Why did we do this?
An increasing number of organisations worldwide – from the tech sector, creative economy, public services as well as the legion of new co-working space providers globally - are investing strategically in the development of workplaces designed to enhance performance in creativity and innovation.
The strategies and rationales range widely: from embodying creative values in the design of workplaces, through supporting innovation by generating greater opportunities for communication and collaboration, to building dedicated spaces for creative thinking.
Despite the growing level of interest among practitioners and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, there has been comparatively little empirical research on the effects of the physical environment on innovation and creativity.
What little there has been is poorly understood, sparse and scattered among a range of fields from ergonomics, through neuro-architecture, to organisational studies and innovation theory.
What did we do?
We commissioned research, which led to a new book, Spaces for Innovation: the design and science of inspiring environments. The book breaks down the complexities of designing working environments for future-focused organisations. Analysing the intricate relationships between innovation, creativity, workplace strategy and people-centred design, book authors Kursty Groves and Oliver Marlow guide readers through the process of defining new workspaces with coherent narratives and identities to support creative behaviour.
The book includes interviews and case studies from around the globe that cover various perspectives – from co-working networks and educational establishments to large corporations, such as Airbnb, Microsoft and Zappos.
The authors visited over fifty organisations globally across sector, industry, life stage and size; interviewed over one hundred academics, practitioners, experts and thought leaders; analysed hundreds of sources of literature from scientific journals and PhD theses through to government white papers and surveys to books and articles. Through the myriad of conversations and research, and a co-design workshop at Nesta’s headquarters with leading thinkers and practitioners, a series of themes emerged:
- The Spark, the external driving forces that are shaping the way we live and work.
- The Purpose, the need to articulate goals, defining the parameters and constraints of ambition and clarity of progress.
- The Leadership, the importance of ensuring that there’s leadership that understands and can support an empowered and inspired team to
- The Invitation, the engagement of teams, stakeholders and the wider community: before, during and after a space transformation.
- The Experience, the elements that provide the right conditions for creative thinking and behaviour as well as the expression of organisational culture.
- The Spatial Context, what can and can’t be influenced regarding the location and spatial parameters, and how they impact interaction and behaviour.
- The Processes, how the new space supports a spectrum of individual, teams and organisational activities.
- The Resources, parameters that might constrain – or inspire – the creation of space for innovation.
- The Outcomes, how to assess and communicate progress against the initial goal.
- The Legacy, the lasting impression of the place; the stories people will tell.