6. How to design an office space that promotes creativity and improves employee well-being.

There’s a lot of talk about the need for creativity in the workplace. And none of it has anything to do with the type of artwork you choose to hang on your walls. Instead these conversations center on the fact that organizations that encourage their employees to think creatively at work enjoy a distinct advantage over their competitors. In fact, creativity in the workplace isn’t just a “nice to have” it’s a “must have” if a company wants to be competitive.

Most often, when discussing the design of a workplace, the focus is on the physical effects on the workers, but how does it affect a workers well-being?

Leah Stringer, a workplace strategy expert and author of The Healthy Workplace believes that, “human health should be the foundation of workplace design because companies thrive on the innovation and abilities of their people, and if employees are sick, overweight, stressed, sleep-deprived or disengaged, they prevent the company they work for from thriving and maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
The amount of personal space and the type of personal space within an office environment can encourage or discourage social interaction between employees.
For example, the common belief behind having an open-space office is that filling an open area with a lot of people will generate more group interaction and idea exchange. But in reality the total opposite can be true.

Too many people sharing a space can cause excessive distraction and conversation noise that will make it more difficult for employees to concentrate on the jobs at hand. Usually when put into this type of environment, employees tend to huddle down in their space, put on headphones, and block out everyone and everything around them.

Not exactly the type of employee reaction that would help your office achieve the cross-pollination of ideas that you were hoping for.

Another issue with distractions in the workplace has to do with employees who might suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For these employees, who are easily distracted and have difficulty staying on task, having too many things going on around them will make even the simplest job difficult to do, adding to an increase in their stress level on the job.

To help minimize distractions for employees working in open spaces, consider using workstations and other modular furniture that offer a seated, visual privacy wall between employees. Sound masking and the use of sound absorbing materials should also be considered.

According to Ester Buchholz, a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and the author of The Call of Solitude, the need for “alone time” to let our thoughts wander and to figure things out are essential for original creative thinking and innovation.

Studies have also shown that when employees have the ability to control their level of privacy, the adverse effects of other workplace stressors are reduced. Offering employees this flexibility on where and how they work within the office is also beneficial to any employees who suffer with any form of depression. For example, a person with depression would not benefit from being assigned to an enclosed workspace at the end of a hallway, or alongside a high-traffic hallway that offers little privacy. By offering other alternatives, employees with depression will feel better having control of where
they can go to work.

Stress is something every person feels and experiences to some degree every day. One thing studies have shown is that psychosocial stress is a predictor of mental health
problems. A beneficial workplace feature that has been show to reduce stress and help people recover from stressful situations is windows. Another study suggested
that just viewing nature, whether through a window or images (pictures) helped to reduce stress and support employee well-being.


The Connection Between Well-Being and Creativity

Expert from Kimball White Paper “The Connection Between Well-Being and Creativity” published on 11/8/2018