Working from Home: How to Optimize Your Work Environment and Stay Healthy

Many workers continue to telework during the pandemic. While some may be fortunate to have a designated home office, others are competing for workspace with family members. A makeshift desk at the kitchen table or a temporary bedroom office are common. These new work arrangements combined with the additional stressors of working at home may be taking a toll on our health. Here are some tips to optimize your telework environment and help manage stress during these challenging times.

Start with creating a work-ready environment. Find space in your home where noise, lighting and temperature can be well-controlled. Even if you are home alone, a dedicated workspace will help keep you focused. A properly designed workspace can help prevent workplace musculoskeletal disorders.

  • An office chair with armrests is ideal for seating, allowing your feet to rest flat on the floor with the hips and knees at, or slightly greater than, a 90 o angle.  If your feet aren’t flat on the floor, use a box or book as a footrest.
  • In general, avoid working on a couch or soft chairs. If you have no other option, use pillows to provide some back support and work in an upright position.
  • Varying your posture regularly is beneficial.  If possible, periodically work standing up (perhaps at a countertop) as a break to prolonged sitting.
  • Working for prolonged periods of time at a kitchen table or while on the sofa can be uncomfortable for many. Ideally, a primary seated posture should support the low back in a position of lordosis – the natural inward curvature of the lumbar spine above the pelvis.  This is shown in photo A below.  Photo B shows an ordinary flat back chair which does not support the inward curvature of the low back.  There are creative ways to devise a lumbar support pad or roll that can be attached to the back of an ordinary chair.

home work environment



home work environment

home work environment

Working from home could increase the hours of screen time. Eye strain can be caused from prolonged screen use, from excessively bright light in the telework setting, font size and other factors.

Take a Break

When working at home, the lines between work and home can get blurred. Studies are finding that while working at home, people spend more time in meetings, work longer days, and have fragmented focus time. Working at home during the pandemic can affect access to social support and result in feelings of isolation and added stress. Workers’ well-being can be further impaired if they lose access to health-enhancing benefits available at the formal worksite (e.g., access to on-site health clinics and health and well-being programs). Additional stressors while working at home include: the struggle to attend to personal and family needs while working; managing a different workload; lack of access to tools and equipment needed to perform work; feelings of not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline; uncertainty about the future of the workplace and/or employment; and challenges related to learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties.

Workers can take steps to build resilience such as using a journal to set work-related goals and participating in mindfulness. Other tips to manage stress while working at home during the pandemic include:

Most adults need at least 7 hours of quality sleep. Follow a relaxing routine 1.5 hours before bedtime to help your body make the transition from being awake to falling asleep. Don’t expose your eyes to computer or phone screens during this time.

Paying attention to your home office setup can help prevent physical discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders. When combined with monitoring your physical and mental health, some of the possible negative effects of this unprecedented work-at-home experience can be avoided. The good news is that raising awareness of these principles will also help improve your “regular” work environment when we one day return.

For More Information

On Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders

On Stress and Sleep

Brian D. Lowe, PhD, CPE, is a Research Industrial Engineer in the NIOSH Division of Field Studies and Engineering .

Jeannie A.S. Nigam, MS, is the Co-Coordinator of the Healthy Work Design and Well-Being Cross Sector Program and a Research Psychologist in the NIOSH Division of Science Integration.

Claire Caruso, PhD, RN, FAAN, is Research Health Scientist in the NIOSH Division of Science Integration.

Imelda Wong, PhD, is the Coordinator for the Center for Work and Fatigue Research and an Industrial Hygienist/Epidemiologist in the NIOSH Division of Science Integration.

Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA, is the NIOSH Science Blog Coordinator.

Mention of any company, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

12 comments on “Working from Home: How to Optimize Your Work Environment and Stay Healthy”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy » .

very good content!

When working from home, try to get out and walk or run. Do things where you have to leave. At least, go for a run or do breathing exercises outside!

I have been working from home since March. I have become a Zoom expert. I have a new camera and a new microphone and the most important thing I purchased was lighting. I now have a light that can go into different brightness and change the color. We have also switched how we sell our products at our company. We used to rely on salespeople and now we rely on the Internet and our website

I play deep blue noise on yt from a sound bar..,choose which “noise” flows best, soft brown and deep blue are my preferences then adjust according to activity in the house. My spouse even plays music while cooking and its completely drowned out. Also, weather stripping around door jams.

Thank you for these simple tips and reminders that we often forget when working from home. I must say I’m guilty with my seating posture and not taking a break from time to time. To keep my hands comfortable and protect my desk, I also used office desk mats that I discovered. No regrets up until now because it can work as a large mouse pad and can accommodate even your keyboard as well.

Loved your post , taking break is the key . Sometimes we just get carried away with our work . It helps in short term but its a huge loss in long term especially during these covid time.

I really enjoyed this post, especially the part about sitting correctly. I have to admit I still have to improve in this regard. I found balance balls helpful to keep the right posture.


These images show what really, although it may not seem like it, greatly affects the health and musculature in our arm. The correct position in our office or computer table is very important. Thanks for the tips.

Walking and stretching will help to ease any kind of tension that has actually accumulated in your body. If the pain continues, it is best to talk to a physician or physiotherapist to learn what could be causing back pain.

The way you explained little details are accurate. Sitting comfortably on an office chair is a must. Thank you for sharing such articles.

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20 Tips for Working From Home

Whether you're new to working remotely or just looking to level up, these tips can help you stay productive and maintain balance.

Jill Duffy

I've been contributing to PCMag since 2011, at times as an analyst and currently as deputy managing editor for the software team. My column, Get Organized , has been running on PCMag since 2012. It gives advice on how to manage all the devices, apps, digital photos, email, and other technology that can make you feel like you're going to have a panic attack.

home work environment

Starting around March 2020, more people than ever before began working from home , most of them with little to no notice. Organizations and individuals didn't have time to prepare for remote work or think about the best ways to transition teams, processes, and culture to an online-only environment. No one knew (or yet knows) how long the COVID-19 pandemic—and thus an increased number of remote workers—would last.

If you're new to the work-from-home lifestyle, whether due to the coronavirus or because you've managed to find a remote job , you may have found that you need to change your habits and routines to make working from home a success.

I've worked 100% remotely for around eight years straight, with a few years of partial remote work before that. Most of my remote work experience happened long before the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote a book on remote work (Opens in a new window) that goes into incredible detail about all the various aspects of remote work life. Several of my friends and colleagues have led entire careers from home offices. Each of us faces unique challenges working remotely, not only because of our different personalities, but also due to our various lifestyles and the type of work we do. Still, many of the core issues we face as remote workers are the same.

Everyone who works remotely has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life . What about office equipment , career development, training opportunities, and building relationships with colleagues remotely ? 

Working remotely, especially when working from home most of the time, means figuring out these issues and others. Here are 20 tips for leading a better and more productive remote-work life, based on my experience and what I've learned from others.

1. Maintain Regular Hours

Set a schedule and stick to it...most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. 

That said, one of the best benefits of remote work is flexibility, when the job allows for it. Sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else's time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.

Automatic time-tracking apps, such as RescueTime , let you check in on whether you're sticking to your schedule. They can also help you figure out what times of day you're most productive versus when you slack off. You can use that information to your advantage by protecting the hours when you're most likely to get difficult work done. For example, if you tend to have high productivity between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., don't schedule meetings during that time.

2. Create a Morning Routine

Deciding you'll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. 

A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day. What in your morning routine indicates you're about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee before you tackle your to-do list . It might be returning home after a jog or getting dressed. (Wearing pajamas is a work-from-home perk for some, but a bad strategy for others.) Look for an existing habit that you have, like brushing your teeth or coming in from a dog walk, to act as your signal. That way, you can tack on the new habit of kicking off your workday.

I say "morning routine," but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule. Yours might be a "getting started" routine at another time of day. Nevertheless, look for an existing habit you have and try to start your work day after it. 

3. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space

Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space when you work.

For example, if you have children who learn at home or who come home from school while you're still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. If you share a space with another adult who's working from home, you may have to negotiate quiet times, meeting times, and any shared equipment, like desks and chairs. Simply knowing that another person has a meeting at a certain time helps you prepare to work around it. You might need to get a pair of socks from the bedroom before another person goes in there and closes the door for a meeting.

Additionally, just because you're home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn't mean other family members should assume you always will. As I put it in my book, "You're a remote worker, not the house manager." If you choose to take on the bulk of the domestic labor because you work from home, that's fine, but if you simply take it on by default because you're home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your ability to get your job done may suffer.

4. Schedule Breaks

If you work for an organization, know the policy on break times and take them. If you're self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seem to be the standard for full-time US employees. For computer-based work and other sedentary work, it's important to stand up and move to get your blood circulating every so often, at least once an hour. It also helps to move your eyes off screen regularly, even if it's a micro-break of 10–20 seconds.

5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety

Don't short-change yourself during breaks , especially your lunch hour or meal break. 

There are apps, such as TimeOut for Mac (Opens in a new window) and Smart Break for Windows (Opens in a new window) , that let you set a schedule for when you'll lock yourself out of your computer. RescueTime also has a pause feature that lets you time 15-minute and one-hour breaks. Don't need any more apps in your life? Set an alarm or timer on your phone, or mind the time with a standard clock. No matter how you track your breaks, make sure to take them in their entirety. For example, if you plan for an hour break and return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.

6. Leave Home

To the extent that it's safe, get out of the house and move your body. Your body needs blood circulation. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good. Ideally, step outside for at least a short while before, during, and after your working hours.

This same advice applies equally to people who do in-person work. Leave the building at least once a day during working hours.

If your circumstances and conditions allow, you might also go to cafes, libraries, and co-working spaces to break up the monotony of being at home. That's great, but the really important part is to leave your home, get some air and natural light, and move. 

You don't have to go to crowded public spaces to get away from your solo workspace. Take a walk. Weed the garden. Sit on the stoop. You get the picture.

7. Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need

If you're employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a few days of realizing you need something new. 

It's extremely important to set a precedent early that you will ask for what you need to get your job done comfortably. These items might include the right monitor , keyboard , mouse , chair, desk, printer , software, and so forth. Organizations that are accustomed to remote employees often have a budget for home office equipment. Ask what it is and how often it's renewed. It also doesn't hurt to ask whether there's a loan agreement or who will pay for return shipping or disposal of outdated equipment. Some remote organizations allow employees to bring in a consultant to make sure their workspaces are set up to be ergonomic . 

If you're working from home short-term and are expected to return to an office when it's safe, ask for what you need, but be willing to make acceptable compromises. Ordering a new office chair and desk might be off the table. Instead, a mouse, keyboard, laptop riser, and a back-supporting cushion go a long way and all together can cost less than $200. There are other cheap and easy ways to improve your home office , too.

8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space

In an ideal world, remote employees would have not only a dedicated office, but also two computers, one for work and one for personal use. It's more secure for the employer, and it lets you do all your NSFW activities in private. 

But not everyone has a spare room to use as an office in their home, and keeping two machines isn't always realistic. Instead, dedicate a desk or table space and some peripherals that will be used only for work. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the monitor and external keyboard, it's work time. When it's on your lap, that's personal time. You may want to go as far as creating a separate user account for work (or school ). Making even small points of differentiation between work time and personal time helps your brain know when you're off the clock, and that contributes to better work-life balance.

9. Maintain a Separate Phone Number

If your job entails taking old fashioned phone calls, set up a phone number that you only use for calls with colleagues and clients. It doesn't have to be a landline or a second mobile phone , or even require a SIM card. It can be a VoIP service, such as Google Voice or Skype. 

Similar to some of the other tips, having a separate phone number helps you manage your work-life balance.

10. Use a VPN

Use a VPN whenever you're connected to a network that you don't control. That includes Wi-Fi at co-working spaces, cafes, libraries, airports, hotels, and so forth. Organizations often have their own VPNs that off-site employees need to access certain servers or websites that store information meant only for internal use. In those cases, you'll also need to use a VPN at home . It's a good idea to get into the habit of leaving your VPN connected as often as possible because it's always safer to have it on than not. 

VPNs are one security measure, and there are other steps you can take to increase security while working from home . One more point about VPNs: When you're connected to an organization's network, your employer could conceivably see what you're doing, so don't view porn via a corporate VPN .

11. Socialize With Colleagues

Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have channels in a team messaging app , like Slack, for talking about common interests or organizing meetups for people in the same region.

How much interpersonal interaction do you need to feel connected and included at work? The answer is not the same for everyone. Even if you're highly introverted and don't like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try, whether it's an online happy hour or a book club, so that you're familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. If your workplace doesn't have a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing relationships.

As much as team messaging apps are excellent venues for socializing, they tend to create distractions, too; check out these tips on how not to get overwhelmed by Slack .

12. 'Show Up' to Meetings and Be Heard

Certainly, you'll take part in video conferences and conference calls while working remotely. It's a good idea to attend optional meetings from time to time as well as a way to be seen. Be sure to speak up during meetings so everyone knows you're on the call. A simple, "Thanks, everyone. Bye!" at the close goes a long way toward making your presence known.

If your company uses Zoom Meetings for its video conferencing, you can quickly master its ins and outs with our story: Top Zoom Tips for a Locked-Down World . 

13. Get Face Time

If your employer is lax about getting you in a room with other employees, ask to have an annual or semi-annual trip in your contract. It could be for planning, training, or team building. Or, tack it onto some other business event, such as a yearly fiscal meeting, nearby conference, or office holiday party. Don't wait around for someone to invite you to the office or an event. Be proactive. Make the ask.

Recommended by Our Editors

For those unexpectedly working from home who are also trying to reduce face-to-face contact, set up a video call with your colleagues or manager once a week to check in. Don't be afraid to let check-in meetings be as short as they need to be. Sometimes a five-minute conversation is all it takes to stay connected.

14. Take Sick Days

When you're not well, take time off. If sick days are part of your compensation package, take the time off that you need. Not taking it is like throwing away money!

If you're self-employed and don't get paid sick time, it can be tempting to power through illnesses and keep working. Remember that for your long-term wellness and productivity, it's best to rest and get better so that you can get back to work at full capacity.

15. Look for Training and Learning Opportunities

When you're not in an office with your fellow employees, you might miss out on training and skills development courses that are taught in person. Your company might even forget to add you to its online training courses. It can be tempting to regard this as a dodged bullet, but you might be missing out on an opportunity to learn something useful. Speak up and make sure you're included.

In addition to top-down training, you can request online or in-person courses, training, and coaching if you need it. There are also plenty of online learning sites that teach business soft skills, programming, software skills, and other courses. Remote companies often have a budget for learning and skills training. If your organization doesn't, ask if they might add it.

In non-pandemic times, people who work 100% remotely might seek out learning opportunities that are taught at the organization's headquarters or nearby. That way, you get training and face time with colleagues in one go.

16. Over Communicate

Working remotely requires that everyone over communicate. 

Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. Don't assume they'll remember. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Over communicating doesn't necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself. Joke about how you must have mentioned your upcoming vacation six times already, then mention it again.

17. Be Positive

Reading tone in written messages is really difficult in all-remote settings. The less face time you have with people, the more an intentionally concise message can come off as terse and short-tempered.

In remote work settings, everyone must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you're being overly positive, gushy even. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a jerk. It's unfortunate, but true. So embrace the exclamation point ! Find your favorite emoji. You're going to need them :D

18. Take Advantage of Your Perks

For years, I've baked a loaf of bread nearly every week, and usually during the workweek. Why? Because I was home and I could. I love baking bread, but you need to be home to tend to it once an hour or so to punch down the dough, shape the loaf, and let it bake. It doesn't take a lot of hands-on time, but you need to be there. When I worked in an office full-time, I struggled to find half a day when I was home to bake.

Working remotely comes with unique perks. Take advantage of them. You deserve it.

19. Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself or Others

Successful remote employees have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. After all, it takes serious focus to do any full-time job from an unconventional space. 

That said, everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and researching vacation house rentals the next, don't reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, ask yourself whether people in an office setting do the same thing. If the answer is yes, cut yourself some slack, then get back to work. Above all, remember, you need to balance productivity with self-care . Otherwise, you risk burning out.

During the COVID-19 pandemic—but really all the time—we need to extend this same kindness and forgiving attitude to our co-workers, clients, and bosses. There is an extraordinary amount of stress and anxiety during a global pandemic. Keep in mind that you may not know what another person is going through not only in life, but also in their home work environment. Cut them some slack.

20. End Your Day With a Routine

Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a sign-off on a business messaging app, an evening dog walk, or an at-home yoga class. Something as simple as shutting down your computer and turning on a favorite podcast will do. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.

Make It Personal

Above all else, figure out what works best for you. Sometimes the answer is apparent, but other times you might need some inspiration from other remote workers who are in the same boat. A supportive community does exist, whether you find them in your organization's Slack channel or online through blogs or Twitter. Consider, too, that you might need to shake up your routine once in a while, lest it gets too...routine.

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Dig Deeper With Related Stories

Pcmag stories you’ll like, about jill duffy, columnist and deputy managing editor, software.

Jill Duffy

My latest book is The Everything Guide to Remote Work , which goes into great detail about a subject that I've been covering as a writer and participating in personally since well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

I specialize in apps for productivity and collaboration, including project management software. I also test and analyze online learning services, particularly for learning languages.

Prior to working for PCMag, I was the managing editor of Game Developer magazine. I've also worked at the Association for Computing Machinery, The Examiner newspaper in San Francisco, and several other publications.

Follow me on Mastodon . I'm currently on hiatus from Twitter @jilleduffy, but maybe I'll be back. Who knows?

Read Jill's full bio

Read the latest from Jill Duffy

Company Blog

Creating a Productive Work Environment from Home

Team Databricks

March 26, 2020 in Company Blog

Whether working from home is an old habit or the “new normal” for those adhering to COVID-19 protocols, we want to share Bricksters’ tips and tricks of how they create a productive and engaging work environment at home.

Rebekah Uusitalo, Director, Talent Acquisition Operations and Programs (Toronto, ON)

Home office of Rebekah Uusitalo, Director, Talent Operations and Programs, Databricks

While many companies are shifting to a work from home scenario for the first time, this has been my daily life for the last 12 years. If I've learned anything, it's that relationships are key, they stop at no border and that communication is essential. It also takes a significant amount of self-awareness, discipline and laser-like focus to do it well.

A few tips that I have learned along the way that have made it a connected, productive and rewarding experience:

Be kind to yourself

Telecommuting is not for everyone. You may feel lonely, isolated, frustrated, missing your colleagues or even bored. You may also feel energized, motivated, more relaxed and more in control of your day (no commute will do that). You may feel all — or a combination of — these feelings every day. Observe how you're feeling and adjust your approach as needed. Transition takes time.

Set boundaries

When blending your home and work life, it’s important to have a space that is dedicated to your work (so your family knows when you’re there, you're working) and set your hours of work and be disciplined (it's easy to continue working or jump back online when your laptop is never far away). Establishing boundaries and communicating them upfront to your family, roommates, your manager and your colleagues will make the situation clear from the beginning. Holding yourself accountable will ensure that you remain focused, reach your objectives and remain productive.

Take scheduled breaks

Set some ground rules for how you'll manage your time and put blocks on your calendar to break up the day. This will avoid getting distracted by mixing work time with other tasks and allow you to stretch, grab a glass of water or something to eat — but try not to loiter in the kitchen (you'll thank me later!)


While working from home can feel isolating, communication can help you overcome this and help to build and maintain strong relationships. Take the time to understand which tools and methods of communication you and your colleagues prefer (email, phone, Slack, video conferencing, text etc). It's not a one-size-fits-all and creating the space for different means of communication can also help in changing up your day (a quick phone call or meeting while you take a walk vs sending yet another email may be refreshing for you both to connect on a deeper level).

Chessa Vir, Field Marketing Manager (Portland, ME)

Home office of Chessa Vir, Field Marketing Manager, Databricks

Having worked remote for three years, here are my top pieces of advice for a successful WFH day:

Inbar Gam, University Recruiting Program Manager (San Francisco, CA)

Home office of  Inbar Gam, University Recruiting Program Manager, Databricks

Working from home is new for me and it's definitely taken some time to adjust. When I'm in the office, I move around throughout the day — walking to meetings, grabbing water or a snack, or going on walks with coworkers. The first few days of working from home I noticed I wasn't moving around enough and by the end of the day it was hard to focus on work. Since then, I've been blocking off times throughout the day to get in a quick 10-15 minute workout. Stepping away from work and moving my body allows me to come back more focused and productive.

Maria Pere-Perez, Director, Strategic Technology Partners (Reno, NV)

Home office of Maria Pere-Perez, Director, Strategic Technology Partners, Databricks

I've been working from home for 12+ years. It starts with great home office mates. For me, they provide a sort of yin-yang balance.

Antonio Gomez, Head of EMEA & APAC Talent Acquisition (London, UK)

Home office of Antonio Gomez, Head of EMEA & APAC Talent Acquisition, Databricks

Although parts of our team are used to working remotely prior to the current circumstances, it's been fun to see more of each other on a regular basis via video and to bring some laughter to those meetings as a way to drive team bonding. Most recently, we have introduced a virtual karaoke happy-half-hour at the end of the day on Friday where one of our team members picks a song. We then all sing along karaoke-style — with a drink or two to aid our voices!

Andreana Garcia-Phillips, Field Marketing Manager (San Francisco, CA)

Home office of Andreana Garcia-Phillips, Field Marketing Manager, Databricks

As I’ve recently transitioned into a WFH lifestyle, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.

Vish Gupta, Marketing Operations Manager (San Jose, CA)

Home office of Vish Gupta, Marketing Operations Manager, Databricks

As an employee who had previously split time between the office and home, switching to fully remote work has made my routine significantly different. Now, I am much more deliberate about my own daily schedule and have found a few things that I do to help me stay energized.

Alexa Friedman, Manager, University Recruiting (San Francisco, CA)

Home office of Alexa Friedman, Manager, University Recruiting, Databricks

The UR team is having fun hosting virtual intern events like online Pictionary and video lunch & learns. It's important to have a community of people you can enjoy spending time with, even if it's not in person.

Sonya Vargas, Director of Analyst Relations (San Diego, CA)

Home office of Sonya Vargas, Director of Analyst Relations, Databricks

As someone who has been working from home for over 10 years now, there are a few essential tips that have worked for me.

home work environment


Creating a productive work-from-home environment.

working from home

Companies around the world are doing what they can to limit the spread of COVID-19—from increasing their cleaning routines to implementing work-from-home policies for employees who are able to do their jobs remotely. For many people, working remotely may mean no long commutes, more time with pets, or even more flexibility in work schedules. But those new to remote work often don’t anticipate its challenges or make the changes to their routines necessary for long-term success. Facebook software engineer Erin S. understands these challenges firsthand. In this post, she shares her top tips to help you make working from home work for you.

I worked from the Facebook company’s Menlo Park office for five years before moving to North Carolina. For the past two years, I’ve been working from home, and I’ve come to truly appreciate the benefits of remote work—the biggest being the two hours I get back each day from not having to commute. For me, this has led to a huge increase in my quality of life and happiness and a decrease in stress. I find myself with longer stretches of deep thinking time without the distractions of conversations, and I’m much more thoughtful and intentional about my work.

As the coronavirus situation impacts more people’s lives and their work environments, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help support my community—of fellow software engineers, parents working from home, or anyone new to remote work—however I can. Here are a few tips that have helped me make my work-from-home experience more productive.

1. Create a designated work area

Find a dedicated area for work that is free from distractions so you don’t waste mental energy trying to figure out where you’re going to work each day. I have always set up my work-from-home station in the garage, but if you don’t have a dedicated space, consider setting up at your dining table. While coding in bed sounds luxurious, bad posture can lead to serious injuries.

2. Set boundaries

It’s up to you to set boundaries for your personal and professional life. Be conscious of the amount of time you spend working. Every day, I set a calendar alert for 5:30 pm to remind myself to stop working. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re available all the time, and no one expects that of you.

If you live with others, have conversations ahead of time about how to make this work. Set ground rules with roommates or partners if you’re both working from home, and let them know about important meetings ahead of time to avoid interruptions. Yesterday, I had a meeting right when my kids got home from school. I told my partner ahead of time and asked him to keep the kids from rushing in, and it was very smooth.

If you don’t have kids, please have empathy for those of us who do. Your coworkers with kids are probably handling added stress juggling their kids and work at the same time.

3. Make time for nutritious meals

It feels silly to include a tip on how to eat, but I struggled with finding a good breakfast and lunch routine when I started working remotely. Now, I eat the same thing every day for breakfast and for lunch. I started getting meals from a delivery service because they are healthy and delicious, keep for a while, and are easy to prepare. If you’re able to do the same, it’s worth it to have something nutritious and convenient available.

4. Take breaks

When I sit in front of my computer for four hours, I start to feel drained. Remember to move your body, and if possible, take a walk outside. I also really enjoy having one-on-one meetings on the phone while taking a walk around the block. If your one-on-ones don’t require screen sharing, try it out. I find that people are a bit more laid back over the phone.

5. Ask for help

There’s a lot more friction asking for help when you’re working from home than when you’re in the office. You might hesitate because you feel like you’re “bothering” someone, but remember, it’s your responsibility to ask questions and clear up things that might be blocking you. This means proactively messaging people that you don’t know or asking your team in a group chat. If possible, work with your team to set up a space for people to ask questions, whether it’s a forum, a dedicated group chat, or a productivity tool. This will provide an open environment for people to reach out to one another.

6. Make sure you have the right equipment.

Video calling is an effective solution for meetings. When you dial into a meeting with more than five people, be sure to mute yourself when you aren’t talking to avoid background noise and interruptions. You won’t ever have direct eye contact, but I try to switch between looking at the camera and looking at the screen when on video calls. Showing that you are paying attention makes people feel heard.

If you can, wear comfortable headphones that work with your computer. I used to get complaints about white noise when I was speaking during meetings, but headphones fixed the issue.

The Facebook company has powerful tools to make working from home seamless. Portals are my favorite remote technology. The Workplace app on Portal allows you to dial rooms for meetings, and dial other employees. I used to use a Portal for scrum meetings on my old team, and it worked well.

Showing that you are paying attention makes people feel heard.

7. Create opportunities to socialize

At times, it can get lonely working from home all day. When I can, I grab coffee with a friend or lunch with my dad. But a social break doesn’t have to be face-to-face to be effective. A quick phone call to keep in touch with a friend or loved one can work, too. If you plan time for these breaks throughout your week, you’ll have some human interaction to look forward to.

8. Be patient with your kids and set expectations with your team

Working at home with kids is really hard. I’ve found that more screen time keeps them occupied, though I also have parental guilt about overdoing the screen time. Remember you’re doing the best you can. Setting expectations with your team is equally important. If I take an early or a late call and it’s more casual, or if my kids are at home sick, I warn people that they might make a cameo. Only once did I have to hang up and reschedule because my kid misbehaved. If they’re old enough to listen, having conversations about why you need to work can help.

9. Cut yourself some slack.

No one expects this to be perfect. I’ve had my child run into my office naked while I was on a call. I’ve had a bug crawl over my hand in a meeting, and I was running and screaming. I’ve plopped an Oculus Rift on my kid’s face and turned on a movie to finish up a call when I was working in VR. These are all funny stories now, but at the time, they were embarrassing. Give yourself and others around you some grace.

Remember, you’re doing the best you can.  

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How eco-friendly is remote working.

The Environmental Benefits Of Teleworking

Instinctively, working from home feels like it must be a positive thing for the environment. After all, the average commuting time in the UK is 1 hour and 38 minutes, much of which will be spent in a car. With the average petrol car in the UK producing around 180g of CO2 per kilometer, this adds up. The situation is even worse in the United States, where larger vehicles mean an average of 650g of CO2 is produced per kilometer.

The Covid pandemic provided a perfect Petri dish with which to explore how changes in our work patterns affect the environment. Homeworking leaped from around 5% pre-Covid to 47% during April 2020. Research from Spain's Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals suggests this had a significant impact on air quality.

Environmental gains

The study found that working from home four days a week would reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide, which is the main pollutant generated by traffic emissions, by around 10%. Even with the lower levels of home working seen as workplaces have opened up again would still generate a reduction in air pollution of around 8%.

A similarly optimistic picture is painted in a recent study from communications industry analysts Assembly and tech giants Huawei, which suggests that access to faster and more reliable broadband could trim 2% from the UK's annual commuting distance.

"Annual net carbon savings from increased remote working (attributable to faster broadband) are estimated to be 0.24 million tonnes by 2024," the authors say. "Adding to that the carbon savings from the changes in business travel and server emissions, the total net carbon savings from faster broadband could be 1.6m tonnes of carbon each year by 2024."

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While consuming digital resources, such as video conferencing, burns a considerable amount of energy in data centers, the researchers argue that the net impact is still positive, with Zoom calls emitting just 0.6% of the carbon emissions generated on a typical commute.

A mixed picture

Things are not straightforward, however, and research from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions at the University of Sussex suggests things might not be so clear-cut.

The study does indeed find that for many of us, home working can be significantly greener than our usual commute into the office, with home working reducing our personal emissions by up to 80% in some cases.

This is not the case for all of us, however, and indeed, for some of us, working from home may actually increase our energy usage. This is largely because some of us can use our newfound flexibility to increase our travel for recreation and other purposes, while also using more energy at home.

“While most studies conclude that teleworking can contribute energy savings, the more rigorous studies and those with a broader scope present more ambiguous findings,”  the researchers explain. “ Where studies include additional impacts, such as non-work travel or office and home energy use, the potential energy savings appear more limited – with some studies suggesting that, in the context of growing distances between the workplace and home, part-week teleworking could lead to a net increase in energy consumption.”

Hybrid working

The situation is further complicated should we decide to adopt a hybrid work style that sees us mixing up home and office-based working each week. Not only does hybrid working result in more travel to work, but it also results in a duplication of the equipment required to work and an increase in the size of our homes to accommodate a home office.

This is the finding of research from the University of Manchester, which saw households from a range of professional backgrounds interviewed to understand how they worked from home during the pandemic.

For instance, between April and June 2020 the researchers discovered that global sales of laptops rose by over 11% with over 72 million units shipped. There were even bigger spikes in the sale of home office furniture, with office chairs and desks increasing by 300% and 438% respectively.

This demand is likely to continue as there has been a huge surge in the number of people wanting to work from home compared to pre-pandemic levels. Indeed, this is also driving demand for bigger houses to better accommodate home working.

The researchers found that there was a clear boost in demand for additional rooms, garages, larger kitchens, and even gardens to make spending more time at home that much more comfortable and enjoyable. We've undergone a fundamental shift in what we expect from a home during the pandemic that isn't especially good for the environment.

Indeed, larger homes have been strongly linked with higher energy consumption, and if the urban flight to suburbs and smaller towns is a longstanding trend, we should also be aware that suburban households also tend to have a larger carbon footprint than their urban peers. This is especially so if we adopt a hybrid work pattern as even if commuting is less frequent, a longer distance per journey often makes it a more environmentally costly endeavor .

Of course, we're at an early stage still of this shakedown in how and where we work, so its ultimate form is still largely unknown. It's quite possible that the patterns seen during Covid will dissipate and pre-pandemic norms will return, just as it's possible that we will develop more environmentally friendly ways of adopting hybrid working. For the time being, however, the jury remains very much out.

Adi Gaskell

How Does Your Environment Affect Your Mental Health?

Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting. 

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Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities.

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Verywell / Laura Porter

Environmental Changes That Can Improve Mental Health

The places where you spend a lot of time—home, work, school, and even socially—can have a significant impact on your mental well-being. In psychology, these are referred to as environmental factors of mental health and are the main focus of study for environmental psychologists.

Identifying the environmental factors that can affect you psychologically can shed light on whether the locations you frequent are contributing to or detracting from your mental wellness. It can also help you recognize if changes are needed to start feeling better mentally and emotionally.

How Environment Affects Mental Health

In some cases, environmental factors impact mental wellness by changing brain structure and function . Research on children supports this, noting that children raised in adverse environments tend to have hindered brain development, increasing their risk of memory issues, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.

Environmental factors can also affect our mental health in the way they impact us psychologically. Your environment might raise or lower your stress levels, for instance. This can change your mental wellness overall, either serving to protect your psychological health or opening the door for mental illness to set in.

The world around you can help protect you from mental illness or it may be a catalyst for mental health issues to form.

April Snow , LMFT, explains that mental health can be impacted by anything in your environment, but the most notable factors include: 

Environmental Factors That Can Affect Your Psychology

Several things in our environment can impact our mental health, either directly or indirectly. These environmental factors exist where we live, work, go to school, and spend our time socially.

Home Environment

The home environment includes more than just your physical dwelling. “Our environment is a combination of both physical factors such as where you live and the people around you," says Rachelle Scott , MD, medical director of psychiatry at Eden Health , "both in your home but also on a wider community scale.”  

Home-based environmental factors that can have a significant impact on mental health include:

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  at  988  for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our  National Helpline Database .

Work Environment

More than half of our waking hours are spent on work or work-related activities according to the 2021 American Time Use Survey. That’s why Scott says that our work environment plays a significant role in our mental health.

Several workplace factors can contribute to the development of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, some of which include:

School Environment

Children, adolescents, and college students often spend a lot of their days learning in class, studying, or completing homework assignments. The environment in which they do these activities can impact their mental health.

School-based environmental factors that can positively affect a student's mental well-being include:

Factors that can have a negative effect on a student's mental health are:

Social Environment

Scott also points to the fact that your social environment can affect your mental health. This includes socioeconomic elements such as race and ethnicity and a lack of social support—which can all have a profound influence on your ability to cope with stress. 

For Gail Saltz , MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, the social environment plays a big role in mental health. “Having close, trusted, intimate others in your life is a significant positive factor for mental and physical health,” she says. 

Saltz indicates that this is true of a healthy marriage, a good circle of friends, and other important family relationships. “Lack of relationships, leading to loneliness causes depression and anxiety," she says, "while tumultuous and disturbing relationships leads to chronic stress and lower mood and higher anxiety.”

Saltz adds that relationships with people who abuse substances increase the likelihood you will abuse substances, and growing up in a home with exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse, or emotional or physical abuse affect mental health detrimentally.

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How Perception Impacts Mental Health

It’s easy to blame a toxic work environment, cluttered house, or rainy weather for your deteriorating mental health. But sometimes, your perception of the environment contributes to how you feel. For example, one study found that when people with depression perceived that they had poor social support , their symptoms, recovery, and social functioning were worse.

But the opposite is also true. If you perceive that you are satisfied with your life, your levels of overall life satisfaction will likely be higher. This suggests that if there is some aspect of your environment that is negatively impacting your mental wellness, changing your perception of it may help you feel better.

If you’re not in a position to change something about your environment, it’s critical that you work on reframing the beliefs you have about it . 

“Trying to find appreciation in the environment, even if it's one positive thing, can help reframe your thoughts about your environment,” says Scott. To accomplish this, practice gratitude and create a routine or habit to reduce the clutter around you. The latter helps "provide a sense of control in a situation where you feel like you don't have any control,” Scott says. 

Snow recommends focusing on what is working and supporting you in your current environment. She also suggests small changes to make the environment more soothing and familiar, such as organizing , adding photos, or painting. Also, process any emotions or frustrations that are present through journaling , movement, or talking with a friend or therapist. “Don't let the feelings build up,” Snow says.

Identifying If Environmental Change Is Needed

Understanding that the environment plays a critical role in your mental health is the first step. The next step is to identify if a change is needed. 

According to Snow, it’s vital to notice the connection between how you're feeling and what triggers those emotions. “Then you can make small adjustments to your current environment to determine if that big change is really necessary,” she says. 

For example, if you live in a city and always feel overstimulated and anxious, Snow recommends engaging in more quiet activities at home. “If that doesn't change your mood , but you notice that every time you spend a weekend outside the city you feel relaxed, that's a sign that something needs to change,” Snow explains. 

While changing your social network or the depth of certain relationships may help, Saltz says it may not “fix” whatever is driving your mental health issue. “It may not be sufficient enough, and getting treatment may be required,” she says. 

Scott points out that picking up and moving from one environment to another permanently is not always an option for many of us. However, a temporary move from the city to the country, or perhaps closer to the water, is one way to test how your physical environment impacts your mood. 

“If you notice that, for example, you experience less stress being outside of the city lights, there is less smog in the air and less noise for you to contend with and, as a result, you are sleeping better and thinking more clearly, then I would say you have some key evidence to support your decision,” Scott says. 

If you want to improve your mental health, making changes to your environment can help. Snow recommends starting with the things you have control over and can accomplish relatively easily. Organize your space, for instance, or get a sound machine to cover up street noise. 

Or maybe you live in an area where sunlight is scarce. This is "a real concern with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)," says Scott. One solution is to implement bright light in your environment. This can help improve depression and anxiety, Scott says, especially during the long days of winter.

April Snow, LMFT

Creating opportunities for little wins will give you the energy to tackle bigger changes.

To make the most impact, begin with the room you spend most of your time in and arrange it in a way that is functional and free of clutter. If you work from home, for instance, start with your home office. If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen preparing meals, you might want to start there instead.

To improve your social environment, Saltz says that focusing on your social surroundings, improving and growing more intimate in some relationships, being vulnerable with those you can trust, and distancing yourself from toxic relationships that are negatively impacting mental health can all make a substantial difference.

When a Change in Environment Is Not Possible 

Changing jobs, leaving a relationship, or moving to a new location is not always possible. The good news is there are ways to support yourself where you are now. Below are some simple solutions from Scott.

If you are in a toxic relationship and moving away from it is not possible, Saltz recommends creating emotional distance, even if you are in the same space. “You can do this by having unconnected confidants you can speak to and spending more time unengaged to the person in your home, like going out for walks away from them,” she says. 

But if the situation is abusive, Saltz recommends calling an abuse hotline to get advice and aid in how to remove yourself from your home. 

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the  National Domestic Violence Hotline  at  1-800-799-7233  for confidential assistance from trained advocates.

A Word From Verywell

Most of us will experience a change in our mental health due to environmental factors. For some, the effects may be minimal, but for others, the toll on mental health will be significant. If you are experiencing an increase in symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health condition, schedule an appointment with your physician or a mental health expert. Help is available.

Bick J, Nelson CA. Early adverse experiences and the developing brain . Neuropsychopharmacol . 2016;41:177-196. doi:10.1038/npp.2015.252

Helbich M. Mental health and environmental exposures: An editorial . Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2018;15(10):2207. doi:10.3390/ijerph15102207

Padhy SK, Sarkar S, Panigrahi M, Paul S. Mental health effects of climate change . Indian J Occup Environ Med . 2015;19(1):3-7. doi:10.4103/0019-5278.156997

Dustmann C, Fasani F. The effect of local area crime on mental health . Econom J . 2014;126(593):978-1017. doi:10.1111/ecoj.12205

Washington HA.  A terrible thing to waste: Environmental racism and its assault on the American mind .

Braithwaite I, Zhang S, Kirkbride JB, Osborn DPJ, Hayes JF. Air pollution (particulate matter) exposure and associations with depression, anxiety, bipolar, psychosis and suicide risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis . Environ Health Perspect . 2019;127(12):126002. doi:10.1289/EHP4595

Knifton L, Inglis G. Poverty and mental health: policy, practice and research implications . BJPsych Bulletin . 2020;44(5):193-196. doi:10.1192/bjb.2020.78

Bureau of Labor Statistics. American Time Use Survey — 2021 results .

Harvey SB, Modini M, Joyce S, et al. Can work make you mentally ill? A systematic meta-review of work-related risk factors for common mental health problems . Occup Environ Med . 2017;74(4):301-310. doi:10.1136/oemed-2016-104015

Schulte-Körne G. Mental health problems in a school setting in children and adolescents . Dtsch Arztebl Int . 2016;113(11):183-190. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2016.0183 

Wang J, Mann F, Lloyd-Evans B, Ma R, Johnson S. Associations between loneliness and perceived social support and outcomes of mental health problems: a systematic review . BMC Psychiatry . 2018;18:156. doi:10.1186/s12888-018-1736-5

Milovanska-Farrington S, Farrington S. Happiness, domains of life satisfaction, perceptions, and valuation differences across genders . Acta Psychologica . 2022;230:103720. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2022.103720

By Sara Lindberg, M.Ed Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting.

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How To Create A Positive Work Environment: 13 Ideas

You found our guide to positive work environments .

A positive work environment is an atmosphere where employees enjoy performing their jobs and feel supported. Creating a positive environment in the workplace involves implementing activities that make staff feel engaged, valued, and empowered. Understanding this concept is crucial because it enhances team building, increases the sense of belonging, and improves employee productivity.

These environments are the opposite of workplace toxicity and follow employee engagement best practices .

This article covers

Let’s get started!

Positive work environment examples

Having a positive workplace atmosphere makes employees enjoy working. Here are examples of what constitutes a positive work environment.

1. Adherence to occupational safety

Safety in the workplace makes employees more comfortable and willing to work.

Most countries have an Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA, which helps regulate and enforce a healthy working environment. Managers should ensure that their institutions adhere to these OSHA principles and requirements to prevent various risks associated with employees’ jobs. Employees can also take steps to meet the occupational safety and health requirements.

Below are activities that can help organizations achieve occupational safety and reasonable prevention of hazards.

Occupational safety is extensive, and managers can adjust tactics depending on the nature of the job.

2. Employee engagement

Employees who feel engaged are likely to perform better and remain loyal to the organization. Employee engagement involves providing opportunities for staff to participate in important matters concerning an individual’s line of duty.

Employee engagement examples include

The main purpose of employee engagement is to create an environment where employees feel part of the organization. As a result, you maintain high employee motivation, dedication to work, and enthusiasm for work.

Here is a guide to employee engagement strategies  and a list of creative engagement ideas for staff .

3. Appropriate workplace ergonomics

Good ergonomics improve employees’ physical and mental comfort to enable optimal working. Ergonomics is crucial in reducing employees’ fatigue, stress, and injuries. To ensure a positive work environment through ergonomics, focus on adjusting the workspace arrangement and design to suit employees’ needs.

Here are ways that staff can ensure personal comfort on different body parts

Since different employees need different ergonomics, it is best to redesign the workplace to fit every employee. Additionally, you can enhance physical well-being by taking more fluids and engaging in physical exercises.

You can budget for economic equipment, including offering a stipend to work from home employees.

4. Existence of a positive organizational culture

Good organizational culture aims to promote the company’s core values . For instance, a company may create its own work culture by

Positive work culture strengthens employees’ bonds and gives an organization a competitive edge. For example, the organization becomes attractive to current and potential employees. This competitiveness improves employee retention and attracts diverse talents in the recruitment process.

Check out this guide to improving company culture .

5. Availability of quality tools and equipment

Work tools and equipment make work easier and more enjoyable for your employees. These tools and equipment include computers, machines, materials, and consumables that employees often use to perform tasks.

Supervisors often overlook the need to maintain office tools and equipment. However, it is necessary to ensure that machines undergo regular servicing and inspection. It is also essential to repair or replace malfunctioning equipment that may be risky to employees. These simple practices will contribute to a conducive work environment for the employees.

6. Integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion standards

Discrimination in the workplace is a common complaint at work and kills teamwork and morale. The concept of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) may be the long-term solution to discrimination issues.

Currently, most employees appreciate an inclusive workplace because diversity, equity, and inclusion appear in most company policies. These employees include the traditionally disadvantaged groups such as people living with disabilities, women, and certain races. Nonetheless, HR professionals should constantly revise the company policies to ensure that each staff enjoys equal opportunities at the workplace.

Here are some practical tips for employees to promote inclusivity.

Though many companies have set DEI standards, there is a need for increased sensitization of diversity and inclusion across the globe for organizations to embrace this concept.

Check out this list of DEI exercises and books on workplace diversity .

7. Employee well-being

Managers concerned with employees’ well-being directly invest in staff’s emotional needs. In turn, these employees feel valued and remain loyal to the company.

These are examples of the most important employee well-being elements.

Taking care of your employees’ welfare has many benefits, including achieving high levels of staff retention and promoting a good attitude towards work.

Check out more employee wellness program ideas and employee benefits .

8. Fair policies

Fairness brings contentment and results in harmony among team members.

Examples of areas where fair policies promote a positive work environment include:

For policies to be fair, they should be equitable and applicable to all staff members. Therefore, it is a best practice to have an accessible, written policy document.

9. Clear job expectations

Employees perform better when individual duties and responsibilities are well defined. When each staff understands their role, it becomes easy for supervisors to provide direction. In addition, outlining an employee’s work scope helps avoid conflicts that arise from overlapping jobs.

Understanding the demands of the jobs allows staff to determine and communicate needs, for example, access to information and equipment. Employees may also create a positive work environment by communicating personal objectives with the supervisors and incorporating these goals into their job responsibilities.

10. Supportive leaders

Leaders who listen and show a willingness to help influence employees to love their jobs. Such leaders promote a good atmosphere for work by helping employees overcome work challenges.

These examples of simple action are effective in promoting a conducive work atmosphere.

Leadership is a skill that managers and supervisors should have to influence their followers to work toward achieving company goals.

Here are the signs of a good manager .

Good working environment characteristics

The state of the working environment manifests in many ways. Positive workplaces tend to share several qualities. Below are notable features of a good working environment.

1. Open communication

The existence of open and transparent communication provides a pleasant work environment. Employees derive job satisfaction when they get a chance to offer opinions, share ideas, give feedback, and receive updates regarding the progress of the tasks.

To enhance communication in an organization, ensure that employees understand the communication process and protocols.

Check out this list of books on communication .

2. Strong work ethic

Work ethics such as discipline and respect are essential in directing how employees should relate to one another. The ethos promotes good relationships, defines responsible behavior, and promotes accountability. These benefits contribute to trust-building, which improves the work environment for workers.

3. Positive thinking

Employees portray positive thinking when they deal with challenges objectively and proactively. For instance, when a problem emerges, folks with positive thinking will provide creative solutions, collaborate with other team members, or suggest substitutive methods to counter a problem. However, Individuals with negative thinking are likely to complain, shift blame, and back off.

To improve positive thinking in your staff, consider strategies like staff empowerment, leadership training and development, and motivation strategies such as incentives.

4. Empathetic team members

Strong teams signify team leaders’ efforts in ensuring that team members collaborate and bond. When staff are part of a team that cares about their well-being, they feel a sense of belonging. Effective team building activities strengthen relationships among team members and allow social integration.

5. Enticing motivation strategies

There are two categories of workers, based on Douglas McGregor’s theory X and theory Y. HR professionals who understand the concept of these theories apply different motivation strategies to promote enthusiasm at work. For instance, extrinsic motivation like monetary incentives likely attracts the theory X group better, while theory Y folks delight more in intrinsic motivations such as recognition and supportive supervisors.

Enticing rewards make tasks attractive, promote a pleasant work attitude, and encourage productivity.

Check out this list of books on motivation and this guide to incentive programs .

6. Smooth onboarding process

Integrating new employees into the work system and culture introduces the recruits to the work environment. Employees who receive good onboarding connect better with other colleagues and quickly find their footing in the organization.

Good communication and intensive orientation enhance the onboarding experience and contribute to a positive work environment for newbie staff.

Here are ways to welcome new employees virtually and a list of the best onboarding activities for new hires .

7. Ambient workspace

An ambient atmosphere encourages optimal working by reducing distractions and promoting high concentration levels. Examples of factors that make the workplace ambient include tidy office rooms, well-organized desks, sufficient lighting, external noise management, good work ergonomics, and high hygiene.

Benefits of positive work environments

A positive environment has many benefits to the employee and the organization, including the following.

Below are some benefits of a positive work environment

1. Increased sense of belonging

Team building and employee engagement create a good working environment where employees feel that they are valuable contributors to the overall organizational goals.

2. Improved productivity

Employees become more productive when they work in optimum conditions. Better technology, well-maintained equipment, and a clean and healthy environment contribute to improved output.

3. Team collaboration

Good communication and leadership strategies enhance team spirit and cooperation among colleagues.

Here are strategies to improve workplace cooperation .

4. Career growth

A positive work atmosphere promotes career growth through acquiring knowledge and fine-tuning talents. Mentorship and coaching also equip employees with the necessary skills and traits for leadership.

5. Boosted morale

Motivation strategies such as incentives, participation in decision-making, and occupational safety and health boost employee confidence and job enthusiasm.

Check out this list of quick morale boosters .

6. Increased loyalty

Employees who devote time and energy to their jobs echo satisfaction with their employer. Fairness, clarity of purpose, and employee engagement are examples of a positive environment that enhance employee loyalty .

7. Reduced turnover

Improved employee loyalty, job contentment, and management support contribute to employee retention.

Here is a guide to staff turnover .

The role of a leader in creating positive environments

Creating a positive climate requires leaders’ efforts and persuasion. Below are actions leaders take to create an enjoyable workplace.

1. Encouraging good employee communication

Effective leaders share useful information with managers and allow communication to cascade down to junior employees and vice versa. Managers should encourage an open-door policy, meaning that employees feel free to share personal contributions such as individual experiences, info, ideas, and opinions.

Here are some communication-boosting exercises .

2. Spearheading a positive work culture

Leaders have the power of influence and can use this authority to cause a change in organizational culture. A leader may convince employees to behave ethically by rewarding professionalism, for instance.

3. Encouraging collaboration through team building activities

Working together makes challenging jobs easier to manage. Through team building activities a leader increases the bond and collaboration in a team and influences the members to work together towards a common purpose.

4. Promoting camaraderie

Humans are social beings who have an innate need for socialization. Leaders promote friendship and fraternity among colleagues through social activities like company luncheons and corporate events.

Check out this list of community-building ideas .

5. Encouraging fun and humor

Allowing socialization in the workplace fosters bonding, empathy, and teamwork. Leaders can ensure such opportunities exist for staff by creating workplace social joints. For instance, a centralized water dispenser, a shared office kitchen, and Slack channels are effective places for staff to meet.

6. Aligning employee skills with suitable roles

Employees have diverse talents and skills that may be crucial to an organization. Leaders offer staff opportunities to unleash untapped potential by aligning these skills with specific job roles. For instance, through job redesignation and promotions, employees find a chance to work in a more suitable role or job position.

7. Improving the workplace ambiance

The office interior can affect occupants’ moods and attitudes. Leaders improve the ambiance by redesigning the appearance and plan in the office. For instance, customizing colors that promote productivity, ornaments that enhance beauty. Also, considering that the amount of light coming into the room is sufficient to avoid glare or strain.

8. Enhancing sanitation and tidiness

Leaders implement hygienic measures to benefit staff’s mental and general well-being. For example, these measures get rid of fumes, ensure clean public areas and bathrooms help to keep employees comfortable. By adding shelves and cabinets to create more storage space, leaders promote neatness and easy retrieval of materials.

9. Empowering the staff

Leaders empower employees by allowing autonomy for the staff to manage themselves, make decisions, and handle more demanding responsibilities under a supervisor’s guidance.

10. Focusing on employees’ career growth

Leaders help staff grow through mentoring and coaching, role modeling, and shadowing new employees. These strategies impart knowledge and skills that make jobs easier to tackle. Here is a list of mentor program ideas .

11. Encouraging employees to perform better

Recognitions such as employee of the month awards encourage healthy competition. Leaders who celebrate employees’ achievements make work a fun place for employees.

12. Implementing fair compensation

Employees deserve compensation that matches ability and effort. HR managers promote a happy work environment when they give equitable salaries based on an employee’s skills and experience.

13. Supporting staff performance

Leaders give support by funding, leading, and empowering staff with necessities for successful completion of the task.

A constructive work atmosphere encourages employees to achieve organizational objectives such as high productivity. Managers achieve a positive environment by offering support to employees, encouraging professional culture at work, and ensuring that the physical properties of the workplace meet employees’ physical needs. Leaders may use the features of a positive work environment, such as transparent communication to assess the effectiveness of the strategies used to promote a positive work environment.

Next, check out this collection of books on company culture , this guide to creating a strong remote work culture and this list of ways to celebrate promotions .

We also have a guide on the matrix organizational structure and one on company culture committees .

FAQ: Positive working environments

Here are answers to common questions about positive working environments.

What is a positive working environment?

A positive work environment occurs when employees experience contentment at work. The satisfaction arises from the presence of trust, collaboration, fairness, and respect. The factors that make up this positive environment include management support, employee engagement, and good corporate culture.

What are the qualities of a positive office environment?

The qualities of a positive environment may be physical or intangible.

The physical qualities of a positive office environment include

The intangible qualities of a positive office atmosphere include

These qualities also act as qualitative measures of a positive office environment.

How do you create a positive work environment for employees?

Managers can create a positive work environment by focusing on different employees’ needs and meeting those needs. For instance,

Through a thorough evaluation of employee needs, leaders gain vast insight into improvement areas. Thus, the creation of a positive environment may vary with the different needs of the organizations.

Author avatar

Author: Grace He

Content Expert at Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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Mar 24, 2020

Working From Home: A Comfortable Work Environment, An Employer’s Dream

In this uncertain season of office closures and quarantines, many businesses have had little choice but to send their employees home to work remotely. Though this presents a challenge to many employers who may not be accustomed to a non-traditional working environment, working from home has actually been gradually gaining popularity over the past few years.

Arguably, working face-to-face with employees has its benefits. You can have direct, quick conversations and call meetings anytime you need to. You can monitor your employees’ progress and provide constructive feedback (and encouragement) in real time. You can also easily gauge employee morale based on nonverbal cues that you couldn’t detect via remote correspondence.

Despite these obvious benefits to an in-office approach, employers have been eyeing the cost-effective benefits of keeping employees at home in a comfortable work environment. Apart from saving on office space, working from home has environmental benefits and may actually boost employee productivity and wellness in the long run.

Have you evaluated whether having employees work from home could benefit your business? Here are some of the top reasons employers are increasingly opting for a flexible remote working environment.

1. Save On Office Space

Real estate costs are one of the number one growing expenses for businesses around the country, especially in more densely-packed urban areas. Employers increasingly struggle to find enough office space for all their employees due to rising costs, not to mention employee salaries and other major expenses.

Many employers have sought to mitigate this problem by reducing the number of workers physically present in the office, therefore reducing the amount of square footage needed. This can obviously create tremendous cost-savings overtime and boost revenue. These budget-friendly measures are critical in times of economic downturn, and could be much more beneficial in the long run than laying off employees.

2. Save on Energy Bills

Recent surveys have shown that employees care much less about their energy consumption in the office than they do at home. While every employer should do everything they can to make sure their employees are happy and comfortable in the office, it’s actually more energy-efficient to have employees work in the comfort of their own homes!

Water, electricity, heating and air conditioning are all major expenses for every employer, especially when those services are used by an entire office 9 am — 5 pm, five days a week. Coupled with reduced square footage, having employees work at home automatically cuts costs tremendously, simply by not having as many people there to take up space and use as much energy.

3. Give Employees More Responsibility Over Their Own Work

Entrusting your employees to work from home is a great way to show them that you are confident in their ability to complete their work in a satisfactory and timely manner, even if you’re not physically present to check on them. Sometimes people just need a little extra ownership over what they do to really go that extra mile.

Increasing that level of trust with employees can actually strengthen your bond with them and reduce your own workload, as you can spend more time on big picture issues, rather than worrying about smaller tasks that can be accomplished by someone else on the team. While reducing micromanaging and delegating tasks is a good idea in any work environment, having employees who work remotely is a great way to enforce this philosophy with physical distance.

4. Boost Productivity with a Comfortable Working Environment

A recent Stanford study involving over 1,000 participants at a large corporation in China showed that employees who were allowed to work remotely actually increased their productivity by up to 13%! While not all employees saw this increase, the overall trend was toward better working at home.

This goes against conventional wisdom that employees might be more tempted by distractions at home and do less work when they aren’t being held accountable. Yet recent surveys of office employees reveals what some of their greatest distractions are in the workplace.

Chattering co-workers, impromptu visits from colleagues and managers, as well as unexpected meetings are some of the biggest concentration-breakers and productivity-killers in the office. On a more individual basis, everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to working environments, so it should come as no surprise that employees who take their work seriously and are allowed to work from home (or in the comfortable working environment of their choosing, like a coworking space or coffee shop) are often more productive as a result.

One great way to boost productivity and put those cost savings to good use is to equip your employees with ergonomic home office furniture . A height adjustable standing desk can give your employees a great flexible option for sitting and standing throughout the day, which can increase energy levels and help them stay focused. Ergonomic office chairs will keep your employees sitting and working comfortably for longer periods of time.

5. Help the Environment

For reasons listed above and many others, having employees work from home is great for the environment . As business owners and managers, the burden often rests on our shoulders to make our businesses as environmentally responsible as possible. “Green business” is efficient business, and strengthens the communities we serve for generations to come. Prospective employees, particularly young professionals and millennials, are attracted to companies that not only offer good salary and benefits, but have an eco-conscious approach to business as well.

Working from home cuts down on that traffic-heavy morning commute which contributes to air pollution and smog, as well as burning up fossil fuels, which release carbon and other tiny particles into the atmosphere that contribute to global climate change. Not only is this good for the environment, it’s good for your employees’ mental health, as it reduces the stressful burden of commuting to and from work every morning and evening.

Employees who stay home also use less energy, less paper goods, and less plastic. Reducing consumption of precious resources is critically important in the battle against climate change, and simply increasing the number of people who work from home can be a huge help.

There are many reasons employers might choose to keep their employees at home for work. Why not use this season as an opportunity to experiment and see if this management and organization style works for your company?

Thanks to advancements in technology and communications, it’s easier now than ever before to maintain a workforce that is productive, effective, and remote!

More from #WorkSmarter

Autonomous’ #WorkSmarter publication is a resource hub to share the hacks, shortcuts, and tips we’ve picked up on our journey to create the workspaces of tomorrow, today. As the saying goes, the only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on.

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How to Allow Room for Failure and Create a Successful Work Environment

Creating a space where people are willing to share ideas doesn't just innovate — it invites better wellness, too

By Rob Cecil • Mar 9, 2023

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Some of the world's most famous and astounding success stories started as failures . Most people think of Steve Jobs as the brilliant mind behind Apple. But what many people don't know is that, before all of the fame and fortune, he was fired from a company that he himself created. That moment in time was pivotal in shaping his future success. He drew new strength from the setback and developed a radically different approach for his future business plans. That failure has now become a company valued at over two trillion dollars.

While not all of us can turn a failure into a multi-trillion-dollar business, we can learn some valuable lessons in the process. This story is evidence that, with the right attitude, failure can serve as a powerful springboard toward success. But the first step in that process is changing your mindset.

Fear of failure stifles innovation

Perfection is unachievable . The reality is that there will be very little innovation in an environment where you're constantly searching for perfection; it's an ideal that will never be achieved. Instead of focusing on eliminating mistakes, leaders should set high but realistic standards. Once leaders renounce the ever-present aim for flawlessness , they open the door to innovation. When your employees are too fearful of falling under the bar you set, they won't dare to step outside the box you build. In the worst-case scenario, this may even cause employees to leave your organization in search of a more creative outlet.

Instead of trying to achieve the unachievable, start building a successful environment by attracting the right people. Know and accept that your team will make mistakes, but believe in pushing for ideas and growth , both personally and as an organization. When everyone adopts this philosophy of innovation, you create a strong foundation based on development. That shared value encourages everyone to support and uplift each other's ideas.

When your team proposes new ideas , look beneath the surface. It's easy to fall victim to complacency and get comfortably set in our ways, but in reality, you want your team to challenge ideas. At Alair, many of our concepts and workflows were initially ideas that, at the time, didn't seem that big. However, after thoroughly considering the proposals, they ultimately resulted in breakthroughs that optimized processes for hundreds of people.

Related: 7 Ways Companies Can Harness Failure to Drive Success

Genuine commitment counts

While innovation requires a commitment to new ideas, it also requires a commitment to openly communicate what you're working on. People tend to keep their concepts or experiments private if they don't feel comfortable approaching each other and sharing their ideas. Without this type of trusting environment, you'll end up with secret testing kitchens around your organization, and those hidden experiments can quickly turn into fires that the company has to put out. Encouraging and supporting people to come forward with new ideas or concepts can eliminate this secret testing.

When you're genuinely committed to fostering an innovative environment in which it is safe to fail, people will naturally come forward with new ideas. For innovation to occur, we have to create a safe space for teams to pilot their ideas, and when those concepts pan out, they can be shared with the rest of the team. But the reality is that not all of those ideas will work out, so we need to support the fail. In doing so, you're building a safe work environment where people know it's okay (and encouraged) to bring these new ideas forward, even if they don't always work.

When you're building a business trying to accomplish feats like never before, you have to embrace a culture of free-flowing innovation. In the face of challenging control elements, like predicting trends or determining when to bring something to market, encouraging innovative ideas from your team can streamline the ideation process. Without these ideas, you'll end up being leapfrogged by a competitor willing to brainstorm new ideas, think outside the box, and ultimately take the risk.

Related: The Smartest People in The Room Often Overlook This Critical Attribute to Success

Celebrate the fail

While establishing a line of open communication is an invaluable first step, you'll still need to identify and address ideas that aren't feasible. However, there are ways to phrase these so-called "failures" as a win. It's important to celebrate the failures by acknowledging that your team was brave enough to take a swing at things, even if they don't always work. Reward the courage to come forward with innovative ideas and identify lessons that can be learned from failure. Acknowledge your team's creative efforts and let them know that, even though this particular idea didn't pan out, you're still excited to review future considerations.

We rely on weekly roundtable discussions, to be honest about what's working and what's not. These conversations are relaxed and judgment-free, so our team can feel comfortable sharing their concerns.

One theme we discuss is having the right people in the right seats. We've had regional partners admit they don't feel fulfilled in their managerial roles. Through open conversation, we'll help them find a role in their company where they can be more hands-on in building homes. Sometimes, it's about guiding stellar individuals to the roles where they can provide the most value for the team.

Celebrating the failure also entails taking an honest look at yourself. I used to own a software company that made the mistake of rolling out a new product without asking for peer and user input. The project was a half-a-million-dollar failure, and for a small company, it almost sunk us. But that failure was the reason I now understand the importance of peer groups actively involved in reviewing and analyzing new software before being implemented.

By acknowledging the failure, identifying learning points, and applying those lessons to future decisions, you're ensuring you never make the same mistake again, allowing you to effectively transform any failure into a win.

Related: Seeing Failure As An Opportunity To Learn From (And Leapfrog Into Success)

Welcoming failure delivers far more than great ideas

Perhaps more than anything, the modern workforce is eager to find roles that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. Being able to contribute ideas ensures that people feel heard and recognized as valuable assets to the team, regardless of their position. That sense of purpose and belonging ties directly to personal and professional wellness.

When you think about fostering an innovative environment , remember that you're not just building an environment that yields new, creative solutions. You're opening the door for improved collaboration and ingenuity. Before you know it, one of the ideas that comes through may be the next trillion-dollar innovation.

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

President and Chief Development Officer

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Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of working from home when considering your ideal work environment.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home may have seemed like a perk that only freelancers got to do. Now, many more full-time employees have experienced working remotely or in a hybrid role.

Smiling young male entrepreneur browsing the internet with a laptop while sitting on a sofa working from home

(Getty Images)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pandemic has resulted in over one-third of companies across a wide range of industries increasing telework for some or all of their employees. The BLS also reports that around 60% of the organizations that expanded their telework options are planning to keep them indefinitely.

If you recently joined the ranks of virtual staff, your visions of the remote working life may have been dashed by reality. Working from home may sound like an ideal situation, if you've imagined simply rolling out of bed and arriving at your home office in moments, without the hassles of first making yourself presentable and then commuting to a workplace with a boss and colleagues who may drive you crazy .

In reality, though, just like working in an office, remote work comes with pros and cons. The following pros and cons list emerged after conducting informal interviews with more than 100 people with remote jobs. Read on for some positive aspects of telecommuting and the challenges that come with a work-from-home lifestyle.

Benefits of Working From Home

Pro: more flexibility to take care of appointments and errands. .

Pro: You can often do your work when you're most productive.

Pro: you can get more done., pro: you can save money on your work wardrobe., pro: the ability to live where you want to..

One of the hardest things about committing to a 9-to-5 desk job is that it prevents you from being able to handle almost anything else that comes up in your life, whether attending a routine dentist appointment or picking a sick kid up from school. When you work from home, while you still have to meet your deadlines and be available when you say you will be, you generally have wider bandwidth to tend to other responsibilities without jeopardizing your job.

Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.

It's easier to get into a deep state of focused work when you're in your home office without colleagues dropping by and sitting down impromptu to talk about their weekends. Limiting unnecessary interruptions from your colleagues and boss is a big plus of working from home and is one reason many remote workers are often more productive than office-based workers. While you may need to dial in for specific meetings, you'll likely get a break from attending several others – many of which may be unnecessary to your role – that confront staff workers daily.

Pro: There is no commute time or expense. 

You can save a lot of money and avoid wasting hours spent getting to and from work when your office is right down the hall. Avoiding traffic battles tops the list of benefits for some of those who work from home. Many remote workers also mentioned saving money by eschewing a pricey professional wardrobe unless they meet with clients.

Pro: More time spent with family. 

Office workers must kiss their loved ones goodbye each morning when heading off to work; not so for virtual workers, who can work side by side with a work-from-home spouse or with kids who are learning in a digital classroom . By doing away with the commute time, there is more time to be spent with loved ones.

When you work in an office, your schedule is rarely your own. Between the aforementioned interruptions from colleagues and meetings, plus your boss hovering nearby with agenda items and to-dos, accomplishing your focus work may be a "catch as catch can" situation, grabbing time to think and compose important reports and communications between events that others have imposed.

It's still always essential when working from home to be mindful of your team's needs and be available to dial in for virtual meetings. But remote employees generally have greater latitude to select their time of peak productivity to do their most important work and – depending on who else is working at home with them – have more quiet time to hone in on tasks that require concentration.

A number of recent studies have confirmed the growing body of research that prove working from home can help you be more productive than you can in an office, with stats showing productivity increases of up to 77%. It makes sense when you consider the above points that you have fewer interruptions and can work when you’re at your best while working remotely.

In addition to saving drive time and gas expenses, the work-from-home crowd can generally save on clothing costs as well. While you may need to have professional garb at the ready for video calls (at least for your top half on camera), most who work from home have more freedom to wear what they want while they work.

While some employers have restrictions about where you can live as a remote employee and may change your pay according to the area you reside in, a huge perk of the remote life is the ability to choose your location without needing to worry about a daily commute. Even if you’re in a hybrid role or need to make occasional visits to the office for meetings, if you don’t need to drive in each day, you have a wider range of possible places to settle besides right near the office.

Cons of Working From Home

Con: no physical separation between work and leisure time. .

Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery. 

Con: You are not on-site for in-office perks.

Con: you have to be more self-motivated., con: some bosses may be biased against those who aren’t in the office..

Many who work from home lamented that they often find themselves working around the clock, since their labor has no definite start or end times; those lines can often be blurred. As a result, they sometimes feel as if they are always at work, making it difficult to shift to the post-work relaxation mode that many office workers take for granted.

The absence of an obvious division between the personal and professional realms means some remote workers get distracted by housework. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is important when you're working from home.

Con: It's easy to misread cues via electronic communications. 

While few who work from home expressed feeling "lonely," as is typically assumed, many did point to the difficulty of getting the tone right through digital communication systems, such as email, chat, social media and text. Without body language, facial expressions and other cues, remote employees have to put in extra effort to maintain positive communications.

What can be a blessing can also become a curse in the form of cabin fever. Some freelancers and others who work from home lamented that where they work during the day is the exact same place where they'll be sitting later that evening; getting involved in their work often translates to spending a huge portion of the day indoors. Pre-pandemic, many stressed the importance of scheduling lunches and other meetings to keep them in the mix and avoid the rut of never leaving the house.

Con: There is less in-person contact with co-workers.

While you may have more time with loved ones when working from a home office, the flipside is less opportunity for face time (minus a screen) with people at your company. If your co-workers drive you crazy, then reduced time on-site might be a perk for you. But if you enjoy office-based camaraderie and like to be able to socialize with your team in person, then the remote life might make you miserable.

You can't swing by the break room and grab a doughnut or hit the company gym if you're working from home. This may be more of a disadvantage for workers in industries such as tech, with impressive on-site offerings like game rooms and chef-made food among their company benefits. If there's a perk you like about being in the office, then working from home may make you miss it.

If you’re the type of person who procrastinates working unless a boss is breathing down your neck, then you might find yourself underperforming in a work-from-home role. Remote workers have to motivate themselves to get the job done, which puts more onus on people working from home to manage their time wisely to complete their projects, instead of having someone else setting the timelines and spurring them along.

A study by researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that “face time” – the amount of time that you’re seen at work either within normal business hours or outside of them – can affect how your boss and others perceive you at work. If you’re not in the office and others are, some managers may be either intentionally or unintentionally biased against you. You may find that your contributions aren’t noticed or appreciated as much by your team and may feel compelled to make extra efforts to keep on everyone’s radar screen.

Weighing the pros and cons of working from home has become even more important in the wake of the pandemic, since many companies are now giving their employees the option to not come back into the office. If you are given the choice to consider working from home permanently, be sure to think through each of the pros and cons of working from home to land on a solution that matches your priorities. Remote work has clear benefits, but no situation is perfect. Understanding the reasons to work from home – as well as the reasons not to – can go a long way in learning how to work from home successfully .

Tags: careers , work-life balance , Company Culture , money , personal finance

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6 Types Of Work Environments (With Examples)

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6 Types of Work Environments

How to identify a work environment, how to answer “what is your ideal work environment” in an interview, examples answers to “what is your ideal work environment”, tips for giving a strong answer about preferred work environment, possible follow-up questions, working environment faq.

The work environment of a business either fosters the success of the corporation or tears it to shreds. It dictates how well employees function and how their supervisory staff handles them. The tricky thing about a professional environment is that every individual prefers something different. The conditions which allow some employees to thrive will stifle others. For this reason, it’s common for an interviewer to ask a question or two about the type of work environment you prefer. Having a firm grasp on the variety of work environments helps you form a satisfactory answer to this question. Key Takeaways: A work environment consists of the conditions that you spend your professional time in and not every work environment works for everyone. When figuring out what type of environment a company has you should look at the job description, ask current employees, and check the company website. When answering an interview questions about your ideal work environment you should dig deep into what qualities you value in a professional space. What Is a Work Environment?

A work environment is made up of the actual space where work is performed, the culture that a company cultivates, and the general conditions of employees.

Examples of aspects that affect a person’s work environment include:

The physical area. The size of your personal workspace (one desk vs. office) and layout (cubical vs. open) can have a big impact on your happiness at work. Consider that open floor plans usually indicate greater collaboration and places with large open communal areas usually value creativity and the exchange of ideas.

Facilities and hardware. Depending on your job, the equipment an office space offers can play a big role in your ability to get your job done efficiently . If you’re a receptionist who has to work with a copier from the 80s every day, you can expect a frustrating daily task. Also consider other spaces, like kitchens, conference areas, and even things like gyms, for assessing a work environment.

Working conditions. This part of the work environment may not be as obvious as the first two, but it’s just as important. Working conditions include things like working hours, scheduling, and safety. Even a job with a great team and a culture that suits you can have unreasonably long shifts or tasks that may be dangerous or unhealthy.

Company culture. This one is often hard to pin down, but culture is just a way that a group of individuals behave and expect others within their group to behave. This can apply to how management talks to employees, what policies are enforced and emphasized, how growth is supported, and what values are core to the organization.

A work environment consists of the conditions that you spend your professional time in. There is a wide variety of healthy workplace environments available that cater to different preferences and values . Not every work environment is beneficial, and a negative situation can seriously harm productivity.

Work environments differ individually in the factors that they provide and lack. Below are examples of 6 different kinds of common work environments:

The 9-to-5 environment. When people think about what defines a work environment, the traditional 9-to-5 is often where the mind wanders. It’s the day that begins with going into the office at 9 in the morning and leaving when the sun sets at 5. This continues for a five-day workweek .

A company that employs a 9-to-5 schedule is usually strict about other aspects of work-life, such as dress code and a specific protocol for handling workloads.

The flexible environment. The flexible work environment is the polar opposite of the traditional 9-to-5. It gives employees the freedom to customize their work schedule , hours, and space however they like, as long as they get their work in on time and well.

This type of work environment focuses on the fact that each employee is an individual who knows for themselves what work environment works best for them.

The degrading environment. A degrading work environment focuses on getting the best productivity out of its employees by scaring them into submission. Rather than discussing poor behavior or a decline in work quality to further mutual understanding, they implement punishments to discourage this .

The constructive feedback environment. Coworkers and supervisors witness your work performance daily and gather a lot of productive insights during that time. In a constructive feedback environment, this feedback is seen as a valuable tool for improving overall team performance.

The competitive environment. Most people are familiar with the feeling of competing with their peers for the achievement of first place. In a work environment, this often occurs in the form of offering raises , promotions , or other incentives to the highest performing employees.

The collaborative environment. A collaborative environment uses each employee’s unique strengths to off-set the team’s inevitable weaknesses. In this type of work circumstance, the employees of a company see themselves as a cohesive unit and function as one to create the best outcome.

The physical space, the working conditions, and the culture a company cultivates are all important features of a work environment. There are ways to learn about all three both before and during the application process:

The job description. While you might not learn too much about the physical work environment from a job description , you’ll likely find some information regarding working conditions and company values. Pay special attention to the part that looks like an “about us,” as the keywords employed here will provide ample hints as to what the work environment is like.

Read employee reviews. While employee reviews can be a little unreliable (either people writing glowing reviews as a favor for their supervisor or writing horrible ones over minor issues), they can provide good access to the “real” picture of what the inside of a company looks like.

Check the company’s website. Company websites often include a few photos of the inside of corporate spaces, but be warned that the company may only be posting their most attractive work environments. In any case, you’ll get a feel for a company’s values based on how they describe their space, their team, and their mission.

Ask current employees. Having insider knowledge of a company is immensely useful when making a decision about where to work. If you’re interested in a company but don’t have any contacts, you can always try reaching out to peers at the company on LinkedIn. Just make sure that your own profile is looking good , or people are likely to ignore your messages.

Visit the office. Setting up an informational interview or being invited by a current employee is an amazing way to have a look at a work environment in action. You’ll see how people actually communicate, what the physical layout is like, and what sort of equipment you’d have on hand.

Ask your interviewer. If you’ve made it to the interview stage but are still unsure about the specifics of the work environment, asking the hiring manager or recruiter is a smart move. Of course, they’ll be trying to sell their organization just as much as you’ll be trying to sell yourself, so take everything with a grain of salt.

An interview is an opportunity for an employer to see if a candidate is the right fit for their company. The hiring manager asks questions like “ what is your ideal work environment ” to find out if you’ll succeed in their organization.

The trick to answering this question well is being overwhelmingly truthful with a hint of research into the company’s culture to establish a smart strategy. Your background knowledge of the company gives you the footing to know if your ideals line up with the way they run their organization.

When answering what constitutes your ideal work environment, dig deep into what qualities you value in a professional space. For example, one applicant might prefer to work on a team with the help of their co-workers to complete their projects. The next candidate has an independent personality and feels constricted when they don’t have the freedom to do work on their own.

Discussing the realities of your preferences with the interviewer helps you both understand further if you’ll work well at their business.

Learning about how to formulate an answer to “what is your ideal work environment” is one thing, but actually crafting one is another. Reviewing the following examples of strong interview answers might help with starting work on your own:

Good Example Answers:

“My ideal work environment is a place where I can work with my coworkers as a unit to create the best possible product. I believe that the best work in marketing is completed when multiple different personalities and perspectives are contributing. The collaborative nature described in the posting for this role is what drew me to apply for it in the first place.”
“Although I enjoy meeting with my coworkers periodically throughout the month and think it’s productive, I prefer an environment that I can complete the majority of my work independently. As a software developer , I do a lot of work by myself and then come to my team to tweak it afterward. Having the space to work on my software before it’s collaborated on is the best work environment for me.”

Examples of Answers You Should Not Give:

“I prefer working on a team because I don’t like having to do all of the work on projects by myself. I think it’s easier to work with other people because they’re equally responsible.”
“I want to work by myself. I always get my work done on time, so I think I should be able to do the majority of my work from home, alone.”

Research company culture. The best way to give a satisfactory answer when an interviewer asks about your work environment preferences is already having previous knowledge about the company you’re interviewing with. This is a strong move to make whether this question is brought up or not because it tells you if you even want to work with the organization at all.

Think about your preferences before the interview. Another way to prepare for this question in an interview is by sitting back and reflecting on what your preferences are when it comes to a working environment.

Prioritize what qualities you value most. Once you’ve collected a list of work environment qualities that you prefer, narrow it down to the most valuable aspects.

After asking you about your ideal work environment, a hiring manager moves on to other matters. Below are some follow-up questions to prepare for a job interview:

How did you learn about this position?

What gets you up in the morning?

Are you a leader or a follower?

Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it.

Are you open to working on the weekends

How would your friends describe you?

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Why should we hire you?

Tell me about a time you failed

Do you have any questions for me?

What is a good working environment?

A good working environment is a workplace that actively encourages safety, growth, and success for its employees. A working environment boils down to several factors like a company’s overall culture, growth opportunities, and developing a comfortable physical or virtual space for work to get done.

The details of what precisely a positive workplace looks like can significantly differ between people and businesses.

For example, some employees feel the most comfortable and efficient when they have a defined schedule and know exactly when they’ll be required to be in the office. For others, this work situation sounds like hell, and they feel most at ease under a flexible schedule.

How do you describe a work environment in a job description?

You describe a work environment in a job description by creating an accurate picture of what potential employees can expect by explaining your company’s core values and the experience of current employees.

You can also get into the company’s brand, history, target audience, and goals for the future. If your business has a definitive mission statement, this can be an excellent tool for describing the work environment.

There are a lot of recognizable and attractive ways that you can describe a work environment, such as:






What are examples of work conditions for a job description?

Examples of work conditions for a job description include hygiene, job security, employee benefits, work-life balance, and work schedule.

When you think about it, there are a lot of different factors that make up the experience of employees. Will the employee work from 9 to 5 or 1 AM to 10 AM? Will the job require monthly travel or allow a hybrid work schedule?

For example, a receptionist might be expected to adhere to a prim and proper dress code, which should be addressed in a job description. On the flip side, a sewer inspector will spend most of their workday in dark, damp, and all-around nasty conditions. This is another work condition level that needs to be disclosed to job applicants.

Why is it important to have a good work environment?

It’s important to have a good work environment to keep employees happy and motivated, improving productivity and retention. A company’s team of employees is the backbone of its success.

When a company has a toxic work environment, employees quickly lose their patience and quit. The company has to spend time and money hiring a person to replace the capable employee they drove away.

Once they finally find the perfect candidate, they have to spend even more money and time training them until they’re up to speed. Eventually, this new hire will start realizing that they’re in a bad work environment, and they’ll leave too. Restarting the entire process again.

How do you create a positive work environment?

Some ways that you can create a positive work environment are being realistic about the company’s current situation, setting up a strong onboarding process, ensuring that the workplace is comfortable (physically/socially), and checking in with employees regularly to see how they’re feeling.

Developing a positive work environment is about taking stock of what you’re doing now and continually seeing how your company can improve. Even if you’ve had a bullet-proof work environment for years, this status can rapidly dissolve if it’s not always the main priority.

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Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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6 Surprising Environmental Impacts of Remotely Working from Home

6 Surprising Environmental Impacts of Remotely Working from Home

As more people remotely working from home, it’s fascinating to see how it has impacted the environment. Generally speaking, more remote workers means a healthier environment, but higher energy consumption levels may be a drawback.

With an unprecedented number of remote workers in the world at the moment, it’s no surprise that there will be significant social, economic, and cultural shifts in the workforce.More and more companies are adopting a hybrid approach to their work model, allowing employees to work from home and in-office during the workweek. How could this shift be affecting the environment?

Explore some surprising impacts of remotely working from home that are affecting the environment in both positive and negative ways.

Positive Environmental Impacts of Remotely Working from Home

Because of the drastic transition to remote work due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic , it’s interesting to see how the environment is being impacted. Let’s discuss some of the positive environmental effects remote work has on the planet.

1. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs)

There’s no denying that remote employees benefit from the elimination of commuting, and the environment is also benefiting from reduced GHGs emitted from personal vehicles and modes of public transportation, such as trains or buses.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, it would be possible to reduce GHG emissions by 54 million tons if telework-compatible employees worked from home half of the time they currently do.

Additionally, when remote work began, data from Breathe London showed that GHG emissions fell by 25% during morning commutes and 34% during evening commutes. This goes to show how remote work can make a positive environmental impact.

2. Improved Air Quality

As a result of lowering GHG emissions, the air quality in the environment would vastly improve. More people die from air pollution compared to malaria and HIV/AIDS, according to a report from The Guardian.

One study from the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service found that COVID-19 lockdowns led to reduced nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) in cities nationwide. It’s commonly known that improving air quality comes with its fair share of benefits , including reduced:

3. Less Plastic Pollution

It’s a challenge to find reliable data on how much plastic pollution can be reduced. Still, if employees are not commuting to work in-office, companies can cut back on plastic waste.

Even something as simple as eliminating plastic cups or straws in an office can help reduce the amount of plastic entering the environment. One UK survey found that people remotely working from home are more willing to cut down on their plastic consumption than those working on-premises.

4. Reduced Impact on Infrastructure

It’s commonly known that many large cities struggle with meeting demand, such as in public transport. Before the pandemic, cities got jam-packed with vehicles during morning and evening commutes. With more people at home, it’s clear that cities were experiencing less traffic congestion , sometimes even seeing empty downtown streets.

Vehicles increase GHG emissions and make roads more congested. The more cars on the road, the more damage they cause. When remote employees eliminate their commute, this could help make public transportation more reliable and meet citizen demand.

You might also like: How Social Media Habits are Contributing to Internet Pollution

Negative Environmental Impacts of Remote Work

Next, we’ll look at some of the negative effects on the environment due to more employees working from home.

1. Higher Energy Consumption

You may wonder, “Does working at home lead to less energy consumption?” The answer to this question is a bit of a mixed bag; virtual work still consumes energy within the homes of remote employees. Evidence suggests that remote work leads to higher utility bills for employees, which is certainly a negative effect on the environment.

Climate calculations regarding office versus remote work are complex, it factors into the calculations of all of the people working remotely and the devices they use to get their job done. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones all require power. While one person may not make a significant impact, the total population of remote workers does.

2. Partial Reduction of Global Carbon Footprint

Some companies, as mentioned above, are adopting hybrid work models. This would mean hybrid employees, meaning they work both from home while still traveling during their commutes. Alternate between remote and in-office work, which may help us reduce our carbon footprint, but only partially.

To truly combat the effects of climate change, there need to be sweeping policy changes , and all countries need to focus on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. No one solution will fix the climate crisis. Still, remote work is helping to improve the environment’s state slightly.

It’s no secret that more work needs to be done to help the environment flourish. Remote work may contribute to a partially healthy environment, but it won’t solve environmental crises on its own.

Remote Work: Better or Worse for the Environment?

Based on the information outlined above, it seems as though eliminating commutes for employees can certainly help reduce GHG emissions. That’s a positive for the environment. However, it’s important to note that remote work is only a small part in the overall fight against climate change, achieving sustainability, and creating a better environment for people to live in.

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Working From Home Checklist

Empower work-from-home employees to be safe and efficient using digital checklists

Work From Home Safety Checklist

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This work from home safety checklist is specially designed for home-based workers to perform self-assessments and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Use this checklist in SafetyCulture to do the following:

Updated 31 Jan 2023 , Published 3 Apr 2020

What is a Working From Home Checklist?

A working from home checklist is a tool primarily used by employers to assess the safety of a home office, and determine the suitability for employees to work from home. Work-from-home, or WFH employees use a working from home checklist to personally evaluate their work environment, identify areas of improvement, and implement efficient work practices.

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In this article

Why use working from home checklists, work from home advantages and disadvantages, common working from home risks and how to mitigate them, working from home tips, how to work from home, empower work-from-home employees to be safe and efficient, featured working from home checklists.

The search term “working from home” hit a record high on March 17, 2020—when employees around the world were either encouraged or forced to work from home to help contain the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Utilizing working from home checklists is crucial for employers to fulfill their responsibilities despite the situation and for employees to keep themselves and their homes safe.

Work From Home Safety Checklist

Work from home is the concept and practice of accomplishing tasks to earn income from one’s private residence. As a policy, top companies allow their employees to temporarily or permanently work from home under certain conditions. As an opportunity, different types of work and businesses can be done and managed from home. Working from home poses various pros and cons, but when the need or option arises, it is crucial to know how to work from home effectively.

The concept of working from home already existed before the industrial revolution, and it is not just a growing trend in the past couple of decades. As managing the home also meant managing resources, a work-home environment seems practical and cost-efficient for most families and communities.

However, the benefits of working from home come with some drawbacks, and understanding both of the advantages and disadvantages can help people to decide if working from home is the right work style for them.

According to an annual survey conducted since 2013 , work-life balance continues to be the top reason people seek flexible work or being able to work from home and have control over their schedule. Take a look at these advantages and disadvantages of working from home in terms of time management:

Last year , annual remote work research showed that those who work from home are twice more likely to earn salaries higher than $100,000 a year than on-site workers. The possibility of making more money while staying at home attracts a growing number of people, but consider the following financial advantages and disadvantages:

A global workspace study recently found out that 54% of people think having a choice of work location is more important than working for a prestigious company and having an increase in holiday allowance. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of work from home when it comes to the workspace :

Global respondents of The Workplace Revolution confirm that working from home puts productivity at risk — 45% find it hard to concentrate. The report also revealed that 77% of millennials claim that flexible work would make them more productive . Is working from home good or bad in getting the job done? Here are the advantages and disadvantages:


Based on another annual remote work survey in 2019 , the biggest struggle with working from home is unplugging after work, or disconnecting from work-related matters and relax. Social isolation is also associated with sleeping problems, depression, and early mortality. Think about the following relational advantages and disadvantages when working from home:

OSHA specifies that injuries or illnesses incurred while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation at home are work-related cases and recordable on the OSHA 300 log if it meets recording criteria such as a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, even if it does not result in death, or loss of consciousness among others . Here are common safety and health risks when working from home, so once they are identified, action can be taken to minimize them:

Work from Home Safety Risks and Controls

If you believe that you have what it takes to be self-employed, then venture into the world of freelance or business. You can be your own boss, working anywhere and anytime you want, but these privileges also come with the risk of volatility and idleness. Take advantage of free work from home apps to increase productivity , and practice the following tips to help you become successful as a freelancer or home business owner:

Freelancers Working from Home Tips for Success

Self-motivate, do not procrastinate Delaying to do the job does not actually make it go away, but only prolonging the time it usually takes to complete it. Refrain from making yourself believe that you will accomplish more when you multitask. Focus your energy on working on one project at a time, and you will have more time to take on more projects.

Runaway from the email rabbit hole Casually scrolling through emails can lead to spending too much time on unimportant or non-urgent matters. It might take a lot of effort to clean up your inbox or unsubscribe to spammy emails, but it will be worth your while to be successful working from home freelancer in the long run.

Assert and increase project-based rates Work from home freelancers can earn more by naming their price for every project, not for every hour to be spent on achieving it. Clearly specifying the quality of work to be poured into the project can encourage your clients to pay more rather than settling for a standard hourly rate.

Take a break, deep breaths, and long walks Practicing the Pomodoro technique, or segmenting your work hours into chunks with short breaks in between, can help improve your productivity, and learn to destress when things seem to spiral out of control such as expediting deadlines, adding workload, or changing details.

Develop your skillset, grow in your niche While choosing and targeting the right niche for your experience or expertise can make or break your work-from-home freelance career, improving your skills can elevate you to success. Upskilling allows you to earn more per project, ask more from existing clients, and reach more potential clients.

Business Owners Working from Home Tips for Success

Plan, but just do it Many home-based business wannabes usually have good ideas and some do their research, but only a few make it happen. To be a successful home business owner, one should make plans, but more importantly, have the courage to execute those plans against all odds.

Get the fundamentals right Know about the legal requirements for setting up a home-based business such as tax or zoning laws. Consult with your accountant as you might actually qualify for certain tax deductions. You can also outsource administrative services to allocate more of your time for other more important matters.

Sustainability over profitability You probably wanted to manage your own business with the hope of making more money, but it is better to focus on long-term goals, than short-term gains. With sustainability in mind, you can make wiser business decisions and protect yourself from falling for the false promise of shortcuts.

Master the social component Expanding your network and marketing your product or service, especially online, are crucial elements of successful home-based business management. Upsell and cross-sell to your current clients, having built strong relationships with them. Gaining social proof for your business means spreading credible word-of-mouth recommendations for free.

Experiment, fail, and improve If being a home business owner was easy, then everyone would have done it. Perseverance is key to success, so don’t be afraid to try new things like implementing new processes or changing marketing tactics. You can always learn from failures and improve yourself, the way you work, and your business.

With the different types of work that can be done from home, you probably want to try pursuing a part-time or full-time home-based career and know exactly what steps to take to be productive in this work style. After remote teams assess and control safety and health risks in their respective home offices, here is how they can function more effectively when working from home:

How Employees Can Work from Home Effectively

Build self-discipline Setting a dedicated workspace can help you avoid distractions such as social media, TV, or chores, and sticking to your routine as if you still went to an office building like getting up early, taking a shower, and changing your clothes, can help establish boundaries between your place and time for work and for yourself.

Be proactive Planning ahead allows you to foresee any changes or unnecessary downtime so you can respond accordingly, making the most out of your time. Since you might feel guilty for being unproductive as a side effect of having more time spent at home, you can choose to go the extra mile and initiate to do more.

Boost communication Clarifying work-related tasks lets you set your and your manager’s expectations about exactly what should be done during this period of working from home. Collaborate more often with your teammates to prevent avoidable misunderstanding and stay connected with actual human beings other than your family.

How Managers Can Work from Home Effectively

The concept and practice of work from home are not new. Working from home is no longer viewed as a company benefit, but a legitimate style of work with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Whether you choose to work as a remote employee, a work-from-home freelancer, or a home business owner, knowing the way that works for you is key to success.

Why use SafetyCulture?

Staying safe and efficient while working from home can be challenging for employees. Empower frontline workers with an inspection and corrective action tool that can be learned in minutes so you can easily manage your team from wherever you are. With SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) , you can take advantage of the following benefits when you sign up for free today:

Try SafetyCulture for free!

Working From Home Health and Safety Checklist

A working from home health and safety checklist is a digital tool used to make sure that work-from-home employees have a safe home office that promotes their general well-being. This checklist is built according to the State Government of Victoria, Australia, and includes evaluation items for the designated work area, work surface, physical demands of tasks, work practices, emergency procedures, and more. Failed items should be corrected before employees can work from home.

This working from home checklist is used by the Charters Towers Regional Council in Queensland, Australia to assess a private residence and determine the suitability for employees to work from home. Use this template to do the following:

Home Healthcare Worker Safety Checklist

A home healthcare worker safety checklist is a tool used by in-home care service providers to conduct a self-assessment of their personal safety prior to commencing work. This checklist is built according to NIOSH Hazard Review: Occupational Hazards in Home Healthcare, and it covers areas such as safe patient handling, infection control, and more. Use this checklist to ensure that healthcare workers are safe to perform their duties in their patients’ homes.

Telecommuting Safety Checklist

A telecommuting safety checklist is used by teleworkers, or employees who work from an alternative worksite and use telecommunication equipment such as telephones or fax machines, to assess the overall safety of their work environment and maintain safe working conditions. This checklist is designed based on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management standards, and covers inspection checks for fire safety, electrical safety, computer workstation, and other safety measures.


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Jona Tarlengco

Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.

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8 Shocking Environmental Impacts of Remote Work

by Denise Mai | Last updated Mar 13, 2021

Working from home has not only many benefits for employees, freelancers and companies, there are also plenty of environmental impacts of remote work. Especially in a time where climate change is more present than ever before, we need to start thinking about what each and every single one of us can improve. This also includes finding more sustainable ways to work.

Remote work is an often mentioned potential solution in this discussion. Let’s see how working online can really help the environment or if it might even be harmful.

Table of Contents

Positive Environmental Impacts of Remote Work

Let’s start with the positive environmental impacts of remote work. Luckily, there are quite a few significant ones:

1. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Skipping the commute to work is a huge advantage of remote work for many people. If you are able to work from home, this doesn’t only save you plenty of time but also money for public transport or gas.

On top of that, telecommuters also reduce their carbon footprint. It’s very simple: Fewer commutes – less greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Workforce Analytics estimates that if everyone who works in an office, would work from home just half of the week, this reduces the emissions by 54 million tons per year!

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in the USA came from transportation in 2017: “The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans.”

And here’s another mind-blowing number: Current remote workers in the USA avoid emitting 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gasses every year. If you wanted to offset the same level of emissions, you would have to plant 91 million trees.

Environmental Impacts of Remote Work Slide Show

2. Reduced Consumption of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels play an essential role in climate change. We don’t only use them for heat or electricity, but also for transportation. In fact, 90% of the fuel for transport is derived from petroleum products.

Just imagine how much gasoline a single person consumes on a 30 minutes’ drive to work. Twice a day. Five times a week.

According to the US Energy Information Administration , US-Americans consumed nearly 392 million gallons of gasoline every single day in 2017.

Now imagine if only half of those commuters would be able to work from home every other day. That’s a huge difference!

4. Better Air Quality

Another no-brainer: if we manage to reduce the gas emissions due to transportation to work every day, we also get better air quality. Just think of megacities, such as Beijing or Delhi which are struggling with air pollution on a daily basis.

Air pollution kills more people than HIV, malaria, and influenza combined. To be precise: Every year, more than 3.3 million people die of the consequences of bad air quality.

Highway vehicles alone contribute almost 35% of total nitrogen dioxide . These emissions are known to aggravate respiratory diseases, such as asthma or infections.

According to the before-mentioned U.S. Employee Workforce Report, the air quality savings amount to 83 million lbs. per year thanks to the current 3.9 million (part-time) remote workers.

To more vehicles we get off the road, the better our environment and our own health.

home work environment

5. Reduced Use of Paper

Let’s be honest: How often do we print out documents in the office that we don’t really need as a printed version? If we worked at home and needed to use our own printer, we would probably be more economic about it.

Plus, when working remotely we are more or less forced to share files with team members online. And it works! There is no need to print everything, copy it or label it.

Working online eliminates the dispose of 247 trillion sheets of paper every year.

6. Reduced Consumption of Plastic

Yes, you can most certainly use disposable plastic products even when you work from home. However, the temptation and convenience factor is much bigger when working from an office.

Just think of the coffee to go on your way to work, the packed lunch from the supermarket, or the fast-food packages and straws at the local eatery.

Obviously, it’s hard to come up with reliable numbers to prove the amount of additional plastic waste when working in an office. But I think it only makes sense that remote workers are more likely to use a proper coffee pot, reusable dishware and prepare their meals without further packaging.

This decreases the number of disposable cups and utensils which are big contributing factors to the world’s plastic crisis.

3. Reduced Impact on Infrastructure

This one probably depends on the region you live in. But I think it’s safe to say that the transportation infrastructure in many cities falls short of the increasing demand.

During peak commute times, the streets are often jam-packed. This results in even more gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, extensive traffic increases the amount and intensity of damage done to highways and streets. This results in a higher demand for repairs and expansions.

Environmental Impacts fo Remote Work

7. Reduced Energy Consumption

Offices typically consume more energy than if their employees worked from home. Just think of the huge printing stations or computers being constantly on stand-by.

Another reason for that is that people tend to act less environmentally conscious when being in an office. Switching off the light when you leave the bathroom is just less appealing when you don’t have to pay for the electricity bill.

And how about heating and cooling? Although this consumes an incredible amount of energy, many people tend to open windows for fresh air without turning the air conditioning or heater off while doing so.

Sun Microsystems reports that the energy consumption in offices is nearly twice as high . The study also shows that every person, who works from home, reduces the energy consumption by at least 5,400 kWh annually.

Companies, such as Automattic (the company behind, Tumblr, WooCommerce, etc.), which operate fully distributed, don’t have any offices at all and they are thriving!

8. Stimulation of Small Town Development

The main reason for living in a big city for the majority of the population is probably better career opportunities. They try to cut down on daily commute time and therefore put up with higher rental and living costs. Many might not even like the big city life.

If these people get the chance to work remotely, I’m very positive many of them would leave the city behind and either move to a more affordable suburban or rural areas. As a matter of fact, at least 27% of Americans wish they could live in a rural area but have to stay in the big city due to work.

After all, it’s not only cheaper, less noise and light-polluted, and has a better air quality, it may also be a better place for kids to grow up.

Small towns, which are suffering from a high fluctuation of younger generations, get the chance to develop.

Large cities have the opportunity to become greener and less polluted. After all, urbanization contributes to up to 5% of all greenhouse emissions with deforestation being one of the reasons.

This kind of decentralization improves the quality of life for everyone.

Environmental Impacts fo Remote Work - Small Town Development Stimulation

Negative Environmental Impacts of Remote Work

I always like to see both sides of a subject – the good and the bad. That’s why I also tried to find the negative environmental impacts of remote work. But to be honest, I failed. I simply couldn’t come up with any downsides.

Sure there are disadvantages of remote work in general, such as loneliness or productivity (although there are plenty of ways to make friends when working remotely and tons of productivity tips for remote workers).

But negative impacts that are affecting the environment? I honestly don’t think there is one.

Many people might assume that remote workers need more energy when working from home in comparison to office work. However, this is not the case. The mentioned Sun Microsystems study proves that it is quite the opposite: Offices consume almost twice as much energy.

Work from home professionals are simply more aware of their consumption. That means they buy energy-saving devices, switch lights and electronics off when they don’t need them and are more conscious when regulating the heater or air conditioning.

Environmental Impacts of Remote Work While Traveling

The before-mentioned facts are true for remote workers, who mainly work from home. But what about digital nomads ? People, who work online while traveling the world? After all, one of the main reasons why people want to work out of the office is because they want to travel more.

Well, there is indeed a difference.

For one, digital nomads travel. The majority of nomads might be very environmentally aware and try their best to reduce any type of negative impact on the environment. But I can’t deny that many digital nomads fly more or less frequently . It’s no news that flying has a large carbon footprint.

A second argument is that many digital nomads use coworking spaces to socialize, network and simply because they often don’t have any other place to get their work done while traveling. While these shared offices come with many advantages, they still remain offices and therefore come with the same negative impacts on the environment as normal offices.

BUT, speaking from my own experience here, most of the digital nomads I know are extremely aware of current environmental issues. It seems like it’s almost part of the nomad lifestyle to come closer to nature and try your best to avoid negative impacts:

To sum up, digital nomads might not be on the same level as work-from-home professionals when it comes to environmental impacts but they are often well aware of that and try their best to make up for it.

home work environment

Remote Work for the Rescue!

Will remote work alone stop climate change? Surely not. It obviously needs much more than that.

But as you can see, there are many positive environmental impacts of remote work when you work from home:

On the contrary, there is not a single scientifically proven negative impact of remote work on the environment.

That means, remote work does not only have many benefits for companies and workers, it can also have a positive impact on the climate crisis. This is definitely reason enough to work on ways to implement more remote work in companies.

There is no need to force all office workers to work from home 100% of their time. But when we only give half of the workforce the opportunity to work remotely every other day, the positive environmental impact would be demonstrably huge!

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Hi John, I’m sorry to hear that! I always get refunds from my utility advance payments although I work from home every single day. It might be worth looking into changing your energy supplier. The type of heating you have in your apartment is also a huge factor. Electrical heating, for instance, is probably the worst in terms of costs.

I used to walk to work, now I wfh. My utility bills have skyrocketed, and I wonder if this increase in energy consumption is good for the environment? I live in an older two bedroom apartment that I now heat 24/7.

Thanks a lot, Amir, I appreciate it! And also agree, there are so many benefits of remote work that employers could profit from!

Thank you for this insightful and compelling article.

A lot of opportunities are missed for both employees and employers because of shortcomings in transportation system especially in a city like Toronto.

I think working from home will also improve employee moral and reduction of fake sick days.

Parents will have a chance to spend time with their children and save on daycare costs,

I have shared this on LinkedIn

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Workplace Culture

What are some standard guidelines for working at home?

By Staff Report

Oct. 10, 2020

COVID-19 is rapidly changing how businesses operate. We recognize that organizations need an extra helping hand right now. So we’re offering our platform for free to new sign-ups over the coming months. Sign up today and our Workforce Success team will gladly provide a personal, online walkthrough of our platform to help you get started.

Set your team up for success:

Managers should meet with employees to determine how work and job requirements can be done remotely from home either full time or certain days of the week.

Set employees up for success – at home

Help employees set up an appropriate workspace that is separate and distinct from their “home space” and conducive to working effectively without interruptions. Make sure:

Focus on performance and results

Be clear on employee priorities, focusing on the expectations, tasks and responsibilities agreed upon as measures of success.

Managers and employers should be proactive in regular communications between managers, coworkers and customers to stay connected and resolve issues as they arise.

Ensure that your accomplishments, project status, outcomes and deliverables are visible as appropriate. It’s important to avoid being out of sight, out of mind.

Invite and encourage feedback from co-workers, management and customers about how a virtual work arrangement is affecting them.

Learn more: The platform offers plenty of features to support remote teams.

Remote workers should be accessible, responsive and reliable

Utilize appropriate communication methods so employees can stay connected with managers, co-workers and customers.

Update their email, voicemail greeting, staff calendar etc. on a regular basis with a schedule, availability (or not) and contact information.

Checking all communications platforms and voicemail frequently is imperative.

Both employers and employees can demonstrate trustworthiness by being predictable, reliable, taking promises seriously and following through on commitments.

Managing work and preserving time for life is crucial

Remote workers should find ways to “disengage” from work and have quality personal time when traditional boundaries between work and home life are no longer clear.

Set reasonable limits to work hours and determine how to meet work requirements and still preserve personal time.

Build in short breaks and work during periods of peak energy.

For users there are features on our platform available to keep communication lines open during this difficult time. Chat with your staff, schedule according to operational changes, manage leave, clock in and out remotely, and communicate changes through custom events, among other things.

Source : Diane Burrus, WFD Consulting , Waltham, Massachusetts, April 4, 2013.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.


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The Ultimate Guide to Working From Home

How to Work Remotely—for an Employer or Yourself

Even before the global pandemic of 2020 made working from home commonplace for millions, a growing number of employees had been saying goodbye to their onerous commutes. Thanks to ever-evolving technologies like Skype, FaceTime, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, authenticator apps, and cloud computing —not to mention texting and email—it’s no longer necessary to be in an office full time to be a productive member of the team. Many types of work can be done just as effectively, if not more so, from a home office.

As appealing as remote work is to employees, employers also recognize the benefits from their side of the desk. Companies with work-from-anywhere policies can boost employee productivity, reduce turnover, and lower organizational costs, according to recent research at Harvard Business School.

Telecommuting workers with very complex jobs who don’t require a lot of collaboration or social support can perform better than their office-based counterparts. Also, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, a distributed workforce is in a better position to keep operations running, even if some of the group goes offline.

Key Takeaways

Whether you’re working remotely a few days per week or full-time either by choice or because of a health situation or weather event, it’s essential to ensure that your setup meets your needs.

Having a designated workspace with the right technology, such as videoconferencing , child care arrangements, pet care, and a schedule that allows for the social contact and stimulation that ordinarily comes from being present in a workplace with others makes for a successful remote work experience. Here are strategies and tips for telecommuting.

1. Know the Ground Rules

Does your employer require a nine-to-five schedule, or is there flexibility? Your employer must ensure that you have the appropriate equipment, such as a laptop, network access, passcodes, and instructions for remote login, including two-factor authentication if necessary. Be sure to do a trial run and work out any problems that might impede your work.

2. Set up a Functional Workspace

Not everyone has a designated home office, but it’s critical to have a private, quiet space for your work. If you can, separate your work area from your personal spaces and use it only for work and not for other activities.

3. Get the Technology You Need

From laptops to software and internet speed, determine the technology tools will you need, including apps such as Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams. Wondering if your most-used website is down? Check , which monitors key websites and services to see if they’re working.

4. Minimize Distractions

A barking dog may disappear with noise-canceling headphones and arranging your schedule around your family's schedule also helps to ensure you get the dedicated time you need for your work.

5. Get Outside

Some love the thought of working in solitude, but even the most introverted among us may feel claustrophobic after a few weeks at home alone. Schedule some time to connect to the outside world through lunch dates or an exercise class.

The percentage of professional jobs in North America that will be remote by the end of 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic led companies to evaluate remote and hybrid work options. This number is expected to increase in 2023.

Improved technology, low overhead costs, and the 2020 global pandemic have encouraged businesses of all sizes and in a variety of fields to create more work-from-home opportunities.

FlexJobs researches, vets, and posts remote, hybrid, and flexible jobs. Each year, the company compiles its list of the top 100 companies with the most remote job openings.

It also compiles a top 30 companies with zero location restrictions. In 2022, the list included a mix of industries, computer, IT, education, training, marketing, accounting, and finance.

58% of employees surveyed in 2021 said they would search for a new job if they can’t continue working from home post-pandemic according to FlexJobs. The survey caps talk of the Great Resignation . Keeping up the demand for remote opportunities and flexibility, here are five of the Top 10 companies with the most expected job openings in 2022:

• BroadPath. Industry: Outsourcing • Sykes. Industry: Customer Service

• SAP. Industry: Enterprise Software

• Varsity Tutors. Industry: Education

• Dell Technologies. Industry: Technology

While many employees now have the opportunity to work remotely for large corporations, telework options exist for freelancers and small business owners. As flexibility increases, many companies are outsourcing and turning to these independent contractors to fill a variety of positions.

Here are some of the most common, and fastest-growing, work-from-home options. Many are entry-level positions, while others require specialized training and expertise. 

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants offer traditional administrative tasks like email management, business document creation, client contact, appointment scheduling, social media updates, bookkeeping, and data entry.


Remote workers translate files and documents or transcribe and translate conversations and conference calls. People who speak uncommon languages are in high demand.

Customer Service Representatives

These remote workers juggle inbound and outbound calls and help customers with orders or account information and require good communication and people skills.

Data Entry and Transcription

Data entry involves entering facts and figures into a software program or spreadsheets such as payroll data, catalogs, or inventory items.

Transcription work involves creating documents from audio files, typically for businesses that need documentation of meetings, workshops, conference calls, or podcasts.

Project Management

The role of a project manager depends on the organization and its industry. An undergraduate degree in management is often required for project manager careers, but it is increasingly common for companies to require a master’s degree. There are also professional certifications for project managers. Some common job titles include program manager, business analyst, and technical consultant.

Do your research when applying for remote opportunities and get to know the employer. Be sure to investigate and test contact information using online sources like LinkedIn.

As with any opening, there should be an application and probably an interview. Anybody who is legitimately looking to hire someone wants to meet—or at least talk to—its applicants.

You shouldn’t incur any out-of-pocket expenses to be hired. If a work-from-home opportunity requires you to pay a fee upfront or buy a “start-up kit” or make any other sort of sizable cash outlay, it’s probably a scam.

Though the idea of flexibility, setting your hours, and operating within your own four walls has merit and benefits, it comes with a few drawbacks as well, for both the self-employed and the telecommuting employee. When it’s happening in the shadow of a national health emergency, like the pandemic of 2020, it can add an extra layer of discomfort and uncertainty. Here are three tips to help strike a healthy balance.

1. Stick to Your Work Schedule

Every person who has spent time working from a home base will have to deal with a lack of understanding from people who think working from home doesn’t mean working, although the pandemic has helped to change that dynamic. The burden is on you to set your working hours, stick to them, actually work during those hours, and refuse to let anyone else dissuade you from the idea that you’re truly employed.

Unfortunately, home life has its distractions that can burn precious daylight and put well-meaning homeworkers behind on important projects. In addition to the typical interruptions in the nine-to-five (vendor calls, power outages, accidents, pet or child needs), there are personal boundaries that will continue to be pushed.

Close family members have to understand that you can’t help them move during the workday or even chat on the phone for an hour. Setting limits if you have children at home can be especially tough. On the positive side, letting kids see you work hard at something you love—even at the parts that you don’t love—can greatly influence their future career choices and entire attitude toward work.

2. Beware of Workaholic Tendencies

Efficiency and flexibility are some of the top reasons why people want to work from home, along with shorter hours (what might you accomplish with eight straight hours of keyboard pounding, uninterrupted by emails or daily staff meetings?). But sometimes flexibility is too much of a good thing. When your office is always there, waiting, with that deadline looming over your head, it’s pretty hard to just close the door and pretend that you’ve left for the day. Many home-based workers find themselves working more hours, not fewer, logging in work time on nights and weekends, just because it’s there and they can’t ignore it.

Many work-at-home professionals indeed keep a five-hour day, as opposed to eight hours. However, this does not mean that they work less. Hours are often calculated as “billable hours,” meaning that for every hour spent performing a task for which they charge, there are many minutes spent doing uncompensated administrative tasks.

3. Don’t Bet on Saving Money

Without a daily commute, mandatory lunches, and the cost of office-appropriate attire, it may seem that working from home will peel some costs off your budget. But additional outlays can crop up. The expense of setting up an office may include laptops, printers, internet service, cellphones, business cards, web hosting, business services, and software. Forget about using your existing equipment for your business if you plan on taking the full cost of each as a tax write-off . Personal and business purchases need to be kept separate to comply with tax law.

For starters, you can only deduct for a home office if you are working freelance or as a contractor. Since the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), you can no longer deduct non-reimbursed work expenses if you are an employee, including any home office deduction. That makes it especially important to try to get extra costs covered by your employer.

So, hold on before you try to deduct half of your mortgage for “office rent” or the entire cost of your internet. There are strict limits to what can be claimed as deductions or credits on your return. You can deduct valid work-related expenses, but only the percentage used for your work. So if you pay for an internet service that is also used by your spouse and children—and by you for non-work-related matters—you can’t deduct the full cost—only the (estimated) portion that is exclusive to employment-related matters. The same goes for office supplies, telephone bills, and utilities.

If you’re an independent contractor, you have to pay your own Social Security tax (the self-employment tax) and payroll taxes (an expense that most employers pay half of). You can deduct the employer half of your payroll tax as a business expense, but, generally, a sole proprietor won’t see drastic cuts to their tax bill.

Working from home can be exciting, empowering, and even profitable, provided that you are realistic about the pros and cons. Whether you are a freelancer, a company part-timer, or a full-time employee who just doesn’t hit the office on certain days or at all, it’s a way to escape the daily commuting grind.

But added responsibilities come with freedom, not to mention planning, foresight, self-discipline, and focus—and, yes, hours of uninterrupted hard work. As many home-based employees will tell you, it’s not easier to work from home; it’s just a different location.

Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge. “ How Companies Benefit When Employees Work Remotely .”

Journal of Business and Psychology, via Springer Link. “ Unpacking the Role of a Telecommuter’s Job in Their Performance: Examining Job Complexity, Problem Solving, Interdependence, and Social Support .”

Forbes. " Remote Work Is Here To Stay and Will Increase into 2023 ."

FlexJobs. “ Top 100 Companies to Watch for Remote Jobs in 2022 .”

Forbes. " Work Home or Anywhere ."

FlexJobs. “ 7 Fastest-Growing Remote Jobs to Watch for in 2022 .”

Internal Revenue Service. “ Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions .”

Internal Revenue Service. “ Self-Employment Tax (Social Security and Medicare Taxes) .”

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Is Remote Work Actually Better for the Environment?

home work environment

Commutes aren’t the only factor at play.

Common sense says that without a commute, employees who can work from home (WFH) have a lower environmental impact than their in-office peers, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, when multiple environmental net impacts are taken into consideration, including factors like energy and technology usage, WFH is not a clear win for the environment. Companies that are taking action on environmental sustainability — and all should be — need to be conscious of this as they develop remote work policies. The authors of this piece — three behavioral scientists working on sustainability, well-being, and the future of work — think that making WFH sustainable is possible. But doing so requires doing more than simply calculating a simple commute trade-off.

The Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to the largest remote work “experiment” in history, accelerating a long-term trend towards flexible, remote work, and digitalization. The percentage of people working from home in the U.S. alone rose from 5% to 37% during the height of the pandemic. Now, companies are experimenting with different models of remote work as we come out of the crises. Recent surveys show that 91% of remote employees would like to continue their hybrid or remote working, and 76% say their employer will allow them to work remotely going forward.

With the daily commute all but cancelled during successive Covid-19 lockdowns, many have assumed that WFH will lead to environmental sustainability gains. Indeed, such dramatic changes in mobility, production, and consumption patterns, temporarily reduced global CO2 emissions by 17% in April 2020 compared to peak 2019 levels. But what seemed like a promising trend soon faded away: emissions are now almost back at pre-pandemic levels , even as employees aren’t.

Indeed, our research also shows that WFH is not a clear win for the environment. The net sustainability impact depends on several employee behaviors, from travel to energy use, to digital device and waste management. It also depends on several situational factors like home building and local infrastructure.

For companies racing to publish ESG indicators, like their carbon footprint , for example, this shift to remote work presents new challenges. How should remote work be accounted for against a company’s sustainability goals?

What WFH Employee Behaviors Should Companies Consider?

To understand the sustainability implications of WFH, companies need to consider a range of environmentally relevant employee behaviors. We highlight four behavioral domains that are particularly important: energy, travel, technology, and waste. Behavioral change across these domains can have major environmental impacts when aggregated across individuals, teams, companies, and industries.

Energy footprint

The impact of WFH on energy use is mixed, with some studies finding a positive effect, while others indicating a neutral or even a negative impact on energy use. Ultimately, such impacts can vary substantially by employee’s individual characteristics (e.g., awareness, attitudes, family size, wealth), home infrastructure (e.g., building energy ratings, supplier), and even situational factors (e.g., geographic location and season). When companies craft remote work policies, for instance by subsidizing home energy bills , they also need to account for sustainability impacts from residential energy emissions.

Transportation footprint

Reduced commuting when WFH will undoubtedly yield environmental benefits, but there is emerging evidence of rebound effects, including increased non-work travel and more short trips. For example, in a Californian sample of employees who shifted to WFH during the Covid-19 pandemic, the decline in vehicle miles travelled was accompanied by a 26% increase in the average number of trips taken. Apart from changes to the work commute, potential changes in emissions arising from business-related travel in hybrid settings (e.g., events and conferences) will also matter.

Technology footprint

From an individual footprint perspective, our digital behaviors add up. One study suggests that a “typical business” user — albeit in the pre-Covid-19 period — creates 135kg (298lbs) CO2e (i.e., carbon dioxide equivalent) from sending emails every year, which is the equivalent of driving 200 miles in a family car, just under the distance from Brussels to London. But the typical business person’s technology needs have now changed; fewer in-person office interactions can mean more time spent communicating online. Equally problematic is that the primary short-term WFH policy adopted by several companies has been to provide employees with laptops, even at the risk of duplicating devices.

Waste footprint

In the UK, recycling increased during the first lockdown; this aligns with past research showing that employees adopt more sustainable waste practices at home than at the office. Thus, WFH may have a net positive environmental impact for waste management behaviors, keeping in mind that local services like provision of waste bins for sorting and recycling are important enabling factors. However, there is also a risk of increased electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) — an estimated 50 million tons a year globally, only 20% of which is formally recycled.

How Can Companies Make WFH More Environmentally Sustainable?

Remote work presents fresh challenges for how best to observe and influence behaviors that matter for sustainability. Employees’ homes represent their private sphere and organizations need to tread carefully so as not to overreach. At the same time, many employees will likely welcome a helping hand from their employer to ensure that they their WFH set-up is both comfortable and sustainable. Developing sustainability policies that yield co-benefits (e.g., environmental and financial benefits), ensures that organizations can concurrently promote their employees’ well-being and work outcomes towards their sustainability goals.

Organizational leaders who care about reducing their workforces’ environmental impacts — and we think all leaders should — can start by designing WFH plans and policies with the following three considerations in mind.

Embed a sustainability culture.

To create an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly culture, organizations need to make sure that sustainability considerations are routinely embedded in every corporate decision across all departments — not just in CSR. This means considering first what are the existing social norms and perceptions for addressing remote (and in-house) employees’ travel, technology, waste, and energy emissions, and then designing ways to decrease these emissions through addressing how people interact with each of these practices.

For example: What initiatives, tools, and tips are already available that help (or deter) employees’ green behavior at home? Is there a meeting policy that promotes remote — rather than in-person — as the default? How are leaders and managers addressing existing sustainability practices and commitments with their teams, including their remote employees?

Leaders can further help shape a sustainability culture by adhering to existing environmental policies themselves. Consider Ikea’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, who is often credited for bringing sustainability to the masses through business practices that he adhered to as well, such as not flying business class. Just as leaders need to walk the talk, they also need they also need to let employees choose how they implement the policies offered. Doing so will allow employees to feel supported rather than monitored, and boost rather than erode employees’ trust and goodwill .

Provide supportive policies.

Looking at existing policies is an important first step, but it is often not enough. To embed an environmentally sustainable culture, organizational leaders should provide remote employees with the right support in each of the outlined domains. This could include additional policies like encouraging and supporting employees to change to renewable sources of energy at home by providing access to auto switching energy services. Employers could also provide incentives for active travel for work meetings like bike schemes; they can further offer recycling and safe disposal of duplicate or old electronic devices and e-waste through in-house drop-off centers or partnerships with upcycling companies. This is not an exhaustive list and employers should seek input from their employees about additional desired policies and structures.

Think global, act local.

Some policies (e.g., automatically switching to the cheapest green energy tariffs and tips for reducing emissions around the home) may be useful to all employees. However, environmental footprints will vary substantially across individuals, teams, companies, and industries. For example, one company’s workforce might rely heavily on technology, so helping reduce emissions from e-waste and energy is especially important. Another company’s workforce might commute long distances or undertake frequent work travel; for this company the priorities should be to lower travel emissions by reducing options like non-essential trips, using low-carbon transport, flying economy for essential trips, and carbon offsetting.

Depending on where your workforce is located, it may be more appropriate to focus on emissions reduction from cooling versus heating, or both. The point being that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Instead, when designing and promoting environmentally sustainable WFH policies, companies need to consider the unique circumstances of their employees as well as the characteristics of their business operations to identify the most relevant behaviors.

As remote work models become increasingly popular, fewer of employees’ sustainability impacts are likely to take place under employers’ physical roofs, however, they will still occur on their watch. Alongside paying attention to the specific circumstances and contexts of employees to better understand the dimensions of environmental impacts, it is crucial to embed a culture of sustainability through providing support, policies, and leadership for employees. In doing so, organizations can ensure that WFH stacks up on a comprehensive set of sustainability measures and that they achieve their sustainability goals.

The authors thank James Elfer and Zoe Featherstone Smith at MoreThanNow for starting and facilitating this conversation.

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Work environment

All about work environment: key factors, types and effects.

work environment

What is a work environment?

Work environment is a combination of factors that define where, when and how we work. These factors include the physical setting, working conditions as well as social and cultural rules and behaviors among employees and managers.

The workplace environment has a tremendous effect on employee engagement and productivity and, as a consequence, determines company’s success in the long term. Companies that create and foster positive work environment directly invest in employee happiness. At the same time hostile and toxic work environments have a negative effect on work performance, employee retention and attraction and, ultimately, financial results.

So what are the key elements of a work environment?

Where we work?

The physical aspects are the most obvious element of a work environment, including office facilities, workplace layout, furniture, lighting and ventilation, cleanliness, noise levels. In the same category fall individual workstation design and equipment quality. Physical work environment should be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to employees, provide for the necessary tools which are user-friendly and reliable, and have a good mix of zones for different activity types.

If we are speaking about traditional office environment, special attention should be given to noise levels in the actual space. This is increasingly relevant for open-place office settings. Noise has a big impact on stress level, ability to concentrate and error susceptibility of employees.

In industrial workplace environments employees safety has to play the leading role. Industrial companies are subject to laws and regulations governing HSSE (health, safety, security and environment) measures and management systems, whose aim is to prevent workplace hazards, manage accidents and protect environment.

With the shift to new ways of working the degree of flexibility which is granted to employees gains more importance compared to office conditions. More and more employees choose to work from home permanently. The question arises to what extent employers should provide for resources and conditions for the employees to work from home.

When and how we work?

The working conditions encompass a wide range of job-specific and company-wide factors that have a big impact on overall job satisfaction. Job-specific conditions include terms of employment, such as working hours, vacation days and paid time off, salary. In the same category fall decision making competence and to what extent you can work independently in your role. Company-wide conditions include benefits offered to employees, company culture and work-life balance.

With whom we work?

Humans are social animals. We crave communication and interaction with other people. In the absence of such interactions we become restless, depressed and develop negative thoughts. On the other hand, positive atmosphere and good relationships among staff members support good mental health and high productivity. A group of team players

Types of work environments

Conventional environment.

Conventional environments are characterized by hierarchy, clear and detailed rules and stability. Such culture is common for any large organization with more than 10.000 employees, governmental bodies and some sectors, such as finance/banking, law and insurance.

Collaborative environment

This environment promotes communication, team work and work-life balance. Managers encourage workers to speak up and bring forward solutions and new ideas. Employees work closely with each other and often spend free time together. The benefits of such settings is better mental health due to less conflicts and increasing productivity.

Creative environment

Creative environments are not only common for artistic fields, like fine art or performance, but can be introduced in any business or industry with focus on innovation. In such environments there are often no clear rules or restrictions in terms of working time or dress code. Employees enjoy high flexibility and are their performance is based on results only.

Fast-paced environment

This type of environment is common for startups and customer service industry. Productive employees flourish in such environments as well as anyone who can multitask, prioritize quickly and stay organized. The downside of a fast-paced environment is normally less room for work-life balance, physical activity or family time.

The type of work environment can affect us in both negative and positive ways. It is therefore crucial to understand what environment works for you best and search for jobs that fit your individual preferences.

How to identify a healthy work environment?

If you want to make sure that your next career move brings you in a truly healthy environment, you need to consider what is important to you before you apply for a job. Already at the stage of the job search you should pay special attention to the job description, in particular the section on what the employers are offering. Use job interviews to understand the company values, company policies, and organization’s mission.

Another important element to consider is the expectations of the hiring manager and other team members. If not already part of the hiring process, ask the recruiter to meat the team and visit the potential workstation. Ask for a use case or an example of a recent project to find out how your potential co-workers handle stress situations and meet deadlines. This might help you develop better sense of what the job offer really entails.

Spend some time to research company reviews online: often employees who have already left the company are more open to speak about their experiences. However, you should also consider that employees share negative experiences more readily due to the anonymity of such platforms.

Achieving positive work environment

colleagues working together

A positive work environment should be a common goal in an organization. However, leaders and managers carry bigger responsibility for how other employees feel as their decisions and actions not only set the tone from the top but also have a bigger impact on processes, decisions and overall organization. Obvious advantage of a positive work environment is that it boosts employee morale and supports business goals. So what are the best strategies for achieving this goal?

Related content

Are you looking for a new job and are conscious about the importance of choosing a work environment which is right for you? Or maybe you are experiencing difficulties with the working environment in your current job and are looking for strategies to cope with your challenges? We have covered it all in our Guide! Check out the articles below to find the right answers and start acting now.


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Home environment

Current status + progress, wealth is associated with richer home learning environments for young children.

A young child’s home environment plays a key role in determining his or her chances for survival and development. [1]  Optimal conditions include a safe and well-organized physical environment, opportunities for children to play, explore and discover, and the presence of developmentally appropriate objects, toys and books. [2]  Several research studies suggest that children who grow up in households where books are available receive, on average, three more years of schooling than children from homes with no books. This finding holds regardless of a caregiver’s level of education, occupation or class and applies to rich and poor countries alike. [3]  However, in three key indicators of a nurturing and supportive home environment, children from the richest wealth quintile fare far better than those from the poorest quintile.

The availability of children’s books in the home varies widely across countries – from 91 per cent in Belarus and Ukraine to less than 1 per cent in Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea and Mali. The likelihood that a child will have access to books in the home is strongly associated with household wealth. Children from the poorest quintile tend to have fewer books than those in the richest quintile in almost every country with available data.

Within the home, caregivers are tasked with establishing a safe, stimulating and nurturing environment and providing direction and guidance in daily life. Interactions with responsible caregivers who are sensitive and responsive to children’s emerging abilities are central to social, emotional and cognitive development. [4]  This type of nurturing care can help children feel valued and accepted, promote healthy reactions, provide a model for acceptable social relationships, and contribute to later academic and employment success. [5]

Learning activities that foster cognitive development and stimulate curiosity include reading, telling stories and naming, counting and drawing. Children’s socio-emotional development is facilitated by the involvement of parents and other caregivers in activities such as playing and singing. Play has been emphasized as a particularly important aspect of children’s lives since it helps stimulate children’s minds and bodies. It also gives them an opportunity to practise social roles and learn about aspects of their culture and environment. [6]

Levels of early stimulation and responsive care are generally quite high in all countries with available data, with the exception of 30 countries where fewer than half of young children receive the benefits of engagement in activities that promote and support early learning. Again, the data show disparities by household wealth.

Proper supervision helps protect children from physical and emotional harm. In the absence of good-quality child care (either organized or informal), children are sometimes left home alone to care for themselves and/or their siblings. [7]  Leaving a child alone or in the care of another child can expose him or her to increased risk of not only injury, but also abuse and neglect.

The proportions of children left with inadequate supervision vary widely across countries. However, in most countries, the poorest children are much more apt to be left alone or in the care of another child.

[1]  Belsky, Jay, et al., ‘Socioeconomic Risk, Parenting During the Preschool Years and Child Health Age 6 Years’,  European Journal of Public Health , vol. 17, no. 5, 14 December 2006, pp. 511–512.

[2]  Dobrova-Krol, Natasha A., et al., ‘Effects of Perinatal HIV Infection and Early Institutional Rearing on Physical and Cognitive Development of Children in Ukraine’,  Child Development , vol. 81, no. 1, January/February 2010, pp. 237–251.

[3]  Evans, Mariah D.R., et al., ‘Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Books and schooling in 27 nations’,  Research in Social Stratification and Mobility , vol. 28, no. 2, June 2010, pp. 171–197.

[4]  Maggi, Stefania, et al., ‘Knowledge Network for Early Childhood Development: Analytic and strategic review paper. International perspectives on early childhood development’, Human Early Learning Partnership, University of British Columbia for the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, December 2005, pp. 7–8, 10–13.

[5]  Engle, Patrice L., et al., ‘Child Development in Developing Countries 3: Strategies to avoid the loss of developmental potential in more than 200 million children in the developing world’,  Lancet , vol. 369, 2007, pp. 229─242.

[6]  Viola, Makame,  A Rapid Assessment of Child Rearing Practices Likely to Affect a Child’s Emotional, Psychosocial and Psychomotor Development: A case study of Kibaha District, Coast Region ─ Tanzania , UNICEF, December 2001.

[7]  Sigurdsen, P., S. Berger and J. Heymann, ‘The Effects of Economic Crises on Families Caring for Children: Understanding and reducing long-term consequences’,  Development Policy Review , vol. 29, no. 5, 2011, pp. 547─564.

Data explorer

Build your own dataset

Build and download your own customizable dataset on early childhood development – home environment data

Percentage of children aged 36-59 months who have been engaged in activities to promote learning and school readiness (adult support, by sex and household wealth quintile; and fathers support)

Percentage of children 0-59 months left alone or in the care of another child younger than 10 years of age for more than one hour at least once in the past week (by sex and household wealth quintile), percentage of children aged 0-59 months who have learning materials at home (childrens books and playthings, by household wealth quintile).

Countdown to 2030: Country Profiles on Early Childhood Development

The formative years: unicef’s work on measuring ecd, early childhood development: a statistical snapshot – building better brains and sustainable outcomes for children, notes on the data, data sources.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS)  are the main sources for nationally representative and comparable data on early childhood development. Some  Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)  and other national household surveys have also collected information on early childhood development, typically with the standard, or modified, versions of the MICS questionnaire.

Main indicators

Beginning with the fourth round of MICS (MICS4), the early childhood development indicators were consolidated into a single early childhood development module included in the questionnaire for children under 5 years of age. [8]  The module is administered to mothers or primary caregivers of children under the age of 5 (0 to 59 months).

Early childhood development indicators capture the availability/variety of learning materials in the home, adult and paternal support for learning and school readiness, and non-adult care. Learning materials include both books and play materials defined as household objects, objects found outside (such as sticks, rocks, shells, etc.), home-made toys and manufactured toys. Activities that promote learning and school readiness include: reading books to the child; telling stories to the child; singing songs to the child; taking the child outside the home; playing with the child; and naming, counting or drawing things with the child.

Learning materials:

Support for learning:

Inadequate supervision:

MICS module on early childhood development

MICS surveys have a standardized module on early childhood development.

Download the MICS module on early childhood development (PDF) 

[8] Indicator definitions in the third round of MICS (MICS3) differed for some early childhood development indicators. For example, the age group for the two indicators on support for learning (adult and father’s engagement) was children under age 5. As such, data on some of the indicators from MICS3 are not directly comparable with data collected in subsequent rounds of MICS for any given country.

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How to Establish a Healthy Work Environment

Do you want to foster a healthy workplace culture?

A healthy workplace is good for the employees, employers, and even the company’s bottom line. But what does a healthy workplace look like?

It could mean many things. Most employees respond best to positivity and encouragement. Having a healthy work environment means being kind to each other.

Learn where to start and some ways to improve employee wellness in the workplace with these helpful tips and tricks.

Reward And Recognize

Rewarding employees for hard work and dedication is a great way to make them feel appreciated and show them that their individual efforts have been recognized. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant or expensive – small token gifts, such as a shopping voucher or extra days off, can make a big difference to how employees perceive working in the workplace.

Recognizing employees for their successes is also important, as this lets them know that their hard work and effort have been appreciated and are important. This should be done more publicly, for example, through a company award ceremony or in company newsletters where employees can be praised for their individual accomplishments.

Good Communication

Having good communication within a work environment is essential to developing a healthy environment. This starts with having clear expectations for the job roles and regularly communicating with the team and individual members. Leaders should practice active listening and offer feedback that is productive and supportive.

A transparent culture should be promoted, and everyone should feel that their concerns are respected and validated. Regular meetings should be held and open lines of communication should be encouraged. Everyone should feel safe speaking up, developing ideas, and asking questions.

Employees should also be able to give input as well and be heard. In a healthy work environment, each employee should be aware of the culture and the expectations of the organization, and communication should be clear and concise. 

Clean And Comfortable Office

Creating a clean and comfortable office is one of the essential steps in establishing a healthy and productive work environment. A clean and comfortable office environment starts with making sure that there is sufficient space and good air circulation, as well as a good level of natural light to reduce eye strain.

It also means having adequate furniture and equipment for the job and keeping the floors free of dust and clutter. Additionally, the office should be kept free from any unpleasant smells, and the temperature should be kept at a comfortable level.

Finally, providing employees with proper amenities, such as a place to eat or a kitchen, is a great way to make employees feel comfortable and helps foster a healthier work environment. Take the first step and reach out to your local testing indoor air quality professionals to get started.

Encouraging Stronger Teams

Simply encouraging team members to engage one another in friendly discussions and interactions can generate better morale, more efficient meetings, and a free exchange of ideas. Additionally, the team should value open communication, support each other’s accomplishments, and respect each other’s opinions.

In addition, encouraging mentorship opportunities and implementing an open-door policy helps team members to build genuine relationships, which in turn leads to stronger team performance. Creating an environment with a mix of learning and fun also allows team members to focus on their work and work together with much-needed relaxation and enjoyment along the way. Ultimately, setting a standard of mutual respect and maintaining a healthy work-life balance helps foster inspiring and supportive relationships among team members.

Promote Regular Breaks

To encourage breaks, employers should give employees the opportunity to step away from their desks to clear their minds and take a breather. Employers should also provide incentives for break times, such as free snacks and drinks and discounts at local businesses. Additionally, employers should let employees customize their break times to suit their needs and preferences.

When employees have control over their breaks, it encourages them to take regular breaks and be more productive after their breaks. By creating a culture where taking breaks is encouraged, employers are promoting healthy work environments and helping employees maintain their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Instill a Balanced Workload Schedule

As an employer, this means consistently evaluating team members’ duties and organizing tasks fairly among team members. Scheduling frequent meetings to discuss workloads and delegate tasks to ensure everyone is on the same page also helps support a balanced schedule. This can also help to identify any problems or conflicts that may arise before they get out of hand.

Offering team members the opportunity to switch tasks occasionally can also improve morale and help prevent burnout. Finally, providing team members with plenty of rest and time off to recuperate is essential to fostering a healthy work environment and ensuring everyone can handle the workload.

Sponsoring Sports and Recreational Activities

A healthy work environment is essential for employees to be productive, motivated, and have a positive attitude. Sponsoring sports and recreational activities for employees is a great way to create a healthy work environment. It can be as simple as providing office teams with sporting equipment or arranging days out at a local recreation center where employees can play sports and participate in fitness activities.

These activities can help to foster a sense of togetherness between staff, foster team building, and provide physical and mental stimulation. It also serves as a break from routine type office work, giving employees an opportunity to step away and clear their minds. Furthermore, it can help employees to form stronger bonds, build a supportive team and have a more successful and fulfilling work experience.

Establish A Healthy Work Environment

A healthy work environment can contribute greatly to employee productivity, morale, and collaboration. As a leader, it’s important to ensure that actions are taken to create a consistent and supportive atmosphere.

It’s essential to clearly communicate expectations, express appreciation, encourage team collaboration, and provide employees with the resources needed for success. Leaders can safely establish a healthy work environment that encourages growth and productivity by focusing on these core aspects. Try it out!

If you’re looking for additional tips on how to foster a positive team culture, continue browsing our site. We update our blog on a regular basis with additional tips to help you succeed.

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The Alaska Current

AHD Employee Reports Misogynistic Work Environment

The latest report of misogynistic and unethical workplace conditions under Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson was leveled Tuesday night by Anchorage Health Department employee Andrea Nester.

During an Assembly meeting, Nester testified on a resolution to recognize March as Women’s History Month. Nester spoke of the treatment she endured as a city employee, and the blind eye the city’s human resources department turned when she reported it. 

“I can’t forget to mention the misogynistic subjugation of women in the Anchorage health department under a fraudulent and cruel leader, in which I and others filed multiple HR complaints, only to be told by HR it was a leadership style,” Nester said. “I was subject to victim blaming techniques by HR in which I was told I manipulated my supervisors.”

The Assembly meeting just got really spicy with an AHD employee testifying about the “misogynistic subjugation of woman in the Anchorage Health Department.” She described complaints to HR being met with “it was a leadership style.” AHD is at 30% vacancy rate now. Here is why. — AKroadweed (@AKroadweed) March 8, 2023

Nester is currently AHD’s Homelessness Program Manager. The health department has struggled with numerous vacancies and a lack of top-level leadership. The department is currently headed by Acting Director Kimberly Rash. Rash told the Assembly in a recent work session that the Health department has a 30% vacancy. Much of the exodus happened under Bronson’s disgraced appointee, former Health Department director Joe Gerace, who lied on his resume to get the position. 

An internal audit into the hiring and hasty resignation of Gerace found he fostered a hostile and unprofessional workplace. Bronson promised to do an in-depth investigation on the lack of vetting of Gerace, but has not delivered . He is currently fighting Assembly subpoenas to make the city investigation into Gerace public. 

Former city HR Director Niki Tschibaka recently quit, citing a toxic work environment and specifically that he only had a day to vet Gerace . 

Tshibaka and Bronson are being sued by former employee Heather MacAlpine for wrongful termination. Prior to her firing, MacAlpine was investigating a complaint against acting library director Judy Eledge. Shortly after MacAlpine was fired, Tshibaka and one of his teenage children showed up to a public meeting wearing “I’m with Judy” t-shirts. 

After Nester finished speaking, several Assembly members thanked her and apologized for what she endured. 

“These old guys, they are heading out, times are changing,” Assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson told her. “They know it, and they’re scared.”


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Insurers slashed Hurricane Ian payouts far below damage estimates, documents and insiders reveal

A washington post investigation has found that some policyholders had their claims cut by more than 80 percent.

home work environment

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When insurance adjuster Jordan Lee entered the cream-colored house battered by Hurricane Ian, the smell from the rain-soaked carpet made it hard to breathe. Piles of pink insulation covered the worn, white couches, he recalled, and poured from the collapsed ceiling, left gaping from the storm’s 150 mph winds . He photographed debris flecked on the carpet and walls, chunks of roof in the yard, and broken screens and gutters around a pool filled with palm fronds.

The home, which belongs to retired couple Terry and Mary Sebastian, sits on a canal in Rotonda West, Fla., a coastal community that bore the brunt of Ian when the storm made landfall on Sept. 28 . The entire place would need to be dehumidified, the roof completely replaced, the insulation torn out and the tattered pool enclosure rebuilt. It would be about $200,000 to repair the damage, the licensed adjuster calculated in his estimate for Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Co.

But when Lee checked in on his report about 10 days later, his stomach dropped, he said. It had been drastically whittled down, with entire portions, such as the one detailing issues in the primary bedroom, removed. The amount of insulation that needed to be redone was cut by half, and his estimate now said one-third of the roof should be fixed, instead of it being fully replaced. The homeowners were slated to receive a total of $27,000. The changes were made without Lee’s knowledge or consent, he said, but his name was still on the final report, according to documents seen by The Washington Post.

After major disasters like Ian, insurance companies often bring on third-party firms like Tristar Claim Solutions, an independent adjusting company that Lee worked for as a contractor, to help with the hundreds of thousands of claims.

During the insurance claims process, it’s standard for field adjusters, who are trained to assess damaged homes, to collaborate with those back in the office to make minor edits, discuss aspects of the claim and alter line items if, for example, the carrier has evidence that damage was from a prior event, according to adjusters and insurance industry experts. That is how the system is supposed to work.

But that’s not what has been happening in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian , Lee and others said.

Instead, Lee and other adjusters contracted by regional insurance carriers say that managers have been changing their work by lowering totals, rewriting descriptions of damage and deleting accompanying photos without their approval. These actions to devalue damage are the latest example of the insurance crisis in Florida .

After years of more frequent and intense storms , national carriers have pulled back from the market and smaller, regional carriers with smaller financial reserves jumped in. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, those companies have been aggressively seeking to limit payouts to policyholders by altering the work of licensed adjusters, according to a Post investigation. As a result, homeowners are left footing much of the bill for repairs, exposing an untenable gap between the cost of storm damage and what insurers are willing to pay to fix it.

The Post’s examination included interviews with dozens of policyholder advocates, attorneys and Hurricane Ian survivors as well as five insurance adjusters, who oversaw more than 100 claims for Heritage and Florida Peninsula Insurance Co., another regional carrier. The Post also reviewed 13 original and modified claims, which included hundreds of pages of estimates, photos and general loss reports, as well as internal records, final payment letters, emails and carrier guidelines.

The documents show that a dozen policyholders and their families had their Hurricane Ian claims reduced by 45 to 97 percent.

In one claim reviewed by The Post, a nearly $500,000 damage estimate on a house with a mostly tarped roof was reduced to about $13,000. In another, the desk adjusters blamed roof storm damage on past wear and tear, meaning it would not be covered.

In three cases, The Post obtained final determination letters, and the amounts sent to homeowners matched the altered claims. For two of those families, their original claims were cut below their deductibles, resulting in no payment.

The adjusters, attorneys and policyholder advocates allege that the independent adjusting firms were internally lowering estimates under the direction of the insurance carriers who contracted them. Emails obtained by The Post detail how independent adjusting firms followed orders from carriers to write claims in specific ways that significantly reduced payouts.

The people interviewed for this investigation decided to speak out because, they allege, the ease and scale with which Ian claims have been altered and gutted represents a tipping point for Florida’s insurance industry. The revised claims inaccurately represent their work, for which they said they still have not been fully paid, and they want more oversight, reform and accountability.

The Post made multiple attempts to interview and seek comment from Heritage, Florida Peninsula and Tristar, sending each company detailed lists of questions pertaining to the allegations and evidence in this investigation. Heritage did not reply to calls and emails. Representatives for Florida Peninsula said that “everyone is tied up at the moment” and that they would not be able “to help with this one.”

Tristar said that because of a “confidentiality agreement with Heritage Insurance we are unable to comment on Heritage Policy, procedures and/or estimating guidelines.” However, the company said that it has reasons for altering claims and that “estimates are revised/collaborated throughout the entire industry at the direction of the insurance carriers. They have the final say.”

Some in Florida’s insurance industry blame the flailing market on lawyers and contractors who they allege have taken advantage of the system to sue carriers, jack up estimates and use roofing scams as ways to profit off disasters. It’s actually the carriers, they argue, that have been the victims of fraud and bad behavior.

“Florida is the worst of all states when it comes to frivolous lawsuits and roof-replacement fraud schemes. Many claims are not legitimate,” said Mark Friedlander, the director of communications for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry association. To combat those issues, lawmakers have recently passed several pro-insurance industry laws that target attorneys and contractors, he said.

Friedlander also attributed the unusually long delays and lower payouts to “the complexity of the claims” and hurricane deductibles. For the most part, companies “have been taking care of their customers,” he said.

However, the American Policyholder Association, a nonprofit insurance industry watchdog group, disagrees. It said in a statement that it has found “compelling evidence of what appears to be multiple instances of systematic criminal fraud perpetrated to cheat policyholders out of fair insurance claims” and will be submitting criminal referrals to authorities “in Florida & several other states” in the coming months.

Four homeowners confirmed to The Post that they had received only a small portion of what they had been promised in their determination letters from Heritage and Florida Peninsula, or were struggling to get straight answers and considering taking legal action. Meanwhile, their homes are still heavily damaged or uninhabitable. And more than 33,000 Florida homeowner claims linked to Ian are still open without payment, while more than 125,000 were closed without payment, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Nearly 56,000 claims were open with payment and 183,235 were closed with payment.

Florida’s insurance market has been teetering toward collapse for years. After destructive storms in 2005, several big carriers including State Farm pulled back coverage in the state, and newer, more thinly financed, smaller companies swooped in and began to operate. Then came 2017, one of the costliest hurricane seasons ever. Hurricane Michael battered Florida the following year.

Adjusters said they started to see carriers greatly reduce damage estimates, fully deny roof replacements more often and force claims of a certain value into litigation. Payouts started to get delayed or not come at all, adjusters and attorneys said.

At the same time, rates kept rising, and fast. Florida homeowners paid an average of $4,231 for home insurance in 2022, nearly three times the price in any other state — and rates are expected to increase again this year. Ten property insurers that operated in Florida have gone insolvent since January 2021. About 125 property insurers remain in the state, but experts said many are either not taking on new business or are greatly limiting policies because of the volatile market.

But the adjusters interviewed for this investigation said the major cuts and revisions to Hurricane Ian survivors’ claims are unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

“I wrote 44 reports for Heritage Property & Casualty, and 100 percent of them were altered to where I did not recognize them. Every single one,” Lee said in an interview. “They manipulated our estimates without actually collaborating. I didn’t get a phone call from someone saying, ‘Hey, Jordan, can we go over this estimate?’ I didn’t get a text. I didn’t get an email. Nothing. I can get in trouble for that. It’s my name going on these reports, no one else’s.”

‘They are ruining my life’

Mary Sebastian, 70, spent hours on her knees last week trying to scrub storm gunk and other crusted filth out of their tiled kitchen floor. Five months after Ian, half the walls in their home are still gutted to the studs with wires hanging down, and the couple has been trying to do as many of the repairs as they can on their own. The Sebastians said Heritage has been trying to “wear them out” by not paying their claim or answering their calls and emails and sending them to four different desk adjusters.

So far they’ve received one $2,500 check for living expenses, despite having submitted hundreds of receipts for their hotels, food and other expenses, emails show, and another for $10,000, which went directly toward repairing their roof. Much of their furniture is ruined, the couple said, and they are in the process of applying for a loan to continue the repair work. After The Post contacted their insurer and the Florida Department of Financial Services regarding their case, the Sebastians said they received an additional $4,092 to repay what they’d spent on food and housing through Jan. 28.

Terry Sebastian said he filed two complaints with the state’s insurance commissioner about Heritage before he started speaking with The Post. He’d had a feeling, he said, that his insurance company was “lying.”

“They are ruining people’s lives. They are ruining my life,” the 69-year-old said. “I tell them I’m going to go bankrupt if they don’t pay me, but they don’t care.”

State data, last updated Thursday, shows 708,255 Hurricane Ian claims — including those of homeowners and other policyholders — but about 34 percent of them have either been rejected or are still unpaid. The 90-day period that insurance companies have to pay or deny a claim ended in late December.

Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane and one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States, was Florida’s costliest on record and the most expensive natural disaster globally of 2022. The densely populated southwestern part of the state had not experienced a storm of that magnitude since 2004, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, and its “intense winds, heavy rainfall, and catastrophic storm surges” peeled off roofs and inundated homes with “1-in-1000 year” amounts of water. Ian caused $112.9 billion in damage, the second-largest insured loss on record after Hurricane Katrina, according to a report from reinsurer Swiss Re.

As the weeks after the storm turned into months and claims continued to pile up, Lee and other adjusters said they kept getting calls from increasingly frustrated and anxious policyholders about their final claim estimates or lack thereof. For many, that 90-day deadline was coming up, and they were still without answers, habitable homes and now savings.

“It’s messed up. You know, the whole point of having insurance is to be able to properly put your property back as if the disaster never happened,” Lee said. “That’s the whole point for that protection.”

Major damage but only partial payout

Five days after Ian ripped across Florida, Lee received an email from a Tristar claims manager he’d worked with in the past. The company was looking for “experienced adjusters for our client Heritage Property and Casualty,” and promised good pay and “all the volume one could ever hope for.” Lee decided to join the team.

But two weeks into his assignment, Lee said, Heritage gave adjusters updated guidelines essentially barring them from writing claims to replace any roofs. Hearing nothing about the 44 reports he had turned in, Lee started to become suspicious. It was taking unusually long to get paid. Lee and other adjusters make a commission on claims based on a fee schedule set by the carrier.

Lee said he logged into the systems that adjusters and insurance companies use to track claims. Like his 113-page report for the Sebastians’ home, his other estimates were rearranged and cut down, he said, with photos and line items deleted, and summaries changed.

Many of his photo captions were changed, too, he said, and entire sections missing, according to a review of the documents by The Post. An image showing a crack in the garage ceiling, which suggests structural problems from the storm’s impact, now read, “Apparent non-loss related.” Documents reviewed by The Post show that his claims manager had heavily revised his photo sheet and made other major changes.

Cutting a valid claim estimate without factual basis “is potential fraud,” said Friedlander, who also worked for two major insurance companies and who did not review the Sebastians’ case. In most cases, if a field adjuster has done his job correctly and broken down every line in great detail, the desk adjuster will not need to make significant changes, he said. It’s usually a “smooth process with communication between the two,” Friedlander said.

“If a company intentionally changes the estimate to not pay out a loss, that could be considered fraud,” he said.

As Lee walked through an essentially totaled home in Venice, Fla., in early October, water from the still-mushy carpet splashed onto his calves, he recalled. Like in the Sebastians’ house, insulation hung from the exposed ceiling. The drywall would need to be removed, rooms deeply sanitized and the entire roof replaced, as it “was blow[n] off,” he wrote in a loss report for Heritage obtained by The Post, “causing significant damage to the interior of the home.”

Repairing it would cost nearly $200,000, he estimated. But in the final report for the homeowners, Daniel and Amy Van Sickle, entire sections of his work such as “tear out and bag wet insulation” and “water damage dry out” were removed, and the final amount lowered to $24,619.

Weeks later, on Jan. 9, Heritage emailed the Van Sickles telling them it would issue a payment. The explanation letter said the carrier “received the detailed field adjuster estimate in the amount of $24,619.46 for covered damage.” Along with it was the revised estimate, with Lee’s name on it.

However, after subtracting from their deductible, the couple would only get $3,204.60.

After The Post contacted Heritage with questions about the Van Sickles’ claim, the couple said they received a revised estimate with an additional $1,000.

“It’s the classic horror story right now,” Van Sickle said. “This is a lot of money to a lot of people, and you can’t help but wonder what happens to them when they don’t get it. Those people will suffer greatly.”

‘We have never seen that before’

At the end of September, Ben Mandell and Mark Vinson, two veteran independent adjusters, started handling claims for Florida Peninsula Insurance Co., a regional carrier that is rated as financially stable and insures about 181,000 homes across the state. Shortly after starting on 30 Ian-related claims, they too started noticing unusual behavior, such as claims not being processed, or desk adjusters or supervisors gutting or rejecting their reports of what they saw was credible damage. These actions further delayed payouts to residents.

What was also strange, the adjusters said, was that they were seeing the same or similar edits in all of their reports, even though the homes were in different areas and built in different years. The denial of wind-battered roofs seemed to be a “pattern,” Vinson said.

“We had 150-mile-per-hour winds come through and destroy roofs, and these folks decided they would not replace any of the roofs, but pick an arbitrary number of shingles to repair and just replace those,” said Mandell, who owns a home in Florida. “We have never seen that before.”

When hiring contracting companies to help out on major disasters, insurance companies set guidelines for each storm that those workers have to follow, insurance experts, adjusters and attorneys said. Essentially, those guidelines dictate how much the insurer believes should be allocated for that storm, what it will cover, and how to describe and document the damage.

In multiple emails obtained by The Post, managers at Tristar and another third-party adjusting firm referenced these agreements.

On Oct. 27, for example, a claims director at Tristar wrote to all adjusters that “we are seeing too many reports describing damage and mentioning ‘wind’ as the cause of loss. Per Heritage: WE DO NOT DETERMINE COVERAGE!” he wrote, reminding them, “Do NOT say what caused it!”

“Heritage does not want to see that word [wind] in photo descriptions or in the General loss reports,” he said. “Let’s make sure we are just describing the damages we see and leave the cause (wind) out of it!”

He thanked them for their “hard work” and said that higher-ups were “seeing the fruits of [their] efforts.”

Mandell said that after he realized what was happening to his reports, he grew uncomfortable, spoke up to his manager and was fired. In their email exchange, the manager lambasted Mandell for arguing over revisions.

“You have been told repeatedly that the desk adjusters have the final say for what coverages are afforded, yet you continue to argue with the carriers when revisions are requested,” the manager wrote. “As an independent adjuster it is not your responsibility to make coverage decisions on behalf of the insurance carrier.”

In his reply, Mandell said he did not have a problem with desk adjusters making decisions, but what crossed the line was “a desk adjuster or anyone else demanding or threatening me to remove items off an estimate that are legitimately on that estimate. … I also have a problem with you folks removing items off of my estimates and leaving my name on that estimate making it look like I made the decision to remove those items when I did not.”

“I am not the only adjuster you are doing this to,” he said. “This illegal practice seems to be a standard practice on this deployment with you folks.”

His manager did not reply.

Asking lawmakers to take action

Over the past year, Florida Republicans called two special legislative sessions focused on the state’s insurance industry and passed more laws that further protect and insulate property insurance carriers, largely at the expense of homeowners . Two major industry wins include funneling $1 billion in taxpayer money into a reinsurance fund and stopping carriers from having to pay policyholders’ attorneys’ fees when they sue.

At the December session, Lee, Mandell, Vinson and other adjusters joined residents in speaking out against the legislation. Their testimony was covered by Insurance Journal.

After Mandell accused insurance carriers of fraudulent behavior that is “more widespread than any of us could have imagined,” state Rep. Bob Rommel (R), the chair of the Commerce Committee, asked the group of adjusters to come to his office later with that information “to make sure the attorney general and [Office of Insurance Regulation] takes care of that.”

They did. And according to four people present, Rommel asked to see evidence and told the group, “If this is really happening, this needs to be taken care of,” Lee recalled. Vinson had brought a flash drive with dozens of files to show, but the representative said it was not safe for a government computer.

The next day, Dec. 14, Mandell emailed Rommel’s office with the evidence the lawmaker requested, including a file of four documents showing how his estimate of $40,468.54 of damage was revised to show $2,658. “You will note that they left my name on this bogus estimate,” the adjuster wrote in the email, obtained by The Washington Post.

In an email, Rommel told The Post that the adjusters came to his office with “no evidence. Told them the door was open if they could produce the evidence.” After multiple emails from The Post, Rommel’s office said that it had forwarded the adjuster’s email to the state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, and that Patronis’s office will contact Mandell.

“We have asked the CFO’s office to keep us in the loop,” a spokesperson for Rommel said. The CFO’s office said in a statement that it has received the information from Rommel, met with the property owners from the report and that “an investigation is currently open and ongoing.”

Meanwhile, homeowners like the Sebastians don’t know how much longer they can last without a payment, let alone answers. Their temporary housing ended Monday and they had no choice but to move back into their home, which has a new roof but feels like a “construction zone,” Mary Sebastian said. Heritage promised them a check soon, she said, but they’ve heard that before. If they do get anything, they’re bracing for “pennies on the dollar.”

“I don’t know how much fight we have left in us,” she sighed. “I want to walk away.”

Her husband, though, refuses to.

“That’s what they want us to do,” Terry Sebastian said.

Photo illustrations by Emily Sabens.

More on climate change

Understanding our climate: Global warming is a real phenomenon , and weather disasters are undeniably linked to it . As temperatures rise, heat waves are more often sweeping the globe — and parts of the world are becoming too hot to survive .

What can be done? The Post is tracking a variety of climate solutions , as well as the Biden administration’s actions on environmental issues . It can feel overwhelming facing the impacts of climate change, but there are ways to cope with climate anxiety .

Inventive solutions: Some people have built off-the-grid homes from trash to stand up to a changing climate. As seas rise, others are exploring how to harness marine energy .

What about your role in climate change? Our climate coach Michael J. Coren is answering questions about environmental choices in our everyday lives. Submit yours here. You can also sign up for our Climate Coach newsletter .


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