Is your small business’s office sterile and boring, or wild and creative? If the former, you need to get hip to the times. In hopes of motivating and inspiring their teams, more businesses are moving away from the traditional, cubicle-laden office space to more open, flexible and communal space.
The new word for it is “creative space,” the Los Angeles Times reports, and while the trend has been around for a while now in leading-edge industries like consumer technology and advertising, it’s becoming mainstream.
What are some common features you might find in “creative space”? According to the Times, hallmarks include:
- Wide-open spaces. Instead of walled cubicles, partitions or offices with doors, employees in creative space sit where they can see each other. That might be at low-walled cubicles, at “free address” space where people just bring their laptops and grab any available desk, or at a big cafeteria-style table side by side.
- Natural light. Expansive windows and high ceilings let light in, which keeps workers more energized than fluorescent lights.
- Bright décor. Instead of framed prints or paintings, creative spaces often feature huge, colorful murals (think the offices at Facebook) or chalk walls where employees can contribute their own art work.
- Gathering places. Foosball and ping-pong tables, communal dining areas nicer than the traditional cramped office kitchen, and comfy common areas that look more like living rooms than lobbies are some of the amenities that enable employees to get together.
Proponents say creative space makes it easier for employees to communicate and makes them more productive, but there are some possible downsides to consider. Before deciding if creative space is right for you, think about:
- Providing adequate meeting spaces for private conversations with small groups or clients and customers.
- Places for employees to store belongings and personal items if they don’t have traditional desks.
- Noise is a big consideration in creative space, with high ceilings and hard surfaces contributing to the problem. Provide space where employees can work quietly if they need to or make sure employees have headphones so they can “plug in” and tune out their surroundings.
To deal with some of these issues, the Times says a growing trend is developing buildings where part of the space is “creative” and the rest is more traditional. This way, employees get the best of both worlds.