7 Elements of a Highly Creative Work Environment

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By Robert Half May 14, 2019 at 12:00pm

Want to boost recruitment and retention? Make sure you offer your employees a fun, supportive and highly creative work environment.

Many creative professionals are right-brainers who see the world a little differently than others, and they often invest themselves emotionally in their jobs. So, their work environment needs to be an engaging one that allows them to stretch their skills, find inspiration, and do their best work throughout the entire project life cycle.

What does the ideal creative work environment look like? As you probably guessed, there's not one right answer. But if you toured the offices of some of the most successful creative agencies and in-house teams, you'd likely notice some commonalities.

What might those commonalities be, and how can you use them to establish a space and culture that fuels employee fulfillment and innovation? Consider the following seven elements of a highly creative work environment.

For creatives, the ideal workplace …

1. Celebrates people and their work

The greatest driver of happiness for creative and marketing professionals is doing worthwhile work, according to research published in The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees, a guide from our company that you can use to increase satisfaction levels in your office. The second most important factor for creatives is feeling appreciated for their work.

Be sure your staff feels valued, and regularly remind individual employees about how essential their contributions are to helping the team achieve its big-picture goals.

A supportive work environment is also one where success is lauded. For instance, does your office have a "brag board" where people can post projects they're proud of? Are employees recognized for going above and beyond? Do you encourage team outings to celebrate a big completed job? These are low-cost, easy-to-implement approaches you can adopt immediately.

2. Reflects employees' interests

Creative staffers often come from different backgrounds, possess a wide range of skills and pursue a variety of activities outside work. Whether you allow employees to bring their dogs to the office, tackle individual or team-focused side projects, or express their personal fashion style, the ideal work environment celebrates this diversity and lets creatives be themselves and feel at home.

3. Encourages collaboration and communication

Creative work rarely happens in a vacuum; it thrives on collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas. The ideal office is set up to make it easy for team members to work together, with ample communal space for people to meet up and swap ideas.

On a related note, nothing throttles the creative process like the failure to communicate. In a work environment where top-quality creative work and openness are valued, even difficult conversations and critiques are welcome. Maintain an open-door policy and keep the communication lines clear.

4. Allows ample time for projects

You can’t rush the creative process. Pad in enough time for your team to deliver its best work. Nearly half of advertising and marketing managers surveyed by The Creative Group said the planning phase of a project is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming. So be sure to develop timelines appropriately. (View the full survey results in the infographic below.)

5. Sets a tone of risk-taking

Many creative professionals feel their organization doesn’t take enough creative risks. In the same survey, 53 percent of advertising and marketing managers said their team plays it too safe with projects. Risk is an inherent part of a creative process that's intended to produce brilliant ideas. Don’t micromanage employees — rather, empower them to make bold decisions and push the envelope when appropriate.

6. Fosters innovation

The most prolific idea generators are those who understand the importance of refilling their creative wells. They know that creativity stems from gathering a wide variety of experiences, engaging with an array of people and making connections between existing ideas to create something new and impactful. The ideal work environment sparks inspiration by encouraging staffers to get out of the office to explore and even pursue creative passion projects.

7. Promotes learning and teaching

In the optimal work environment, employees are encouraged to grow by learning from their colleagues and taking on projects that introduce them to new techniques or skills. Whether it’s paying for staff members to go to industry conferences or allowing them to attend training events during work hours, make sure you support employees in their professional development pursuits — and then ask them to share what they learn with their colleagues.

Considering how much time you and your employees spend on the job, it’s important that the work environment where everyone spends those hours is filled with positive energy and happiness. These seven tips can guide you in creating the ideal creative workplace!

Does your office design fuel inspiration? Check out our post on creative workspace solutions now!

CREATIVES GET CANDID ABOUT THEIR MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

3.8 out of 5: Average rating advertising and marketing managers give their company’s creativity in marketing campaigns

How would you rate your team when it comes to creative risk-taking with projects?

8% We take too many risks and it often backfires
43% We do some risk-taking but not enough
39% We take the right amount of risks
10% We play it much too safe

In general, what stage of the project life-cycle is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming?

Initiation — defining objectives, scope and requirements 20%
Planning — creating a plan and gathering resources 46%
Execution — developing deliverables and monitoring progress 30%
Closure — releasing deliverables and evaluating performance 4%

Source: The Creative Group survey of more than 400 advertising and marketing hiring decision makers in the United States

©2019 The Creative Group. Robert Half Company. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

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