Tag: The Agency Post

18
Apr

Generative Spaces: The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan

Image via The Agency Post

Image via The Agency Post

Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, recently wrote a guest blog post for The Agency Post sharing Five Tips for Making Your Office A Creative Space, but where did the idea for an open office floor plan come from?

In her latest article for The Agency Post, she discusses The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan:

Here are some excerpts:

“…one of the office features we often mistakenly attribute to startups is the open office plan. We tend to equate this setup with the startup attitude of free-flowing space, an open atmosphere and equality of space. But for 60 years, the open office floorplan has been both the standard and ideal for office design. Mirroring economic changes since the 1950s and into the 1990s, architects have designed work environments for the booming “knowledge industries,” spaces where people create and produce ideas as part of their company bottom lines.

Symbolically speaking, people like to work in open office spaces, because they report feeling connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. These spaces do well at creating “communities.” And while the research shows that intangible benefits are apparent, studies conducted by organizational psychologists on large corporations show mixed results on measures of productivity. Workers in open plan offices complain most often about noise, loss of privacy and constant distraction.

We cannot create without other people. We are social animals. Some philosophers and scientists argue that physical and sensorial evocative environments act like our scaffolding into the world, giving us humans opportunities to deepen our brain activity and expand into the world. When building an environment that supports and amplifies creativity, though, it’s important to keep in mind that the best solution usually isn’t an open floor plan.

Creative spaces require different setups for different mindsets: fun areas for unconscious processing; reflexive spaces where minimal thinking can go on, and reflective spaces wherein people must go beyond superficial thinking to find those kernels of creative thinking.

28
Feb

Five Tips For Making Your Office A Creative Space

oishii-studio-pics-08Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, wrote a blog post on “Five Tips for Making Your Office a Creative Space,” which appeared in The Agency Post today.

An excerpt:

Here are five elements that can contribute to making your space the type of generative office that supports and amplifies creativity:

1. Familiar People

Researchers have demonstrated that collaborative work environments create happier and more productive employees. J. Richard Hackman, one of the world’s leading researchers on organizational behavior, found group work, particularly a familiar group, to be more productive when compared to individuals who worked alone. When a familiar group is encouraged to share ideas, hear other perspectives and receive constructive feedback, they report greater satisfaction with their job, their peers and culture.

2. Collision Brainstorming

Writing in the New York Times, Greg Lindsay observes that successful tech firms know the benefits of people coming together for an impromptu brainstorm via happy accidents and aggressively seek what Google calls the “casual collisions” or Yahoo’s “serendipity” meetings. This is because research strongly suggests that structured group work has limits. In the new context of an informal chat, the brain has a chance to re-engage and renew a problem, and possibly come up with new approaches or ways of thinking.

3. Solitary Creativity

Most neuroscience studies on creativity and problem-solving demonstrate the powers of intermittent group work coupled with “incubation” or quiet time and solo work. This is where the lounge and reading areas and ping-pong tables that startups are famous for come in. After a group meeting, the brain needs some distraction and ambient activity to reassess a problem or create. Neuroscientists such as Rex Jung and others have studied the brain in “action,” and observed what is called fluid or dynamic activity in the brain during quiet times of relaxation and calm, which could yield high creative output benefits.

4. Tactile Engagement

If you consume lots of data everyday and need to recall information quickly, there’s new research showing that keeping information slows down our ability to remember and process. One powerful method for what is called “embedding” information is getting tactile at work. Embracing the old-school pen and pencil during a meeting, or taking marginalia in a book can code information into our brains in ways that author Clive Thompson suggests are deeper and more meaningful than on touchscreens. That’s why writable walls, movable whiteboards and active work sessions are excellent ways at getting the brain and body physically involved in learning and doing, fostering neuron activity in the brain.

5. Good Reading Materials

A well-stocked library in your office gives people places to relax between projects, but reading has other powerful cognitive benefits. Recently, researchers at Emory University observed changes in the executive functional part of brain in fiction readers. Participants in the study showed heightened neural activity in the part of the verbal and visual sections of the brain when reading. So, not only were subjects able to “imagine” a character, they were able to activate senses in their brains — deepening their awareness and imaginative capabilities.

See more at The Agency Post.


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