Choose Your Work Environment

Considering a job change? Often people primarily focus on the location, job type, work hours, travel requirements, salary, and benefits. However, considering various aspects of the work environment itself is arguably just as important, especially since the COVID pandemic. In addition to considering work site location (i.e., on site, hybrid, and remote – don’t make the mistake of assuming that a remote job has more independence, flexibility, and fewer social demands, by the way!), it’s also important to identify the underlying needs, values, and preferences you have in a work environment.


Here are some workplace environment dimensions to consider:


  • Individual, task-focused vs. Team, collaborative
  • Predictable, stable vs. Dynamic, innovative
  • Formal vs. Informal
  • Cooperative vs. Competitive
  • Autonomous vs. Work tasks are spelled out
  • Value individual contributors vs. Opportunities to advance
  • Quality of work vs. Speed of work
  • A few key tasks/responsibilities vs. Variety of tasks/responsibilities
  • Profit-focused vs. Giving back
  • Flexible vs. Set Hours
  • Employees are taken care of vs. Workplace values self-sufficiency
  • Flat/democratic organization vs. Hierarchical/top-down organization
  • Leisurely paced vs. Fast-paced


Which dimension(s) are most important to you, given your current life circumstances, family situation, and lifestyle?


While you may not always find the perfect fit on every dimension (no job is perfect), finding one that accommodates the dimensions most important to you can go a long way. And of course, do your research (using multiple online sources as well as informational interviews and onsite visits, if possible). Often companies may “claim” that certain value is important to them, but in reality they reward/value something else. For example, a company may say they value teamwork, but only offer individual rewards. They may say they value independence and work/life balance, but in reality chat messages and e-mails are sent out at all hours of the day. If you are considering several different companies offering the same type of job, finding the one whose work environment is the best fit for you can be a game-changer for job satisfaction.