From the Outside In: Where Are We Most Creative?
Have you ever resonated with the term tidy house equals a tidy mind? You’re not alone. There are countless studies out there that explore the intrinsic link between physical space and human behaviour, especially when it comes to creativity. While the discussion surrounding environmental psychology and architectural neuroscience is relatively new, the practice has existed for thousands of years, from Feng Shui in China to the traditional Indian architectural system of Vastu Shastra. There has clearly always been a need within humans to create space that speaks to them.
With the arrival of the pandemic, many of us were suddenly responsible for the self-curation of those environments for the first time. And the discovery was that it’s not easy. Within design and fit-out, there are so many variable factors in producing creative spaces, whether it’s the client's industry, the office's needs or the existing structures. Combined with the vast individual requirements each person desires to be creative, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. At AW Spaces, we wanted to do a deep-dive into how creativity at work can be effectively achieved, so we asked our team and the wider community to take a survey all about where and how they become their most creative. The results? Unsurprisingly, We’re all unique beings. True workplace creativity requires design agility.
The Power of Aesthetics
When we asked which aspects of the office environment enhance your creativity the most, 75% listed office aesthetics as their top choice. Colour therapy, or colour medicine as it’s sometimes referred to, explores the psychological benefits of different colours, their hues, brightness and saturations. You will see drastic results in the employee experience by utilising the right colour for the space. Bright colours, whilst energising, can be anxiety-inducing, whereas pastel versions of those colours can be more soothing. Cool colours can make a room feel larger, whereas warm colours can make it feel more closed in. While everyone is different, there are some universal responses to colour. The colour should be chosen in harmony with the space; what colours will complement the furniture chosen, work in harmony with natural light and make the room feel open. Aesthetics also include decorative elements, such as artwork and finishings. Research shows that even viewing art can help reduce stress and depression, and working amongst natural textures uses biophilic design principles, which satisfy the human need for a connection to nature. [caption id="attachment_5149" align="alignnone" width="500"]
AW Spaces project for Dolphin Solutions[/caption]
A Big Imagination
Construal Level Theory, or CLT, is the notion that when we are placed far away from things, this promotes abstract thinking, whereas being placed in close confinement to objects fosters a more exact and solid thinking style. This does not mean we need to create gigantic office spaces where we float high above our desks, but workspaces should feel open and calm. One study found that those who worked in rooms with high ceilings tended to be more creative and positive. You can open up your office by removing walls, installing skylights, utilising light colours, decluttering sightlines, and, if there’s a good view outside your window, ensure it’s readily available and easily viewed.
Create a Happy Medium
The elusive work/life balance is crucial to creativity. Too overworked or stressed, our brains lose the capacity or want for creativity. When asked, ‘How linked is your work-life balance and your level of creativity at work?’ 47.1% of our survey responders answered with a ten on the level of importance. When asked to explain, these were some of the responses: “If I'm overwhelmed with work tasks, I don't have the space to be creative.” “The more rested and present I feel, the more space for creative ideas.” “If you maximise on everything, you burn out. The break from work is essential to rejuvenate and create mental space for new ideas to form.” Creativity can be found in culture; by fostering a culture at work where employees feel in control of their time and tasks, creativity is free to flow. In design, this can be achieved by creating dedicated relaxation or breakaway spaces that have nothing to do with work or even in gardens and outdoor areas that can be used for breaks. [caption id="attachment_2448" align="alignnone" width="500"]
AW Spaces project for Ecom[/caption]
Creative People Make Creative Spaces
The secret ingredient to creativity comes as no surprise. Collaboration with colleagues ranks highest in our survey, with respondents averaging 8.3 out of 10 in importance. “Collaborating with other creatives in my industry sparks more ideas.” “Good colleagues = good work” “It’s always good to get others' input as they will always have a different perspective. Together we are stronger.” “Ideas build in a crowd.” Through collaboration, creative sparks are ignited, and the team's collective intelligence is amplified. In your office design, include open, collaborative working environments, shared workspaces and dedicated meeting rooms to make room for ideas to thrive. Informal gathering spaces provide opportunities for idea-sharing outside of formal office settings. Versatile and modular furniture, such as movable desks, can help teams gather together to get creative in the moment. However, to speak to everyone’s needs, there should be flexibility. Everyone works differently and finds different spaces inspiring. By working closely with your team to find out what causes them to be most creative, you can create an environment that empowers and excites them.