The Ideal Creative Workspace, Revealed!

Daniel Walsh

08 Aug 2021

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Creative thinking is a key skill in the modern workplace. Whether you need to generate new product ideas, come up with innovative solutions to problems or develop better processes, creativity can be the difference between success and failure.

When it comes to promoting fresh perspectives and lateral and imaginative thinking at work, a lot of ingredients need to go into the mix. Workers need an inclusive culture that prizes individuality and they need to be able to trust that their ideas will be listened to, appreciated, rewarded and, if possible, acted on. Being afforded freedom and flexibility over how, where, and when they work can also help.

Not least among the ingredients is the office space itself, which can be leveraged to inspire and enhance creative thinking. Gone are the days when an office was simply a collection of desks that workers were obliged to occupy between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. Designing a creative workspace that actually works for employees requires out-of-the-box thinking from employers and managers.

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Want to get the best from your staff? We surveyed 400 creative workers to find out what works best for them when coming up with new ideas. Whether you’re looking to expand employees’ minds or to simply inject more creativity into their day-to-day dealings, read on to find out what we discovered.

Majority of creative workers are dissatisfied with current workspaces

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Less than four in ten creative workers (38%) said they are perfectly happy with their current workspace. The majority seem to be dissatisfied, with 38% saying they would like to improve their working environments and 13% saying they simply dislike their workspaces, highlighting a serious need for change. An indifferent 12% reported that they have no feelings about their current work settings.

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How do offices of today fare when it comes to facilitating creative working? Worryingly, 9% of creative workers said their workplaces don’t do this at all, while 25% said they have a dedicated space for creative work. Almost a third (30%) reported that they work for creative businesses that actively facilitate creativity, while a lucky 14% said their organisations allow each worker to design their own creative space.

The Status Quo

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Less than 1 in 5 (17%) workers said they do their creative work in an office. While you might put this down to the fact that the pandemic has forced many employees to work from home or the nature of the jobs creatives tend to do (photographers, fashion designers, and music producers may work in studios rather than traditional offices, for example), the current state of your office should be examined closely if you’re to attract and retain creative talent and inspire divergent thinking.

Creating the ideal creative workspace

So how can you make your office more inspiring? Here’s some food for thought.

Looking at current trends

Looking at the spaces creatives tend to gravitate towards can help if you want to boost the creativity credentials of your workplace. Does your office have dedicated zones for specific creative tasks, for example? Over a fifth, (22%) of the workers we polled said they carry out their creative tasks in dedicated spaces, such as in studios, writers’ rooms, and on sets.

Perhaps, your business would benefit from integrating these kinds of dedicated spaces into your physical office space?

What about agility? Almost one in ten (9%) of the workers surveyed said that they do creative work in agile spaces and 16% said they do their work from multiple locations within the workspace. In an era of flexibility and co-working, it pays to give employees more freedom when it comes to how, where, and when they work.

By providing a mix of quiet zones, collaborative spaces, sitting and standing desks, big and small meeting rooms, lounge areas, and more, you can create a more agile experience. Lock in the best talent by giving them the space and tools to do what they do best rather than confining them to their desks eight hours a day.

Hybrid and remote working may need to be built into your future workspace too. A freewheeling 9% of the creative workers we polled said they work from anywhere. Whether you employ remote videographers, work with freelance artists, or expect a hybrid working graphic design team to collaborate effectively, it’s important to ensure that you bridge the gap between the office and the outside world with the right tools.

Office aesthetics

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Want to inspire freedom of thought and expression? Yellow, blue and white were the colours that came out on top in our survey when asked about office aesthetics. According to our poll, creatives would like these colours incorporated into office spaces to boost creativity, happiness, and productivity. Black, grey, and ‘neutral’ were the least popular choices.

In regards to decor styles, the highest percentage (21%) said they like a homely or cosy look in creative spaces. Minimalistic or simple styles also seem to be popular, with 19% opting for these. Hi-tech or smart decor, came in in third place, with 14% saying this is the look they’d want in their office.


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Solo vs Group Work

It’s clear that modern offices must allow for both independent and collaborative working. Different tasks can call for different approaches. While writing a thoughtful and insightful magazine article may require time and space alone, coming up with ideas for the next issue of a magazine might require an energetic team brainstorming session. Individuals, too, can have vastly different working styles, with some producing their best work solo and others coming up with the goods through group work.

Our data bears this theory out, with 35% saying they are at their most creative during independent work, 23% reporting that collaborative working inspires them, and 31% saying they like a mix of solo and group work.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of people surveyed said they’d opt for an organic office layout that promotes creativity and contains a mix of informal group areas and a few enclosed spaces. Meanwhile, 19% would prefer a collaborative open layout with people working in informal, group areas.

Only 18% said they would like a controlled, symmetrical layout with an emphasis on formal and enclosed spaces. The least popular layout, according to our research, is the regulated, structured ‘office cubicle’-style plan that encourages privacy, isolation, and competition.

Modes of working

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Flexibility seems to be the name of the game for many creatives. The greatest proportion (36%) of workers we polled said that flexible work would be their preferred mode of working. The second most preferred choice is standard, full-time work, with 19% choosing this traditional style.

Shift work and freelance work received 12% of the votes each, while 11% said they’d like to work for themselves. Agency work was the least popular option, with only 10% saying they would opt for this type of employment.

Have your say on what boosts creativity in the workplace by joining in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ACreativeOffice.

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