How To Design An Office That Stimulates Creativity
When it comes to the working world, should spaces that encourage creativity only be reserved for the offices of designers, inventors and other disciplines of the ‘creative’ kind?
Zeitgeist thinks not.
There is enough research to suggest that the firms that will survive in a rapidly changing and unpredictable future will be the ones that consistently innovate. Accordingly to Gensler:
“The drive to innovate stems from the continued effects of globalization, increased competition, and the steady shift toward a knowledge economy.”
People make a company, (yes, even those that will be AI-ridden in the future) and so it would follow that the ability of people to be creative, motivated and innovative is the need of the hour in any organisation.
But could the design of a workspace help promote creativity and innovation? Could your office space help make elastic thinkers of its inhabitants?
Zeitgeist thinks so.
Today we’ll explore some of the design elements that both startups and well established businesses can integrate into their offices to encourage and develop innovative thinkers.
Beyond developing creativity, a space also has the ability to inculcate a sense of pride and belonging in the people that work there. Further, just as a person can influence a space, so can the design of a space have an impact on people and subtly nudge them towards a desired corporate culture. This is especially useful when making the shift from archaic and often deeply ingrained hierarchical ways of working to progressive ways of working that are collaborative and transparent.
If you are looking for an office space or moving an existing business to a new space, seize the opportunity to nurture creativity from the get-go by opting for the best location and office structure you can afford.
According to THNK, locations that lend themselves to creativity include those that allow for “openness, serendipity and outside inspiration.” This could be an office with floor to ceiling glass, perhaps located at the center of a pulsating area that buzzes with activity, (much like THNK’s own office in Amsterdam that is surrounded by other creative companies, a public park, jazz bars and cinemas with lots of cultural events) one that lets in plenty of natural sunlight and/or one that has an inspiring view.
Not all of us however have the luxury of being able to locate our offices in such idyllic settings, but there are several things that can be done within an existing office space to nurture innovation too.
An open design – one that doesn’t make a person feel that he must remain confined to a particular area – is said to be the best for fostering creativity. Creativity and innovation stem from people interacting freely with each other – exchanging thoughts, sharing opinions and working together to develop ideas.
You can’t say to someone, ‘I want you to think differently, build differently, behave differently’ – and then say, ‘Go back to your desk.’ It absolutely doesn’t square with the idea that we want you to create growth. As founders and as leaders, we need to break people’s environments to truly change the way people think and create.
– David Kidder, Co-Founder – Bionic Solution
The process of innovating is made up of several phases – some that require messy, collaborative work, some that call for quiet contemplative reflection and others that call for quickly experimenting with numerous ideas to bring them to fruition for testing. So the workspace must also include private spaces for the times when deep concentration is required. The best way to achieve this is to develop a flexible workspace.
What comprises a flexible workplace? Think movable partitions and whiteboards, multi-use furniture, a floor you can mark, a wall you can illustrate and doodle on, a standing work table to induce the feeling of agility, little niches of solitude – the possibilities are endless!
Duraflor has 4 excellent guidelines to keep in mind when designing your innovative work space. Does your workplace have all four?
AN ATMOSPHERE OF AGILITY
To further cultivate an atmosphere of agility, introduce elements that aid in quickly making an idea understandable. Innovation is born from the freedom to quickly prototype or express an idea from what’s at hand. So make sure that things like markers, PostIt notes, cardboard boxes, pins, clips, strings, chalk, glue, tape, Lego pieces….you get the idea – basically, anything that would help you to visualise or make a simple model of what you have in mind – are always close at hand.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
But the MOST important thing to induce innovation, (which is also the thing that the leaders of well established companies sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around) is to build a culture of creativity. This calls for a change in the mind set first of all of top management. Red tape and bureaucracy do not have a place in innovative organisations; neither does working in silos; neither does a fear of failure.
This kind of thinking can be tough for older companies to imbibe, entrenched as they sometimes are in practices that follow strict hierarchy. Here’s where designing the right kind of environment can gently nudge people into thinking and ultimately behaving differently.
Are you interested in developing a workspace to steer your company towards a future where it will be relevant, valuable and thriving with people raring to come up with the next big idea?
Zeitgeist’s venture design services can help you get there – reach out to us today to be ready for tomorrow!
Next week we’ll explore some of our favourite creative office spaces from around the world. Make sure you tune in!