Published February 13, 2018
People come to our Innovation Loft to engage in team collaborative events and often comment on how the environment itself both supports a creative boost in team energy and facilitates the ability to work effectively. We commonly get the question, “How can I create some of that same type of “magic” back at the office?”
We understand it may not be exactly practical for you to dedicate a 6,000 square foot loft space to create a fun-filled, collaboration environment like we have. And while we are happy to host your team at the Loft for key workshop sessions or events, we understand that you can’t bring them there every day! (We only have one, so everyone has to share.)
However, there are definitely things you can do to enhance the effectiveness of a more traditional work environment. In this post, we’ll cover 7 key qualities you should try to emphasize in a location where you wish to foster creative collaboration.
Create an environment that is surprising and novel. Our brains filter out a large portion of what we generally see, hear and feel as expected and familiar, so creating a space that is new and unexpected opens the senses immediately, and makes people more curious to hear new information and open to adjusting their thinking.
Certain colors, textures, and objects evoke a certain mood. We find that lots of toys, books, natural materials and flashes of bright color bring a smile to peoples’ faces and relax their spirits.
- Surround people with knowledge and content related to the topic at hand. This might include charts and graphs, images of competitive products or websites, images of user personas, or other relevant visual information. At the Loft, we have large magnetic whiteboard surfaces where we can write and post relevant material, as well as 35+ video displays we can use to display different images, videos, and websites during a session. In a conference room, you could achieve a similar effect by having just a few screens connected to a digital multimedia device (e.g. Apple TV) or computer, or by printing large-size images and posting them around the room.
Use soft, warm light from indirect sources to create a relaxed mood. Vision in a dominant sense and light has a massive impact on how people see the world. We use a significant amount of the latest LED lighting at the Loft to maximize this effect. We also use general fluorescent lighting which, contrary to popular belief, can be effective, as long as it comes from modern, high-frequency fixtures that don’t flicker, use warm bulbs and provide an indirect source of light.
Give people the tools to easily collaborate and interact. We find that the number one tool is to provide a lot of whiteboard space and keep fresh whiteboard markers in an array of colors close at hand. For an inexpensive approach, use whiteboard (or chalkboard) paint to turn whole walls into collaboration surfaces! Glass or acrylic tables can also be used as writable surfaces. Make sure someone is responsible for capturing and erasing the surfaces daily though. Nothing is less inviting than whiteboards full of unrelated content with “DO NOT ERASE” written in big letters above them. In our environment, anything left on the boards is photographed and uploaded to an album for later review before the boards are erased at the end of the day.
Encourage physical movement! Energy, enthusiasm, and creativity are all affected by movement. It’s difficult to remain energetic in a day-long meeting when you’re sitting in the same place for hours on end. An environment can offer several things to encourage physical motion, including toys or activities that encourage motion (e.g. punching bags or small trampolines.)
Iteration and Prioritization
Give people areas to post work-in-progress. During a meeting, something as simple as an open wall to post flip-chart pages or post-it notes can be an effective space to display information as the meeting progresses. Then you have an easy way to browse and prioritize your work.
The environment itself is only one piece of the puzzle. That’s why, in addition to our creative space, we utilize a wide range of other tactics to bring out the best in team collaboration. If you think we could help you improve your on-site collaboration facilities or craft an off-site event for your company or team, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.