Don’t be flippant about creativity.

June 4, 2016    Ann Clarke     , ,

A new report from the British Council of Offices has coined a phrase for the increasing number of creative workspaces inspired by elements of infantilism –the funky-fit-out.

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, 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 some a slide might seem 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 the Y generation (born 1980-2000) on how has its own set of wants, desires and work life expectations too.

It’s now widely understand that technology has broken the link between the act of work and the place of work – the focus is now on collaboration and choice. Employers of fast-paced creative businesses recognise the extra value that comes from having their people all together, in the office. 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 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 Auto Trader, focused on selling cars, 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.

It is the Y generation that makes up the bulk of this new technology sector and inspiring, flexible, well equipped, tech-intuitive, all-encompassing environments are what they expect.

These big brand businesses know that the best work environments (taking into account 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.

So next time you read about super creative office interior design or come across the term ‘funky fit-out’ don’t be so quick to scoff or roll your eyes. Look at that company’s story – consider why they’ve embraced creativity (who it’s meant to attract and how it supports what they do) and ask yourself if a more a creative workspace would let your business flourish too.

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