By Neil King
With creativity a key ingredient to the success of small businesses, we look at a few ways you can breed creative thinking in your office.
Creativity has become an increasingly important aspect of the workplace, with innovative ideas propelling businesses forward, and helping devise new products, services, ways of working, branding, marketing, and much more.
Establishing a creative environment can be the ideal way to get your employees thinking in new ways and developing great ideas, projects and strategies. Here are a few ways you can turn your office into a creative hub.
Put creativity at the top of the agenda
If you want a creative environment, then you have to make creativity a priority.
Make sure everybody knows they have the freedom to think creatively and innovatively, and champion creativity as a cornerstone of what the company stands for.
If you can infuse a creative spirit into every aspect of your business’s daily routine, then that is great, but if there are some necessarily un-creative aspects to the job then why not establish a daily or weekly brainstorming session? Or why not give people a day out of every week to work on creative projects or ideas?
By letting people know that creativity is key to what you’re doing, they will feel at liberty to embrace explore new ideas, new designs, new projects, and new ways of thinking.
Provide the right tools
You might need to dip into your budget, but it’s worth it if it means giving your team the freedom to create and innovate. Whether it’s the latest design suite for their laptops, training to guide them in the art of creativity, resources in the shape of books and magazines, or even just ‘time’, the right tools can yield the right results.
Talk with your employees about what they feel they would need in order to be more creative, and see whether you can accommodate them.
What’s more, each person might have their own quirk – their own ‘thing’ that will help them be more creative. Perhaps one person likes working with crayons? Maybe another wants to be surrounded by plants? If it’s within reason, it might be in your best interests to give them what they want.
The right office design can stimulate creativity, so spend some time setting things up in a way that can enliven the imagination.
Depending on the personalities within your team you may want to go for a sleek, futuristic design, a a bright and dynamic pop-culture feel, or something completely different altogether. Numerous studies have advocated the creative benefits of visual stimulants, while others have suggested that colour psychology can play a big role in people’s morale, work ethic, and emotion.
Ergonomics and anthropology also play a role here. You have to make sure your people are comfortable, so it might be wise to provide chairs that fit their bodies well, and it might be wise to put their equipment within their reach. It might be worth watching their behaviour to find out where they prefer to do their best work. If they like to do it while sitting on a couch, make the couch area more comfortable for them. Zones could work well here, giving different areas of the office a different purpose.
Let your employees roam freely
Great ideas don’t always arrive in the office, and can’t always be generated in the office. Allowing your team to go out into the wild might help their creativity blossom.
Try not to fence them in – don’t cultivate a ‘computer-only’ culture, expecting your employees to spend hours in front of a screen. If they need some time out of the office, perhaps in a café, or the park, why not let them go there? Of course there’s a lot of trust involved here, but that’s a big part of building a creative environment.
If you allow your team some physical freedom, there’s a good chance they will have mental freedom as well, opening their minds to greater creative possibilities.
Unite your departments
For creativity to flourish throughout the office make sure your office’s different departments are working closely together.
If everybody knows what everybody else is doing, and if everybody is aware of how other departments operate, then it will be much easier for ideas to become reality.
For example, somebody in the marketing team could spend time developing a great idea, only for it to be stifled by the finance team. Not only could this damage morale and pit two departments against each other, it might also be regarded a waste time and brain-power. If both departments were aware of each other’s freedoms, limitations, plans and progress, they could work together to develop an idea in a way that works for all parties.
For smaller businesses without ‘departments’, per se, it’s still important for everybody to be informed, so why not have daily, or even weekly meetings, so everybody can present their plans?
Give credit and be supportive
There’s nothing like a bit of credit to give people encouragement. Supporting your team in their creative endeavours, and praising their good work will generate a lot of enthusiasm, and potentially lead to even better ideas.
Be forward in celebrating a job well done, and give credit where it’s due. Just think how demoralising it would be to create something wonderful, only to not be recognised for it. It only takes a few words of appreciation and praise to invigorate your team. And it costs nothing.