How to Design Your Office to Support Creative Thinking

2017-10-06T21:35:21+00:00September 19th, 2017|Workplace Design|

With the need for creative solutions on the rise, the pressure to contribute new, innovative ideas can be overwhelming. According to Steelcase research, 69% of people say they’re not reaching their creative potential, even though 77% say creativity is crucial in any job. Luckily, creative thinking is not an inherent character trait you’re either born with or without— it can be grown and developed through discipline and awareness.

But for creative thinking to prosper in the workplace, people need places that support room to collaborate, be messy, ideate and prototype. They need an office built for innovation.

Here are some tips to transform your space into a creativity incubator.

Make it Nature-Inspired

Bringing elements of nature into the workplace is proven to inspire and reduce stress. Nature’s meditative properties have the power to ground and relax us, allowing workers to expand their thinking and creativity.

In order to create a space that supports creative work, incorporate patterns, organic shapes, colors and textures that might be found outdoors. Layering these elements subtly hint at nature and create a more cohesive and modern office design.

Layer in nature by choosing a variety of materials like woven baskets or stone sculptures to accessorize your table. Pick wall decor that is more abstract with curved and intertwining lines resembling the patterns we see outside. Place workstations by large windows where employees can absorb the sun’s restorative rays to help with health problems like migraines or eye strain.

Activate the senses

Creativity requires focus and interest, so engage workers by designing the office with all five senses in mind. There’s a fine line between intrigue and distraction, and everyone reacts differently to scents and noises, so be wary of where the space is, how many sensory layers you incorporate and how workers interact with it.

  • Use graceful lines and geometric patterns paired with contrasting blank walls to engage sight
  • Include a variety of textures from reclaimed wooden tables to softer, shag rugs for touch
  • Offer quiet and noisier zones for workers with different sensitivities. Playing nature sounds like waves, rain or rustling leaves on low volume may be soothing and enforce a feeling of “getting away” without going away from the office.
  • Stay away from heavily scented perfumes and discourage bringing potent foods to the office to maintain a clear and balanced mind. If you’re trying to distract from a smell that cannot be avoided in the building, try an essential oil diffuser which has more natural and subtle scents.

Encourage unfamiliar places for out-of-the-ordinary thoughts

Routines kill creativity. The danger of routines is that we begin to make assumptions and we stop being aware of the world around us. We stick to what’s expected instead of challenging ourselves. To strengthen our creative muscles, we need to leave the expected behind. Creating different types of spaces in the office with different postures and surroundings encourages employees to change things up.

Design room for free-flow thinking

An integral step in the creative thinking process is brainstorming. In a recent interview with Vice President James Ludwig, Steelcase explores how creativity appears in the workplace and how we can support it through design and leadership.

“Creativity isn’t a linear process. It’s not even a predictable process. It has a rhythm of different activities and requires both convergent and divergent thinking, with people coming together in small or large groups, and moving apart to do work alone,”  – James Ludwig, Vice President of Global Design at Steelcase.

To make the most of your space, keep these tips in mind:

  • Offer tables and chairs on wheels to help people come together and move apart whenever they want.
  • Provide whiteboards and ample sticky notes for brainstorming sessions.
  • Incorporate digital displays to unite your space and encourage sharing.
  • Allow workers to move to more secluded areas with privacy screens when they need to focus and social areas to collaborate.

Need help designing your office? Schedule a free call with one of our space planning experts.