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viewpoint

The importance of work environments

| Tuesday, September 4, 2018

This summer, I had an internship at Herman Miller in the People Services Department. While I learned a lot of about the kind of work that goes on in my department, I learned even more about how important work environments are. I have had a variety of jobs over the years but I have never been somewhere with more concern for the well-being of the people.

As an intern, I felt as though I was doing real work that mattered. I wasn’t just doing busy work. Multiple executives, including the CEO, had coffee with interns to answer questions we had about his/her path or the company. Even small details — such as desks — stood out to me. They had standing desks, so people could stand or sit to avoid back problems. Herman Miller is a furniture company, so the whole building was covered with beautiful modern furniture everywhere. If I ever commented on how beautiful or comfortable something was, someone almost always could reply with the type of product and the fabric details. This showed people had passion for what they were doing or working with.

Herman Miller is also a company that not only knows their values but lives them out every day. The people who worked there were some of the kindest and most helpful people I’ve met. I was in an environment where I could hear someone’s name and message them to meet to hear about their job. Even with their busy schedules, people were willing to give advice and an overview about their job. The openness and passion these people shared made me aspire to be in a company where people seem to enjoy their job and the people they work with so much.

Their team is dedicated to the inclusiveness and diversity of people. After speaking to some people on this team, I was so impressed with all the efforts people are making to be inclusive. Things like posting jobs on only certain platforms limits people who do not have access to those platforms. Offering unpaid internships limits people who may need a paid internship or a paying job to help put them through college. There is a strong desire for everyone to feel as though they are part of a family.

I also have never been at a company with such a clear desire to help the environment. There were no trash cans by the desks, and the trash was always accompanied by recycle bins specifying what can be recycled. From the paint on the products to the documents shredded, everything that could be recycled was to my knowledge.

After this summer, I know that doing what I enjoy is important. Doing my job in an environment that values employees made me realize the work environment is even more important. A work environment that makes the employees happy usually produces more efficient employees because they feel valued. Being comfortable and encouraged in a work environment is a necessity for my future job as it should be for many other people.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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