Is An Open Office Plan For You?? Your Face Has The Answer.

The open plan office system that started in Hamburg, Germany in the 1950s has become more popular in North America. An estimated 70% of businesses have converted their workspaces by knocking down physical barriers.

The motivation is logical – easier collaboration, a sense of community to boost morale, plus the low-cost flexibility of a modular setup.

Yet, companies are discovering that the one-size-fits-all open space plans is causing efficiency, productivity and morale challenges. They’re finding that people have innate temperaments and styles of working, that unsupported, can lead to reduced productivity, higher stress and over stimulation.

When we consider the Introvert / Extrovert characteristics, the strikingly different approaches to work reveal themselves clearly in office settings.

Extroverts are comfortable in active, open, social environments. Their style is bold and less reserved than the quieter Introverts who prefer to listen than talk, and need silence to focus and privacy to recharge. The Ambivert – a combination of intro/extrovert shares aspects of both types.

How do you know who needs what environment? The face can show us. Here’s how you tell. Look at a person’s eyes. The deeper set they are, they more they tend toward introversion. The more the eye stands out physically in the face, the more extroverted they are.

Here’s how you can test for the trait. Take a pencil and rest it vertically on the eyebrow and cheek, so the pencil is directly in front of the pupil. If you can open your eye behind the pencil, you are Introverted. If you cannot open your eye behind the pencil, you are Extroverted. If you can open your eye, but the eyelid brushes the pencil, you’re a combination.

For those companies considering the optimal way to structure their offices, they need to bear in mind the nature of the job together with the preferred working style of their staff and what best fits their needs. The right environment generates motivation and well-being but can boost productivity by as much as 12%. The final cost/benefit assessment is the balance between the environment and employees.

CHINESE FACE READING: To understand our differences

Recently, I watched two co-workers in conversation. As they talked and became more animated, it was clear they had both stopped listening to the other, intent on making their point.

The discussion was about when and how to handle the task of clearing out a back office area that had become an ad hoc storage space. One of them had decided it needed to be done – immediately. Her colleague resisted, preferring to delay – or avoid the task altogether and it led to the disagreement I witnessed.

It was a good example of how a small issue can grow into a bigger challenge, usually caused when we expect people to think or approach things the same way we do.

The motivations of both co-workers were equally valid and the difference between them can be explained by face reading.

The one who was ready to do the clear out, had a straight forehead and strong jaw. Her forehead represented a practical, focused approach to solving problems. The shape of her jaw showed determination to stand up for what she believed in, and hold her ground. She didn’t want the area to be for storage and knew it could be used more productively. Her colleague, with her round face and full cheeks, liked having her “stuff” close by and had been using the area for personal storage.

In spite of their disagreement, both perspectives are understandable. And both personalities offered complimentary traits for their business; one being practical and efficient which ensured the continued growth of their business, the other, with a nurturing, supportive skills to make clients comfortable.

Human behaviour is complex and while everyone instinctively operates from their own perspective, by understanding the people around us, we can build respect, value our diverse contributions, and in the end, avoid misunderstandings.

WHAT IS YOUR REAL RISK TOLERANCE? Your Ears might be telling you.

My Google search for “choosing a financial advisor” yielded more than 30 million hits. It appears to be a popular topic. The recommendations over the first 20 pages were variations on:

Education and Experience

Compensation and potential conflicts of interest

Investment suitability to the client

Yet I propose another characteristic for consideration; one that can quickly help assess one’s risk tolerance and show whether a client and advisor are compatible.

It comes from the ancient Chinese science of Face Reading, where ears are the physical feature that shows how much innate courage and risk taking ability a person has. The larger the ear, the more comfortable they are gambling physically, in their choice of work or taking risks with money.

To understand the kind of risk taking you can naturally handle, all you have to do is measure the size of your ear.  Measure it by holding your thumb and index finger in a “C” up to your ear. If it matches in size, you have a small ear.  A large ear is the size of your thumb and middle finger formed into a “C”. A medium ear is between those two sizes.

The broader your ear is across the top, the more comfortable you are with financial and emotional risk.  Chances are that you would be the type who would be more willing to try aggressive growth stocks or volatile markets for potentially larger gains.

In contrast, if your ear is narrow across the top. You’d tend to be a conservative and cautious investor. Your preference would be to invest in safer low-risk vehicles because your main goal is to preserve savings because you feel the pain of losses more intensely than the comfort of gains.

That’s where matchmaking our ears to our financial advisor’s gets interesting.  A client with cautious, narrow ears may be most comfortable with a similarly narrow-eared, like-minded advisor.  But there’s merit in matching opposite traits; a wide-eared advisor could construct a portfolio that offers protection plus opportunity for moderate growth.  Or a narrow-eared advisor could help curb a high-risk tolerant client from gambling on a poorly diversified portfolio or too speculative an investment.  In either case, together they could temper each other’s risk taking appetite.   The main point is to know what each brings to the equation.

Unlike the risk tolerance questionnaires advisors have clients complete, our ears can be more reliable than our subjective, theoretical responses.

Case in point: the results of my assessment showed that I had a moderate to high-risk tolerance. The truth about my tolerance came to light when my portfolio dropped 17%.  I was rattled.  It turns out my small ears reinforced this.

There are two questions we could consider adding to the questionnaire that could provide reliable clues.  Do you pay off your credit cards each month?  And when driving, would you make a right turn in front of a car or wait until all cars pass?  If the answers are a zero credit card balance and waiting for clear traffic, chances are you have small ears.

Every investor wants good returns but not everyone is able to handle the risk to get them.  It’s knowing where you fall on the risk-taking spectrum that’s important. Ears just might provide that other missing bit of information to guide you to the decision that is right for you.