How to boost your workplace creativity

Besides leading the 'free world', what exactly do Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy have in common?

How to boost your workplace creativity

Besides leading the ‘free world’, what exactly do Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy have in common?

Answer: They were all known to idly draw during briefings, a pastime that’s long been derided in the workplace as a sign of boredom.

In fact, there is a lot of research which suggests that doodling can actually aid concentration and the retention of information.

It’s a revelation which wouldn’t surprise the poet John Keats who used to draw flowers in the margins of his manuscripts.

Indeed, one study looked into the power of doodling by asking 40 people to listen to a two-and-a-half minute monotonous voicemail message recording.

It involved half the group shading in a shape during this period, while the other half simply listened. Neither group was aware that their memory would be tested following the exercise.

The result was that the doodlers showed a 29% increase in the retention of information when asked to recall the details of the message.

According to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director, AccessEAP, idle scribbling is just one way that creativity can help boost workplace performance.

“Encouraging creativity has a number of beneficial effects on employees that can drive positive change in workplaces, if done well.”

For example, a simple exercise like asking teams to think of different uses for an object, can encourage a mindset that will help them to think of new ways to approach and improve their roles, processes and outdated practices.

“Essentially moving them from ‘this is how it’s always been’, to ‘this is how it could be better’,” said Slepica.

“Additionally, by its very definition, creativity requires change and adaptation, skills that are extremely useful to ensuring companies stay relevant as advances in technology, fluctuations in the economy and shifting societal expectations influence how we do business.”

These qualities are also helpful in coping with organisational change, such as new leaderships and restructures, added Slepica.

People are increasingly seeking out the positive effects of doodling as seen by the recent popularity of mindful colouring books.

“Scribbling, doodling and colouring focuses the mind without being cognitively taxing, which allows the brain to be present and in the now,” said Slepica.

This gives our brains a break, as when our thoughts are racing, or we’re given to much stimulus to process, we may struggle to think clearly and absorb information.

Consequently, mindful doodling can help with concentration, decision making and overall mental health.

Moreover, there are a number of simple ways to make creativity a part of workplace culture, added Simon Marshall, Senior Marketing Manager, Wacom.

“Employees need to be encouraged to step outside of their day to day and engage with new ideas,” he said.

A good place to start is your workspace. Marshall added that putting aside a social, creative space full of inspirational cues to encourage your team to separate themselves from their desks and ideate or discuss new thoughts with colleagues. 

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