Develop a Creative Workplace & Boost Productivity

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OfficeSay goodbye to dull workplaces; and hello to more productivity. It is proven that many workers perform better in more creative spaces. And it’s not that difficult to create a creative work environment in both physical space and corporate culture.

“Establishing an environment that encourages creativity has to come from the top, so if you’re the boss, you have to proactively manage for it.  You have to not only say you want creative thinking, but you also have to model it; praise it when it happens, and ensure time for it,” says Susan Robertson, founder of Susan Robertson Consulting and instructor of Harvard University, Senior Faculty, Creative Problem Solving Institute. Robertson is also currently conducting a research project around how creativity is or isn’t supported in organizations.  

Here’s how a more creative work environment can be created.

If you’re in a cube:


    •    Pump up the visuals.
“Make it visually stimulating.  Bland and boring don’t result in exciting ideas,” Robertson points out. “So bring in some pictures, a live plant, and boldly colored office supplies to help stimulate creative thinking.”
    •    Add a splash of color. If you work in a small cubicle the first thing you want to do is add color to your space. Color has powerful psychological effects, and since each person is different, colors may achieve different things for different people, so ask yourself: What type of mood color increases my creativity? It may be useful to consider some general color psychology guidelines for the right color choices,” adds Bryan Jimenez, Brand Creativity Consultant at creative branding consultancy Skycraft Collaborative.
    •    Redecorate often.  “Another important facet of creativity is that of new ideas, so rearranging your space periodically into a ‘new space’ can help bring a freshness and new perspectives. You may even try switching cubicles with your colleagues once in awhile,” says Jimenez.
    •    Cozy it up a bit–just a bit.  “Make it as comfortable as possible.  An uncomfortable environment will significantly detract from creative thinking.  So, add an extra cushion on the back or your chair, or bring in a footstool if that makes you more comfortable,” suggests Robertson.
    •    Don’t get trapped in the cube. “Leave your cube frequently for a new environment; a simple change of environment is more conducive to creative thinking.  This is based in neuroscience; there are literally ‘pathways’ in our brains.  When we’re in the same environment all the time, our brains will travel the same, well-worn pathways over and over.  When we are in a new environment, our brains are forced to create new pathways, which will lead to more creative ideas,” notes Robertson.

If you’re in an office:

    •    Have some distractions at hand. “Keep some small toys around your office and occasionally pick them up and play with them.  This kinesthetic activity stimulates a different part of your brain, which will improve creative thinking,” advises Robertson.
    •    Put a little Feng Shui into effect. “Adjust the arrangement of the physical space to be open and reduce restrictions. We are affected by our physical spaces (this is called ontological design), so if the space is restrictive then ideas and creativity may be restricted also,” says Jimenez and then asks, “And why not add some art to the space while we’re at it?”
    •    A little music to work by. “Adding appropriate music to an office space can add new rhythm and flows to it. Music can quicken our pace, encourage deep thought, and even inspire new ideas that can lead to higher creativity,” offers Jimenez.
    •    Leave the office. “Make a habit of regularly taking a walk outside of your office to promote creative thinking.  New research has shown that simply taking a walk, even indoors, boosts creativity,” says Robertson.

If you’re the boss:

    •    Recreate the space and make it pro-creativity. “Rearrange the space so that everyone can see out a window.  That may mean putting the plush offices in the center and the cubicles on the perimeter,” Robertson says.
    •    Check the lightning. “Bright artificial lighting, as in a typical fluorescent ‘corporate office’, can increase a feeling of stress which can in turn reduce creative cognition and exploration. Natural daylight, D50 lighting and creative lighting may lower stress levels and lead to increased ‘ideation’ and originality,” explains Jimenez.
    •    Create a space for muse. “Make one or more thinking spaces by converting a standard conference room into a creative thinking room,” suggests Robertson. “Remove the giant conference table and replace it with furniture that is easily movable.  A standard conference table creates both a physical and and a psychological barrier between people, which will stifle creativity.”
    •    Ban the bland.  “If your offices are all entirely neutral (boring) shades, bring in some splashes of bold color.  Put some interesting art on the walls and sculptures in the hallway.  Visual stimulus is a sure-fire way to enhance creative thinking,” says Robertson.