As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate, from querulous clients and flaky suppliers to talent challenges and long-term planning. You can be forgiven if decorating your meeting rooms isn't at the top of your list of priorities.
But science suggests that while jazzing up your office design might never be your number one concern, maybe it should be a little more important to you than it currently is. According to a new study, your bare bones meeting rooms might just be holding back your team's creativity.
Bare walls = fewer ideas
The new research, which recently appeared in the Journal of Personnel Psychology, divided 54 student volunteers into three or four-person teams. Everyone was told they were on the 'red team' and that they would be competing against an entirely fictional 'blue team' in a creativity challenge. They were then assigned to either an empty conference room, one decked out in 'red team' paraphenalia, or one that was done up to be all about team blue.
Who did better? If you guessed that those who were cheered on by friendly home team decorations would overperform the others, you're only half right. The color and nature of the decorations seemed to matter less than the fact that there were some -- as long as a team wasn't staring at empty grey walls they performed better.
"The researchers found that teams moved to a friendly Red room or an unfriendly Blue room performed better than those placed in a lean room," explains the British Psychological Society Research Digest blog, summing up the results.
The takeaway for bosses couldn't be clearer according to the post: "All in all, the research suggests that workspaces with a rich character are more supportive of team performance than those built for anonymity."
Cool offices don't have to be expensive offices.
That's probably not a huge surprise to you, but it's easy to get distracted from the fact that your drab office might be be a real performance drag on your team. Isn't designing an inspirational space going to be expensive and difficult?
Not necessarily, as Kevin Kuske, general manager of furniture maker Turnstone explained to Inc. Even small changes to your office design can radically boost creativity. Or, if you're really pressed for cash, check out these super lost cost ideas for souping up your office.
The easiest idea of all, however, might just simply be allowing your employees to personalize their own spaces. In that case, you have to do essentially nothing and should reap some of the rewards of a warmer, more homey office.