Moving the workplace can be challenging in one way or another, might bring positive or negative effects. The new premises could not be more different.
While it’s a more inviting place to work, it also made for a more creative and productive office. It’s not only because of the space, but our people are coming with all sorts of crazy and innovative ideas.
The idea that a simple relocation has got employees creative juices flowing is not as far-fetched as it might first seem. There is a growing body of research that suggests lighting, wall colour and even the height of the ceilings can have a big impact on the way we think. While cramped, open-plan offices may be an inexpensive way for companies to get more people in less space, these workspaces can sap creativity.
The office was designed for a manufacturing mindset, but most of the work done is knowledge work that values innovation and creativity. People need to feel secure and comfortable so they can be free to be innovative and creative.
Well-designed workplaces often create environments that make their employees better thinkers, often without even realizing they have done it. But some are now actively turning to the science to help free their workers’ minds.
One of the easiest ways to inspire creativity is to put the right coat of paint on office walls.
While there will be some effect from personal preference, green has been directly linked to creativity. Other bright colours, such as light blues and yellows can also increase creativity too.
There may be two reasons for this effect. First, calmer colours, such as greens and blues, are less stimulating than more saturated ones, like red, so they distract us less from the task at hand. Green also reminds us of nature, which may help us to relax, she claims.
If there’s one colour to avoid, it’s red. While it can give us a burst of energy, it has been linked to degraded analytical performance and more aggressive feelings.
Lighting is also critical to fostering creativity. Getting the right balance has been shown to be crucial to maintaining the right mood within the workplace. Too dark and workers can feel drowsy, while if it is too bright, it can make them feel anxious. Experts recommend the ideal level of brightness in an office to be around 500 lux – a measure of light similar to sunrise on a clear day.
The best kind of illumination, however, is natural light. It has been shown to improve our mood, helps us sleep better and makes us more productive. But to get the best out of natural sunlight, it needs something more.
“If you have access to natural daylight but you’re staring at brick wall, then that won’t work,”. “These things are combined – you want the light, but you also want to see greenery, water and wood. These things have a positive impact on almost everybody.”
When it comes to artificial lighting, warmth and colors matter. In more collaborative workspaces, where we need to think creatively, she claims a warmish color is ideal. If we need to concentrate or to think analytically, a bluer light is better.
A study from Cornell University showed that using focused, indirect up lighting had a greater impact on the satisfaction and productivity of office workers than the wide, parabolic downlights that are typically found in most open plan workplaces.
Get some headspace
Perhaps most surprisingly, the amount of space above your head could affect how you think. A study from 2007 looked at how ceiling heights impact people’s mental processes, and found that higher ceilings result in more creative thinking, while lower ceilings help people complete more hands-on tasks.
“Ceiling heights bring different kinds of concepts or thoughts to mind,” says Joan Meyers-Levy, author of the study. “Those concepts then influence the actual way that you process information.”
“If a ceiling is high it activates the idea of freedom, or the lack of boundaries,” she says. “When you experience low ceiling height you activate concepts of constriction or confinement.”
It’s not a new area of research. The stduy mentions the 1966 work of Edward Hall, who applied this theory to places of worship. He noted that “chapels, which are small and contained, are likely to convey the notion of confinement or restrictedness, whereas awe-inspiring cathedrals are reminiscent of the freedom and openness of the cosmos.”
Putting it into practice
Incorporating all of these hidden design elements means developing a variety of spaces in an office, so staff can find privacy if needed, but also work in areas for creative and analytical thinking.
For instance, a company might want to have one room with high ceilings where more creative work can get done and other room with lower ones where more hands-on tasks can get completed.
“It’s about creating a variety of spaces,”. “We want to create environments that maximize the potential to be successful.”