When it comes to business, creative blocks can actually mean a hit to your bottom line. Try these tips for optimizing your work environment to increase creativity.
Here's what you need to know:
- To optimize your workplace for creativity, opt for open, clear spaces and high ceilings when possible
- Focus on flexible office design layouts, too
- Add plants, natural light, and art into the mix
- Incorporate “creative” colors into office decor
- Add an “off” space for people to take a break
Creativity seems like (and truly can be!) such an ephemeral thing. This can feel especially true when you’re having a creative block. No matter how much you want to get something done, the ideas just aren’t flowing. It’s a frustrating situation to say the least!
When it comes to business, creative blocks can actually mean a hit to your bottom line. It’s easy to see that creativity matters. But how can you harness something so… fleeting?
Sometimes a good old vacation and some solid time off is what it takes to get creative juices flowing again. Sometimes all it takes is a change of process or a change of scenery. The good thing about the scenery element of the creative quandary is that it’s squarely within your control.
Perhaps you’re working from home and itching to make your home office as creativity-friendly as possible. Maybe you’re in charge of the company office and are ready to maximize office design to boost your company’s creativity. Whatever the reason, here’s how to use office design to boost creativity.
Opt for open, clear spaces and high ceilings when possible
A 2007 study found that ceiling height — yes, you read that right — can actually influence the way that we process information.
The more space we have, the more we’re primed for feelings of freedom than we are in smaller spaces that can feel confining.
These feelings of freedom can make it easier for our brains to sort of free associate between multiple pieces of data or ideas. This space helps us to find new linkages or commonalities in ways we hadn’t before — aka, creativity!
But this goes beyond just ceiling height. One of the best things you can do, whether it’s in a corporate office or a home office, is give yourself some space.
One way to make even the smallest of spaces feel more open is to declutter them. Add in mirrors to reflect natural light and trick the eye into seeing more space than is actually there.
Finally, if you’re truly confined to a small space, consider going somewhere else when you really need to get creative. Is there a coffee shop that tends to help you with new ideas? Maybe there’s a local park or nature walk nearby that you can take advantage of when you need to brainstorm.
Then, once you have your new ideas in hand, you can head back to your smaller space to get to work on them.
Focus on flexible office design layouts, too
Another way to boost creativity through office design is having a flexible space. Think of multi-functionality and movability. The more things you can put on casters so that you can easily wheel them to where they need to go (which is sometimes simply out of the way), the better.
Sometimes creativity just can’t get flowing from a clump of desks. If they’re readily movable, you can just wheel them out of the way and set up whatever kind of creativity-inducing environment makes sense to you.
The key is that these spaces are flexible and customizable.
Maybe you want to spread everything you’re working on out on the floor and absorb it that way. Maybe you need to make room for a giant whiteboard for rapid ideation.
The key is that these spaces are flexible and customizable. This way, employees can create whatever space they need whenever they need it. Then, when the creativity frenzy is over, the space can go right back to how it used to be like nothing ever happened.
Add plants, natural light, and art into the mix
The more you can add in natural elements, the better. Research has found that adding natural elements into an office space (think plants and natural sunlight) can lead to a whopping 15% increase in productivity.
If you’re in a windowless space, this can be tricky. But there are still things you can do to bring in natural light and plants. You can get a light therapy lamp for yourself.
When it comes to plants, you can either get a grow light or stick with notoriously fluorescent-light-friendly plants. Plants that do well in office environments include ZZ plants, snake plants, and pothos.
For those not working from a windowless space, this endeavor is much easier. Open those shades! Get plants that jibe with the light conditions and window positions in your home or corporate office.
Even if you have limited windows, you can maximize the light you do have with mirrors. Try positioning your desk as close to a window as you can and popping some plants on your desktop.
Finally, art is another decorative choice that’s been shown to boost creativity. As K2 Space notes, 78% of respondents to a U.S. survey agreed that art in the office reduces stress levels. At the same time, 64% of respondents said that art in the offices inspires creativity.
While art used to be seen as something that only those with deep pockets could acquire, today it’s available everywhere.
Local markets promote local makers and artists while Etsy and Instagram are home to creatives selling their wares from around the world. If you want to take on printing yourself, digital downloads of original art cost just a couple of dollars.
Incorporate “creative” colors into office decor
There are all kinds of studies on color and color theory. One 2009 study found that red can block creativity while blue can usher it in. Another from 2017 found that blue and red accent lighting (rather than just neutral white) can facilitate creativity in “work and learning areas.”
If you’re new to this, don’t get too into the weeds trying to find the perfect accent color. Just know that some color is better than none and that you can start in small ways.
Add colorful throw pillows to office seating. Get some colorful art for the walls. Of course, you can also go as far as painting your office’s walls, as well — it’s all about what works for you and your office environment.
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Add an “off” space for people to take a break
Oftentimes taking a break can be exactly what people need to spark creativity again. Our brains simply cannot be generating new ideas all of the time. We need some downtime to process what’s going on around us and let our minds wander toward new ideas.
This is why it’s a good idea to have some kind of an “off” space available. That can mean a yoga space or meditation corner. It can be a well-furnished break room that’s focused on relaxation.
The key is to give yourself whatever you need to create a space where your brain can turn off. Sometimes it takes much more than just a few minutes here and there, but an “off” space is great for short breaks.
If this is your 1st time thinking about how you can boost creativity through office design, take it slow. Start small and see what impact (if any) your initial changes make. Then, you can either keep them, change them, or add to them.
When it comes to a home office, it’s all about what works for you. In the company office, it’s all about what works for your business and your employees. No 2 companies will solve for creative office design the exact same way.
Think of this as a creative project — your first chance to start trying out some of the changes suggested here.