What is Your Ideal Work Environment?

Many people that I know have been furloughed, or lost their job, during the COVID-19 quarantine of 2020. With that being said, I know that some people will be looking for other employment. For some, it is a necessity but, for others, it is out of interest for something new! However, many American's often settle for less than they deserve because, "work is work."

What if I told you that there is a way to escape this place of work. What if I told you that this is the ONLY article that you need to read to discover where you should work?

No, I cannot tell you which company to work for, but I can tell you what to look for in a work environment that will make you increase productivity, happiness, and change your view of "work."

Passion and interest bring people to you; culture keeps them.

The first thing in discovering whether or not a work environment is right for you is to look at the leadership team. Are the people in charge of the workplace "leaders" or "bosses?" Most people often conflate these terms.

Take a brief moment and think to yourself, "What is the difference between a boss and a leader?"

Leadership is not inherited by position. Just because someone may be a manager does not make them a leader. I have seen, in numerous cases, an entry-level team member have more highly developed leadership skills than those who "outrank" them.

With this being said, let us look at some important definitions.

According to Merriam-Webster, a BOSS is, "a person who exercises control or authority." A LEADER is simply someone who has followers.

Now, truthfully, I have never been a fan of the leader definition. This is because it opens up the potential for others to abuse the definition. You can MAKE people follow you with fear, bribes, etc., but this isn't real leadership. I personally believe the better definition of a leader is, "Someone whom others follow willingly."

This removes the potential abuse in power.

The people that we consider "real leaders" are those who have mastered the art of human behavior and use principles to develop a following at their free-will.

Now that these terms have been defined, let's move on to the next topic. We will bring this back into the discussion later.

Let's do a guided experience. For an audio version of the experience, please listen to the video. Pause as needed!

"I would like you to follow these directions very closely. You will be given something to think about and then you will be told to close your eyes and think. Do not open your eyes until the task is completed! It will really help if you write down the responses after each thought is over. This way you can apply this test later.

Let's start with your early morning routine. I want you to picture yourself getting out of bed: What time do you wake up? What do you do first? Do you brush your teeth, eat breakfast? I want you to picture your surroundings. Are you in the house you are currently living in? What do you taste, see, hear, feel, and smell?

Next, let's get ready for work! You walk to your closet. What clothes are you picking out to wear? Are you wearing a suit to the office? A dress? Are you dressed casually and comfortably? Now that you have decided what to wear, you gather items to take with you to work. What are the items that you are gathering? A pen and paper? A laptop? Nothing? Really put yourself in the moment.

You have now gathered your belongings! Great!

Now, you walk to your garage or driveway and walk up to your car? What kind of car is in your driveway? Is it expensive, normal, cheap, blue, red, green, yellow, black, white, what?

Describe your visioned car out loud as best as you can!

Now let's drive to work! You have now entered your car and are on your commute to work. Is the drive long-distance or short-distance? What do you see along the way? Do you see flowers, pedestrians, livestock, buildings, green grass, trees, what do you see?

You are now pulling up to work. How big is office building? Is there a building at all? Is it in a rural area or a urban area?

Describe the outside in as much detail as possible.

Let's go inside.

When you enter the building, assuming one is present, what does it look like at first? It it spacious, crowded, fast or slow-paced? Is there a front desk or not? Is it modern in appearance or rustic? How are the people? Are they friendly and say hello to you as you enter the office or does everyone keep to themselves?

Describe the inside of your work building in as much detail as possible.

You walk through your office building and approach your desk (assuming you have one). Do you have a desk in a large room filled with other people, do you work in a cubicle, a shared office space, or an office of your own? What does your office look like? Is it large? Is there a whiteboard? Is there a large window?

Describe the space as best as you can out loud.

Look at your desk, what is on it? Pens, pencils, a computer, a desk calendar? Once again, is it large? Made of metal, wood, other?

Describe your desk and its contents as best as you can.

Now that you're at your location in the office, what is it that you are doing as work? Are you putting information into a computer, making phone calls, seeing clients all day, doing research, crunching numbers, shredding papers, getting coffee for the staff, teaching, what is that you picture yourself doing?

Break time! You find that you need a break from work for a little while. Does your office have a break room, or somewhere else. Describe where you would like to take a break during work and what you would do. How long is your break?

Finally, it is time to go home. What time do you leave the office? What time do you get home? Do you work until your work runs out or until a certain time?

Describe your day at the office in as much detail as possible!

Why do you want to get off of work at this time? Say aloud anything else about your job that you can see and recall."

This exercise is very important in discovering what it is that YOU want in a physical environment. However, even though this is an ideal physical environment for your, this may not be the most ideal psychological and engaging work environment, but it may.

If you remember, earlier in the article, we talked about the difference in a boss and a leader. Here is a great picture that I feel describes what I am about to say very well.

A leader will work along side you and will guide you towards the mission of the company. Not simply sit behind a desk and tell you what to do all day! To work for someone who does this does not help you grow. However, they do not have to sit behind a desk all day. I have had a boss that would be there in the morning (sometimes), and would leave for hours at a time. Can you guess what the first thing he did when he arrived?

He criticized what we "weren't doing" as though he had been there all day. This, to me, was an issue.  I want you to look at the top half of the picture in two different ways.

The first way I want you to look at the picture is exactly how it was meant to be seen. This symbolizes the boss that simply commands. The second way I want you to view the picture is as if the boss was blindfolded. Accordingly, I call this the "blindfolded boss perspective." Very original name, right? This is how it is when a boss does not see what you have to go through every day and still commands you. Look at the bottom half of the same picture. What do you see?

A leader is someone who will GUIDE you toward the mission. They are not afraid, or prideful, to give extra support and enter the field to lighten the load if they see the team struggling. This extra support is crucial in great work environments. A great work environment should have clear expectations. One quote that I really love from Dave Ramsey is, "to be unclear, is to be unkind." In too many workplaces now, expectations are supposed to be known to you before you walk in the door. This is a problem. A workplace, in my opinion and preference, should always have a method of training new employees/team members.

If the expectations are clear, and they are not followed, repercussions should occur. However, many people do not have expectations made clearly and are still treated with the same repercussions.

This is NOT a healthy work environment. Treat people fairly. Do not be afraid to go up to your supervisor and ask for clarification! If YOU are the supervisor, have an open door policy and let people know that you are always there to answer any questions and allow for clarity.

ALWAYS work for a LEADER! Always BE a LEADER.

Now that we have talked about the leadership portion of a positive work environment, let's talk about the physical environment. One of the most important physical features about a work environment is the ability to just talk!

Everyone knows something that you don't! You will never learn anything that someone else knows if you do not communicate! Take time out your day to actively seek communication with those people from whom you would like to learn! Now, what color is your office theme? Is it strictly white, red, purple, blue, green, other?

Psychological studies show that offices that have color themes that are a shade of red are often more stressful, anxiety producing, and less pleasant for other people to visit than green. Green environments produce a feelings of tranquility, nature-connected, relaxation. So, be careful in choosing your theme! Take a look the color wheel or do some research on your own to see what colors you want to have in your office space! 

This does not mean that if the building is painted red that you should not work for them exactly. Perhaps, it would be a good idea to add some splashes of more calming colors. If I were to try and describe all of the different features you could find in a workplace, we would both be here for days.

However, I will put together a small list for you!  Here are some personal preference things to think about:

  • Desk size

  • Plants

  • Water cooler in office

  • Personal printer

  • Filing cabinets

  • Personal computer

  • Bookshelf

  • Carpet or Rug

  • Personal coffee machine

  • Curtains

  • Poster

  • Window

  • Other

The physical work environment is much more flexible than the psychological and supportive environments.

In the comments, or forum, please write what YOUR ideal work environment would be and why! 

A positive work environment is one that knows, and sticks to, their company values.

This is crucial for maintaining the vision of the company and the public's view of the company.

For example, if you went to a doctor's office, you would want someone kind and caring. Not rude. It is important to find a workspace where the employees can answer the simple question of, "what are the company values?" If they cannot answer this question, how will they know how to treat team members and clients. In this case you should RUN! Run fast and far! This issue can lead to stress and frustration and customer negligence. Customer negligence will negatively impact the company and, eventually, you. Not everyone in the office space will care to remember all of the company's values. But it is important for management to make the team members aware of what they are. If they are not printed out for you, or verbally expressed, within two weeks of your initial employment, feel free to go to your management and ask.

They will be surprised that you did!

If management is not aware of the company values, RED FLAG. How can someone leading a team push team members in the right direction without a good and moral map of values.

Another huge area in which all great work environments should excel in is a culture of appreciation. With these things in mind, you should know what you deserve and in which environment you will flourish and thrive!

Please use your responses to the guided experience and learn!

You learn from every single environment in which you are placed. Do not be afraid to keep a list of what you love about your current place of work and use that as a reference for later down the road if necessary!

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