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Cultivating Innovation in the Office editorial staff editorial staff

Here are some ways to make your workplace ripe for creativity.

  • Innovation helps a business to grow and improves the work environment.
  • It can also help your business resolve problems in a cost-effective way.
  • A company culture of innovation tends to build teamwork and motivation in the workplace.

Google, Apple, Microsoft. Three of the biggest companies in the world all have something important in common that makes them powerhouses in the business and tech world: innovation. The companies that thrive are the ones that come up with new ideas that interrupt the market and ignite new trends.

While you might not be developing new tech, you still need to innovate as a company. But how do you encourage your creative employees to be innovative? How can you promote a healthy, safe, creative environment?

Google, Apple and Microsoft all have creative office spaces engineered to encourage innovation from their employees. Apple has an open, sleek, professional office design intended to boost collaboration while reflecting the modern design of the Apple brand. Google takes a different approach with some of the most fun and creative offices in the world, all meant to inspire employees.

Whatever approach you take, whether sleek and open or fun and energetic, the environment you create in your workspace is a vital piece of your company's culture and the creative capacity of your workforce.

Office essentials

Every office needs a few essentials – like desks, computers, pens and notepads – but you may need more to inspire creativity. Give some of these proven methods a try:

  • Color: You don't need to have an overwhelming amount of color or extremely bold patterns, but having more than just white walls everywhere in your office is sure to get your team's creative juices flowing.

  • Open space: Open spaces that make it possible for your workforce to collaborate are paramount for creative success.

  • Lighting: Mood lighting has its advantages, but generally speaking, you're not going to come up with your brightest ideas under dull lights. Make sure you have sufficient lighting for a bright, energetic workplace.

  • Break areas: While everyone's creative process differs, most creatives need time to ruminate. Break areas in your office can provide the space your team needs while they turn over their ideas in their minds. Many companies have break areas with games, snacks and comfortable seating; yours can be whatever fits your company's needs.

Company culture

What helps people be creative has more to do with the company culture than with the office itself, though an office space primed for creativity certainly helps. Workers need to feel safe and valued; they need to know that the company encourages new ideas and feel like their ideas are being heard and duly considered. These requirements are going to be met not by the physical office space, but by your company's culture. Here are some tips to help your employees feel safe so they can be creative.

  • Host brainstorming events. Have your creative workforce come together and brainstorm ideas. Make these meetings a place where even bad ideas are welcome. Brainstorming events can take place weekly, daily or with any frequency that you feel is best for your company.

  • Encourage communication and collaboration. Where possible, eliminate silos. Build a company where employees feel safe and comfortable talking with each other. Better ideas are produced when creative workers collaborate, even across departments.

  • Be flexible. Of course, you should have core business hours, but don't be afraid to be flexible from time to time. Creative minds don't run on schedules; they don't only have good ideas between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Be willing to be flexible with hours occasionally or to allow work from home, if possible, so your employees can cultivate their best ideas.

  • Do activities outside of work. Participating in fun activities or in conversations that don't involve work can strengthen team bonds, which builds collaboration. The more comfortable your team members feel around each other, the more comfortable they will feel bringing up new ideas.

Importance of innovation in the workplace

It increases productivity.

When employees are bogged down by work, they find innovative ways to streamline the things they do at work. Employees become more productive by doing their work in ways they have found to be efficient for them. They also become more productive as they try to showcase their innovative ways of doing things. An environment that encourages innovation motivates your employees to work harder as they find satisfaction in what they do. Being innovative allows employees to manage and prioritize tasks.

It helps you beat your competitors.

Innovation leads to improvements in products and services. You'll come up with better product designs or other improvements to connect with customers, potentially beating your competition in sales.

An innovative culture empowers a company to develop more efficient processes, often reducing production costs. You'll then be able to offer your products at a competitive price in the market.

It helps you market your business.

If you develop unique features for your products or services, you can use them as a marketing tool to stand out from the competition.

Ways to foster innovation in the workplace

Here are some ways to foster a company culture of innovation, according to TrainingZone:

  • Lead by example. You should consciously cultivate a culture that is open to new ideas. Instead of focusing on actionable processes and immediate outcomes, encourage curiosity by practicing it yourself. Reward bold efforts and encourage team discussions.
  • Track ideas as they arise. Keep track of all your team members' new ideas, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem.
  • Embrace diversity. Diverse work environments have been shown to drive innovation. Make sure to include many different cultures and perspectives in your hiring practices and team meetings.
Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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