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How coffee and socialisation can facilitate a more creative environment in your office

Steph Panecasio

This article is sponsored by Nespresso Professional.  »

Whether you work in finance or design, a thriving atmosphere of creativity is integral to the functioning of any business. Unbound by the constraints of its artsy connotations, creativity as a concept can influence problem-solving, produce new avenues of business and introduce collaborative ways of working.

Better still, creativity is one of the most valuable assets in your employees — so long as you know how to harness it.

Matt Rowley, CEO of Pedestrian Group, is aware of how instrumental creativity has been to the success of the company in which he leads.

From daily brainstorms for client brief responses, right through to annual editorial summits to produce the most groundbreaking editorial content, staff are constantly encouraged to think outside the box.

“Creativity is at the core of what we do as a business and because great ideas can come from anywhere, we make sure to tap into what every person in the organisation has to offer by engaging everyone in the office in our creative processes,” says Rowley.

Your employees are a fountain of creative knowledge and ideas, so it can be as simple as allocating time for them to brainstorm, fostering socialisation and creativity in one go over their morning coffee.

With many contemporary offices choosing to provide a sustainable, communal coffee machine as a hub of chatter and mingling, coffee can act as a conduit for creative minds coming together.

With companies like Nespresso Professional conducting research to confirm that coffee can function as a facilitator of discussion and productivity, it stands to reason that your office coffee machine could be an easy port-of-call for those times when creativity seems to falter in your office.

Is it all in the mind?

Creativity generally gets split into two types: ‘little c’ creativity versus ‘big C’ Creativity. ‘Little c’ refers to lower-touch creative efforts like coming up with a joke, whereas ‘Big C’ creativity involves more strenuous creative input, like creating and delivering an engaging presentation.

As such, ‘Big C’ creativity is the goal for most employees and leaders, because the ability to think on your feet and be adaptable in meetings or presentations is seen as a valuable and employable skill. But is it something we learn, or something we just have?

For a long time, people believed that creativity was an inherently developed trait. The adage of ‘left-brained’ versus ‘right-brained’ is one that comes up a lot when discussing the prevalence of creativity — though there’s limited truth in that particular dichotomy.

A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the United States found that neural architecture can indicate or predict the amount of creativity that someone has. Using predictive models and brain mapping, the study revealed that people whose neural connections were stronger in the reviewed areas were predictably able to perform more creatively than those whose weren’t.

Although it’s true that some people are naturally more attuned to their creative side, that isn’t to say that ‘non-creatives’ can’t refine their own creativity. Researchers are yet to determine whether these neural connections can be strengthened with training and creative pursuits.

So the question remains: given that some people may be more predisposed to creativity than others, how can you encourage holistic creative flow in your office?

Unlocking the tools

It should come as no surprise to hear that socialisation is crucial to the development of creative ideas, given the focus on brainstorming, collaborative working and shared ideas in the workplace.

Surrounding yourself with creative people is one of the core areas that we’ve identified as a means of unlocking creative potential – hence the need for socialisation and networking.

Rowley also stresses that there are certain periods which need to be harnessed for facilitating creative peaks.

“We've also found that the time of day we run those processes makes a big difference,” he explains. “It needs to be in the morning, after they've settled in with their coffee and ready to spark off one another. "

According to Dina Krasikova of The University of Texas in San Antonio, if you’re a leader, you should be encouraging discussion, experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking. In a study on what makes a good leader, she said, "When leaders feel confident that they can produce creative outcomes, their subordinates become more creative."

By ensuring that employees are given the time and opportunity to enact these collaborative discussions, intermingling creatives and non-creatives alike, there’s potential for a flow-on effect. Given a lot of spontaneous discussion happens over a coffee anyway, why not use moments like those to introduce a coffee-fuelled collaborative opportunity?

A nation-wide survey by Research Now SSI and commissioned by Nespresso Professional found that 75% of managers say they would rather provide quality coffee to facilitate office dialogue, over any other environmental office change.

As a result, Nespresso Professional has specifically designed their machines with office spaces in mind. With a design that’s efficient and easy to use plus 13 coffee varieties that can cater to all staff, it complements each office space to operate as a hub of discussion and creativity.

Why it’s worth a (coffee) shot

Increased creativity can benefit your office in so many ways — from ideation of new ideas through to smoother processes and better-articulated presentations. By opening up your office to be receptive of creative streams between employees, you can open up new levels of development and growth.

Its importance, then, cannot be underestimated. Creative problem solving and cognitive processes are instrumental in breaking out of ruts, and foster originality. Nurturing these thought processes regardless over whether your team is creatively-inclined or otherwise can have a tangible effect on your work.

Plus, if harnessed correctly, it also has the effect of producing a more positive office culture in general — allowing employees to feel fulfilled, social and listened to. Staff morale is vital in ensuring your levels of employee retention stay on track, and providing the resources to increase this is instrumental.

So it stands to reason that if creativity is your end goal, any facilitator that helps produce it is worth considering. If it’s as simple as holding your brainstorms and meetings aside the office coffee machine, just make sure your set up has enough capsules for everyone — that way there’s little reason not to hone your socialisation and creativity over a cup.

That way you get both the benefit of collaboration and shared ideas with the added effect of coffee-facilitated socialisation.