There are many different types of work environment. Several attempts have been made to quantify the different types in an organized way, as seen with the Holland Codes proposed by John Holland, a psychologist with an interest in matching people with work environments that suit their personalities. They can be broken down by the type of work done, the physical environment, or the social and situational factors that can play a role in shaping the workplace. Matching employees with the right environment can result in better performance and more satisfaction.
Holland’s approach to the types of work environment looked at the nature of the work done. He identified six different environments: realistic, social, enterprising, artistic, investigative, and conventional. Some workplaces use this model to assess prospective employees to determine if they would be a good fit and to find the best department for their skills and interests.
In realistic environments, work is more hands on, while investigative environments place a high priority on thinking and theoretical discussions. Enterprising environments involve more self initiative to start and innovate projects. Conventional work environments use set protocols and routines, such as databasing customer information, while artistic environments promote creativity and the production of works of art. Social work environments involve a high degree of interaction, as seen in customer service and teaching.
Another way to look at work environments is to assess the physical surroundings, differentiating between offices, warehouses, retail stores, scientific research facilities, fieldwork sites, and so forth. These work environments may be suited to different kinds of personalities and career goals. The physical environment can also have an impact on suitability for work; some people do not enjoy the rigid and controlled climate of a lab, for instance, or prefer working outdoors. Concerns about conditions in different types of work environment may be an issue for some job seekers with worries about their ability to thrive in physically demanding or boring environments.
The social and psychological climate can also be a metric to use when distinguishing between different types of work environment. Some workplaces have very rigid chains of command, while others may be more flexible and egalitarian. Employees may be encouraged to participate, offer feedback, and shape their environment, or could be expected to focus on tasks without criticizing their employers or supervisors. Some workplace climates can become hostile because of a tolerance for harassment or ferocious competition, while others are more friendly and relaxed.