3 Office Tweaks to Boost Creativity
Some of us are born with a naturally creative nature. Others hone their ability to think innovatively through 10,000 hours or more of grueling practice. But boosting your creativity doesn’t have to be so difficult.
Okay, fine, the quickie route to creativity isn’t going to turn your stodgiest employee into a Picasso of company innovation, but there are simple changes you can make to your work environment that will boost the creative potential of your team, according to an interesting recent post on the Buffer blog. What are they?
Fiddle With the Volume Knob
If your office is downright loud, no one will be able to think straight. If it’s deathly quiet, even quiet sounds can be distracting. Research reveals that there is a sweet spot when it comes to the level of ambient noise. Get it right and your team will be more likely to churn out good ideas for your business.
The post explains the science in greater detail: "Here’s how it works: moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. Or, in other words, when we struggle just enough to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches… A University of Chicago study found that ambient noise was the optimal level for creativity, whereas extreme quiet sharpens our focus, making it hard for us to think creatively."
Tweak the Thermostat
It’s unlikely that any study will ever totally end the office temperature wars, but if you’re aiming to maximize creativity, science does weigh in on whether the sweater wearers or the window openers should prevail. It turns out those that like it hot are on the right track.
The post cites a study from Cornell University that tested the effects of different temperature levels and discovered that "when temperatures were low (68 degrees or 20 degrees Celsius) employees made 44 percent more mistakes than at optimal room temperature (77 degrees or 25 degrees Celsius)."
"The problem isn’t just being uncomfortable in cold temperatures, but rather that you are more distracted. If you are feeling cold, you are using a substantial amount of your energy to simply keep warm," explains the post. "Thus, a lot less energy goes towards concentration on creative work. Increasing the temperature in your office, adding more clothing layers or bringing a portable heater to work could make all the difference when it comes to increasing your creativity."
Turn Down the Lights
"Research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology looked at the difference in creativity levels in brightly-lit and dimly-lit environments over six studies.
The research found that dim lighting helps us to feel less constrained and free to explore and take risks," reports the post. "So when you’re gearing up for a brainstorming session, try turning down the lights before you get started."
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.