7 Elements of a Highly Creative Work Environment

Do you have a creative work environment? Here's how to tell.

Many creatives are right-brainers who see the world a little differently than others, and they tend to invest themselves emotionally in their jobs. So their work environment needs to be an engaging, supportive space that allows them to stretch, do their best work and enjoy the process.

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 teams, you'd likely notice some commonalities.

If you're evaluating your current position or searching for a new job, consider these seven elements of a highly creative work environment.

The ideal workplace for creatives:

1. Reflects employees' interests 

Creative staffers often come from different backgrounds, have different skills and pursue a range of activities outside work. Whether employees can bring their dogs to the office, display the art they create during off hours or express their personal fashion style, the ideal work environment celebrates this diversity and lets creatives be themselves.

2. Embraces collaboration 

Creative work rarely happens in a vacuum; it thrives on collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas. The ideal office space is set up to make it easy for staffers to work together, with an open floor plan and plenty of communal space for people to sit together.

3. Encourages 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. Even non-managerial staffers can develop leadership capabilities by shepherding teams or projects.

4. Respects communication 

Nothing throttles the creative process like failure to communicate, such as managers who don't deliver full information about a project to the team or employees who fear being honest with leaders. In an open work environment, even difficult conversations are welcome, and communication lines are clear.

5. Sets a tone of risk-taking 

Many in-house professionals feel their firms don't take enough creative risks and don't encourage risk-taking among employees, according to The Creative Team of the Future project. Yet risk is an inherent part of a creative process that's intended to produce new ideas.

6. A creative work environment 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 range of experiences, engaging with diverse people and making connections between existing ideas to create something new. So the ideal work environment sparks inspiration. How? By encouraging staffers to form brainstorming groups, get out of the office and explore, and pursue personal projects.

7. Celebrates the work 

A supportive work environment is one where success is lauded. For instance, does your office have a "brag board" where employees can post work they're proud of? Where creatives can share and comment on projects in progress? Are employees recognized for going above and beyond? Do team members go out after work to toast a big completed job? (If you're not sure whether you're with the right employer, ask yourself these six questions.)

Consider how many hours a week you spend on the job. Make sure the work environment where you spend those hours is filled with creative energy, support and colleagues you enjoy.

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