The 6 Types of Work Environments

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 23, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated October 23, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's essential to determine which work environment you excel in to be successful and find job satisfaction. In this article, we explore the six types of working environments, include examples of jobs in each and discuss key characteristics and qualities of people in those spaces.

What is a work environment?

Factors like physical surroundings, company culture and working conditions influence a work environment. It also includes benefits and opportunities for career development. When considering a work environment, it's crucial to find one that fits your unique values and goals. A productive and successful work environment should offer a positive atmosphere, adequate resources, professional growth and learning opportunities. Things to consider when looking at a positive work environment include:

Size and layout of the physical environment

The size and layout of the physical workplace can influence your success and happiness. The design of a workspace depends on the work being done. For example, an open work environment without offices and cubicles is more conducive to open discussions, expression of ideas and collaboration. The size of a workplace can also affect how you complete your work. Evaluate if there's enough shared space for you to move freely without disturbing other coworkers around you.

Related: 18 People Skills for a Productive Work Environment

Furnishings and equipment

When evaluating a work environment, determine what the company offers in terms of furnishings and equipment. Typically, the organization supplies office furniture, but be sure to ask about any special needs you have. Ergonomic furnishings provide a healthy work environment and support your physical health, too. In addition, it's essential to ask about the tools and equipment you need. For example, mechanics and other tradespeople commonly have to provide their tools for work.

Terms of employment

Terms of employment are part of your work environment and make up the framework for your job. Working hours, wages, health and insurance benefits are all part of your employment terms and affect your overall work satisfaction. Other things to consider are whether the position is permanent or temporary, if the company offers paid sick days and if they support flexible working hours.

Related: Ideal Working Environment Components (With Benefits)

The 6 types of work environments

There are six types of working environments, each with its unique characteristics and values. Every work environment attracts different people that excel within its setting. Understanding the various work environments helps you determine which roles and positions feel most comfortable to you.

1. A conventional work environment

The characteristics that define a conventional work environment are predictability, structure and organization. This office setting offers regular working hours and stability and values employees who are logical, practical and dependable. Employees who excel in this working environment typically enjoy routines and simple processes.

As they are well organized, these employees thrive in highly structured environments and can follow directions. Examples of positions commonly found within a conventional work environment include finance roles and traditional office jobs, like an administrative assistant.

An administrative assistant handles administrative tasks like managing incoming and outgoing correspondence, electronic and manual filing, preparing letters and reports and organizing office supplies and inventory. Their duties also include answering phone calls and greeting clients or customers. Because they deal with a range of people, administrative assistants must be friendly, professional, organized and efficient. Common qualities that successful administrative assistants possess are time management, communication and interpersonal skills. The national average salary is $20.70 per hour.

2. An enterprising work environment

The characteristics that define an enterprising work environment are the achievement of organizational goals, competition and persuasion. An enterprising work setting focuses on reaching financial goals through selling and effective communication. Companies that offer this work environment often value ambition, assertiveness and decisiveness.

Employees who enjoy an enterprising work environment often excel at sales and persuasion and are extremely outgoing. These employees do well within an environment that encourages healthy competition and being proactive. Positions commonly found within an enterprising work environment include roles within corporations, public service and retail sales such as territory sales manager.

A territory sales manager, or district sales manager, works with customers to determine needs and provide clear sales objectives and incentives. They supervise a team of salespeople and ensure goals and objectives are being met consistently. They also make sure the company's interaction with the customer remains positive. Working within a defined location, a territory sales manager handles the implementation of new sales initiatives and programs while completing strategic business planning and financial projections. Qualities of a successful territory sales manager include effective communication skills, negotiation and the ability to close the sale. The national average salary is $30.57 per hour.

3. A social work environment

The characteristics that define a social work environment include an emphasis on communication, teaching, helping and healing others. A social work environment focuses on people and has a high level of social interaction. This work setting values empathy, compassion and kindness and requires highly developed interpersonal skills.

Employees motivated by helping others and inspired to serve through teaching, understanding and guiding people excel in a social work environment. Positions found within this work setting include roles in education, social work, healthcare and counselling. An example of a role within a social work environment is a registered nurse.

A registered nurse, often shortened to RN, tends to the nursing needs of healthcare patients. Working closely with other healthcare professionals, they provide a wide range of medical services like administering medication, offering medical treatments and implementing patient care plans. Registered nurse needs exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, as they work closely with physicians and other medical team members, and communicate with family members and caregivers. Qualities of a successful registered nurse include compassion and empathy, attention to detail and patience. The national average salary for this role is $37.40 per hour.

Related: OB Nurse Responsibilities (With Skills and Work Environment)

4. An artistic work environment

The characteristics that define an artistic work environment include experimentation, innovation and creative expression. An artistic work setting lacks conventional structure and rules, allowing self-direction and creative freedom. This type of work environment values imagination and flexibility, providing a free-spirited setting for its employees.

Intuitive and inventive employees excel in openly emotional and artistic work environments that encourage responsiveness and adaptability. Positions commonly seen within an artistic work environment include theatre and music production, artistic pursuits and design work. One example of an artistic role is a graphic designer.

Graphic designer uses their creative and technical skills to create logos, brochures, web pages and graphic elements to convey a company's message through visual aspects. Using computer software and hand-drawn art, graphic designers create a cohesive visual brand for advertising, such as product packaging, infographics and reports. A graphic designer is highly creative, expressive and perceptive and may enjoy collaborating within a team or thriving independently. Qualities of a successful graphic designer include originality, resourcefulness and imagination. The national average salary is $21.16 per hour.

5. An investigative work environment

The characteristics that define an investigative work environment include gathering evidence, studying information and making conclusions. Within an often unstructured setting, an investigative environment encourages critical thinking and experimentation with an emphasis on learning and problem-solving. An investigative work environment values freedom of thought, independence and innovation. Employees who thrive in this setting prefer using creative and abstract thinking before taking action.

Having a solid foundation in math and science, successful employees enjoy thinking and contemplation over physical tasks. We see typical roles within an investigative work environment in engineering, computer programming, healthcare and technology. An example of an investigative job title is a chemical engineer.

Chemical engineer uses their technical skills to create and manage chemical manufacturing processes. Using math, chemistry, biology and physics, they solve problems and find solutions regarding different chemical compounds. Chemical engineers work in various industries, including food, pharmaceuticals, fuel, consumer goods and healthcare. Because they often work as part of a larger team, they require interpersonal skills and the confidence to lead others. A thriving chemical engineer excels in critical thinking, problem-solving and analysis. The national average salary is $32.42 per hour.

6. A realistic work environment

A realistic work environment's characteristics include emphasizing physical activities, manual work and using tools, instruments and equipment. A realistic work environment values action over contemplation, tangible processes and concrete goals.

An employee who excels in a realistic work setting is highly kinesthetic and enjoys working with their hands. They may enjoy working outdoors, with animals or within mechanical and manufacturing environments. Job positions commonly seen within a realistic work environment include engineering, maintenance, construction and technical roles. One example of a job suited to a realistic work environment is an automotive mechanic.

Automotive mechanic uses their technical knowledge to maintain and repair vehicles. Using specific instruments and tools, they diagnose mechanical, electrical and technological failures and determine the best course of action to repair the issue. Automotive mechanics typically work within a team of other mechanics but work independently on their specific tasks. Qualities of a successful automotive mechanic include critical thinking, problem-solving, computer skills and mechanical understanding. The national average salary is $26.44 per hour.

Related: What Is an Agile Work Environment? (With Characteristics)

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