Considering a Creative Office Space? Here’s What to Know First

HR departments have long understood the lure of a strong employee benefits package to help attract and retain employees, but more and more employers and facilities managers are hopping on board the creative office space trend and coming around to the idea of another, less tangible benefit: a comfortable workplace that fosters creativity and/or collaboration so employees can do great work.

Understand the difference between “creativity”; and “productivity”

Do you need more big thinking or more collaboration? Certainly, creative office spaces foster productivity, collaboration, and innovation when employees have the space to gather, brainstorm, work together, and take quick coffee breaks. Carving out a space that fosters innovation helps your business achieve goals faster when speed is the name of the game. All employees involved in special projects communicate faster, easier, don’t wait for emails and fosters hyperfocus on one thing that needs to be done. The balance tilts toward getting things done as opposed to a “ cool space for cool’s sake.” Both the collaborative and creative office spaces encourage employee engagement.

If your goal is to break down “workplace silos,” consider a rotating floor plan where teams move locations every six months, putting them in proximity to others, encouraging collaboration and building better interdepartmental relationships. Or take it to step further discuss with your consultant how your business can carve out an area that is exclusively designed for teams to improve in speed and communication on a project by project basis.

Ignore the traditional square footage per employee guidelines

The old standards of 175-250 square feet per employee or 150-400 square feet for executive offices aren’t as relevant, or uniform, in today’s more open floor plans. UX engineers may need larger desks for their computer needs. Employees in HR, Finance, or who deal in confidential information may require a bigger footprint if they need locking files or their own dedicated printer.

Consider the needs of your employees & teams

Boomer or Gen X employees (more used to having offices during their careers) may need privacy screens. Millennials may just need a sweet pair of headphones. Introverts or those whose work requires more attention or discretion may need to be situated away from noise or high traffic patterns.

When grouping salespeople or call center personnel together, determine if closer quarters interfere with concentration or help create a constructively competitive atmosphere where successful closes are celebrated and used to motivate others. It’s important, however, to strike a balance between individual workspaces that increase focus, and community space, which facilitates impromptu or planned teamwork.

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When evaluating how your business is doing, it’s only too easy to reflect on how your business performed— not how your business space performed. Yet it’s critical to evaluate how your facilities support your company goals, employee satisfaction, and overall productivity. Read Office Space Trends for 2015 to learn what savvy companies are examining this year »

Working arrangements should be flexible

The old paradigm of employees spending 9 to 5 at their desks is long over and employers should adjust their expectations to reflect this. In a creative office, employees tend to be mobile, turning any quiet corner or outside park bench into a meeting place or workspace. Other companies have reduced costs by implementing shared workspaces or allowing certain employees to work from home most days when they don’t have an important face-to-face meeting. The result for employers is often a positive impact on employee retention, satisfaction, and success.

Let employees exert some control over their environment

A 2005 study found that productivity, cohesion, satisfaction and morale decline when employees have no influence on or input into their environment. These fixes can be as simple as using modular furniture and rolling whiteboards in conference rooms to create different layouts or making temperature controls and lights more accessible.

Know what your company mission and culture can support

“Creative space” may not be the answer for every firm. For instance, a white-shoe law firm would not have a video game room like Facebook, but a smaller law firm focusing on start-ups might. It’s also important to take the needs and expectations of clients or vendors into account when redesigning space.

One compromise might be demarcating employee-only creative space from work or meeting space by using more comfortable, approachable furniture to encourage use without looking like a toy company. Décor should be suitable to the corporate tone.

Get Started:

Don’t let the opportunity pass you by—contact the Corovan experts to help you determine the best possible solution for your workforce and industry. Leverage our experience today.

Next: [Part 3] What Does a Creative Office Space Looks Like? Real-Life Ideas

Creative office spaces may be de rigueur these days for ad agencies and software companies. But in addition to looking great, they have business and strategic advantages for almost any type of business or organization, when thoughtfully deployed. Our special three-part series examines the trend and how your company might benefit.