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4 Ways to Inspire Innovation in the Workplace in 2021

By Brett Baltz on Apr 23, 2021 8:30:00 AM

Topics: Innovation

When it comes to innovation, two words say it best: more and faster. With global competition and a pandemic disrupting the world, it's clear that organizations need to embrace a mindset that fuels innovation and rapidly adapts to new possibilities. 

However, this is easier said than done. Change is always difficult, and organizations need ways to inspire this shift. In short, they need a workspace that improves the speed (and outcome) of innovation efforts

Here at Egyptian Workspace Partners, we believe the most successful organizations are made up of creative, inspired and productive individuals. But, we also know these people need high-performing spaces that make innovation happen. 

In this article, we'll help you understand exactly what innovation is, and how you can create a workspace that not only inspires innovation, supercharge your organization and shift it to grow. 

4 Ways to Inspire Innovation in the Workplace 

1. Shift from fixed to fluid modular solutions

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Today's most successful teams don't just collaborate. They're constantly under pressure to move faster and be innovative, which is why they bounce back and forth from activity to activity, moving from one project to another and back again.

To keep up with the increased pace of work, teams need agile (and flexible) workspaces that allow for easy reconfiguration. They need spaces that not only support the work they're doing, but also all kinds of human interaction. 

These spaces should empower teams and individuals to make quick adjustments on demand, so they can change how they work and interact, whether it's participating in workshops, filling whiteboards with sticky notes or coming together to share ideas.

Additionally, business leaders should provide their employees with flexible solutions, like architecture, furniture and technology. With these solutions, people can choose to stand, sit, draw and move, however they please.

Design Considerations

  • Incorporate modular furniture solutions like Steelcase Flex, so you can easily and quickly rearrange desks, tables, carts and markerboards on sort notice 
  • Opt for modular walls that give you the flexibility to reconfigure your workspace and adapt to changing needs  

2. Provide a Palette of Place, Presence and Posture 

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Companies know they can reap benefits with a more engaged, productive and innovative workforce. Still, fostering creativity and innovation requires a new strategy that may take some business leaders by surprise: a focus on employee wellbeing

Leading organizations are now turning their attention to employee wellbeing as a way to gain financial and competitive advantage. Primarily, they're focusing on their people's cognitive, emotional and physical wellbeing

With a little effort, people can actually leave work feeling as well as (or even better) than when they arrived. They simply need more choice and control over when, where and how they work.

First, business leaders should offer an ecosystem of interrelated zones within the workplace. When employees have a range of spaces to choose from, they can choose the setting that best supports the work they're doing. 

In addition, these spaces should provide a range of solutions that encourage people to sit, stand or move throughout the day. They should also accommodate different mixed presence experiences (both physical and virtual) to augment human interaction. 

Design Considerations 

  • Offer a variety of settings to help employees feel supported in their work
  • Incorporate separate spaces or zones for individual, team and organizational needs
  • Provide easily adjustable furniture to fit a range of sizes, needs and preferences to promote movement throughout the day
  • Ensure seamless creativity between spaces to support the exchange of information and experiences from tools-to-tools and space-to-space
  • Include natural elements and materials throughout the space
  • Install glass wall partitions to increase the amount of natural light within your office

3. Make Distance Disappear between distributed teams

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In today's post-COVID world, organizations can't let distance be a barrier to effective teamwork. Why? Because they still need to be faster, smarter and more innovative than ever before.

For day-to-day collaboration, distributed teams absolutely need technology. But, if the technology isn't working correctly, employees feel both mentally and physically drained, which is why they need fixed places to come together and collaborate.

These workspaces should be inspiring and high-performing. They should also provide easy access to integrated technology like large-scale videoconferencing and telepresence devices. 

That being said, organizations need to know where and how to situate large-scale technology. Otherwise, they'll stick videoconferencing in some corner of the room and it'll work, but it's probably not going to have much impact on innovation. 

Design Considerations

  • Choose a conferencing solution like CrestronFlex with touch-screen capabilities and the ability to collaborate on any platform for seamless collaboration 
  • Use similar tools and technology controls in all spaces, both on-site and at home, to help distributed teams collaborate and communicate effectively 
  • Install videoconferencing solutions and collaboration tools onto all employee desktops, laptops and mobile devices 
  • Consider camera and microphone placements carefully, so all users can be clearly audible and stay on-camera without disrupting the flow of information 
  • Provide co-creation tools, such as large-scale collaboration devices, that make ideas visible and allow everyone to contribute to and interact with content 

4. Inspire individuals with an inviting and informal cafeteria

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Social interaction between coworkers is absolutely crucial for innovation to occur. It helps teams build trust, which is especially important when they're working long hours to meet pressing deadlines. 

Teams need open, relaxed areas for informal conversations. While there are a lot of possibilities for these types of spaces, one of the best ways to foster innovation (and maximize real estate) is to create an informal office cafeteria with breakout areas

For example, Steelcase's WorkCafé is a dynamic space that connects people with colleagues, their work and their workplace culture. It transforms traditional cafeteria real estate into destinations for connection, collaboration, focus and innovation. 

The designated dining area creates a communal atmosphere where employees can eat and recharge. Plus, they can engage in a wide variety of professional activities, including meeting, working, networking and socializing as well as quiet pursuits. 

Design Considerations

  • Provide welcoming areas for guests with appropriate views into the space and work in progress 
  • Make nourishment available during and outside of meal hours to support varied and extended work schedules 
  • Leverage technology to organize and deliver information, creating an enterprise-wide link for employees 
  • Provide informal settings where users can unwind at work to promote a positive sense of wellbeing  

How can you inspire innovation in the workplace? 

Everyone wants to be more innovative, but all organizations define innovation differently. No matter what, innovation requires a workplace where people can build strong networks, develop trust and learn from one another.

To make this happen, business leaders must rethink how their workplace supports, inspires and accelerates innovation. One square foot at a time, they need to make changes to the physical environment to cultivate a culture of innovation. 

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Brett Baltz

Written by Brett Baltz