Perfecting your office setup might be pretty far down your to-do list, but should it be?
There’s ample research to suggest that the style and design of a workspace has a direct impact on productivity and creativity, so let’s take a closer look at this connection and find out what it might mean for you.
While large businesses have people with titles like “director of workplace strategies,” small, creative businesses like yours don’t have that luxury. Instead, it’s up to you to design your workspace in a way that maximizes potential, performance, and productivity. Instead of basing your office environment on hot trends, look for ways to leverage design as a tool for fostering creativity. There are a handful of unique ways you can accomplish this.
Introduce Elements of Home
Nobody works well when they’re uncomfortable. Being in this kind of environment zaps your energy and depletes your focus. On the other hand, being in a comfortable space that feels natural allows you to zero in on the task at hand and get work done.
One way you can make yourself feel more comfortable is by introducing elements of home into your workspace. This will help you avoid feeling like you’re in a bland, corporate setting and give you a sense of belonging in your environment.
What feels like home to you will depend on your personality and style. One idea is to integrate comfortable seating, like a couch, into the office. This allows you to take a break from a stiff desk chair and relax for a few minutes when your creative juices are drained. Another idea is to get rid of the fluorescent lighting and try incorporating more natural, warm lights. Not only does this look better, but it improves productivity.
Prominently Display Artwork
According to a survey of more than 800 employees working for 32 different companies throughout the United States, art in the workplace addresses several key challenges. Specifically, 64 percent of respondents agree that the right artwork increases creativity, while 77 percent say it encourages expression of opinions.
Instead of only displaying your own art work and custom pieces, use this as an opportunity to leverage the relationships you have in your local art community. One idea is to trade art with a friend and display each other’s work in your respective studios or workspaces. This gives you some fresh wall art, while also putting your work in front of an entirely new audience.
Not only does working with other artists allow you to build up your professional network and support your peers, but it also exposes you to new artwork. By surrounding yourself with new types of art, you’re more likely to think outside the box when working on your own projects.
Include Convenient Areas for Collaboration
Creativity often happens when multiple people come together and share ideas. Is your workspace conducive to easy, seamless communication?
Even in the smallest of businesses, you need to establish convenient areas for collaboration. This could look like a nook outside of your office, an accessible conference room, or even video conferencing for remote teams.
But what about for those of us who work alone? Though it’ll certainly look different, collaboration and human interaction are still important. Try to carve out at least one or two moments per week where you invite others into your space to collaborate on a project or brainstorm ideas. On a related note, it may be helpful to occasionally get out of your main workspace and visit a co-working space. When you bust out of your normal environment, it tends to get the creative juices flowing.
Consider Color and Nature
If you’ve spent any time studying color theory, then you’re aware that different tones create different reactions. As designer Kelsey Clark points out, “Red affects the body, blue affects the mind, yellow affects self-confidence, and green affects the balance between mind, body, and emotions. Each of the four colors also generates a specific office temperament that lends itself to various skill sets.”
Make sure you understand and respect the fact that colors - whether on walls, in artwork, or on your computer’s desktop background - have a direct impact on your level of creativity.
Since green affects the balance between mind, body, and emotions - and plant life has been shown to reduce stress and increase productivity in the office - it makes sense that you’d consider integrating elements of nature, as well.
“Adding green touches to your workspace can happen in a number of ways,” Jane Porter writes for Fast Company. “Incorporate plants into the workspace, sit near a window with a view of trees outside, or simply add touches of green to the color scheme of the space, such as a rug or lampshade.”
Set Yourself Up for Success
When running a small creative business, you have to prioritize innovation and inspiration. Set yourself up for long-term success by spending time thinking about your office design, and let your space inspire your work. It’ll take some time and effort - and will likely dip into your budget - but it’s worth it because your creativity is what makes your business special.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffPost.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.