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Your Office Space is Stunting Employee Creativity (And Here’s How to Fix It)

Most companies know that employee creativity is crucial for success. Fostering a creative environment drives innovation — and gives businesses what is needed to thrive in a competitive marketplace. However, many organizations overlook the impact their office space creates.

If you notice your team is stuck in a creative rut, it can be for several reasons. Consider the factors that take place with traditional offices, how they can stunt employee creativity and strategies to implement that promote a fulfilling work environment.

The Problem With Traditional Office Spaces

From dull colors to the lack of light, traditional office spaces have always been the norm. However, they are not conducive to employee creativity. Most of the time, they inhibit your team from introducing new ideas, often reducing productivity.

For instance, a need for natural lighting is notorious in traditional offices. Oftentimes, this is due to the use of artificial lighting and desk placement. Natural lighting is known for boosting your mood and increasing energy levels — which is essential for stimulating creativity.

When there is not enough natural light, employees may feel drained and have difficulty producing fresh ideas. That’s because lighting affects your circadian rhythm — an internal clock a portion of your brain controls to help you fall asleep when it is dark and wake up while it is light.

Another feature that comes with traditional office spaces is dull color schemes. Walls and cubicles full of gray and other neutral tones lack personality and character. With a monotonous color scheme at play, employees may feel uninspired to produce amazing results. However, bold colors like yellow create an exciting environment and significantly encourage creativity.

Solutions to Enhance Employee Creativity in the Workplace

An office environment significantly impacts your team’s creativity, but you can reduce these matters by following the suggestions below.

1. Be Flexible in the Floor Plan Design

Many employers assume that one floor plan meets the needs of individual employees. For instance, an open floor is a popular choice because companies find it ideal for those who enjoy working in a collaborative environment. Yet, some employees feel distracted by the background noise, impacting their ability to produce work effectively.

That is why it is essential to design an office space that maintains all employees’ productivity, satisfaction and engagement. To achieve this, you must consider the different working styles of your team members. While an open floor plan may be essential for employees who prefer human interaction, introverted employees may like a quiet, private workspace.

Whether you have introverted or extroverted employees, it is important to consider a floor plan that suits them best. For example, you could introduce a mixed layout — a floor plan that caters to both personalities and lets them choose an environment that works best for them.

Another option is to choose a flexible floor plan that adapts to your team’s needs. Open spaces, private areas and collaborative zones all give employees the freedom to work in the most comfortable way.

2. Incorporate Natural Elements

Natural components in office space design have become increasingly popular due to their various benefits. For example, plants are widely known for purifying the air and reducing stress levels. In turn, they can enhance the mood of your employees and boost creativity. It is no wonder that many companies tend to lean toward a biophilic environment. Plants and nature have wonderful effects that can lead to higher engagement and motivation.

Aside from adding greenery to your office space, you can incorporate other features such as fountains, waterfalls and aquariums. Anything with water will create a calming atmosphere and promote relaxation amongst your employees. Plus, the sound of water can mask any distractions around the office.

You could also include designs that procure natural materials like wood, bamboo and stone. Implementing these in an office creates a warm atmosphere and reduces noise levels while regulating the temperature.

3. Opt for Spaces Designed for Breaks

Breaks are essential for enhancing employee creativity and promoting employee wellness. When employees take time to relax, they renew their focus. That is where a well-designed break area can come into play. This type of space will enable employees to socialize with other colleagues while prioritizing time to recharge.

One consideration when designing a break-time space is providing comfortable seating arrangements. For example, lounge chairs, loveseats and ottomans allow employees to sit and relax for an optimal amount of time. Yet, if you opt out of providing a comfortable break room — consider providing a supportive environment where workers can reduce fatigue by investing in ergonomic chairs and standing desks.

Another way to provide a relaxing environment for employees is to create a space with entertainment options. Many organizations include ping pong tables, books and gaming consoles to reduce stress and take their minds off work.

4. Add Pops of Color

Color is an excellent way to inspire your team to work more efficiently, even when the job is seemingly dull. Whether you want to create an inviting environment or boost employee morale, the colors you choose have a way of producing the results you want.

For example, cool tones such as blue or green create a serene atmosphere, while red or orange are intense and work to stimulate a productive mood. When enhancing employee creativity, consider adding pops of color that encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Colors on the warmer end of the spectrum support innovation and add interest to a drab environment.

When adding pops of color to a workspace, consider its existing scheme and overall aesthetic. It is best to choose colors that complement existing decor rather than clash ones. The easiest way to achieve this is by incorporating colorful artwork, throw pillows, cushions and accent walls.

When you create a visually appealing space, your employees’ creativity increases and positively impacts their well-being.

Revitalize Your Office Space for Maximum Employee Creativity

Boring office spaces can discourage employee creativity and hinder them from achieving their best. Yet, if you take the time to improve the workspace, you can create a functional environment for all employees.

Consider the individual needs of each employee and devise a plan incorporating these tips. Employees need access to a space that is inviting and fosters creativity. By focusing on the physical aspects of your office space, you can create a place where everyone wants to work and stay for the long haul.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.

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