Creative Office Space: 20 Ideas to Spark Creativity at Work
Work is evolving. People have more options than ever for where, when, and how to work. Innovation and creativity can strike at any moment, but thoughtful business leaders are facilitating fast-paced development and operations by curating fun, exciting and motivating workplaces. A creative office space can stimulate the exchange of ideas, increase collaboration, and support flexible work arrangements. Everything from sunlight in the office to color palette selection can impact how an office promotes employee wellbeing.
As workplace trends favor a return to the office, employers are more conscious than ever of how to make their people feel welcome, inspired, and at ease.
Here are the 20 best ideas for sparking creativity at work.
Creative Office Space and the Importance of Creativity in a Workplace
Hartman Income REIT Management, Inc. CEO, Al Hartman, recently wrote on the six strategies for creativity at work. He identified the signs that a team has lost creativity, and purported that the following six strategies are vitally important:
- Having individuals set a vision for themselves
- Holding daily team huddles
- Having regular one-on-one meetings
- Delivery, Accountability, Responsibility, and Timing (DART)
- Vision mapping
- Indulging in SPA time, which stands for Strategic Planning Appointment time
These operational tips have immense value, as does the context in which they are carried out. PwC conducted a remote work survey in January 2021, finding that top executives are reassessing the purpose of the office, pinpointing collaboration, career development, and brand-reinforcement as high priorities. An analyst at Berkeley reported on how work environment influences creativity, revealing that the social environment provides extrinsic motivators for creative thought and work. Creativity-promoting environments foster collaboration, constructive challenging of ideas, sharing, trust, and support. Organizational support in the form of an inspiring work environment was a key indicator of how well creative or non-creative personnel would perform in assigned tasks or projects.
Al Hartman urges leadership to consider the environment: “A good working environment has a direct and measurable impact on an employee’s ability to perform at a high level. . . . All [environmental factors] can affect your team’s ability to show creativity at work. If you see an opportunity to make positive changes to the working environment, take it. It can only help your team’s creativity at work get better.”
To put action to his charge, here are the 20 ideas our team has for you, broken out by common features with examples and ideas and tips.
Creative Office Space: 10 Common Features and Examples
A modern office space is important to employee comfort and creativity. Some of the most creative offices have shared characteristics that help people dream big and perform exceedingly well at work.
1. Open Floor Plan — Wide open spaces are well-known to facilitate creative ideas. We’ve all heard “cluttered desk, cluttered mind,” but the building itself can also feel tight and restrictive or open and expansive. Even without a huge floor plan, openness can be achieved in wide halls, taller ceilings, thoughtful furniture placement, and windows.
A custom office space at Energy Plaza
2. Flexible Spaces — Anymore, a modern and creative office space needs to accommodate hybrid workers and be as malleable as possible. On-demand meeting spaces, quick-set-up Zoom rooms, flexible shift desks, and more can make it more possible for people to work when and how they want.
3. Indoor/Outdoor — Sunlit offices improve employee health, and being able to catch a breath of fresh air is a big boon for people who spend most of their time indoors. More offices are using indoor plants, solariums, breezeways, and more, when the climate permits. Newly constructed office buildings often include porches, balconies, picnic areas, and other ways for people to get outside throughout the day.
A meeting room at The Preserve offers a scenic view of the outdoors
4. Scenery — Early research in Seasonal Affective Disorder and similar mental health challenges made it clear that seeing blue skies, plants, movement, and activity are all important contributors to happiness. What do employees see when they look out windows? Renewed landscaping and even moving furniture away from windows lets in more light and brightens the view.
5. Rearranging Space — Arranging an office is something that used to be a “once in a while” activity, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, more offices have had the opportunity to switch things up. From de-densification to re-orienting furniture placement, the setup is key to making people feel either solitude or camaraderie, and like they have enough room to spread out, share, or gather.
6. Quiet Places — For employees who are coming back to the office after being at home, or who are more inclined to want peace and quiet, having space for them to be alone with their thoughts may support creativity. This is easily accomplished by re-envisioning smaller offices, making sure that in addition to wide open spaces, people have places to escape or gain a moment of respite for creative contemplation.
7. Healthy Amenities — More office buildings are constructed with this in mind: healthy amenities nourish people’s bodies and brains. Food carts, coffee bars, upscale vending machines, and kitchenettes all make it easier for people to take pleasure in refreshment, and can facilitate great moments of spontaneous chats that spark new ideas.
8. Upgraded Lobbies and Throughways — Creativity often happens in the in-between-times, and isn’t something totally possible to predict. Employers should consider the full experience employees have in a building, which includes the moment they enter a lobby to their time traveling through hallways and rooms. Even simple lighting tweaks can make every welcome and every pass-by more enjoyable.
Coming soon: A new coffee bar and lobby at Timberway II
“In our spec spaces, we’ve built them like they’re Class A spaces: we put LED lights, LVT, brand new carpet, and paint”, says Richard Maloof, Hartman Income REIT’s Executive Vice President of Leasing.
9. Beautiful Architecture — Trends change, but the value of craftsmanship never goes out of style. Offices that inspire creativity aren’t just functionally adequate: they are beautifully built and designed. As you look for office spaces, or evaluate your current space, consider what architectural style it reflects, if any. Does it inspire you? Even if you are in an economy space, beauty can be found everywhere, and should be emphasized for the pleasure of employees.
10. Well Building Standards — Employers are increasingly conscious of the health and wellness of people inside an office or retail building, and with good reason. Enhanced cleaning standards have become normal, but adding Clean Air Technology and other award-winning, nationally recognized strategies for improving wellness is important to keeping employees safe and satisfied.
10 Ideas & Tips to Achieve a Creative Office Space Now
Setting a high standard and evaluating office spaces based on these criteria is an important exercise. However, if you already operate in an office space that you enjoy, here are some tips to make it even more conducive to creativity.
11. Optimize Layout — There is no rule that says cubicles must face a certain way, walls must be a certain height, windows must be shaded, or desks must run parallel. Rather than adhering to “what we’ve always done,” think outside of the box. Can you more creatively utilize your space by optimizing layout? A change may be in order, and carrying it out may spark creativity in your employees.
A colorful common area at Timberway II
12. Colorize With Care — A decade ago, all office buildings were predictably beige. But color theory has developed to underscore the power of shades over the human mind. Do a little digging into how reds, blues, greens, yellows, and more can impact how your employees feel, and consider using more color in strategic ways in your office.
13. Strategic Lighting — Similar to color, light sets a mood. First, know that lights have color. Is your office cool or warm? Be sure light is standardized across your space. Then, consider accent lighting in strategic spots: lamps, floor lamps, desk lamps, under-cabinet lighting and more are all available as a very affordable but powerful way to make your office space more inspiring.
14. Invest in Art — Most office buildings have “hotel art,” or equivalent, at best. While there is nothing inherently wrong with nondescript art, it hardly fuels creative expression. If you want your people to be creative, work together to create or obtain art that reflects who you are and who you want to be. This is a culture-setting opportunity, as well as a way to enhance the office environment.
15. Showcase Ideas — When we are young, the refrigerator is the place our accomplishments go to tell the family what we’ve done well. How do you visually recognize your employees’ accomplishments? Consider how you may do this in a way that is also visually appealing and promotes creative ideas.
16. Build in Comfort — Many employers struggle with the balance of productivity and pleasure. People need creature comforts, but they also need to work hard. You can strike this balance while still providing ergonomically optimized work stations, comfy chairs in the break room, and outdoor spaces for a quick bite.
Tenant lounge and indoor plants at Ashford Crossing II
17. Buy Plants — This point is very simple but highly effective. Even if they don’t realize it, people who work in offices all day crave proximity to plant life. Humans are wired to respond to plants: they provide oxygen, they are beautiful, and they are comforting. Use plants indoors as a way to bring the outdoors in.
18. Provide Creative Tools — Sometimes, the most creative experiences can happen when people are given a different way to think. For people who work on a computer all day, this may be as simple as switching to a pad and paper or a whiteboard. Lego offices are well-known for having bricks laying everywhere for employees to play with. Consider how to make people’s experiences more varied and tactile.
19. Give Permission to Personalize — It can be easy, either intentionally or not, to discourage employees from personalizing their workspaces. Especially if they share workspaces, they may feel hesitant about hanging family photos or bringing in personal items. And yet, that level of familiarity is important to leave room for creativity. Be sure to cultivate a culture of permission, making it known that employees are encouraged to put their personal stamp on their work areas.
20. Use Textiles Thoughtfully — Office spaces tend to look and feel more industrial. Even modern work areas can be softened with the thoughtful use of textiles. Consider throw pillows, rugs, tablecloths, and more not just as accents but as essential components of your office decor.
It’s Time to Get Creative
Businesses thrive when highly-talented people are attracted, retained, and inspired to perform their best. Crafting the right space, implementing employee feedback, and maintaining a supportive environment are part of the role of a modern business leader. You may be able to find a creative office space, or make strategic changes that modernize your existing office space. If you already have an office space, it may be possible to use tenant improvement allowances to make these creative changes or upgrades. Whatever the tactic, this is a priority for the firms, retail businesses, and companies of all kinds that intend to lead their industries into the future.
Hartman has move-in ready spaces, as well as moving coordinators that can assist you in getting the space you need from day one. Whether you want a smooth relocation or an expert transformation of an existing space, our team can provide insight. Looking for creative office space for rent in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio? Contact us today.
About the author:
Sarah Hoopes is the Marketing Coordinator at Hartman Income REIT. She is a graduate of Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Management.