INNOVATION ≠ PING PONG TABLE

BY JULIE SAYERS, SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER

 

"Our people need privacy! Can you surround them completely in fabric screens? Just don't let it look like a workstation because that makes people feel terrible.

Wait, but they also need to collaborate. So the screens can't be too tall. Maybe we need 87 conference rooms?

Oh yeah, and we also want to be like Google, so can you suggest a nice ping pong table and a sectional sofa?"


While the above might be just a tad exaggerated, everyone who comes through our doors these days does seem to have their own slight variation on this list of requests. As furniture ninjas, we know what they're actually asking for is an environment that strikes that oh-so delicate balance of fostering creativity and innovation for both individuals and groups.

People are the most valuable asset to any organization, and during last month's Optimizing the Workplace for Innovation presentation by Haworth's Senior Research Specialist, Beck Johnson, and Senior Workplace Strategist, John Scott, we learned how the environment in which they work can greatly enhance or inhibit the brain processes necessary to develop new ideas, share them with others, and to hunker down and do the work required to bring them to fruition.

 

EXCUSE ME, I'M NOT A NEUROSCIENTIST. BRAIN PROCESSES? 

Sounds like somebody didn't read our  Does Your Company Have What it Takes to Innovate? blog post in January. RUDE!  ; )

Go read it real quick to get caught up on the four stages of cognition required to innovate and the difference between convergent and divergent modes of thinking, then come on back. We'll wait. 

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OH, HI MARK.  

So, in synopsis, all that brain science proves that focus, rest, and in-between are all vital parts of the creative rhythm, and must be protected in the design of a space in order for individuals and groups to innovate. Below are the primary design implications that ensure employees have adequate space to focus and recuperate both individually and in groups, and each one can be assessed by its association to either convergent (focus) or divergent (restorative) thinking.


LET'S SEE WHAT THESE CONSIDERATIONS LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE.


 
focus icon - innovation
 

FOCUS

 

INDIVIDUAL FOCUS

 

GROUP FOCUS


 
icons-02.png
 

IN-BETWEEN

 


 
restore icon - innovation
 

RESTORE

 

INDIVIDUAL RESTORE

 

GROUP RESTORE


THE RECAP

While it is important for every organization to have a strong workplace culture and foster innovation, there is no magic formula that will provide this type of environment for every organization. In fact, a poorly placed ping pong table can actually KILL creativity, and frankly, irritate the crap out of everyone.  We do know from this research, that it IS possible, with a mix of workstations and spaces for focus, restoration, and in-between for EVERY organization to achieve a balance that drives creativity and a comfortable work environment.  This is where we absolutely love to noodle with you, and tailor a solution that is beautiful, awesome, and innovative.

 

Want a deeper dive?

Download the Optimizing the Workplace for Innovation: Using Brain Science for Smart Design white paper by Beck Johnson and the Designing for Innovation interactive PDF by John Scott below.

 

If you are noodling on these concepts and need some help or just want to discuss them with someone, shoot me an email at julie@encompas.com and we can innovate together! ;)