Creativity in the workplace is a vital component of a successful business. Contrary to popular opinion, creativity is important in all industries, not just those that are traditionally associated with it, such as design and advertising. Creative people are problem solvers and that’s a necessary skill in everything from marketing and architecture to accountancy and insurance. However, working in an environment that supports, encourages and inspires creativity can help staff think in original and inventive ways. Office design is an amazing tool at your disposal, so keep these five design tips in mind if you want to inspire creativity in your workplace.
1. Create a buzz
Open plan offices with a high density of staff help people feel more comfortable. The background noise actually gives staff more privacy and allows them to freely interact and share ideas. Otherwise, you’re left with a quiet library-like atmosphere, which might be good for intense periods of focus but isn’t conducive to brainstorming and collaboration. Low chatter and ambient noise can help your brain filter material and spot the most important information more easily. Of course, everyone is different, so you should provide workspaces to cater for different people’s noise tolerance. For staff who need quiet spaces to concentrate on a specific task, make sure you have some quieter rooms or cubicles set aside for uninterrupted work.
2. Implement hot-desking
In modern offices many of the staff are remote, part-time or work on a consultant basis. This means that a number of employees aren’t regularly in the office and don’t have assigned seating. This can free up a lot of extra cash and space to be used more creatively (see our later tips), and hot-desking can become standard for even permanently office-based staff. By switching up seating and encouraging staff to move around, they can encounter members of other teams and people that they wouldn’t usually interact with. By changing their ‘scenery’ frequently, they can also find themselves more inspired by their surroundings and have fresh ideas because the brain makes subtle associations between what it is reading or working on and the background sensations it has at the time. Most of NTT Data UK’s staff consist of consultants, so we designed their office space with hot-desking in mind, creating plenty of touchdown spaces throughout the office and utilising folding walls to change the size of meeting rooms.
3. Embrace natural light
We all know that feeling of being stuck in a windowless room with fluorescent lights and how confining it can be. Not only can desks facing windows stimulate our thoughts, but studies show that natural light boosts productivity and creativity. When we project managed EMO & TRA’S office fit out in Bristol, we installed a blackboard for brainstorming and collaborative work and plenty of natural light from the windows. The large windows were complemented by unobtrusive artificial lighting ensure a comfortable environment for employees. On the other hand, more recent research suggests that dim lights can inspire creativity. However, it can be agreed that old-fashioned, brash fluorescent strip lighting is incompatible with creativity.
4. Create a collaborative environment
Innovative companies like Google and Facebook have famously made their offices quirky to inspire their employees’ senses. Steve Jobs was involved in the redesign of Pixar Studios, which originally housed different teams in separate buildings. He recognised that separating these groups, each with its own culture and approach to problem-solving, discouraged them from sharing ideas and solutions, so he mixed up employees to allow ‘unplanned collaborations’ to take place. Likewise, Google has a rule where people can be placed no more than 150 feet from food, whether that’s a restaurant, a large cafeteria, or a micro-kitchen. Again this encourages collaboration by encouraging casual encounters and unexpected conversations.
5. Install stimulating breakout areas
The decor of your office should be fun and reinforce your company, culture. This should even extend to breakout areas and companies are increasingly installing features such as libraries, snack bars and games in employee spaces. They may be decorated and furnished with things like bean bags, hammocks and pod seating, which can be used for relaxed meetings and chats. Art installations and plants can also stimulate creativity and foster a more imaginative work environment. Employers know that some of the most inspired ideas can come during breaks and that’s why they install games like table football or pool tables to access other styles of thinking that occur when the mind is more relaxed. We designed marketing company Arnold KLP’s office to reflect the creative nature of the company by including a bar and breakout area with a pool table for employees.
If you’d like help with inspiring creativity through office design in your workplace, please contact Interactive Space.