Innovation is critical when it comes to success in business, whether for a huge corporation or a tiny start-up. Chances are that, more often than not, the seeds of that innovation will come from the minds of talented employees working right under your roof. But no one can live or work in isolation (with the exception of Steve Jobs) and leaving people alone in their offices isn’t always the most optimal way to spark their creative spirits.

Fortunately, we live in times, where employers recognize the benefits of designing the most creative professional environments to encourage employees to collaborate, share, and develop ideas with their peers.

Now building a workplace, and more importantly culture that fosters inspiration doesn’t happen overnight.

Steelcase has been leading the charge when it comes to the importance of workplace design in driving innovation, which not only supports overall strategy and impacts the bottom line, but can also have a positive effect on employee culture.

As a one-size-fits all approach never suits everyone, Steelcase has created a white paper entitled How Place Fosters Innovation where it has presented eight models of innovation that tailor office spaces to companies of varying workforces, needs and strategies. Among them are:

The “In-House Marketplace Model”
Goal: Every team and person within the organization—from the lowliest junior staffer to the top executives—is responsible for innovation.
Setup: Collaboration takes place in “neighborhoods,” with a central project area for visual presentations and updates. People can move to private areas to do more focused brainstorming, or to a cafe to talk informally.

The “In-House Share Model”
Goal: Teams work on focused projects, sharing their information with other groups within the company.
Setup: Specialized teams are grouped together, with individual workstations on the periphery. These areas host a ‘front porch’ for the sharing of public information; yet include private spaces for more sensitive collaborations.

The “Partnership Model”
Goal: Separate partners work on one collaborative project.
Setup: Each partner has its own company space, but all share one unified space (both physically and virtually). Team members meet, break apart to consult with experts and work in specialized labs, and convene again.

It’s one thing to stay afloat in a competitive marketplace, but it’s another thing to stand out. Before calling the decorators to redesign your office, think about how the layout of your workplace can align with your business strategy and encourage innovation. It’s a great way to ignite the creative spark in all your employees.

Find great advice for the organizational model that applies to your company in Steelcase’s helpful white paper, How Place Fosters Innovation.

Source: How Rethinking Your Workplace Can Speed Innovation | Feb. 14, 2013 | Business Insider

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