Creative work environments

Whenever I think about creative work environments, it reminds me of a friend whose office had a magic window. It looked out towards the team but, at the push of a switch, the window turned frosty and opaque to make the space instantly private.

Years later, I often find myself thinking about how digital innovations like this can promote creativity, collaboration and values. The first thing to note is that innovations can seem like fads, until they don’t. Just check out where people who should know better make terrible predictions about telephones, the wireless, iPhones and delivering mail by guided missiles.

So it’s certainly not about trying every possibility that pops up – big or small. For me, the key is in understanding how creative work environments could help you and your organisation without the need to move. Here are just a few ideas …

Digital news wall

Particularly in business, knowledge is everything. And creative work environments can do so much to foster the spread of information. What better way to keep everyone up to date than through a custom digital news wall? Pretty much every workplace has ‘that wall’ – the one that sees a tonne of footfall, but only carries a piece of artwork that’s been there forever, the company logo, or even nothing at all.

Replacing this with six, eight or more digital panel screens will provide a rich canvas to display whatever you like.

You can then either hook this up to a rolling news feed, or if you’re feeling more ambitious, have someone create a custom dashboard that contains your share prices, social feeds, local weather reports, company news headlines, and national and business news.

(Smart) creative work environments

What Brit doesn’t love to talk about the weather? And, as winter sets in, conversations start about the legal requirements of how warm the office needs to be. In the UK, the minimum is 16ºC (or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work). But, as well as temperature, why not think about lighting?

You’ll have heard that more people’s sleep is affected by constant exposure to the ‘blue’ light that comes from computer monitors and mobile devices. Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin (heat), with warm/orange light at the softer end of the scale at 3,000k, while blue sits in the middle at 4,000k and white light at 5,000k.

Why is that important? Well, in the office environment rainbow, there are a few shades you should know:

  • In the general office area, you want a cool white colour. That will support productivity and keep people alert and clear
  • In a breakout area, softening this to a warm orange will give the senses a well-deserved break
  • A bright white in kitchen or bathroom areas will help promote cleanliness and hygiene.

Artificial intelligence

I can’t talk about creative work environments and not include artificial intelligence. There’s been a lot of hype and a lot of let-down with AI. From your Alexa at home accidentally buying products from ads it heard on the TV, to the BBC running the first stories written by robots (albeit checked by a human editor) on December’s general election night.

For the most part, AI isn’t really artificial intelligence. Not many products on the market are actually smart enough to learn, and grow, and adapt to their surroundings or even come close to passing the famous Turing Test.

They’re really devices that have been precoded with an awful lot of phrases, responses and actions. There are so many of these, it appears the device has done the thinking. But actually, it’s just a really good search engine.

Thinking of it this way, having an AI assistant for your company isn’t such a bad idea. Imagine having an app or an Alexa-like pod in every pocket or desk, where colleagues can ask questions like: “What’s my holiday allowance this year?”, “When’s the deadline for claiming expenses?”, or “Where can I find our health and safety policy?”

You wouldn’t need to navigate the intranet. You wouldn’t need to call the HR team. You don’t need to search through your emails for when the latest policy was shared. Everything would be instant, searchable and personalised.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. But what I find exciting is that these innovations are giving us smart ways to help make all our workspaces tangibly better for the people in them. More creative, more collaborative, better organised – what’s not to like?

Get in touch to find out how we can help with digital innovation and creative work environments.