It’s a fact: a strong creative culture in the workplace really matters.
Why? Because it encourages innovation, gets problems solved quicker, and attracts and retains talented staff that are more engaged, and more productive. Some employees now rate a creative culture on par with a good salary.
When you also consider that the UK’s creative industries contribute almost £90bn net to GDP and accounts for one in 11 jobs – a rate rising more quickly than all other parts of the economy – it’s no surprise that companies in this sector are working hard to nail creative culture.
So who’s doing it well – and how have they done it?
It’s fair to say that Google is one of the organisations leading the way when it comes to championing creative culture in the workplace.
Google recognised a while ago that offering employees a space to work – and play – creatively made good business sense. They’ve since become almost as well-known for the ways they nurture creativity among staff as they are for the technology they produce.
There are pool tables and bowling alleys for staff to enjoy at their leisure. They keep their creative brains fuelled with free food in the canteen. And they can sweat out creative problems in the staff gym. They even allow dogs in the workplace – there’s a growing school of thought that animals in offices can help get creative juices flowing.
British online fashion and beauty retailer ASOS became the most desirable company to work for in the UK this year – and it seems their approach to creative culture has played a clear part in earning them the accolade.
Innovation is key to the retail giant’s ongoing success and steps to nurture this have included shunning parts of the traditional hierarchical working structure, with the CEO sitting and working amongst far more junior members of the team, that helps foster a collaborative environment that champions creativity.
As ASOS put it: ‘We’re forever pushing boundaries and breaking barriers in our quest to be the no.1 online fashion destination in the world.
‘We’re authentic, brave and creative in everything we do. We wouldn’t be where we are today without embracing those values.’
Etsy is built on creativity. So it follows that the company has an inspiring approach to creative culture in the workplace.
Like most companies, Etsy gathers its employees for a monthly meeting. But there are no boring PowerPoint presentations here.
Instead, the company kicks off the meetings with an ‘opening act’ performed by employees. It can be anything from someone bringing in their guitar to do their best Johnny Cash rendition to stand-up comedy.
When the performance ends, the ‘normal’ meeting ensues. But the opening act is seen as ‘a connector’; boosting focus and inspiring post-meeting conversations. According to Elise Pereira, senior manager of Etsy's internal communications, ‘You feel a personal connection with the people up there, but also with the people in the room experiencing it with you. It creates this open and connected space.’
On top of that, Etsy employees have a ‘breathing room’, locally-sourced and organic meals, and a communal ‘greenhouse’ to grow veggies.
Forget the stuffy and boxy interiors of standard office spaces, and take a leaf out of Airbnb’s book. The San Francisco-based company asked interior designers to help build a collaborative space for their workers as part of a creative culture policy. The result is headquarters that prioritises open and green spaces, with culture walls to foster diversity and inspiration. Meeting rooms and staff kitchens are inspired by living rooms and the actual homes of employees to help workers truly feel ‘at home’ when at work – and therefore be able to work more innovatively.
This cuddly UK company doesn't just put smiley faces and woolly hats on its bottles, its dared to stand out from the crowd by creating a creative space for employees to flourish that reflects the company’s obsession with all things natural.
The office walls are mostly either glass or made from oak. Picnic benches fill the ‘chill out room’, alongside table tennis and foosball tables, all beneath a canopy of bunting. It’s based on the idea that creating a home away from home really matters if you want creative staff who do amazing work.
Nailing creative culture can be as simple as offering employees the right physical space to feel comfortable and happy, to taking a more creative approach to otherwise stuffy business situations – but every organisation is different. Finding the right approach to creative culture to fit your business seems to require a little bit of, you guessed it, creativity.