GUEST ARTICLE: Is office design harming the creativity of employees?

  • 29 Mar 2023

Hybrid working has largely been adopted by businesses across the globe and with it, how the office is used has been thrown into widespread debate. While this topic is significant in itself, there’s one core issue that it has brought to light: how well office design allows for, and stimulates, creativity in the workforce. Robin Dey, Head of Client Solutions at Unispace, writes this article…

“The design of any space has huge potential to either boost innovation and creativity, or hinder it. What may be considered smaller elements to any build – from the colours used in break out rooms to the availability of natural light in a space – all have an influence on how people thrive in offices. In the hybrid working world, this is becoming more apparent.

Businesses and staff can now measurably understand how creativity and productivity are influenced when staff are away from the office, and the signs are showing that in many instances, the workplace itself hasn’t been set up to aid innovation and effectiveness.


In fact, in a Unispace study of 3,000 office workers and 2,750 employers across Europe, not only did we find that staff felt more innovative when working from home, but 54% of employers also found that creativity and innovation among their employees had, in fact, increased while work from home guidance was in place. It might be easy to suggest that offices are dead, but I’d argue they’re not; they’re just not designed for creativity.

This is evidenced in the fact that 94% of employees across Europe would change their office environment – that leaves just 6% of the workforce feeling completely comfortable, productive and creative in the workspace.

Clearly the design of ‘traditional’ offices needs to be upgraded to create an environment that boosts creativity and thus, productivity. While any space needs to be unique to the needs of the individual company and its people, there are a number of stand out requirements that are essential in modern designs.


These includes…

– Bringing the outside in: Nature has a huge part to play in motivation and happiness at work. Any methods to bring the outside in through wide open spaces and inside greenery, for example, have been proven to boost wellbeing and creativity.

– Separating quiet and collaboration spaces: Having an area dedicated solely to individual / focus work will also be beneficial in allowing colleagues to effectively manage their working days based on the activities at hand, enabling them to do their best work.

– Dedicating areas for collaboration: Creativity can’t be forced. Having collaboration spaces that are themselves innovative in design will create a more dynamic environment for all to benefit from.

– Allowing spaces to transform: If an office is to be truly productive and creative, it needs to be adaptable to suit emerging needs. Socialisation spaces that double up as a town hall and bar to bring people together will be a crucial foundation for future office design.

What good looks like for today’s offices will no doubt differ several years from now, but people across the continent are suggesting that the spaces of today are not hitting the mark and allowing them to be creative and productive. With the right design adjustments, though, this challenge could be shifted into an opportunity.”

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