Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore in detail how teachers' perceptions of workplace conditions for learning are related to their informal workplace learning activities and learning outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: From a sample of 32 teachers, a purposeful sampling technique of maximal variation was used to select two cases described in this paper. In a mixed methods design quantitative data are used to position the two teachers in relation to their peers. Qualitative data are used to describe the two cases in depth. Findings: The findings show how the diverging ways in which the two teachers perceive and actively shape their workplace conditions help to explain differences in the teachers' learning activities and learning outcomes. Originality/value: Scholars have argued that informal workplace learning is embedded in interdependent practices that arise from the interaction between social practices and individual agency. The case studies provide insight into how workplace conditions for learning are shaped in this interaction and how perceptions of these conditions enable or constrain teachers' informal workplace learning. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.