More and more organizations are embracing the importance of innovation management. This is reflected, for instance, in an increase in companies that have installed crowdsourcing software. However, the best software in the world will not help you unless you have an environment in which people know that they are supported to actually use this. And creating that environment means focusing on your office space as well. Let’s take a look at some key factors that you should have in your company as standard.
Too many companies feel they ace collaboration because they have teams sharing tables and floating desks. In reality, it is about creating a balance in which people can work alone, and as part of teams if they want to. Hence, shared desks are a great idea, but do make sure you also have meeting rooms, and the ability for people to have some privacy if they want to. One company that has truly understood this is IDEO, where the arrangement of desks changes regularly, so that people find themselves interacting with other people regularly. Various books have been written on how to transform a work space into a productive space, many of which have been inspired by the IDEO methods.
The next absolute must is good lighting. Natural light is always best but you should also focus on your color scheme. Different colors invoke different feelings and actions, so feel free to have various rooms in other colors. Do remember that adding a splash of color (particularly green – make sure you have an office plant) always enhances creativity.
Have a Space to Brainstorm
Collaboration is about brainstorming. It is about people being able to bounce ideas off each other. You are on the right track if you have installed crowdsourcing software, but do make sure there is an opportunity for people to discuss contributions to that system in person if they feel they need to.
Have a Relaxation Space
Relaxation spaces are controversial, but they work. In Japan, you can even sleep on the job – they have nap rooms! A company like TradeMe encourages people to have informal chats about work during their breaks, and they have found that this is when the best ideas are formed. Of course, breaks are there for a reason, so don’t expect your staff to work while they don’t have to. But you can encourage them to go to break spaces whenever they just need a few minutes to get away from a looming deadline, an irate customer, a difficult subject, or just the daily grindstone. It is certainly true that a break means no work gets done, but it also means that people can quickly recharge their batteries and come back far more productive.
These are the four key physical things that you need to have present in your office if you want innovation to work. If you implement these things, you may even find that you will get a lot more information from your crowdsourcing projects as well.