4 questions to define your ideal work environment

Michelle LaBrosse
November 2, 2015

With the start of summer, it’s easy to find yourself daydreaming about where you would rather be. Do you see yourself on a sunny beach, digging your toes into the sand? Or perhaps hosting a barbecue in the backyard? Most likely these daydreams have nothing to do with your job, but are rather an escape from it.

You shouldn’t limit your happiness to just a few weeks (or days!) of vacation a year, however. We encourage you to take a few minutes to daydream about your ideal work environment. Though we may never find that ‘perfect’ job or workplace, it is valuable to know what your ideal is. From there, you can better evaluate what matters most to you when weighing new opportunities.

All elements of the work environment, even those which seem out of your control, can be open to re-interpretation. This is not an interview with a potential employer, give the answer that is best for you!

1. Where in the world do you want to work (and live)?

No, I do not mean ‘what company do you want to work for?’ but, literally, where? In the city, suburbs, or maybe the remote wilderness? Do you want to be sitting in an office building, working inside but staying active, or doing physical labour outdoors? What length of commute would make you happiest: a short walk to work, or a long, peaceful drive?

2. What hours do you like to work?

Think beyond the 9-to-5: when do you really want to be working? Are there certain hours of the day in which you are more alert and productive than others? Working hours that work for you can impact how well you do your job.

3. How much responsibility do you want in your job? And, what kinds of responsibility?

Do you like working independently, being responsible for only for own work? Or are you comfortable managing others? Take a minute to reflect on your past work experiences: were you happiest when you had a tightly scheduled work day, or when you had more freedom to schedule your own day? Did you prefer it when your supervisors were highly involved in your daily work, or when they were less involved? Try to isolate the elements that made these previous positions positive or negative experiences for you.

4. What do you want to wear to work?

This may seem trivial, but this detail can have a big impact on your daily happiness at work. If you absolutely hate wearing a uniform, you need to take this into account when weighing up new job opportunities. You may also find that you’re never comfortable in a suit or very formal business-wear; make sure to observe (or ask) if this is the
‘norm’ in potential workplaces.

Co-authored with Megan Alpine

Author avatar
Michelle LaBrosse
Michelle LaBrosse (PMP) is one of the Project Management Institute's (PMI) 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World and the founder of Cheetah Learning, a former PMI Professional Development Provider of the Year. She boasts a background in engineering and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Managers (OPM) program, as well as a prolific writer and educator, having authored Cheetah Negotiations, Cheetah Project Management, Cheetah Know How and Cheetah Exam Prep as well as numerous articles in publications worldwide.
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