Whether you work out of a spare room in your house or the top floor of a high rise, any time you spend thinking about design will never be in vain. It’s the same reason you take so much time getting your home just the way you want it. After all, you might even spend more hours at work than you do at home. Do you want that time to be spent staring at gray walls, squinting underneath harsh fluorescent lights? Office design may feel like an afterthought, but it is crucial if you want to experience an enjoyable work environment that fosters creativity. Ask any professional and they’ll tell you the best work gets done in a location that inspires you to think outside the box, that puts everything you need right at your fingertips and keeps your energy light and focused. Here are five of the top office design tips to inspire creativity.

First of all, always let your staff bring in their favorite personal items. Your people are your company’s best resource, and by allowing them to express their personalities in the office you’ll create a sense of community that’s not only fantastic for morale but will also lead to more inspired work. If people can surround themselves with their favorite little photos and heirlooms, they’ll feel more at home while at work. You’re building a sense of trust, that who they truly are is valued at your company, and that will create exciting results.

Also make sure that people have flexibility in how they work. Not everyone thrives in a cubicle, at a chair in front of their computers. This is why some companies have started to allow standing work stations, which can be moved from place to place. Perhaps some folks prefer to brainstorm on a tablet device in the break room, while others love the old fashioned approach of writing on a white board. Set up avenues for different working environments, and creativity will be the result.

Another great option is to craft various zones in the office, with each section dedicated to a different activity. It’s the same approach used in urban planning, and it can work inside your company. You can have one area with couches, set close together for casual conversations, which leaves the conference room free for more formal meetings. Basically, you’re giving people a choice in where they spend their time, perfectly matching their activity to the environment.

Although many people are used to traditional office environments where everyone is separated behind closed doors, this doesn’t foster creativity. Instead, bring people closer together. You’re actually much better off having everyone in one room than separated across far-flung corners of an office floor. Yes, it might get a bit noisy. But that buzz can actually be good for business. It makes for an exciting scene, which raises the energy across the whole office. And when people have some success, they can turn and share it with their coworkers.

Finally, think of ways to bring the great outdoors inside. People seem to do better in fresh air, surrounded by plants and natural light. It helps you think, and allows you to take a moment to relax from time to time. So look for opportunities to bring in hanging plants and skylights whenever possible. Is your office locked inside with few windows? There are still some ways to fake it. Comb through theĀ carpet sales until you find natural fiber options, or even fake grass to put down in one section. Give it some time, and you’ll quickly find this is where everyone wants to congregate, to throw down a blanket and enjoy their lunch hour.

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