Boosting creativity. Sounds simple enough! However, those two words have baffled many. Creating the right conditions so that your employees have all the tools they need to maximise their creative output is no mean feat. Below we run through 5 things you can do to boost creativity at your workplace and help your teams be more innovative.
Before everything else... Make sure communication lines are open!
As with any positive workplace keep in mind that the most important tool to boost creativity is communication. When there is transparent, open, honest communication everyone knows where they stand and employees feel empowered to think outside the box. It is useless to strive for a more creative workplace if your communications channels are all shut down.
Rethink your office’s open plan
Up until a few years back open-plan offices were all the rage but an increasing body of studies has found open-plan offices to increase stress levels in employees, reduce collaboration and also increase things such as sickness leave. Organizational psychologist Matthew Davies reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments and found that rather than making employees feel more laid-back and as though they were part of a forward thinking enterprise “they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.” We’re not suggesting to scrap completely the layout of your open-plan office but creating more private spaces where employees can collaborate within smaller teams will definitely have a positive effect on creativity at your office.
Read more about the pros and cons of office spaces - Office-spaces - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Space to think and meditate
If the above isn’t at all possible then creating a workspace which encourages meditation can be a happy medium. Open-plan offices, social media, email popups, phone notifications… the list is endless and in today’s world, our brain is being continuously inundated by different things that demand our attention. Meditation is a tool which improves attention, switches on divergent thinking and nurtures resilience. Companies such as Google and Goldman Sachs have discovered that mindful meditation is “not only useful as a stress-reduction tool but can also enhance creativity, opening doors where once there seemed to be only a wall.” Creating spaces away from distractions and encouraging mindful meditation will give the opportunity to employees to take time out and focus at the task at hand.
Even though there are some truly awesome tools to help online brainstorming sessions, nothing beats the good old ‘being in the same room whilst jotting ideas down on a whiteboard.’ This might not always be possible with remote teams but if you have the opportunity to brainstorm offline make sure to integrate this useful tool whenever possible, even if that means having an hour set aside every week.
Diversity in the workplace
You will find that creativity lies in using different problem-solving tactics and if you are hiring people who tackle a challenge in the same way you will not get diversity in the thought process. Even when setting up teams, the more diverse they are, be it gender, race, education, background, etc, the more diverse life experience you will bring in resulting in different perspectives to problem-solving. It is also important that each member of the team feels a certain degree of psychological safety with their teammates so they can feel empowered to think outside the box. Read more about how to foster psychological safety at work here.
Unlock creative thinking
As soon as you are able to gather your team for a brainstorming session (online or offline), try some creative thinking tools which help shift focus on what might have become a stagnant thought process. The Six Thinking Hats, for example, is a simple yet genius technique developed by the world-renowned Edward de Bono where you unscramble the thought process using each different hat to approach the problem or idea from a different perspective.
Finally, if you want your employees to be more creative you will need to be ready to let go of some of the control. You cannot have creativity and at the same time micromanage your team. The people in your team were hired as experts in their fields and it is of the utmost importance you give them trust and the space they need to grow. Anything less will stifle their creativity and hunger for innovation.
With these 5 things you can do to boost creativity at your workplace, your employees will be churning more creative output in no time.