6 Effective Ways To Unlock Creativity In The Workplace

Tested formulas for re-igniting and finding that creative spark in your team

Creativity can be difficult to cultivate and deliver on loop in the workplace. Brands and companies know that it’s the key to innovation and economic growth, yet creating a culture that gives the process of creativity priority is not easily achieved. 

Adobe’s State of Create Global Benchmark Study found 75% of respondents said they are under growing pressure to be productive rather than creative, despite the fact that they are increasingly expected to think creatively on the job. 

Finding the secret to unlocking creativity in the workplace from a business leaders’ perspective should be approached in the same way other management problems are tackled; creatively. Fortunately, there are tested formulas for re-igniting and finding that creative spark.

boss and employee

1. Creativity Trickles From The Top

One of the biggest hurdles to igniting creativity is that traditionally it is an underappreciated skill within companies and that’s because it can be difficult to directly attribute with bottom line success. So in order to prioritise creativity - you need to address buy-in and support from senior management to begin with.

Heidi Brooksfrom the Yale School of Management says, “It is important to have a leader, manager, or supervisor who walks the talk and doesn’t simply ask people to voice outside-the-box thinking, but also demonstrates the same behaviours him or herself.”

women mountain cycling team building

2. Travel Often & Get Outside The Office

Inspiration doesn’t come from mundane routines or environments if it’s difficult to inject creativity into the workplace, get the team outside. Whether that’s art openings, museums, parks, taking a class in pottery or mountain biking, working from a co-working space or home, even a working weekend retreat - getting outside the office in large open creative spaces resets the brain and allows it to see things differently both literally and figuratively. 

“If you pack your calendar every day or remain in the exact same environment, that can short-circuit the creative process,” says Ben Horowitz, founding partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. 

woman  brainstorming

3. Empower Employees & Give Them A Voice

Give all employees skin in the game, let them have a voice, and feel they’ve been acknowledged and can implement creativity in their role - no matter how small that impact may seem. Remove any system barriers that prevent your staff from actioning this or being heard by leadership. It can take time to bake this into a work culture but it’s a cultural shift that will continue to deliver as it grows.

pet friendly workplace

4. Implement Automation 

Across all of the countries surveyed in Adobe’s Global Study, people said they spend only 25% of their time at work creating. 47% Globally cited lack of time as the biggest barrier to creativity. 

It may not be possible to find time in the regular workday to dedicate to a brainstorm session but one thing a leader can help their team do is to steal back time. By systemizing tedious processes or repetitive tasks, you can actually carve out the time needed for creative thought. Things like email and social media responses and data reporting can and should be automated - invest in this so your team can invest in the skill that can’t be automated: creativity.

woman working on laptop from home

5. Daydream & Encourage Mindfulness 

It may seem counterintuitive to ask your team to build time into their day to daydream, an exercise associated with tuning out or being unproductive but hear us out. Studies have measured the link between ‘daydreaming’ and practising ‘mindfulness’ and have proven their effectiveness in awakening creative impulses. 

These are the impulses that impact improved memory, increased cognitive flexibility and the ability to brainstorm creatively. To practise this with your team it can be as simple as encouraging everyone to take 10 minutes to walk outside or gaze out of the window without any tech distractions, or practising simple breathing exercises.

team work

6. Promote Cross-Collaboration 

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. There’s no better way to source out of the box ideas than by physically moving outside your cubicle or pod, walking over to another team and bouncing around ideas. 

Collaboration can be achieved not only with other teams and departments but can be implemented with other brands and clients. It can be as simple as a meeting, coffee or even a dedicated planning day. New perspectives are fundamental to creative thinking and collaboration is the shortcut to driving that conversation.

Words: Sam Aldenton

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