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16 Oct 2018

6 ways to get employees thinking outside the box

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UK workers are among the least frequently creative, trailing US, Germany and France. But how can we design our workspaces to combat that? Here are six top tips from Steelcase to get workers thinking outside the box.

Employees in the UK report being able to work creatively less frequently than those in other leading economies, according to new research from Steelcase, which ranks six countries on how frequently employees are using their creativity at work. This is a critical issue as digital transformation is rapidly upending the world of work; routine tasks are disappearing and organisations across sectors increasingly need workers to think creatively and solve difficult problems.

The study of nearly 5,000 workers around the globe, carried out by Harris Interactive, found that in the UK only 36% of people are creative on a daily basis - placing the UK behind the US, Germany and France.

Individuals also have a part to play in developing and nurturing their own creativity at work; here are some useful tips for employees to get creative:

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1. Following creative ‘processes’

Build an understanding of how creativity ‘happens’ and the benefits of following a process that supports different modes of thinking. Choose where you work and with whom based on where you are in the creative process, from individual focus work to generating and socialising ideas.

Steelcase Microsoft Creative Spaces private area in reception

2. Get outside

Exposure to nature releases endorphins that improve your mood and put you in a more creative state of mind. So, if you’re lacking in inspiration, make sure you leave the office regularly, or choose to work in an area with natural sunlight and views of nature.

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3. Move around

Movement is proven to stimulate the brain, so going for a walk, running or taking part in some other kind of exercise should help get those cogs whirring. Alternatively, try lying down as it reduces the flow of the ‘fight or flight’ hormone norepinephrine, helping you to absorb and connect ideas.

Steelcase and Microsoft Creative Spaces collaborative area

4. Seek out stimulating inspirational environments

We are more creative in spaces with high ceilings, or a far-reaching view. Find spaces that inspire you with their design and that facilitate the kind of work you are doing, e.g. group, collaborative work, or individual focused work.

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5. Make a mess

Disorder is good for creativity, often generating new ideas and opportunities and helping you avoid predictability. If you feel more creative working with piles of paper rather than an elaborate system of organisation, then go for it.

Steelcase and Microsoft Creative Spaces solo desk6. Embrace mistakes

If you have an idea, you can only know if it will work by trying it. Don’t be scared to be brave. As Tim Brown has said: “…you sort of have to seek failure at some level, to seek those moments when the world is not how you thought it was and that you then have a new insight about it. That is your new idea and then you move forward again.”

To delve deeper into the findings, please read the full Steelcase Creativity at Work Report here.

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