Some people can be creative anywhere, but many struggle with creativity. Given the right encouragement, many experts believe that anyone can be effectively creative, given the right encouragement and conditions.

While this “nuture vs. nature” debate continues, in reality creativity is a combination of the two. The right environment will always help stimulate creative thought and collaboration, and that can lead to breakthrough innovations.

There are of course many studies documenting the impact of environmental factors on health and well-being, and this just makes common sense. But today we are increasingly mindful of the role environment also plays in creativity and productivity.

People who are relaxed, comfortable, and positively stimulated are known to be more creative and innovative. The right mix of space, conditions, stimuli and aesthetics can enable creativity in many ways.

Environments that are most conducive to creativity have a focus on comfort, space, color and lighting.

First creative thinking people need to be physically and psychologically comfortable to allow their minds to relax and “stretch.” Comfortable seating, space to move around, and a pleasant temperature can all contribute to a creative environment. Many advocate the availability of unconventional seating like beanbags or pillows to help people relax.

Large open areas in combination with smaller, more intimate spaces for individuals or small groups can also help. These spaces should facilitate collaboration and be flexible so groups or individuals can adjust in ways most effective and stimulating for them.

And don’t forget about color. Colorful spaces can make people feel more childlike, playful and adventurous. These moods are conducive to new ways of thinking. Colors create visual interest and can also help fight fatigue.

There are many studies that indicate how light can affect people’s state of mind. Office workers report feeling happier and more productive when exposed to natural light. There is also evidence to connect daylight exposure with a person’s perceived feeling of creativity.
New technology also may help. The new Philips Hue light system, for example, allows users to create custom color lighting schemes for specific needs, for relaxation, concentration or energizing.

Everything we see and experience can be stimulus for creating new insights and innovations. Art, products, games, music and sounds, aromas and textures can all be used to affect the way people think. Including diversity in this way helps accommodate different personalities and thinking styles — ensuring auditory, visual, and tactile thinkers can fully engage.

It’s important to remember that creative environmental factors should not be limited to just offices or meeting rooms. Often, new insight and ideas can come anywhere or anytime, so “livening up” normally drab stairwells, elevators, break rooms, or even bathrooms can heighten the senses and stimulate creativity.

Environments have a significant impact on productivity, morale and collaboration. We all know this. Would you rather work in a drab warehouse basement, or an office with a view of a beach and palm trees?

That might be taking it to the extreme for trying to encourage productivity, but perhaps all of us would at least prefer an office with a window view, one that helps provide perspective on an outside world — the world where our customers live and work.

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