What is your ideal working environment?

I’ve decided to try out a new type of post on this blog because I don’t just want to teach people things. I know a lot of people are here because they want to improve their English, or because they are interested in language-related posts, but I want to provide a place where we can have conversations on the blog too. If these interactive posts prove to be popular, I’ll plan more of them.

So, in this post, I’ve taken a topic and provided links to a TED talk (for listening skills) and a blog post (where you can read an informal article). After that, I’ve asked some questions. Let me know what you think in the comments. You don’t have to answer all the questions, but I’d be interested to hear some different opinions about this topic.

I watched a TED talk at the beginning of the week about why one company made the decision to have all of its employees working from home, or some other place of their choice. They don’t come to a physical office and work together.
The presenter talked about the advantages, such as people being to customise their own working environment, and the fact that the company can fish from an international talent pool, rather than having the usual restrictions of only those applicants who live close to the company’s offices.

If you’d like to watch the talk yourself, you can do so by watching “why working from home is good for business” on the TED site.

I then started thinking about my own home office, and the other offices in which I’ve worked. Some of them were ok. The smaller ones weren’t bad, but the massive open-plan one definitely wasn’t my favourite.
I used to have a long journey to work, and now that I work from home, I can use that time for other things.
As I thought about it, I could think of more and more things that made working from home better for my business at least, and I wrote a blog post about them on my private blog. If you want to, you can read my 10 advantages of working from home post.

What do you think?

I’d also like to hear your thoughts on this.

  1. If you could change one thing about your working environment, what would it be? How could you make things better for working, or more comfortable?
  2. Do you have the opportunity to work from home? If so, do you enjoy it? If not, would you like to work from home?
  3. I talked about some advantages in my post. Can you think of some disadvantages of working from home?
  4. Do you think it’s a problem that managers can’t see what their staff are doing if the staff are working from home?
  5. What other types of working arrangements have you experienced, and what did you think of them? (Large open plan offices/smaller offices/single offices/individual cubicles within a larger room).
  6. Do you think you would be lonely if you weren’t surrounded by colleagues, or would you rather have the peace and quiet?
  7. What type of people or jobs would never be suitable for home working?

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Kirsty working with students

Author: Kirsty

I have two blogs. English with Kirsty is my business blog for people interested in languages and learning English. Unseen Beauty is my personal blog.

2 thoughts on “What is your ideal working environment?”

  1. Dear Kirsty,
    I heard many podcasts from you and I enjoy it to hear from you. – Thank you!!!
    I want to give some answers to the questions of Episode 155 (https://englishwithkirsty.com/podcast/episode155/ ) what is your ideal working environment.

    First I want to give you a short introduction of me.
    I´m living in Germany and I´m 51 years old. I´m married and I have two children (26 and 14 Years). I´m working for a big company which produce parts for the truck industry. All over the world are 25.000 employees. At our plant we have 330 employees. I´m a production team leader. So my task is, to improve production processes, support the daily production. In my team are 4 engineers and 40 workers on three shifts.

    1.) If you could change one thing about your working environment, what would it be? How could you make things better for working, or more comfortable?
    I´m sitting in an office which has only windows to the shop floor but not to the outside. The background for this is, the direct contact between the workers and the office people. The negative point is, that I can´t see the weather outside and I don´t have any daylight during my working time. No fresh air from outside is available, only from air conditioner.
    In summary 11 people work at this office. Only me and another colleague are sitting behind a small partition wall.
    An additional negative point is, that these 11 colleagues have telephone calls, meetings, discussions between each other. The noise level is very high and sometimes it is difficult to concentrate over a longer period. So sometimes I decide to change my working place for some hours into another office.
    If I have the opportunity to change things without regarding money, I want to have an office with an outdoor window. Also I want to have an office for myself where I can open a door when want to have contact to the other colleagues. Another opportunity is one or two smaller rooms, where you can work alone without any noise.

    2.) Do you have the opportunity to work from home? If so, do you enjoy it? If not, would you like to work from home?
    I don´t have the opportunity to work from home. The office is in the shop floor. Several times a day I go to the production line to see if everything is running. Discussions come up what´s not going wrong or well, or ideas are coming up what can be improved in the future. If there are any problems I need support from other departments eg. maintenance, quality,… It´s easier and faster to discuss problems, projects or improvements face to face as to write e-mails.

    3.) I talked about some advantages in my post. Can you think of some disadvantages of working from home?
    I mentioned some points at 2.). Sometimes you have misunderstanding if you only write e-mails. With e-mails or online meetings you can´t express feelings, don´t see expressions, … Because of this it can quickly lead to misunderstandings and difficulties. For me it is useful that I have the contact personally. So it is easier to understand some decisions from a colleague when he / she can explain it directly. Sometimes you hear additional things eg. of private life, circumstances… so that I have another kind of view.
    Also I can see the strengths and weaknesses of my colleagues. So it is easier for me to decide, which task / problem can be solved from whom.
    Summary: there are some good reasons and jobs to make home office. But on the other side you need the direct contact or the circumstances don´t allow home office.

    4.) Do you think it’s a problem that managers can’t see what their staff are doing if the staff are working from home?
    In normal cases it it is not a problem for managers because the work must be done into a specified time period. So it doesn´t matter if the staff do it at home or not. The result is important. If there is often a delay or the outcome is not in the quality which was expected, the manager must control the staff more often or must lead the staff more closer. One possible way is, to work more often at the office. The manager has a better opportunity to control the work and give faster, concrete feedback.
    I think it depends on the staff and the manager. If the staff do their job well, the task is clearly specified by the manager and both sides have the same understanding what is expected, it is ok to do home office.

    5.) What other types of working arrangements have you experienced, and what did you think of them? (Large open plan offices/smaller offices/single offices/individual cubicles within a larger room).
    As I mentioned I work in an open office with 11 colleagues. An open office has the benefit that you can hear some discussions, hear problems, get informations … from work or sometime from private live. That can help in some situations. On the other side if you have a telephone meeting or an important face to face meeting it is disturbing. If you work for human resources, or private banking,… you may have many face to face conversations. So it is necessary that you have your own office.
    The working arrangements depends on the job.

    6.) Do you think you would be lonely if you weren’t surrounded by colleagues, or would you rather have the peace and quiet?
    I have different experiences. Normally I´m in an open office. I have a small partition wall to my other colleagues, so that I can follow the discussions around. I get much indirect input that helps at my daily work.
    One year ago I got a new project. I had to specify an enquiry for many big machines. It takes many weeks to develop a new production process and to specify it for the supplier. If you make an mistake or miss something in the enquiry it may have severe consequences. So you must work very concentrated. Time to time I decided to book a meeting room for myself or came on saturdays where no one is in the office. For me, it must be quiete and no disturbance is allowed. On the other side my children learn with music, writing at facebook, watching TV,… The results at school are good, so that I can´t complain.
    So I think a general solution for this topic is difficult to find.

    7.) What type of people or jobs would never be suitable for home working?
    Work with special equipment (big machines, trains, trucks, doctors at hospital, …) is not suitable for home office.

    Have a nice weekend :-)

    Kind regards
    Jürgen

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. You make many good points.

      I remember working in a room with no natural light and only air condition units, and I much prefer my office now where I can open the window.

      You clearly show why it is important to have contact to your colleagues, especially why it’s good to be visible on the shop floor. You can see problems as they arise and staff know where to come and find you. I agree it’s good to have quiet rooms as well, because sometimes other colleagues can make it hard to concentrate, especially if you are working on something complicated or difficult.

      It seems you are happy with your current working environment, which is great!

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your views,
      Kirsty

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