As businesses evolve, CEOs and hiring managers are placing a higher value on creativity as a quality in those they hire. And we aren’t just talking about art directors and writers—people with innovative ideas are vital to a company’s future, whether they supervise teams, manage sales, or specialize in IT.
When companies have a culture that values creativity, they should not stop at simply hiring the talent or including creativity as a corporate value. Managers should ask themselves, “How can we get the most out of our people?” and “How can we encourage a culture of creativity?” One aspect is all around us every day. It is the space where we work, exchange ideas, and socialize with co-workers.
Here are five tips for using your workspace to engage creative thinkers and, ultimately, help you build a corporate culture that values innovation.
1. Tear Down Walls (Figuratively).
Open floor plans and activity-based working environments are great ways to promote communication, but they aren’t right for every office. Whether your workspace has offices, clusters of cubicles, or an open floor plan, communication and employee interaction is key to fostering creative thinking. Depend less on email and interoffice calling, and encourage employees to walk around, talk face-to-face, and collaborate in person whenever possible.
2. Open Doors (Literally).
An “open door policy” means employees feel comfortable sharing ideas or concerns with management. Nurture a communicative culture by taking it literally: Instead of shutting themselves in and working individually, ask employees to keep their doors open when possible. The “open door” environment will make employees comfortable with swinging by to swap ideas or chat about a project.
3. Get Together.
Many people thrive in an environment where they can feed off their coworkers’ energy and build on ideas. Promote this by increasing collaboration and group meetings. Try starting some days with a brief team meeting or occasionally rounding up the troops for a 10-minute brainstorm. Look for opportunities to encourage others to generate great ideas.
4. Get Their Input.
Your team is a valuable focus group—one that is smart, thoughtful, and creative. Use this resource to your advantage. If your team is struggling to choose between a handful of good ideas, organize an informal focus group. Schedule a quick meeting and ask employees not working on the project to vote on their favorite solution. If you’re worried about inviting tension, hand out a simple survey and ask for anonymous feedback.
5. Go Big. Really Big.
If you’re ready to demonstrate your commitment to a workspace that influences a creative corporate culture, take a cue from the Macquerie Group, a company in the banking industry that worked with Clive Wilkinson Architects to radically overhaul their office. Their vertical workspace emphasized mobility, flexibility, and collaboration by providing an open plan with fleets of transparent meeting pods, tailored workstations, and more.
“It’s really important that we have a building that provides knowledge workers with the type of environment to make them more productive, collaborate more effectively, to get together and come up with new ideas,” said Macquerie of their new office, which, along with dazzling neon colors and tiers of modern working spaces, boasts a Garden, Tree House, and Play House.
Macquerie is a great example of giving your employees an ideal workspace, but your environment doesn’t need a massive makeover to reinforce your culture. As with any goal, begin with small changes that add up. Focus on communication. Collaborate. Keep your team’s minds—and their doors—open. Innovative thinking is in demand; make sure you foster it.