Has creative development and innovation in your workplace come to a grinding halt? All is not lost. Having the right elements in play in your work environment can be monumental in fostering a place where creativity can grow and thrive. But where do you start? Stifled creativity can be caused by a number of different factors. Maybe you’re working alone and need new input to solve a problem, maybe your office is lacking stimulation and visual elements to trigger inspiration, or maybe there’s something going on with interpersonal relationships that are preventing those around you from expressing their light blub moments. By implementing a few of these helpful tips your team will be cranking out bright ideas in no time.

Collaboration:

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” Promoting a collaborative environment within your office is essential to growing a creative and innovative work environment. When employees feel that they can share and work together on ideas or problem solving, it’s more likely that they will come up with something amazing.

  • Encourage group brainstorming sessions for problem solving or idea generation.
  • Loosen the guidelines on reaching goals. Let your employees find their own solutions to complex problems and create teams to help them get there. You may find that there is a better, more efficient, and even more creative way of completing a project that you yourself may not have considered.
  • Start an office vision board where employees can pin ideas and concepts that inspire them. A casual stroll to the coffee pot could inspire a groundbreaking idea.
  • Create comfortable communal spaces in your office to encourage your employees to break out of their cubicle and put their heads together in an inviting space.

Encourage risk-taking:

Encourage your employees to take risks. While some risks may not pay off as expected, others could bring far-reaching success. Helping your team understand appropriate risk-taking can encourage them to think further out of the box. It’s ok to set reasonable guidelines so that your employees can take smart, calculated risks, but too many rules and micromanagement can dry up the possibility for a more creative solution.

Encouragement also comes with empowerment. Praise those who take risks even when a risk doesn’t pan out as expected. Getting angry when a new idea doesn’t quite meet expectations will only stifle your staff’s likelihood of trying something new in the future.

  • DO encourage your teams to take appropriate risks that could help your business gain a competitive advantage.
  • DON’T discourage further risk-taking by micromanaging or punishing risk-takers if their risks don’t produce expected results.

Respect communication:

Respectful communication with your staff is vital to creating a safe space for creativity. If your employees don’t feel like they are able to communicate their needs with their superiors and peers, it’s likely they won’t feel comfortable sharing new and innovative ideas as well. Work with your staff to better communication between one another, their teams, their departments, and their supervisors by listening and resolving any underlying issues.

  • Make sure your teams are receiving all relevant information they need to complete a project or solve a problem.
  • Resolve any underlying personal communication issues between staff that could be preventing team members from feeling comfortable sharing new ideas.

In idea development, it’s important that all parties feel free to present any idea, good or bad, without ridicule. There’s nothing worse than having your ideas shot down before they can even truly be considered. Listen to all ideas and reasoning behind new concepts before fully taking them off the board and allow everyone to give their honest opinions openly without retaliation. You’ll likely see or learn something you otherwise wouldn’t have.

  • Be open to all new ideas and allow a chance to understand the reasoning behind each concept. Even if the idea still isn’t viable, the explanation process could trigger a game-changing light bulb moment in someone else.

Comfortability is key:

Allow your employees to express their individuality. If they feel more comfortable with being themselves, they’ll be more comfortable sharing ideas and bringing their own personality into the creative process. This could mean adopting a more relaxed dress code, allowing your employees to bring their dog to work, or even allowing your employees to team up on interesting side projects and activities. They’ll be more likely to go above and beyond if things aren’t so serious all the time.

  • Adopt an open dress code. Allow your employees to dress the way they want. You’ll find that if their able to express their own sense of style and comfort, productivity, morale, and creativity will improve.
  • Team up your staff for a fun non-work-related contest. Try starting up a cubical decorating contest for holidays, or even office prank wars if you’re brave enough.

Build an inspired workspace:

Let’s face it, sitting in an office chair isn’t the best part about a desk job. Why make it even worse with an uncomfortable chair, fluorescent lighting, and a dull-looking workplace. Letting in natural light, adding comfortable office chairs, and having stimulating décor has been proven to boost people’s mood, energy, and productivity. Help make your employees feel at home even when they’re at work.

  • Let them customize their space and allow room for comfortability. Splurge on a stand-up desk or new desk chairs.

Allowing for a change in scenery can also help stimulate new ideas. Having a communal space or a place for your employees to take a break, mull over an idea, or even work in a team can help build an environment ripe for innovation.

  • Have a comfortable communal space for collaboration or a mental break. Sometimes your brain just needs a little time to chew on an idea so that it can fully form.
  • Allow your staff to take a break from their office and change their scenery. An hour or so on a park bench and some fresh air can be a great refresher for the creative mind.

Consider flexible hours:

Hard set working hours, PTO, and vacations days can be important but having some more flexible options could be helpful in creating a company culture that shows you value the integrity, health, and happiness of your employees. It could be a good option to loosen guidelines on when your employees can take off and what counts toward their PTO or vacation days. Allowing your employees to take a little time when they need it can show that you understand that they are a human being and not just a workhorse. Giving them this time to take a needed break will have them returning refreshed and primed to throw out new ideas.

  • Encourage your staff to take mental health days or work from home to help reduce stress.
  • Let your employees choose when they come into work. Some may be more creative at the beginning of the day and some a little later. Give them a few options to choose from like 6am-3pm, 8am-5pm or 9am-6pm. This way they can have more flexibility while still getting their full 40 hours of work each week.

Creating something amazing takes a lot of work and brainpower. If you set up your environment right, the seed of inspiration might sprout into something truly brilliant. With a touch of collaboration, a dash of comfort, and a sprinkle of encouragement you may be surprised at what new ideas might begin to bloom.

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