With the fast growth of technology and constant rise of new enterprises offering similar services, organizations are becoming increasingly pressured to innovate, provide “out-of-the-box” solutions to existing problems in order to set themselves apart from the competition.
Setting an organization up to innovate takes more than asking the right questions during an interview and employing the right people, there also has to be a work environment that allows innovation to foster. Though the employees come up with innovative ideas, the environment they work in can either aid them or hinder them.
While most workplace designs tend to lean toward one kind of work; either focus or collaborative, Haworth’s white paper on innovation states a workplace that optimizes for innovation offers spaces for both focused work and restorative work - a workplace should have facilities that support all parts of work/brain activity i.e. focused work, collaborative work and restoration. Providing these spaces in a workplace will allow the seamless flow of creative solving among teams
These facilities include:
Focus Work Areas such as phone booths, pods etc.
Employees in an open workspace often feel the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the workplace in order to be more productive. In such instances, employees go to the coffee shop to work or some corner in the office that is forgotten and rarely used. Research from Steelcase shows that lack of focus areas or privacy in the workplace can hinder productivity therefore a workplace that provides designated areas for focus work give employees the control they need to be more productive.
Focus areas are controlled pocket spaces away from external distractions which allow the employee fully focus and develop ideas. It’s hard to think let alone come up with innovative ideas when we are distracted by external stimuli.
An example of a workspace with ample focus areas is Venture Garden Group’s Vibranium Valley
Collaborative Areas such as open work layouts, meeting rooms etc.
After developing a creative idea, where does an employee go to bounce this idea off others and get their opinions? Collaborative spaces come in play here; they offer the right environment for evaluating ideas and making them better by collaborating with team members.
Take team collaboration a step further by providing accessible writable materials to allow for spontaneous collaboration. These materials allow employees physically represent their ideas on a board and get insights or feedback from others.
Take a look at Renmoney’s Head Office for some inspiration on collaborative areas.
Restorative Areas e.g. cafeterias, lounges, gardens etc.
After hours at a desk, it’s not surprising that the mind starts to wander or that the need to take a break becomes pressing. Restorative spaces provide the environment for an employee to take a break and get a reprieve from work by conversing with colleagues, gazing at nature or simply daydreaming. These activities allow employees return to work feeling refreshed.
Model restorative spaces offer access to nature, artwork that could inspire and casual seating.
Office culture is also important when creating the right environment to foster innovation. Progressive workplace culture should encourage micro or macro breaks, team collaboration, shared knowledge and occasional failures. Creating a workplace with rich office culture that allows creativity to thrive and empowers employees to create by providing an environment for each dynamic work need is the best way to optimize for innovation.