5 ways to foster creativity in the workplace – and why it’s important

creativity-workplace

Creating the right working environment is fundamental to boost your employees’ productivity. This is based on science. According to the study ‘Happiness Works‘, millennials expect to be happy at work and tend to think about their jobs as more of a valuable life experience than as a mere paycheck. 

Unhappy or unmotivated employees also cost businesses money as they tend to take more sick days, burnout faster and be slower and less focused. On the other hand, happy employees are more resilient and loyal – and 12% more productive than those who feel miserable in their own careers. The ‘Happiness Works’ survey also found that one of the factors that makes employees more prone to be unhappy are climates that lack creative freedom.

This raises the question of how to design a working environment that’s happy and creative, while not so relaxed that productivity falters as a consequence. 

Giants like Google have introduced new schemes that have shaken our entire working culture, encouraging out of the box recruiting approaches, remote and smart working, offerings of food catering and tons of benefits, naps and video game breaks, and an environment that rewards new ideas.

Startups have done their fair share of revolutionising office culture, too. They are proof that innovative ideas can come from anywhere world. And diversity that they bring to the table often translates into a more open minded work environment and is a great catalyst for creativity.

If you have a startup or an emerging company or even an old-school business, you should definitely try to foster creativity, hence productivity in your team. Here are some great hacks for you to do just that:

Equip your team with the right tools (or suites) for creativity

One of the latest trends in corporate work environments is the introduction of time and productivity tracking apps. The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francisco Cirillo in the late 80s to improve his productivity at university, but has recently gained worldwide popularity thanks to a bunch of apps (for example, the Pomodone App or Engross). All kinds of professionals use it and swear by it, however this may not be the right approach for your employees when you are trying to ingrain some creative sensibility in them.

The Pomodoro Technique, may in fact, cause your employees to grow anxious and or hasty when deadlines approach. 

Instead of it, you should try to use tools or suites for communication or collaboration.

Project manager virtual boards, shared files and documents are a great way to both stay up to date with your coworkers and employees’ work and to collaborate efficiently with them. Other tools that may help foster creativity in the workplace are the ones with a modern, intuitive interface such as Canva.com or the Hemingway app both of which put a nice, innovative spin to creative labor. 

This is not to say that you should be getting rid of deadlines – let’s be real, we all need them – or tight working schedules. We should just approach them like Tom Sachs does (read below!).

Be like Tom Sachs: set rules for your employee

As we previously claimed, creativity is all about being autonomous, independent and free – right? Yes and no! As an employer who wants to foster creativity in your employees, you should encourage independent working but also establish a clear set of rules.

On this, you might want to take a literal (pictured above) page from renowned artist and visionary Tom Sachs. He famously coined – and framed – the phrase ‘Creativity is the enemy’. With this he didn’t mean that artists – or artisans or technicians – shouldn’t be creative at all. He meant instead that scheduling and work ethics come first and that they are the general premises to creative labor. He said in an interview:

“Well the idea of ‘creativity is the enemy’ is to do the work that is set out before you and not to improvise unless it’s absolutely necessary. I think there’s a capriciousness that happens in art that’s very indulgent, and I like to make the innovations and creative acts within my work incrementally.”

This, obviously, applies to all the companies out there!

Adapt to change and embrace new technology

Many have made a case that technology enhances creativity. One of the reasons why tech might be good for creativity, is related to economic convenience. Tech allows you to test your ideas digitally before realising them in real life and with that comes some saving of money and energy. Also tech – and the digital transformation – has made creative careers more accessible to people: most creative suites are just a click away.

Even the highest form of creative office ever featured on television, the one from Mad Men, has learned to employ technology to its advantage. Throughout the 60’s, Don Draper & Co. have adapted to drastic changes in their office equipment: first it came the typewriter, than the xerox machine, then even an IBM mainframe computer!

If they could do it, you can too! Embrace technology in your workplace and creativity will just tag along for the ride. 

Brainstorm 

In a way project management is nothing more than a continuous attempt at boosting corporate creativity. And brainstorming is the keystone to project management. That’s because as a project manager you find yourself constantly solving problems – and being creative about them – and as Richard Branson puts it, two brains are just better than one at doing that:

“Two heads are definitely better than one and by sourcing ideas from each other, you have a better chance of coming up with a strategy that will allow your business to overcome a setback or challenge.”

If you want to run a successful business you need to keep an open mind, listen to other people’s inputs, try different approaches and ultimately tap into multiple intelligences. And what is that if not being creative?

Reward your employees

A good rule of thumb in the office is to make your employees feel appreciated. Again, a happy employee is a more productive employee. That is why a proven way to boost creativity is to set prizes (also of financial nature) for your employees. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, financial incentives make people suggest fewer but better ideas and possibly fuel a more innovative culture in the workplace. 

Aside from prizes and raises, it might be useful to implement a growth mindset in the workplace from the very start and to make your staffers feel like they are contributing to a bigger endeavor – not just executing small tasks. 

Remember: monotony kills creativity! And we really don’t want that, do we?