5 Surprising Ways ‘Nature’ in Office Design Boosts Creativity July 03 2015, 1 Comment

How to improve creativity in the workplace

Office work can be draining. Even if we enjoy our work, some tasks just require a lot of attention. So sometimes, we just feel the need to get out and take a walk in the park, clear our minds and get those creative juices flowing again. Unfortunately, that’s not going to work if we don’t have any parks nearby. Or when we don’t have the time for a walk. Or when it’s pouring it down with rain. Luckily, more and more research is showing that putting some nature in our office design, whether directly or symbolically, can boost our creativity as well. With a bit of ‘biophilic design’, we can effectively re-create a natural environment indoors that has the same effect as the real thing. So do you want to know how to improve creativity in the workplace? Here’s five easy ways to do it:

1. Light

It probably won’t come as a surprise that more natural light in your office promotes creativity in the workplace, as well as a whole bunch of other things such as productivity, enthusiasm and motivation (Cooper et al). Imagine having to choose between an office with tiny windows and one with large windows providing you with an expansive view. Easy choice to make, eh? In studies, people with no window views reported significantly lower levels of creativity. In addition, daylight also keeps people energized and focused.

How to get this in your office design: If you have the option, choose a space with a large window, and place your desk near it so you have a view. If you can’t position your desk near the window or when the window’s quite small, try putting up a large mirror to reflect the light from the nearby window. In winter, an artificially well-lit office will make up for some of the daylight loss. A task light like a desk lamp or pendant lights that aims soft light directly on your workspace can help you focus and rein in your attention, says design psychology consultant Barbara Stewart.

2. Plants

The most direct way of getting some nature in your office design is, of course, plants. In one study, they were seen to increase creativity by 15%. It has been suggested that it’s because they invoke our ancient instincts that there’s food nearby and that makes us more relaxed, calm happy - and creative! Both managers (Ceylan, Dul & Aytac, 2008) and employees (University of Exeter) perceived that they were much more creative when they got to have plants in their workplace – sometimes 45% more so!

How to get this in your office design: Easy-peasy! Buy some pots that suit your office design (green?) and select a plant that tickles your fancy. A mix between one or two large plants and a few small ones works best. Some particular plants even have air-purifying qualities, such as peace lilies. Double win!

3. The colour green

Green significantly improves worker’s creativity in the workplace, also possibly because it reminds the brain of nature. A 2012 study found that even a brief glimpse of green prior to a creativity task enhances creative performance (University of Munich).

How to get this in your office design: You can add green accents to your workspace in a number of ways. You don’t necessarily have to paint the walls apple green (although you could!). For example, you could change your light shades for green ones, or buy green chairs. On an even smaller scale, you could change some accessories over, for example your pen holder and a vase.

4. Artwork

When it comes to creative thinking, you may be inclined to put an intriguing piece of abstract art on the wall. Not always the best idea, according to Barbara Stewart. This kind of modern art can be too energizing and distracting when you’re doing creative work. If you want to improve creativity in the workplace, opt instead for artwork that display peaceful scenes of nature. Research shows that simply looking at a computerized image of a green roof already improves focus as well as subsequent performance.

How to get this in your office design: Don’t just go for any photo or artwork that displays a bit of nature. Pick a piece of art that fits your company, your personal taste and the general office design already in place.

5. Natural materials

Not that fond of the colour green? Findings show if office design effectively re-creates the natural environment indoors, it can have the same as the real thing. So natural materials such as wood can also help to improve creativity in the workplace. Again, this allegedly goes back to our instinctual preference for nature.

How to get this in your office design: Add natural materials to your workspace, for example wooden desk lamps or wicker pendant lights. And try to incorporate a few more curved, organic lines rather than harsh straight edges. Again, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a big architectural change. The shape of your desk, chairs, accessories or lights can already do the trick.

These five tips on to how to improve creativity in the workplace should be enough to get you started. Are you going to make some creative changes to your office design? Be sure to let us know in the comments how it turned out. We’d love to hear about it!

 

Image 1, 2 & 4 via Pinterest