Setting up a new office for a business isn’t as easy as renting or buying space and moving everyone in. You want your office to reflect your business and its ethos, as well as be an environment conducive to working. If you have a creative business, and all businesses need some level of creativity, one of your concerns should be how to foster creativity in your employees. The office environment plays a role in this, adding to the general creative atmosphere in the company. There are lots of ways you can encourage creative thinking in the office by having a creative space. Don’t stifle your employees with boring decor and traditional office set-ups. Think outside of the box with these great tips for a creative office.
Don’t impose rules and regulations about what your employees can and can’t bring into the office, if you want them to feel comfortable in their working environment. Trust them to be sensible about what they can and can’t have on display on their desk. Personal items, photos and decorations brighten up their working space and help them feel at home. Some offices even allow employees to bring their pets in. Letting your employees make the office their own gives them a sense of community. It’s not a space that belongs to you that you’re letting them use. It’s a space belonging to the whole company, from the CEO to the cleaners.
Different Creative Outlets
People express their creativity in different ways. Some people like to write across whiteboards or big swathes of paper while others doodle on notepads or make notes in margins. Don’t cater to just one type of creativity. Let people express themselves with words, images or presentations. Everyone has a method of expressing their creativity that they feel most comfortable with. And favoring one particular method could mean you lose out on hearing someone’s thoughts.
Have Fun with Office Layouts
No longer does an office have to have one desk per employee. Offices now come in all sorts of configurations. Look at five different offices in Leeds, and they will all differ in some way. Some offices have permanent seating arrangement. Others favor “hot desking”, where employees can move around and grab a desk where they want. Your office could be open-plan or split into sections for different departments. Look at the highly creative offices of companies like Google. You’ll see that they’re far from the traditional office. Employees don’t even have to confine themselves to a desk if they don’t want to. With laptops and tablets it’s easy to get up and sit on the sofa, in a relaxing and quiet pod or even outside. You may not need enough desks to have one per person at all. When everyone is moving around, there’s no need for everyone to stuck at a desk all the time.
Split Your Office into Zones
As well as thinking about your desk layout, you can think about how the whole office is set up. In an open-plan office, you don’t have to dedicate a whole room to people studiously working at desks. Dividing your office into different zones can give your employees more focus. When they want to chat they can move to the kitchen or snack bar, leaving quieter areas for getting work done in privacy.
Provide Relaxing and Fun Areas
If you want your employees to work hard, it’s a good idea to give them opportunities to relax and have fun too. Providing recreational rooms or spaces gives them something fun to do on their breaks, after work or even just while they’re wandering around, between tasks. Setting up relaxing spaces, including green areas, is effective too. You can create an indoor garden or set up relaxing pods for employees to escape from the hustle and bustle of the office. Either way, it gives them somewhere to retreat to if they need to get some work done in peace or recharge before tackling a project.
Some companies even offer extra rooms such as libraries and media centres, or yoga studios with free membership for employees. Some offices, like many of Google’s offices, go all out, offering places to get a massage, grab a coffee or play sports. In their Zurich office, you can even get up on a stage and have a jam session. Offering spaces where employees can do things other than work will make them feel more at home. They may never want to leave if you look after them properly. But it’s up to you to decide if your employees will be stimulated or distracted by everything going on around them. You want them to feel creative and ready to work, not so distracted by everything on offer that they never get anything done.
Create an Office that Doubles as a Social Space
The offices for Outbrain, a company in California, double up as a social space in the evenings and on weekends. Employees use it for after-work drinks, happy hours, meetups and panels. Your office can serve as a social space after-hours, where it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to have a party in an uninspiring office. If you can do this, chances are you have a fun and creative space to work in.
Lots of Light
Some people prefer to get on with their work in a quiet, dark room, but a light and airy office can help to keep everyone firing on all cylinders. Plenty of natural light coming into your office can offer a great view and improve everyone’s mood. Provide some quieter spaces with less light for people who want to get away. But make sure your employees aren’t all sitting in the dark.
You can help yourself to get to know how your employees work best by watching them as they work. Observing them as they get on with their work, both alone and with others, will help you see which features could make your office a creative working environment. A good creative office will be different for each company.