Let employees bring their own items into work – photos, ornaments, books, furniture and even the dog now and then. These reminders of home can brighten up that commercial property in Mayfair and make it a home from home. This creates a warm, informal atmosphere that lets people feel safe enough to take the odd risk here and there.
Be the all-seeing eye
This sounds sinister, but what it actually means is observing your employees at work rather than asking them direct questions. People might tell you what they think you want to hear, rather than the truth, so catch them in the act of being themselves. The desk set in the “snug” corner is never used, but you notice everyone clustering around a sofa – so ditch the desk and replace it with some plants to brighten the place up. Josie gets stressed at 5.15pm because she’s worried about getting to the child-minder on time, so let her go at 5.00pm – she’ll focus much better.
Get into the zone
A good office, like a good city, has zones for different activities. Everyone gathers in the kitchen for gossip, the sofas for brainstorming and the space just by the stairwell for a bit of privacy. Make sure these zones are highlighted and kept sacred (as it were), so everyone’s secure in the knowledge that if they’re by the stairs, no-one will bother them.
Use icons to inspire
You can use either your own company’s work, or iconic images or objects that you aspire to. If you’re an advertising agency or a graphics company, invest in some vintage ad prints. This reminds you why you’re there and gives you something to aim for.
Get out and about
If you have any green spaces nearby, or a courtyard in your complex, use them to their full advantage. Bring plants indoors, and let in as much natural light as you can so that people feel freer and not so desk-bound. A change of scene boosts creativity and a stiff walk has solved many a problem. It’s called blue sky thinking for a reason…
Let your people be creative in their own way
Creativity isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. Some people love to stand in front of an audience and wing it, making ideas up as they go along; others like to ponder in dark corners with a sketchbook then email the results to the (slumbering) team at 2.00am. Don’t make the sketchbook brooder give presentations and don’t expect the whiteboard wonder to stay up until the small hours. Similarly, don’t force people outside their comfort zones – get a dyslexic to draw ideas rather than display their handwriting in front of strangers.
Give people privacy
Sharing is caring and all that, but sometimes, it’s too much of a good thing and employees need uninterrupted time and space to bear down on a thorny problem (sounds painful). The space by the stairwell is OK, but if you can provide a closed-off room with a “do not disturb” option, that’s even better.