Three coworkers are seen through floor-to-ceiling glass panels; they are writing on the multi-colored post-it notes stuck to the glass. From left to right, the three coworkers are a curly-haired woman wearing glasses and a striped shirt; a shorter person with blond hair, their face obscured by the post-it notes; and a man wearing a salmon-colored button-up shirt.
Techniques like brainstorming and brainwriting can foster individual creativity among your employees while also creating space for ideas to grow from multiple perspectives. — Getty Images/zamrznutitonovi

Creativity is an essential skill that can be useful in many aspects of life, including work, where creative problem-solving can transform into indispensable innovations — but many wonder how to spark and foster the spirit of creativity in an office environment.

In March 2023, the University of Essex and Humboldt University of Berlin conducted a psychological study involving hundreds of papers and thousands of respondents to find what techniques have the best long-term impacts on creativity, many of which business owners, managers, and employees can adapt to work. Ultimately, training that highlights mental techniques, meditation and open thinking, and experiencing different cultures unconsciously expands horizons and boosts creativity.

Techniques to foster creativity

If you’re feeling uninspired, here are a few techniques and strategies you can use to ignite your creativity in the workplace.

  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming sessions have evolved over the years to unfetter minds and foster out-of-the-box thinking. The most important factor in brainstorming with a group is to remain open-minded so all participants can throw out larger-than-life or nonviable ideas to get to the best solution.
  • Meditation: Meditation and its benefits can serve a vital purpose in professional growth and development. Meditation can lower stress and anxiety, enable divergent thinking, enhance emotional intelligence and self-awareness, and invite open-mindedness.
  • Brainwriting: A group can engage in brainwriting by having each person write down the problem that needs a solution. Independent of the group, each participant takes time to write their list of potential solutions. When everyone is finished, group members share their thoughts and generate more related ideas based on the solutions provided.
  • Storyboarding: Storyboarding is commonly used in business for creating ads and videos, but it can also be used for problem-solving. An outline of visual or written elements can help organize ideas and determine solution feasibility, even if it's not complete.
  • Traveling: Research indicates that traveling — especially to different countries — and living, working, eating, and existing in different cultures unconsciously expands horizons. Allow workers to take a vacation or even plan a company retreat to get the juices flowing.

The value of creativity in the workplace

Creativity in the workplace brings many benefits, including:

  • Developing innovative solutions: Innovation is fueled by creativity. Creative problem-solving can foster actionable solutions to existing problems or help generate new ideas and opportunities to grow.
  • Fostering productivity: Creativity begets productivity in many ways. When employees get stuck in a rut, creativity can pull them out of their comfort zone or give them a different routine to re-spark passion. In addition, creativity helps to eliminate a fear of failure, which unshackles employees to have a flow of ideas.
  • Providing adaptability: Creativity enables workplace adaptability. For instance, business owners can explore new product ideas based on customer demand. This entrepreneurial approach allows for creative problem-solving and adapting to changes.

[Read more: Rewarding Creativity: What Research Reveals About How to Inspire Employees to Be Innovative]

The act of rewarding creativity communicates its value and incentivizes employees to continue thinking outside the box.

How to enhance creativity

As a business owner, you can increase creativity within yourself and your team in several ways. Depending on the business size, scale, industry, and routine, some methods may work better than others.

Implement a flexible work schedule

For teams with the ability to do so, implementing a flexible work schedule can foster creativity by varying employee routines and reducing stress. Taking a flexible work schedule a step further to a “work anywhere” allowance also enables employees to be productive at home, on trips, and more.

Provide a critical thinking area

A setting can stifle or feed creativity — consider the colors, lighting, noise level, and number of distractions in meeting rooms. Providing a well-lit, calm, no-distraction zone for employees to think critically about problems can cultivate creativity in your team — and create a beautifully designed new pocket of the office.

Reward creativity

The act of rewarding creativity communicates its value and incentivizes employees to continue thinking outside the box.

[Read more: 8 Meeting Icebreaker Ideas That Your Employees Will Actually Enjoy]

How to overcome creative blocks

All professionals remain susceptible to a “block” — whether it’s in writing, designing, or even running a business. To overcome these creative blocks, consider carrying a notebook around to catalog what inspires you, allow yourself a refresher day, or forgo technology and do something tactile. The more you let yourself think freely, the more your creativity will flourish.

[Read more: 5 Tips to Boost Your Brainstorming Session]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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