Your work environment serves as an additional team member. It influences what you create in it by encouraging certain behaviors and discouraging others. The physical environment provides inspiration and support to every team.
Most corporate offices aren’t designed to support innovative work.
It’s hard to shape new ideas for value from your desk in a cubicle.
Designing new product and service experiences requires you to get tangible with prototypes, talk to customers, collaborate with teammates, and run experiments. Most of these behaviors don’t fit well into a traditional office environment.
But what about all of the companies who have created “innovation spaces” in their offices? Are white boards, movable furniture, and the latest technology what it’s all about?
Unfortunately, many of these “innovation spaces” miss their mark. Especially the way in which certain cues within an environment might support positive “innovative” behaviors.
At gravitytank, our space plays a huge role in how we work, and what we develop. We are constantly iterating on a space that encourages certain behaviors, like collaboration and experimentation. Over the last 16 years, we’ve experimented with a variety of set-ups to find what really works.
You can make a big impact on space and culture with low cost solutions that perfectly fit who you are and what you believe in.
- The relationship between space and culture
- Four key behaviors that drive innovative thinking
- Three types of work zones you might build in an innovative space
- Tools and materials you might use to support collaborative and experimental environments
Keep reading for a few key questions you might pose when assessing what the right innovation space is for your organization.
Four starting questions to plan for your innovation space
Before investing in new tools and spaces, sit down with your colleagues who will actually use them. Spend time thinking about how you work today, and what you are trying to accomplish. That should illuminate how you’ll need to change in the future.
Here are a few questions you can use to get the conversation going:
1. Who is working with whom? Who should be working with whom?
This will help you determine where the space should exist, and how large it should be, how teams should be structured and where you might place them.
2. What are we making? What does our work look like in process and what is the eventual output?
This will help you clarify the ideal spaces and tools you need to support those particular processes and outcomes.
3. How do we work now that feels right? How is that supporting innovation in our company?
This will help you identify good examples to emulate in the new space and build on positive parts of your existing culture.
4. What behaviors do we want to discourage? How might that be stifling innovation in our company?
We all have our bad habits, this will help you recognize and deal with those habits before building something new. You might even address them in your current space, even if you aren’t building a new space.
Start creating your innovation space today
After you’ve clarified and brought some structure to your workplace needs, pick somewhere small to start. It’s easiest to start with one working team as an experiment.
Work with that individual team and create a space to support their needs. Again, this can be done quickly and with minimal resources. Maybe it’s simply taking over a conference room, buying some cork board for the walls, and purchasing basic prototyping materials.
So remember, creating an innovative workplace doesn’t have to consume a lot of resources or take up a lot of time. If you feel like this way of working might help you and your team, start small and start now!
Keep us in the loop! Reach out on Twitter with any stories, challenges, or successes when creating your innovative workspace.