Creativity is one of the most valuable resources available to any employer – yet working in an office might not always be a recipe for creative thinking.
It’s 4pm. You’ve been staring at the problem for half an hour. You’ve just finished an extra strong coffee and the solution is still frustratingly out of reach. Maybe you should just close the file, step away from your PC, and… draw a picture?
Give it a go. Recent research suggests doodling helps people focus, think up new ideas and retain up to 29% more information. At the same time, a study by The British Psychological Society shows that quick creative breaks throughout the day can give our brains a welcome boost and unblock annoying dead-ends. That five minute time-out give you much more than a break from the docs and spreadsheets, it could help you feel more in control and ready for the task at hand.
There’s a good reason why companies like Google spend their money on funky, bright, colourful offices: it makes people feel good. And happy people make more creative and productive employees.
Here are 5 things you can do to create a creative environment in your office:
Have a breakout area where people can relax, chat and eat lunch. This will make your workers feel appreciated and create chances for people to share ideas in a more informal setting.
Split the space into zones, designed around the different ways in which people need to communicate. A counter in the kitchen is the place for socialising and bonding. Comfortable seats or sofas a little way from the main work area are a great place for informal, creative meetings that get people thinking differently.
Your employees’ wellbeing, both physical and mental, is important – and movement is key. Some employers are experimenting with café-style areas where people can work or talk while standing up.
Silence can be golden
Introduce some quiet areas where people can go when they need to concentrate for long periods of time.
Encourage creative sharing
Put up a whiteboard in a common area and supply pens and post-it notes. Encourage people to use this as a ‘mind-map’ to spark ideas.
Add a splash of brightness
Think about injecting some colour – some psychologists think that colours can affect our creativity and boost productivity. You wouldn’t want your home to be grey and beige throughout, and you wouldn’t choose a holiday hotel that looked like a prison. You don’t have to paint the walls aqua and orange, but some pops of colour used in textiles or artwork on the wall can have the desired effect.
Work where you want
Encourage hot-desking so that people see different parts of the office every day and get to see different faces.
Not everyone has the budget of a multinational corporate giant to spend, but by investing a small amount and thinking differently about a few aspects of office life, you can make the office more of a place where people can have ideas, harness their creative thinking and make great things happen.