Don’t be flippant about creativity – why infantilism works (a 3-minute read).

July 8, 2019    Sarah-Jane Osborne     ,

Super creative workspaces always seem to garner column inches and provoke debate – particularly those that have been inspired by element of infantilism.

The idea that embracing our ‘inner three-year-old’ helps to bring creativity, communication and collaboration into our day is not a new one, at least for creative and digital powerhouses such as Google, King, Auto Trader and Ticketmaster.

Many of these big brands use elements of infantilism to motivate, inspire and interrupt: challenging the conventional idea of workspace design.  Yet despite the success of these businesses, and their ability to attract and retain the very best employees – their workspace designs are sometimes met with derision.

Interior design is subjective – the creative playful interior of Google is not the design concept that a silver circle London law firm is likely to opt for.    So, to a law firm a slide is completely ridiculous.  A well-stocked kitchen offering free food might seem an unnecessary expense. Car meeting rooms might just sound plain impractical. So why do it?   This softening of workspaces and the inclusion of fun, child-like elements highlights the changing expectations of the workspace and the people using them.

The x generation (born 1960-80) has been cited as one of the hardest working generations. For year’s this generation’s biggest want was to work from home and break the shackles of formal ‘in the office’ working. But workers needs are changing, and Millennials and Snowflakes now have their own set of wants, desires and work life expectations. In particular they want greater sociability at work and better relationships with their managers, they want more opportunity for career progression and to understand the context of their work and why it matters. They also want more flexibility and choice.

Leaders of fast-paced creative businesses recognise the value that comes from chance encounters with colleagues; spaces to collaborate; environments that let employees work rest and play without needing or wanting to leave; spaces that let employees feel part of something bigger; zones that pique the interest and spark the imagination.

That’s where infantilism comes in and why a slide makes sense for Ticketmaster  – it provides fun, stimulus and invigorates the team as it connects open plan work areas to the meeting rooms below.  For King, a business developing new games and apps, it needs a well looked after and energetic team and that means having great quality food and an employee café on offer whenever it’s needed. For Auto Trader, car meeting spaces keep the core business objective front of mind and lots of write-on surfaces mean that great ideas, no matter where they happen, can be written down and explored.

All of this creativity is anchored in business process.  It supports how they work and what they do and takes into account who is using the space – their audience, their employees.  In the examples we’ve shared the workforce is typically made up of the younger generation and inspiring, flexible, well equipped, tech-intuitive, all-encompassing  environments are what they expect.

These big brand businesses know that the best work environments (comprising space, facilities, business process, ethos and culture) are key to attracting the right talent.  In fact, some have even gone a step further, creating cities within their offices to give employees access to parks, cafes, sleep zones, yoga studios, 3D interactive libraries, DJ facilities, hairdressers, tele-health services and more.

They have made their work environments and cultures so all all-encompassing, stimulating and well equipped that employees can’t do without it – they have become integral to their employees’ lives. It’s no surprise then that this strong cultural bond translates into greater employee loyalty, engagement and productivity too.

So next time you read about super creative office interior design don’t be so quick to scoff.  Look at that company’s story – consider why they’ve embraced creativity and ask yourself if a more a creative workspace would let your business flourish too.

To find out more about the war for talent and how to attract and retain the best talent, download our War for talent whitepaper, which is full of guidance and advice:

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