Managers and employees have different opinions about creative work environments, survey shows

Executives favor open-concept office designs, workers would prefer privacy

Posted August 23, 2016

What kind of office setting sparks the most creativity? According to research by staffing firm The Creative Group, managers and employees don't see eye to eye. When asked what the ideal work environment is for on-the-job innovation, the top response among advertising and marketing executives was an open-concept space. Employees, however, seem to prefer more alone time, with a private office being the most popular option.

"Different tasks call for different work environments," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. "Office design should be closely tailored to an organization's needs and a team's primary duties. The main goal for employers should be to create a space where staff members feel comfortable and engaged, and can perform at their best."

Advertising and marketing executives and workers were asked, "Which of the following workspace arrangements do you think is most conducive to encouraging creativity?" Their responses:




Open-concept office (unenclosed workspace for multiple people)



Cubicle (semi-enclosed workspace for 1 person)



Shared office (enclosed workspace for 2-3 people)



Private office (enclosed workspace for 1 person)



Remote office (home, coffee shop, etc.)



Don't know






*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

The Creative Group offers four ideas for creating a more stimulating work environment:

  • Construct creativity zones. Designate a few areas in the office for brainstorming and impromptu meetings. Stock each space with industry publications and an easel pad to jot down ideas.
  • Offer private sanctuaries. While open floor plans can increase collaboration among employees, some projects require greater focus and concentration. Provide stations where individuals can work in solitude without distraction.
  • Build a mood board. Encourage team members to post content they find intriguing to a common wall where others can draw inspiration. Also invite staff to take photos of anything they might want to reference for future projects.
  • Think outside the office. Hold team meetings in a nearby park, courtyard or café. A change of scenery is sometimes all it takes to spark the imagination.

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