3 Steps to Creating a More Creative Workplace

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BurnoutIf you work in any sort of creative industry (like marketing, writing, advertising, or recruiting, to name a few), you’ve probably dealt with a lack of inspiration. Writer’s block, indecision, apathy, or  a simple loss of focus can seem impossible to deal with in the moment.

We can wait these hurdles out, or we can do something to spark the creativity we need to push through and get our work done. Regardless of when inspiration strikes, we still have to complete our work.

So, how can you jump start your creativity when you need it the most?

Take More Breaks

It might seem counterintuitive to suggest that not working will lead to better work, but research supports this claim. On average, the most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work.

Getting away from the desk from time to time helps us get over tunnel vision and can even spark new ideas. When we sit back down, we’re refreshed and ready to work; we may even have a new perspective on tackling the problems we’re facing.

Eighty-six percent of bosses agree that breaks are good for employees, and 90 percent of employees know that breaks help them to be more productive — so why don’t we see everyone taking more breaks at work?

Well, even though employees think breaks are beneficial, 55 percent of them feel guilty about taking them. If you’re one of those 55 percent, don’t worry about taking breaks! Most bosses think it’s a good idea to back away from your desk and reboot your brain.

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole.” — Tim Kreider, “The Busy Trap” 

Liven Up the Office

If you’re actively looking to get all of your employees’ minds going, a little redecoration might be in order. If your office space is the dreary, white, and fluorescent workspace from, say, Office Space, it’s time to add a dash of color. Research says that painting the walls of your office can bring out different kinds of creativity in employees: blue makes for better brainstorming, green sparks more creative ideas, and yellow makes everyone more talkative.

While you’re having the office repainted, consider adding a couple of plants, which have been proven to reduce stress levels and help employees recover from difficult tasks. Plus, getting started on renovation projects might even give you the break from work you need to inspire more creativity !

Diversify Your Thinkers

You’ve implemented more break time and your office looks like a catalog. What else can you do to make your office a more creative place? It’s not easy, but diversity hiring is perhaps the biggest boost to creativity you can provide your company. Studies show that teams with more racial and gender diversity perform better on creative tasks than their non-diverse counterparts.

“Being with similar others leads us to think we all hold the same information and share the same perspective. This perspective, which stopped the all-white groups from effectively processing the information, is what hinders creativity and innovation.” — Katherine W. Phillips

Having a more diverse staff is a boon to business at all levels: diverse executive boards have a 95 percent higher return on equity than those without diversity. It may sound expensive to create a diversity hiring program at your company, but a lack of proper implementation can be just as large a hurdle. Forty-six percent of workers say that their middle management fails to implement diversity programs correctly, and 41 percent say they fail to see the connection between diversity and success.

Creativity can be hard to come by at times, and you can’t force it. But if you take some time off, make your workspace more colorful and natural, and have the right people to bounce ideas off of, you should be able to get a good idea going in no time.

By Maren Hogan