What do you need to do to create a creative office environment? Is it the glass windows, all white Ikea desks and whiteboard paint all over the wall? It’s unlikely that the key to creativity lies within those things in it of itself, but maybe there is something we can do to craft a creative office environment.

When the Washington Post reported that Google got the whole collaborative, open air workspace model wrong, I wasn’t shocked in the least.  I’ve always found it really tough to focus and be creative in an environment where I can’t tune out distractions. But I always blamed it on my ADHD.


Creative Work Environment - Google Article

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. So here are my tips for setting up your own creative office environment:

1. Get four walls and a door, or at least noise canceling headphones.

When it comes to ideation, having people to bounce ideas off of, is essential. However if you’re trying to actually do the creative work, then you need to make sure you have a way to shut out all the other people in your space. You won’t be creative if you allow interruptions. I recommend an office with walls and a door, but if you can’t make that happen, then just get yourself a really good pair of noise canceling headphones like the Bose set I have.

[bctt tweet=”You won’t be creative if you allow interruptions.” username=”lukemcelroy”]


2. Turn off all notifications. At least for a bit.

The best way to find a creative office environment is to have control over all your notifications! If you’re like me and on a Mac, then I turn on do-not-disturb for my laptop, along with closing out all my social media and email. This way, there aren’t any alerts, buzzes, or dings to take you out of your rhythm! One study shows that it takes on average 23 minutes to get back into the rhythm, after you’ve switched tactics.

[bctt tweet=”The best way to find a creative office environment is to have control over all your notifications!” username=”lukemcelroy”]


3. Get a decent whiteboard, or at least some windows.

I find being able to mark on walls, and write out concepts helps the creative juices flow. In our office, we have a whiteboard in every room! I love them, and it helps our team work out ideas together, and then there is a piece remaining when it’s time to go to work. Lately I picked up this whiteboard that is a notebook, so I can take it to meetings, and diagram out ideas. I LOVE IT!


4. Wear what’s comfortable.

The days of dress and suit are long gone. And I’ve found that I’m most creative when I’m most comfortable. And that looks like me wearing my favorite jeans, a sweatshirt, hat or even take my shoes off. It gets the blood flowing, and allows you to feel comfortable to dream and think outside the box. But there’s a balance in it… I can’t always wear that sort of outfit, because I think your appearance affects your brand. And you have to keep that up in some form or fashion.

[bctt tweet=”I’ve found that I’m most creative when I’m most comfortable.” username=”lukemcelroy”]


5. Leverage the power of messaging.

The worst thing that I’ve allowed my team to do is use the “gotta second” meeting strategy. There’s no better way to ruin your creative office environment, then to allow anyone to interrupt anyone whenever they want. Instead, I recommend using (even if they’re next to you) a messaging app. That could be instant messenger, google chat or just good ole text messages. Why? Because you can shut that all off when you need to. Don’t let someone else’s priorities ruin your creative opportunity.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t let someone else’s priorities ruin your creative opportunity. ” username=”lukemcelroy”]


6. Don’t Try to Run a Marathon Too Soon.

We’ve all heard that we must walk before we run, but I find its more likely that you’re going to go from dipping your toe into the creative process and immediately attempt a creative marathon without the training. Instead, start with creative sprints. Take 45-60 minutes of focused creative work and then take a break. Do that a few times, and eventually you’ll find yourself able to spend hours at a time. But creatively is a muscle, and you’ll need to master the sprint before you attempt a marathon.

[bctt tweet=”start with creative sprints. Take 45-60 minutes of focused creative work and then take a break.” username=”lukemcelroy”]


7. Get a window. And Open it.

Since we’re just getting out of the winter season, there’s a lot of creativity that seems to come to me by simply opening the window and allowing some fresh air to come into the mix. Open that window, and allow the natural environment around you to breath inspiration for you.


Those are just a few ways to encourage a creative office environment, but they’ll help immensely in the grind of knocking out creativity. Keep exploring, but don’t worry about fighting the urge to create too many open spaces. Get a balance, and your creativity will increase!