Creativity: The killer app for all

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The World Economic Forum has suggested that within just two years creativity will be the third most important skill to have

However, a recent study by Microsoft Surface found that almost half of UK workers (40%) say that creativity and innovation are still not encouraged or rewarded in their workplace. For this something must change. So what are the required foundations of creativity and how do we get them right?

The space to unleash creativity

Where we spend our working day has a huge impact on creativity. Microsoft’s research shows that uninspiring workplaces (41%), a stressful atmosphere (34%), and a lack of appropriate spaces to focus and think alone (28%) are all hampering creativity in offices around the UK.

With creativity fast becoming an essential skill employers are looking to office design to create a working environment that fires workers’ imaginations.

We have come a long way from the beige cubicles of the past and businesses are realising that they need to provide a different kind of workplace. When people are inspired by where they work they are more engaged and creative. This directly benefits businesses given their reliance on creative thinking to help solve complex problems and generate new ideas.

Space for our minds

Another of the big challenges facing creativity in the office is the pressure of time. We all have exceptionally busy working days and there are many distractions – our ‘always on’ approach to digital communications when we are bombarded with notifications is an example. To overcome this we need to create space in our day for the creative process to work and relieve our minds of the external pressures that hamper this imperative skill.

To that end it is important to remember that creativity is a process; it doesn’t just happen over a few hours or days. Firstly, we need space without distractions so we can load up on the challenge we want to solve. Once we have done this we can return to our ‘normal’ working environment, because now the brain will work on processing and organising that information subconsciously. This psychology must be considered for businesses to ensure its staff are empowered to be creative and enabled to do more with less.

Creativity and technology

In our survey using desktop PCs appeared in the top five reasons why employees couldn’t be creative in the workplace. On the flipside of this employees ranked more up-to-date, modern devices such as tablets among the top 10 things that would allow them to be more creative at work.

Innovative technology is crucial to helping employers boost creative thinking. Ultimately devices that are designed to be used in different environments and in different ways to support more creative ways of working enhance the creative flow rather than interrupting it, which is so often associated with more fixed technologies.

Boost your creativity and boost your business

Creativity will soon be the difference between whether a business thrives or just survives, yet for too long technology and outdated business cultures have stifled our burning ability. It’s not just about being artistic; it’s the ability to innovate faster, solve problems in a new way and make ideas come alive.

Creativity is a skill that can be taught and developed over time. However, businesses must now empower their employees to find ways to flex their creative muscles, by providing the right culture, environment, training and technology. After all, this killer app will differentiate a business, affect its bottom line, and create a virtuous circle where more creative minds want to join the party.

Sally Elliott is portfolio lead, Surface at Microsoft

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