A work environment is any location in which people perform work for money. In most cases, this term applies to locations such as offices or stores. In these cases, workers travel to the location, do their work and then go home. These types of work environments only exist as work locations—when no one is working, they are empty. Work environments, however, are not restricted to these sorts of locations. Nonstandard work environments vary widely from at-home offices to airplanes.
The term work environment can apply to nearly any location where there are people doing things. A person in an office, someone doing dishes at home and someone hunting an animal for dinner are all working and are all in an environment. Even though all these locations and actions could be work environments, typically only the first one would be considered as such.
Under most definitions, in order to be a work environment, people need to be there to earn money. Whereas doing dishes and hunting are still work, the people doing these actions are not earning. Even with this point filtering out certain nonstandard people and places, there are still a huge number of types and styles of work environments.
Some of the most common styles of work environment are stores, offices and schools. These environments don’t perform any function at all when workers aren’t present. In most cases, they are completely empty except when work is going on. When people think of a normal job, this is often what they think of.
Nonstandard work environments have a wider range of types and styles. Some nonstandard environments have a lot in common with standard ones. For instance, in the case of a construction site, there is no activity without the workers and it is typically empty when no one is working. On the other hand, this environment is often outside and temporary, two factors that separated it from a common office.
Other environments are much different from standard ones. A home office may be used for work some hours out of the day, and not for others. In addition, certain trades, like plumbers or electricians, work inside a home while it is actively being used as a home. Lastly, people that work on airplanes, trains or trucks have work environments that move and travel.
A work environment is often described as good or bad. A good environment is a place where the workers feel at ease and appreciated. Workers in these sorts of environments are often more productive and happy. A bad work environment is a location where the worker feels under-appreciated, threatened or unsettled. Due to the nature of these environments, there is often a high worker turnover rate, and the workers typically fail to live up to their potential.