What, exactly, is creativity? Is it the painting of a beautiful picture? Is it the art of solving problems differently? It can be both. Creativity is not just reserved for artists. In fact creativity is becoming increasing important in the workplace and one of the most important skills for employees in the future. CEOs are hiring a different profile of employees to solve complex problems that, despite the increased influence of artificial intelligence, can't be replicated by robots.

"As artificial intelligence plays a bigger part in the world of work, creativity becomes increasingly important."

And it’s happening quickly. By 2020 it is predicted that core skill sets needed in most occupations are not those considered crucial today, while 65 per cent of children entering school now will grow up to do jobs that do not yet exist.

Given all this, the way we think about work is already undergoing a dramatic change, with research by Microsoft revealing that 83 per cent of workers are already asked to be creative on a daily or weekly basis, while 72 per cent say that future success depends on their ability to be creative.


photo credit: Steelcase

However, 40 per cent say that creativity is neither encouraged nor rewarded, and 69 per cent feel they are not living up to their creative potential. Clearly further changes need to be made.

"It is predicted, by 2020, 65% of children entering school now will have grow up to be doing jobs that do not yet exist."

Unfortunately, the workplace itself is part of the problem, often deemed uninspiring, stressful and not conducive to creativity.

Many offices are stuck in the past, whereas increasingly there is the need to be able to work alone, in large and small groups and in pairs. Accommodating these different needs calls for a palette of choices for workers by providing them a range of spaces to do their best work, or best creative thinking.

Architecture, furniture and technology need to be planned in harmony with one another in order to optimize the creative output. In an age where the new measurement of productivity is the value of ideas and solutions, the space has to work harder to augment the workforce.

A workplace that offers a palette of posture, presence and privacy helps boost wellbeing and a happy workforce. Modern workplaces must offer these in a range of spaces that support a range of devices and include ergonomically appropriate furniture to facilitate sitting, standing and collaboration.


photo credit: Steelcase

"At the centre of it all there should be an area for group work, in which both to relax and carry out prototyping."

Creativity is not a linear or predictable process but designing inspiring work spaces can augment the messy creative process. A collection of interrelated spaces that integrate place and technology help prompt the creative process.

Steelcase and Microsoft’s Creative Spaces offer five different areas that work in partnership together to allow people and their information to move fluidly from place to place to best support creative behaviours. The Focus Studio supports focused alone time, the Duo Studio is designed for work in pairs, the Ideation Hub is high-tech and encourages active participation, the Maker Commons allows for sharing ideas and rapid prototyping and the Respite Room offers a place for solitude and consolidation of thoughts.

Every individual has the capacity to be creative but sometimes creativity needs a helping hand. Organisations can foster creativity in their people by providing the right environmental attributes to prompt critical thinking.

It is important for organisations to create the right conditions for creativity through a holistic approach to business process, technology, the built environment and ultimately the organisational culture itself. Places shape our behaviours. And behaviours over time become our culture.


Click here to read more on Steelecase's research: www.steelcase.com/360-focus-creativity