PROMOTING INNOVATION IN THE WORKPLACE

Innovation vs. Creativity

What is innovation, and why is it considered such an essential asset to the workplace environment?  People tend to associate “innovation” with “creativity”, and while it is appropriate to keep these words in the same category, it is important to understand that they are not the same thing.   Creativity is simply a process of coming up with new ideas, while innovation takes it a step further.  Innovation is the discovery of new ideas that result in production or economic usefulness.

Everyone responds to their environments differently.  Focus is critical in the process of creative thinking and innovation, but so is “taking a break”.  This is where your workplace environment comes into play.  Workplaces need to have the ability to support both “focus work” and “divergent thinking”.  A strong, diverse working environment will support employee’s in doing their best work.

Focus space vs. Divergent space

Focus: Focus spaces can range from an enclosed space, to a space with consistent background noise (such as a café). As mentioned previously, everyone reacts to their environments differently. Therefore, a “focus space” can vary greatly, depending on the person’s preference. It should be an area that allows for “heads down” work with limited distractions. A successful example of this might be broken out, somewhat enclosed pods within a public space.  This way, employees can feel safe and focused while not being completely hidden, or tucked away.

Divergent: Divergent space is important. Everyone can, and should, benefit from a “mental break” at some point during the day, and that is what a divergent space should be able to provide. This is a space where your mind should be able to rest. Common and successful examples of this include seating areas with views to the outdoors, or café seating near a busier area where other people may be able to provide a distraction.

When it comes right down to it, everyone works differently. Therefore, it is important to provide multiple settings so that employees have the opportunity to work and thrive in their own preferred location and space.

Office design should not be “one size fits all”. Smart design leads to innovative employees and a more successful business overall.