Many businesses today are calling for professionals who are innovative and creative in their work, adding value to their organisation in the long-term. To encourage this type of behaviour in the office, a good starting place is to assess the work environment and office culture.

A creative work environment is an engaging one, that allows people to stretch their skills, find inspiration, communicate openly and do their best work.

What makes a workplace creative? Well, there's no 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.

So, what might those attributes be, and how can you use them to establish a culture that fuels employee fulfilment and innovative ideas? Consider the following six elements typically seen in highly creative work environments.

1. Celebrate people and their work

Be sure your staff feel 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 – there are a few creative employee recognition ideas you can try.

For instance, do you have a "brag board" where employees can post work they're proud of? Do you encourage innovation with ideas boards or idea incentives? Do you encourage team outings to toast a big completed job? These are low-cost, easy-to-implement approaches you can adopt immediately.

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2. Reflect employees' interests

Your employees often come from different backgrounds, possess different skills and pursue a variety of activities outside work.

Whether you allow dogs in the office, tackle individual or team-focused side projects, or let employees express their personal fashion style - a more creative work environment will be achieved if you celebrate diversity and allow people to be themselves and feel comfortable at work.

Related: Why embracing different opinions in your team is important

3. Encourage creative collaboration

Creativity and innovation rarely happens in a vacuum; it thrives on collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas.

The ideal work environment is set up to make it easy for team members to work together, with ample communal space for people talk and swap ideas. These spaces encourage creative thinking exercises, such as regular ‘brainstorms’ or scrums.

4. Respect employee communication

Nothing throttles the creativity and innovation in the workplace like the 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 a work environment where top-quality work and openness are valued, even difficult conversations and constructive feedback are welcome. Maintain an open-door policy and keep the communication lines clear.

Related: Motivating your team: 25 ways to increase employee engagement

5. Set a tone of risk-taking

Many professionals feel their firms or departments don’t take enough risks. But risk is an inherent part of encouraging creativity and seeking out innovation to enhance your businesses' competitive advantage.

Don’t micromanage employees, but do empower them to make bold decisions, and push them to take smart and calculated risks, when appropriate.

6. Promote 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 employees 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.

Related: 5 benefits of flexible working for your employees

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.


You can visit our Management Advice page for more tips and resources, or alternatively, you can contact one of our recruitment experts today.