Genie releases new report to help employers understand how best to work with creative minds.
The pandemic-prompted discussion around the return to the office continues to split opinion.
There are generally two schools of thought in the debate; one side argues that working from home is bad for productivity and impedes team work, with companies seeking ways to encourage their employees back to the office – such as Adam & Eve/DDB’s recently introduced ‘Four&Flex’ model.
Others counter that the WFH revolution offers better work-life balance, reduced stress, and a chance to avoid the dreaded commute – amongst other factors.
But at GENIE, we realised that there was one important factor often being overlooked when it comes to arguing the pros and cons of the office: creativity.
It’s not a new concept that creativity is central to societal progress and economic growth. Therefore, understanding what environments best facilitate creative minds being able to look at things differently is essential – and perhaps never more so than at this particular moment in time, when we have been gifted with the chance to reassess where and how we work.
With that in mind, we set out to understand what role the office really plays in nurturing creativity.
What makes the creative mind tick?
While much research has been commissioned in recent months regarding working habits post-pandemic, the vast majority of these studies have approached the topic from a macro, non-sector specific perspective. Interestingly, many of the findings pointed towards in-office collaboration being the best source for ideation – an insight which, we suspected, may not ring true for the creative sector.
To find out, we conducted some research of our own. GENIE surveyed 1,001 creative professionals to understand their working preferences; what makes the creative mind tick, and where do creative ideas form? And, how might these preferences have changed as a result of Covid?
Offices come near the bottom of the list for inspiration
What our research showed us is that, amongst creatives, the office is no longer the hub for creativity that it perhaps used to be.
In fact, the creatives we spoke to ranked offices nearly at the bottom of the list when it comes to inspiration, with the majority (1 in 3) instead voting ‘on a walk’ as the place they come up with their best ideas. ‘At home’ ranked as more than twice the effectiveness of the office; 68% told us that working from home helps them be more creative as a person.
The top eight places where creatives come up with the best ideas were:
A hybrid approach
So what does all this mean for the creative industry’s reasonably vast amounts of office space?
While GENIE’s findings needn’t necessarily spell the end of the office altogether – offices remain, after all, a valuable resource for collaborative working and maintaining company culture – it is nonetheless important to reconsider exactly how and when they are being used.
Don’t forget – these decisions come at a cost. With 2.3 million people in the creative industry sector, and office space per individual costing nearly £1,500 per month for companies, that’s £3,750,000,000 being spent each month on office space for the sector. While this cost may have been justifiable prior to the pandemic, what Covid has shown us is that working from home not only works but, in some respects, works better than going to an office – at least for idea generation.
Can we really afford to keep coughing up this eye-watering amount for an office environment that weakens ideas and demotivates our teams?
An opportunity to reassess
Ultimately, the Covid pandemic has given the creative industries a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset its thinking on how best to nurture creative talent.
What GENIE’s research shows is that there should be no hurry to bring creatives back to the office in a pre pandemic way. Instead, companies employing creative employees will need to carefully consider their approach to hybrid working, balancing the need to build company culture alongside the need to allow for creative development outside of the office.
If creative professionals are feeling stifled by the pressures of sitting at a desk in the office, and would prefer to release their thought process to the outdoors, then we need to take note. It’s up to senior industry leaders to recognise the changing working styles of our creatives, if we are to continue unlocking the brilliance of creative minds.
If you’re interested in learning more about what our research revealed about the working styles of creatives today – including the importance of culture, how mood and location shape creative ideation, and why mental health is a priority for the younger generation – you can download the full report here.