Does your workplace design inspire your employees to be more innovative and creative? Is it a place that generates workplace productivity?
A survey by Gensler, a design firm based in San Francisco, cites a connection between the design of workspaces and the level of innovation employees feel. Not surprisingly, a well-considered workspace helps drive creativity and a culture of performance.
The goal is to enable employees to perform their daily work routines and leave room for creative inspiration. “You never know when or where the next big idea will strike,” says Cory Grosser of Cory Grosser + Associates, a design studio based in Pasadena, California. Workspace design is increasingly reflecting this realization by providing more variety, Grosser says.
Here are some ideas on how to structure your workplace design and cultivate creative innovation at your company.
Delineate spaces to allow collaboration and focus
The open-plan workplace, once the darling of forward-thinking and dynamic employers, is starting to fade away. Why? It tends to increase distraction, not to mention transmission of illness.
Instead of an open space floorplan, experts say, think about separate spaces for group and individual work. The Gensler report found that innovative companies are five times more likely to have workspaces that prioritize both individual and group workspaces.
“Collaboration may be the buzzword of the decade for workplace design, but without its counterpart — worker focus — productivity may actually decline,” Grosser says. Providing both private offices and workstations that are visually and acoustically separated from larger spaces that facilitate group work is important.
Build for flexibility
A rigid, unchanging environment can feel stagnant and put a damper on creative efforts. Spaces that are dedicated to only one use could have an effect on creativity and innovation by enforcing routines or locked-in work groups.
Look for multiple uses for spaces. “A lunch room might also serve as an ad hoc meeting room, casual client presentation area, or all-hands engagement hall,” says Heidi Hendy, managing principal of H. Hendy Associates, an interior and architectural planning firm in Newport Beach, California.
Hendy says this approach can often reduce the need for space. “Many newer buildings have shifted cores that allow for flexible layouts, which result in increased occupancy and more productive space utilization,” she says.
Bring on the bright colors
Beware of “50 shades of tan” when decorating, says Susan Robertson, who teaches creative thinking at Harvard University and is the founder of Sharpen Innovation, a consulting firm based in Orlando, Florida. Offices that are entirely neutral can stifle creativity.
“Visual stimulus is a sure-fire way to enhance creative thinking,” Robertson says. “Bring in some splashes of bold color. Put some interesting art on the walls and sculptures in the hallway.” Robertson also recommends encouraging employees to customize their own spaces.
Keep in mind that an uncomfortable environment — physical or emotional — will significantly detract from creative thinking, she adds. “So, encourage people to add an extra cushion on the back of their chair, or bring in a plant or a personal picture.”
Consider employee wellness
Many companies are also catching on to the idea that current employees value a work environment that promotes health and wellness. A few options worth considering in your workplace design include:
- Wellness rooms for stretching or meditation
- Sit-stand desks
- Ergonomic seating
- Comfortable areas for collaboration
- Small, private rooms for calls or periods of focused work
- Windows that open for fresh air
- Maximized natural lighting
- Bicycle storage
Creating a space that fosters employee wellbeing doesn’t have to break the bank. But it’s important to think about ways your company can offer a well-rounded environment that promotes both productivity and wellness. Afterall, most of us spend almost a third of our lives there.
Recruitment and retention benefits
With today’s workforce unafraid to job hop until they’ve found the right company, a workplace design that puts your people first can go a long way toward recruiting quality candidates and retaining top performers. Get help with this and other recruitment and management strategies by signing up for Monster Hiring Solutions, where you’ll receive expert recruiting advice and the latest in hiring trends.