we know…if they were really working?

In a context where it is now proven that one can be very productive at home, with Zoom meetings, solving a thousand and one problems by email or phone, while having peace and quiet for work requiring concentration; in a context where results-oriented management gives managers proof of productivity of an individual at home, it is permissible to wonder if the stigma of laziness will soon change sides.

That is just a hypothesis, of course. But it may well be that, in the years ahead, employees perceived as unproductive or downright lazy by management may be those who insist on coming to the office every day.
It may be that extroverted employees, who enjoy being social, by going from one cubicle to another, to chat, catch up and develop their network influence, can be perceived as those who are really dragging their feet, and slowing the group’s progress.

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