How space impacts innovation

17/03/2020

Spark Office

Every day our brain is responding to many different stimuli of the environment. These stimuli influence our behaviors and our capacity to create and innovate. The design of an office space plays an essential role for innovation and should not be one size fits all. During the process of creative thinking and innovation, being able to focus is critical.  Other times taking a break works wonders for the brain to restore thoughts and generate new ideas. In other words: Space impacts innovation.

Poor space design

Workplace design has the potential to make or break the innovation capacity in a company. How office design can be beneficial for innovation will be described below. But how could interior design harm employee satisfaction, creativity, productivity and last but not least, innovation? Many offices still foster outdated patterns. This includes cubicles, corner offices and non-transparent walls. In other words: a top-down working culture, where teamwork is rarely seen. An outdated office design gets in the way of teams working together efficiently to enhance innovation. This is because everything is designed around an individual sitting alone at a desk. However, in today’s constantly evolving environments, workplaces need to be designed around team units.

Cubicles office
Workspace, separated in cubicles

Wellbeing and engagement

As described, spaces impact people’s health and wellbeing. If employees feel comfortable and calm in the office, stress is reduced and productivity increases. This leads to people doing their best work.

A healthy workspace is ideally adjustable by employees to fit their needs. Such workspaces may include a mix of ergonomic seating, wellness rooms, fitness rooms, standing desks, movable walls and healthy lunch options.  The remaining need for privacy can be addressed through phone booths and sound proof rooms, where people can make conference calls or do uninterrupted work. Office spaces which embrace flexibility with a variety of environments maximize employee wellbeing. Factors like air quality, lighting and views of the nature also significantly impact health, satisfaction, productivity and innovation. If a space is attuned with the people working in it, employees can reach their full potential and achieve results. This is also key for fostering creativity and shaping a company’s culture. In the end, a well-designed office space, where employees feel good and productive, increases the company’s innovation level.

The impact that spaces have on engagement and inspiration is very important too. People who feel comfortable and emotionally invested in their work, are also inspired to contribute in a meaningful way to the company.

In order to be successful, employers have to keep this in mind and provide the necessary tools to keep engagement high. In other words, employees will begin to associate a healthy workspace with the company’s brand, mission, and goals and be more motivated to innovate.

flexible office space
Workspace that is adjustable to the employee’s needs

Technology

Technology plays an important role in the transformation towards modern offices. It supports the shift from individual spaces to group spaces. Technology removes barriers of communication.

Originally, technology was developed for individuals working in isolation (e.g. personal computers and offline word processors). Nowadays, it is catering to networks and teams who work towards a common goal. Therefore, technology can be used to support teamwork and combinations of different perspectives. Ideas being shared fluidly, automatically generates more innovation

Collaboration and open spaces

As described above, the two most important things for an innovative work environment and office design are: privacy and openness. Floor to ceiling whiteboards in meeting rooms and collaborative project spaces allow teams to visually communicate with each other. This makes the innovation process faster, more effective and fun, in comparison to communication via email. Offices without doors and with clear walls can increase the feeling of collaboration and foster innovation. Flexible and open office spaces are key for motivational purposes, especially among younger workers, like millennials. Open, multipurpose spaces foster a sense of inclusion and transparency, making everyone feel more accessible and connected.

Staying ahead of trends and adapting office spaces will help keep the company attractive for employees, foster innovation and therefore create advantages over competitors.

Collaboration
Workspace that allows collaboration

By Carolina Garcia Heusser, Social Media Intern

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