What do we mean by the ‘workplace environment’?

Nov 5, 2018 | Good Management

In simplest terms the workplace environment is the place in which employees conduct their work. But actually what does that encompass, when considering both the impact of the workplace environment and how to improve it? Here are some things you might want consider when assessing the workplace environment your staff work in and whether it is suitable.

Physical location

Clearly an important part of what constitutes the workplace environment is the building where employees attend work. That could be an office building or industrial facility, but it also could be a vehicle, their home or various off-site locations if you have workers who visit clients or customers on their premises or in their homes.

In terms of the building itself, consider how well-maintained it is, but the place the building is located would also be relevant, in terms of whether there is parking available, access to shops or food outlets nearby, and whether the location is a safe and pleasant one to come to every day.

When an employee doesn’t work in a regular office or other employment premises, and instead works at home or on client premises don’t forget this still constitutes their workplace environment. Whilst the level of control you may have over these might be more limited, the same factors need to be considered.

Similarly, if an employee spends a lot of time driving whilst at work, then their workplace environment includes their vehicle, and its level of comfort, maintenance and appropriateness for their role.

Conditions inside

Conditions inside the physical location are also part of the workplace environment. This can including basics like lighting and temperature, and whether these are sufficient and appropriate for the tasks being conducted. The standard to which the inside of the building is maintained and the quality of materials used all contribute.

It includes facilities such as toilets, kitchen or break areas and access to refreshments; whether these are pleasant, kept in good condition and adequate for the numbers of staff involved. But it can also include the equipment employees use in their work, what condition it is in and whether it is appropriate for their needs.

Consider whether the workplace environment is safe and as hazard-free as is practicably possible, and whether hazards and risk are assessed and minimised.

Social interactions and atmosphere

As well as physical conditions, the social environment is important, including interactions with peers, managers and more junior members of staff. On a more wider basis, the general atmosphere amongst employees is part of the workplace environment – the level of team spirit and collaboration, inclusion and friendliness.

The social workplace environment also includes broader social activities which take place either during or outside working hours, such as events, outings, seasonal celebrations or team-building exercises.

Support and recognition

The level of support employees receive from management and colleagues is a factor in their workplace environment. This includes whether they receive appropriate training and development to perform their role to the correct standard, whether they feel they can raise concerns and have those concerns heard and addressed, and whether their contribution is recognised.

Do colleagues work well as a team, and support each other in their roles, and do workers feel part of a wider team effort and understand how their role fits within the organisation?

Processes and procedures

Consider the various processes and procedures employees are required to follow in the workplace as part of the workplace environment. Are these effective, supportive and appropriate for the job they are doing, and do they tie in with the culture you want to foster at work? Or do they lead to unnecessary bureaucracy, wasted time, inefficiency and resentment?

Think about whether employees feel the processes they have to follow at work are the right ones, and that they have been consulted on them, and whether you think they would feel able to suggest improvements.

There are many different factors to consider when assessing the environment in your workplace, other than the physical building itself, which means there’s plenty of scope for improvements to make your business a better place to work.


If you’d like some advice on improving the workplace environment in your organisation, do get in touch.