2 Ways to Instantly Boost Creativity in the Office

Everyone likes the idea of being creative. So why do some corporate cultures still lack in this department?

Log in.  Sit down. Boot PC. Check e-mail. Respond to messages.  Finish other tasks. Log out.  Does this sound like the typical work day in your office?  I once worked in a company that had everyone slaving away at their cubicles for 8 hours. It was so silent except for the tapping of keyboards and occasional squeaking of chairs as employees shifted in their seats in an effort to do a little stretching. I found it inhuman.  After a few months of trying to concentrate with a constantly blinking cursor in front of me and attempting to engage with colleagues who seemed to be more interested in staring at their own blinking cursors, I was already searching for a new job. I was grateful that I was with a company that had zero bickering (or at least, they kept these under close wraps), but the zombie-like atmosphere was stifling to say the least.

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image by Kimberly Vohsen

There’s a lot more to creativity than hiring a bunch of creative people and asking them to pitch in ideas for your team.  If you want your employees to be more creative, then you have to foster a creative environment.  Here are some suggestions:

Play while you work

It should be no surprise that LEGO is considered as one of the most creative companies in the world.  LEGO bricks have tugged at the imagination of both children and adults, enabling them to build their house of dreams, reconstruct their favorite movie scenes, and create awe-inspiring masterpieces.  LEGO is a company that not only makes a business out of brick-building, the importance of play is at the core of its corporate culture.  Co-creation is not restricted to children; “hotspots” in the company’s Denmark offices encourage the spirit of playfulness even among employees.  For instance, certain areas are furnished with games to encourage colleagues to relax and connect.

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The best escape from a meeting (photo from Dezeen Magazine)

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Take a break; play foosball (photo from Dezeen Magazine)

 Creativity thrives in this type of environment that allows people to think beyond the limits of their day-to-day tasks.  The premise is that serendipitous encounters breed creativity as people become more open and trusting to share ideas. As former Experience and Innovation director Cecilia Weckstrom says (now the Senior Director of Consumer Insight & Experience Innovation), “friendships are the thing that allows you come to terms with the vulnerability that sometimes accompanies hair-brained ideas”.

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Collaboration made easy (photo from Dezeen Magazine)

Evaluate your current workspace. Does it exude openness and encourage engagement?  In what ways can you encourage colleagues to connect and make spaces more open? Perhaps you don’t have the resources for LEGO-like spaces, but there must be something you can do make employees enjoy coming to work more like. You can check out the RingCentral blog to see how you can  differentiate your workplace by imbuing color and fun into your office design.

Make a little noise…but not too much

Have you ever wondered why you can do more work in a coffee shop than in your own cubicle? Research actually shows that it’s is not just the caffeine that’s helping you concentrate. Believe it or not, ambient noise is actually making those creative juices flow. This conclusion is the result of research by Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Amar Cheema published in JSTOR.  The researchers theorized that a moderate level of ambient noise was likely to activate abstract cognition, leading to enhanced creative performance. A high level of noise, on the other hand, reduces information processing and impairs creativity.

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Coffee and creativity

This study was actually the inspiration behind Coffitivity, a web-based tool that streams the ambient noises of a coffeeshop to give you an instant dose of creativity.  If you don’t care much about streaming in your workplace, you can exert more effort in reducing excessive noise and being more relaxed about moderate office chit chat or ambient music.

What other creativity boosters work for you? Share your ideas with us!

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