The work environment of a business either fosters the success of the corporation or tears it to shreds. It dictates how well employees function and how their management interacts with them. The tricky thing about a professional environment is that every individual prefers something different.
The conditions which allow some employees to thrive will stifle others. For this reason, it’s common for an interviewer to ask a question or two about the type of work environment you prefer. Having a firm grasp on the variety of work environments helps you form a satisfactory answer to this question.
WHAT IS A WORK ENVIRONMENT?
A work environment is made up of the actual space where work is performed, the culture that a company cultivates, and the general conditions of employees.
Examples of aspects that affect a person’s work environment include:
- The physical area. The size of your personal workspace (desk, office, open space, flex office) and layout (cubical, open etc.) can have a big impact on your happiness and well-being at work. Consider that open floor plans usually indicate greater collaboration and places with large open communal areas usually value creativity and the exchange of ideas.
- Facilities and hardware. Depending on your job, the equipment an office space offers can play a big role in your ability to get your job done efficiently. The types of computers, copiers you get will strongly influence your well-being. Also consider other spaces, like kitchens, conference areas, and even things like gyms, for assessing a work environment.
- Working conditions. This part of the work environment is the most difficult to grasp but probably the most important one. Working conditions include things like working hours, scheduling, safety, benefits, value of work/life balance. Even a job with a great team and a culture that suits you can have unreasonably long hours or tasks that may be unhealthy on the long run.
- Company culture. This one is often hard to pin down, but culture is just a way that a group of individuals behave and expect others within their group to behave. This can apply to how management talks to employees, what policies are enforced and emphasized, how growth is supported, and what values are core to the organization.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF WORK ENVIRONMENTS
There is a wide variety of healthy workplace environments available that cater to different preferences and values. There is no miracle recepe but it can be useful to know what suits you and that other types of environment exist so that you can find your preferred one.
Work environments differ in the factors that they provide and lack. Below are examples of different types of work environments:
- The traditional environment. When people think about what defines a work environment, the traditional 9-to-5 is often what we think about. It’s the day that begins with going into the office at 9 in the morning and leaving when the sun sets at 5. This continues for a five-day workweek.
- The flexible environment. The flexible work environment is the polar opposite of the traditional 9-to-5. It gives employees the freedom to customize their work schedule, hours, and space however they like, as long as they get their work in on time and well.
- The degrading environment. A degrading work environment focuses on getting the best productivity out of its employees not caring about their well-being and their growth. Rather than discussing poor behavior or a decline in work quality to further mutual understanding, they implement punishment or simply let go of people.
- The constructive feedback environement: In contrast to a degrading environment, the constructive feedback environment doesn’t belittle an employee for making a mistake on the job. Instead, it turns it into an opportunity to upgrade their performance This creates a professional domain where employees feel comfortable to work freely. It cultivates a growth mindset versus a fixed one, where making mistakes is not perceived as a problem worth punishment but rather a great opportunity to learn and grow and to do better next time.
- The performance focused environment. Most people are familiar with the feeling of competing with their peers for the achievement of first place. In a work environment, this often occurs in the form of offering raises, promotions, or other incentives to the highest performing employees.
- The collaborative environment. A collaborative environment uses each employee’s unique strengths to off-set the team’s inevitable weaknesses. In this type of work circumstance, the employees of a company see themselves as a cohesive unit and function as one to create the best outcome. This type of environment focuses on team effort rather than individual strengths and weaknesses which takes a lot of pressure off individuals who know a task or a project does not just rely on them but on a whole team.
A company that employs a 9-to-5 schedule is usually strict about other aspects of work-life, such as dress code and a specific protocol for handling workloads.
Although this is one of the most common work environments, it’s a difficult schedule to keep. Most people who work in the 9-to-5 often prefer an alternative because it doesn’t allow much room for individual employee contribution.
This type of work environment focuses on the fact that each employee is an individual who knows for themselves what work environment works best for them.
The flexible work environment may sound like perfection, but it requires employees to have a great deal of self-discipline. If you’re unable to accomplish all your work autonomously watch you, a flexible work environment probably isn’t the right fit for you.
Additionally, a degrading work environment does not recognize its employees for their accomplishments. This creates a system of workers who are putting forth maximum effort in the hopes that they don’t get penalized. While this may work for a short amount of time, it quickly leads to high employee turnover which is never beneficial to a company in the end.
The performance focused work environment does foster a sense of urgency to excel in some team members, but it can make others crumble under pressure. Depending on the industry, a competitive work environment is implemented to weed out these individuals who won’t excel under the stress of competition.
Collaborative environments require strong people and communication skills to function.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL WORK ENVIRONMENT ?
Knowing yourself is the key to choosing a work environment in which you will naturally thrive without having to over-adapt which can be exhausted in the long run and even lead to burn out.
Therapy, coaching can be wonderful and fruitful ways to gain awareness on your values, what is imporant to you and what is less, to know the difference between what society requires from you, what your family wishes for you and what really matches your needs.
Experimenting with different kinds of environment early in your career can be a good way to gain some knowledge as well.
Finally do not hesitate to be truthful and assertive about the kind of envrionment you would like to work on with your future employer in an interview for example so that there is no misunderstanding and mismatch from the start, it will be beneficial to everyone.