In our offices, home office or corporate cubicle, we stare at computer screens all day long. However, it’s the creativity, passion and strategic actions we take that move our business forward.
I’ve asked Peter Mahoney, Chief Marketing Officer, Nuance Communications, to give his insight on creativity in the office.
Large companies like Google and Facebook have become famous for their creative and productive work environments, with practices such as Google’s “20 Percent Time” and Facebook’s informal office culture. But these innovative work environments, which also bring awesome competitive advantages, are not simply reserved for the Goliaths of the tech industry. Smaller businesses can create their own unique office culture with creative yet practical solutions, especially when the practices increase efficiency while minimizing costs. Below are five great ways to infuse creativity and productivity into your workplace.
1. Stand Tall
Numerous medical studies over the past few years have shed light on a growing concern in today’s office environment: Sitting is the new smoking. Harvard Business Review says the average person spends 9.3 hours sitting at work each day. Sitting for more than six hours a day can make you 18 percent more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and obesity, compared to people who sit less than three hours each day. The research is so compelling that the American Medical Association just recently adopted a new policy recognizing the potential risks of prolonged sitting, and is encouraging employers to make available alternatives to sitting, such as standing workstations. Not only do standing workstations help create a healthier workforce, but also a happier and more productive one. Products such as Ergotron’s Sit-Stand Workstations are ergonomic, minimalist stations that enable people to easily alternate between sitting and standing while working. Medical and ergonomics research has consistently shown that sit-stand workstations can result in productivity increases (up to 18 percent) and improved employee energy levels and mood states. By incorporating such equipment into a work environment, you can expect healthier, more productive and active employees.
2. Talk, Don’t Type.
Everyone wishes to be more productive and type faster. But what might not be commonly known is that voice dictation—speaking to a computer and having your words understood and translated to the screen—is up to three times faster than typing. Many businesses are using voice recognition software to get more done, faster. Not only can it help employees be more productive at their desks, but it also can assist with accurate note taking. Some studies suggest that we lose, on average, about 25 percent of the details of a meeting within as little as one day. Companies with greater resources can afford to bring a staff person into the meeting to capture those notes, freeing the employer up to focus on the client, rather than try to take notes and listen at the same time. But for many businesses, this may not be an affordable or feasible solution. With up to 99 percent accuracy, voice recognition software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking for PC and Dragon Dictate for Mac can help employees quickly and accurately jot down notes from a meeting, so important details aren’t missed. Not only is voice recognition software an easier, more convenient way to take notes and compose documents, it also relieves the strains of constant typing, which can lead to the development of repetitive stress injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
3. Creative Space for Collaboration and Others for Focus
According to a recent Forrester report, 29 percent of the global workforce uses multiple devices from multiple locations to complete their daily work tasks. The report also mentioned that 37 percent of information workers start a project in one location and finish in another. This mobility promotes collaboration, and creates easy opportunities to work with other people. The tech news website Re/code advises that people spend time in a lounge area with coworkers, or gather together in a bullpen-style area “where they can feed off each other’s energy and determination.” At the same time, it’s also possible to withdraw to a secluded area or conference room in order to focus and work alone. The advancing technology, constant connectivity and mobile devices in the workplace make these practices possible.
4. Embrace Mobility
With new technologies (such as tablets and wearable devices) coming out every day, combined with the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, businesses need to ensure that their office structure is equipped to handle our increasingly mobile and global workforce. Bump and connect can no longer just be about running into people in the hallway – we have to find a better way to connect with experts who may be halfway across the globe. Employees need mobile technology that allows them to be as productive on the go as they would be in the office. The new trend of micro-collaboration apps are headed in the right direction to make this happen, including DropBox, Evernote and Collaborate.com. These examples demonstrate the idea that emerging technologies can’t simply be advanced and efficient, they must also promote collaboration and personal interaction. The best technology will be effective in connecting people to each other.
5. Foster Creativity by Design
Cubicles lined up in a dimly-lit, blandly-colored windowless office are a thing of the past. For example, Facebook designed a revolutionary office that features angled walls, curved desks and an uninterrupted floor plan in which employees can walk from one end of the building to the other without passing through a door. Indeed, the company may be onto something with its curved designs—Fast Company recently outlined why our brains are more receptive to objects and designs that are rounded rather than linear. Whether it’s a curved desk, vibrant colors or other unique design features, employees should design their workspaces in ways that best bring out their own personal creativity.
Today’s work practices are very different from those seen ten years ago, last year or even last month. Whatever new trends emerge, it’s crucial that businesses and employees adapt their work habits to unleash the best possible innovation in the workplace.