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Your work environment includes all sorts of formal characteristics such as company size, geographical location and security level of contracts, but also informal features that describe how things are typically made and done at the workplace.

Examples could include workload, manager´s informal attitude to overtime, the usual way of solving problems or whether the company is generally family friendly. It is mainly about what is seen as desirable and important, and, on the contrary, what is undesirable. In other words, the work environment has a lot to do with both formal and informal conditions, plus the company culture and values.

What stimulates one person’s satisfaction, high performance and retention in the company, can be extremely exhausting and inhibiting for someone else. That means that there is nothing like an optimal work environment that works for everyone. It is a matter of individual preference, and those are related to one´s values, long-term objectives and personality.

 

Your working life brings different occasions to optimize your work environment according your own preferences. Sometimes a small change while staying in the same job might be enough, if you know what to negotiate for. On other occasions, you might be changing the job or even your career. You don’t want to miss such a great opportunity to choose your optimal work environment, so you need to be aware of what works for you and what doesn’t.

 

What is optimal for you?

 

The following set of questions can help you describe your optimal work environment.

In the second round, you can mark those options that describe your current position or the one you have been considering – to see how that matches your preferences.

 

 1. In each row, choose your preferred option. If it is “something in between”, try to specify it as much as possible (e.g. a company with 40-60 employees):

 

If I could, I would like to work... 

 

  • mainly with people / with data / with things / other: ...............
  • independently / in a company or organization of a small size / medium size / big size
  • on tasks that I mostly fulfil on my own / with a colleague / in a team
  • on whole tasks from A to Z / on a specific phase of tasks: ................ / as a coordinator
  • with regular working hours / on shifts / with flexible working hours
  • geographically close to my current residence / with commuting for some days or weeks / at a new location (relocation) / from a distance (teleworking)
  • in premises with a formal appearance / semi-formal appearance / casual appearance
  • according to a clear long-term strategy from management / rather with a flow

 

I generally prefer...

 

  • deciding how to perform my tasks myself / others deciding and giving me clear instructions
  • being involved in decisions about the whole company / not being involved
  • a dynamic and fast work pace / minimal time pressure
  • having contact with the main boss (in general) often / not having to be in contact with the top management (in general)
  • a high level of security (setting up working conditions for a long time in advance) / high level of freedom (leaving open how and what you will work on in some months)
  • continuous learning and working on new tasks / working on tasks I am familiar with

 

 

If I could choose what should be considered most important at my workplace, it would be:

 

  • delivered results / effort / excellent quality / relationships and atmosphere / other values: ...........

 

 2. Choose any number of the following options:

 

I consider it important that my workplace be:

 

  • working with the best technologies in the field
  • dealing directly with end products
  • working with end customers, clients, target groups
  • developing strategies and policies, and setting up systems
  • meeting high quality standards
  • offering a highly competitive salary 
  • associated with a prestigious name or brand
  • international (as regards team members, travel etc.)
  • providing options for profit-share (interest rates)
  • family friendly
  • engaged in environmental issues
  • engaged in social issues
  • supporting my personal development in............... through....................
  • supporting also the following attitudes and values: ........................................................

 

 

How close or far is that from your current work environment? What could you do to optimize the work environment, while staying in the same job or at the same workplace?

 

If you are considering a new job or even a career change, where could you find or develop such a combination of working conditions? For example, in which sector (public, non-profit, or commercial) is it most likely? As employed (full-time, part-time), self-employed (alternatively on freelance) or in entrepreneurship?

 

Imagine how your working life would change if you increased the correlation, or if you actively built a work environment like the one you have just described.

That is an example of the results that coaching can help you achieve: together with a professional, you can explore the combination of your preferences and find ways to develop such an environment in your real-life circumstances.

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