35 ///// PHYSICAL AND MENTAL SPACE: THE FINAL FRONTIER?
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL SPACE: THE FINAL FRONTIER? ///// 36
“ENVIRONMENT ISN’T ABOUT FURNITURE, IT’S ABOUT ATMOSPHERE.” - ARNE VAN OOSTEROM, PRESIDENT OF THE DESIGNTHINKERS GROUP Creativity should exist whether you have a window, a door, a cube, or an assigned parking space. But let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to push towards the future while staring at a greige, burlap-like wall two feet in front of your face. Individuals and teams benefit from a well-conceived physical space that both fosters and stimulates creativity, and allows for employees to define their own creative footprint. Successful leaders recognize the value of providing a space that not only looks creative, but feels creative. Christina Jenkins of New York City’s iSchool notes that it’s very important to let those who share a physical space have some input in it: “In a classroom setting, it’s important to give kids control over the spaces that we all share. Give them some freedom to decorate it as they want to, instead of a ‘no touch’ policy. They respond to that freedom and ownership.” The same ideology can, of course, be applied to a corporate setting.
In extreme cases, a poorly-designed physical layout can even have detrimental effects. Jake Rivas, years later with a smile, recalls, “When I first got to North Face, the layout in the office was so bad that I almost didn’t want to take the job. I was freaked out. I had the HR department write into my contract that they were moving within a year, as they promised, because I wanted an ‘out-clause.’ All of that just because of the physical layout of the office.” And so, physical space should never be underrated, right next to the value of keeping employee InBoxes from growing fangs.
STACY MADISON “With more and more work being done on computers today, it’s critical to keep corporate atmospheres social, and create ways for people to interact in person. I am anti-cubicle. When we moved into our own bakery years ago [at Stacy’s Pita Chips], the first thing we did was tear down an entire floor full of cubicles. I also hated when I got my own office. I eventually gave it away to the marketing department, and they all sat in there together.”