Creative people are an invaluable asset to any team. Finding the perfect employee for your company within the creative industries can involve a lot of time and investment. But obtaining someone with the right skills and the right innovative brain is only one piece of the puzzle. Does your office have the right environment for those creative brains to flourish? We’ve investigated what science has to say about creating the best office environment to get the most out of your creative talent.
It might not be a massive surprise that white walls don’t inspire creativity; in fact they can hinder it. But it’s not simply about making your office space colourful. Science suggests that certain colours invoke certain emotions. So what colours inspire creativity? Blue and green.
The colour blue has been found to promote trust, communication and to have a calming effect. Green on the other hand is said to boost innovative thinking, harmony and balance and reduce anxiety. Crucially, both have been identified as the best colours for inspiring creativity.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily cover your entire office in blues and greens, not the least for being a sight for sore eyes but it could be its own distraction. Involving the two colours in your office’s colour scheme would be a good idea however. Also perhaps avoid yellow, as too much of it can stimulate anxiety and anger!
It goes without saying that a noisy office should be avoided. Few things are as distracting as catching half a phone conversation from multiple colleagues at once while trying to focus on your work. Logic might suggest that silence is the best alternative. However, according to research published by Oxford University, ambient noise is ideal for creativity. Four groups were exposed to differing levels of noise and confronted with a creative thinking task, and those in the group with 70 decibels of noise (a moderate level of ambient noise) significantly outperformed every other group.
Dictating how noisy your office space is a tricky task, but it’s achievable if some thought goes into spacing the office out – for example, perhaps avoid putting your creative talent directly next to those on the phone all day. There are now many websites and apps, like Coffitivity and Soundrown, which simulate the sound of a variety of calming, ambient environments, so there’s no excuse to work in complete and uninspiring silence.
Lighting is something that can easily be overlooked. As long as your office is well lit, what else could you ask for? Well according to research from the Journal of Environmental Psychology, it is possible for your office to be too well lit for your creative talent to prosper. Dim (and warm) lighting has been proven to boost creative thought. It’s believed that dark places create a sense of freedom that gets the creative juices flowing, while bright lighting suggests obedience that hinders such thoughts.
Conversely, it’s also important to allow plenty of natural light into the office space. It improves productivity, sleep and health. So how do you go about balancing the two? Opt for an office with large or numerous windows but keep electrical lighting low and warm. If you’re smart with your placement of lamps and ceiling lights, you can just about get the best of both worlds.
An open plan office seems like the obvious choice. They’ve become the norm for most workplaces over the last couple of decades. On the surface, surely an open plan office means easier communication, more opportunities for collaboration and reinforces a team culture.
The research says otherwise.
In fact, various studies have found the open plan office negatively impacts productivity and employee happiness. The sense of a lack of privacy is noted as one of the key factors for this, as is the various distractions that come with having dozens of people working in a shared space. Most surprisingly however, is that face-to-face interactions reportedly fall by 70% in open plan offices compared to private offices.
Shared spaces are important, but even more important is giving your creatives space where they can focus on work in solitude. It’s often simply unfeasible to give every employee their own private office space. At the very least, try to provide your creative talent private spaces to retreat to as and when needed.
So the next time you’re moving into a new office or simply redesigning your current one, consider the various elements that can positively affect creativity. It’s a tall task to completely follow the research to the tee. However, if you can introduce some of these elements, you may get that extra 10% out of your creative talent while simultaneously giving them an environment they feel happier working in. Win win.