Where do you come up with your most creative and innovative ideas? Many people would say in the shower and only a few would say at their desk.
Innovation and creativity are essential elements of any successful business, and a well thought out working space plays an important role in facilitating these.
However, there is more to creating an innovative work space than bright colours and open spaces.
Reflect your organisation’s culture
Work spaces should reflect the culture of your organisation. What are its values and attitudes? What is its history? Where is the organisation headed? How does it value and recognise its workforce?
If the work space and the company’s culture are conflicting, it will only result in confused employees, uncertain of what the organisation actually expects from them and their role. Rather than creativity and innovation, the outcome could be frustration and poor productivity.
Provide opportunities to collaborate
In 2012, a Stanford University study reported that people working in collaborative environments remained focused on a particular task for 64 per cent longer than those who worked individually. The study also found that those working collaboratively were more engaged and less fatigued. Providing places where employees can commune and collaborate, either organically or pre-empted, supports innovation and creativity in many ways. The chance for people to connect, who would otherwise not cross paths, opens up countless opportunities.
As an example, two staff members from different teams meet at the coffee machine. They chat, share information and ideas, feed off each other’s enthusiasm and energy. What might seem like a chance interaction while waiting for coffee could actually result in a fresh perspective on a business problem or opportunity.
Encouraging collaboration within an organisation offers employees an increased sense of support and community. It promotes team work beyond the functional teams within the business, and allows those with complementary strengths to combine their skills for the benefit of the whole business. Employees will also increasingly feel that they are working together toward a common goal.
How can this be supported through work space design? Some approaches might include:
- Centrally locating your kitchen or lunch room so staff members from all parts of the business have a natural, relaxed opportunity to cross paths.
- Providing a large, communal table where anyone can eat their lunch, drink coffee or have casual meetings.
Meeting rooms specifically designed to help inspire creativity and innovation – a more relaxed approach including casual seating, music, natural light and views of the outside environment might encourage ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
Cater to individual preferences
People are creative in different ways. Some feed off interaction and collaboration, while others find solitude to be the best creative spur. Some find inspiration in both.
As with most aspects of business, designing an office space that encourages creativity and innovation cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. Pulling out every work station partition and installing one large communal work desk might suit some, but for others, it will not suit their working style or the nature of their job.
A carefully planned work space that promotes innovation and creativity based on your business’ unique working style and culture can cater to both. It will enable easy collaboration among colleagues, but also offer the opportunity for quiet, focused work.
No matter the size of the business, a well thought out work space can promote creativity and innovation and also increase camaraderie and team work within an organisation. That will always be good for business.
Belinda Lyone is the General Manager of COS Working Spaces, the furniture division of COS, Australia’s largest privately owned office products supplier, and specialises in creating contemporary work spaces. COS Working Spaces is the ideal partner for a new office fit out solution, relocation or upgrade of existing furniture, assisting clients from concept to final delivery. COS Working Spaces services include design capabilities, access to the latest and widest current product range, and total project management. You can expect a professional and reliable service delivered by individuals who are passionate about work environments.