In the era of Millennial hipster startups, it’s a word you’ll hear thrown around quite a bit these days. Google has them, libraries have them, even large news conglomerates have them for their employees. They all serve the same purpose, but no two look the same. So… what are they exactly?
Well, it depends who’s using them. At your local library down the street, you might find bean bags, large chalk boards and Lincoln Logs. In ‘The Garage’ at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, you’ll find giant 3D printers and soldering irons. A significant difference, for sure. However, both of these spaces exist for the same reason: to foster creativity and promote collaboration.
A unique environment with new challenges and resources forces us to think creatively. Solutions must be found using tools we don’t typically interact with. Because our brain is wired to recognize patterns, it subconsciously finds parallels between these new scenarios and the normal problems we encounter daily. This allows us to take what we learn interacting with these new puzzles and apply them to our regular routine. When put in a room with others experiencing the same thing, creativity and collaboration are the byproducts.
Now, we’re not saying to go out and buy massive 3D printers and robotic arms for your all your employees to play with (unless you’ve got the means to do so, then by all means, go ahead), but integrating some standard staples of a makerspace into your office can help boost creativity and collaboration. Here’s five key elements of makerspaces that anyone can incorporate into their workplace:
DEDICATED COLLABORATION SPACE. It’s important to be able to get people in the same room during all stages of a project. Brainstorming with varying perspectives is crucial to ensuring you get the most out of the talent you have available to you. We’re not talking about normal conference rooms here.
INCORPORATE MOVEMENT into your space. Allow people to get into different physical positions. Humans are creatures of habit. You’re much less likely to have an original thought sitting in the exact same position you normally do all day long. Diversify your seating with different heights and seating positions. Don’t forget to allow your employees to get on their feet to get involved with a project too. Movement is good for the body AND the brain.
MAKE THINGS BIG. A common theme you’ll see in makerspaces is things that are larger than their everyday counterparts. Floor to ceiling whiteboards, giant chairs, big blocks and models. It’s easier for the human brain to process something when they’re able to see the smallest details. Changing up the size of things also forces us to examine our environment from a different perspective.
SKETCH IT OUT. Regardless of whether a makerspace is full of giant robots and computers or Lincoln Logs and bean bag chairs, writing implements are a constant. Whether it’s large whiteboards or good old-fashioned pen and paper, it’s been proven we retain and relate more to information that we write with our own hand. The clickety clack of a keyboard can’t hold a candle to the primitively visceral feeling of frantically scrawling down a brilliant idea. There’s a reason some of the greatest ideas of our time began as chicken scratch on restaurant napkin.
PROVIDE UNIQUE TOOLS that employees wouldn’t normally have access to. It could be anything from projectors or larger TVs to something as simple as a bigger table to spread all their materials and sources. Make the collaborative space something that offers more utility than their standard workspace.
Promote creativity and collaboration in your office; let us help you make your space a makerspace. Call us to schedule your complimentary site visit!
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