ResearchEnglishCreative Environment

Physical Environments Conducive To Creativity and Collaboration Within the Work Environment

Author: Molly Elizabeth Bryant


Relationships between work environments and physical spaces are understudied. Components within the physical environment could have an influence on the work environment in regard to how the workers perceive group collaboration and creative output. Common changes to the physical space such as “introducing open plan offices, cubicles, and ergonomic furniture have led to increased worker performance, satisfaction, and improved communication and teamwork” (Dul et al., 2011, p. 2). Even with these basic modifications to physical space within the work environment, questions remain unanswered.

How does physical space within a work environment influence our creativity? How do physical environments contribute to our work styles and how we communicate with others within the workplace? The open office floor plan is quickly becoming the norm, but is this the only way designers should plan a workplace? Can private areas improve the fostering of creativity? Do surrounding materials within a designed environment such as the floor, wall, and ceiling finishes, even the lighting, have an influence on creativity and collaboration?

With the increase of design thinking strategies and the addition of “innovation teams” within businesses, the demand for the physical workspace to enhance these strategies and structures is growing. Knowledge workers, also known as “the creative class” by Richard Florida, “are the source of original and potentially useful ideas and solutions for a firm’s renewal of products, services, and processes”(Dul et al., 2011, p. 1).

It is the designer’s responsibility to understand what components within the physical environment can be perceived as conducive to creative thinking and what perceived components might promote collaborative work styles. With this understanding, we can implement these components within the planning and design programming phases to create spaces that support creativity and promote collaboration.

By taking an in depth look at a variety of creative service providers and the preferences and way people work within these spaces, perceptions have been identified for stimulating creativity and collaboration through the means of the physical environment can begin to be understood. With the constant change in design, this knowledge will aid in formulating a conceptual framework for physical components that may be perceived to enhance creativity and collaboration within the work environment. With the constant change of work styles, today’s technology, and the increase in the integration of “innovation teams” to foster new ideas, there is value in the understanding of how companies can contribute to physical spaces through implementing components perceived to represent creativity and promote collaboration through the designed environment. (…)


The understanding of creativity, collaboration, the various settings of the workplace environment, combined with the perceptions of creativity and collaboration according to creative professionals, can provide designers guidance on how components within the physical environment can be perceived to fuel creativity and encourage collaboration. This chapter will highlight the key findings from the literature review as well as the new findings derived from the primary research. These findings will be displayed in the form of a framework to illustrate what physical components within the work environment can influence these perceptions of creativity and collaboration.

It should be noted that these perceptions are the perceptions of creative professionals within the creative service providing field who participated in the primary research study. From this study, new questions and opportunities for future research have been discovered; these will also be discussed in this chapter. (…)


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