Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.


There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.


If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:


 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.


 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.


4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.


5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

02-FM Day- IFMA-wow-webmagazine


Star: the smart revolution of a traditional company.

From fixed workstations to free and not personalized desks, from a work environment organized in a hierarchy to the open space. How can we bring a traditional company into the smart working era? During the second jelly session of WOW! Island Agile Working’s week, Matteo Melchiorri, HR Star and Antonella Grenci by Il Prisma, presented the Star’s new offices in Milano.

Star, the famous italian food industry, has just moved its offices to the new MAC7 center in Milan. The new interior spaces, designed by the architect Antonella Grenci of the firm Il Prisma, were built following the new concept of the “chance encounters” work environment.
“We have chosen an open space without any fixed workstation”, Matteo Melchiorri said. “We didn’t aim to a space optimisation. All the workstations are traditional, but there are no partitions and, as our new paper-less way of working required, the room for archiving was strongly reduced. To help our employees towards this change, we gave to each of them a limited capacity locker (35x60x60cm)”.
What really identifies the project is the strong company’s imprint given to the environment.
“Everyone can recognize our office at first sight”, Antonella Grenci said. “The moquette on the ground is green like a field, and yellow and red soundproof-panels clouds hang on the white ceiling and walls: Star brand’s colors are everywhere”.
A strong architectural element is the agorà, the core of the project.
“The offices’ structure is oval”, Melchiorri explained. “At the centre there is a common space that recalls a familiar kitchen environment, with a kitchen table, a fridge, vending machines, tables and settees. A flexible and multifunctional break area that can be easily used to chill out or to arrange informal meetings. We wanted a space capable to encourage the employee’s socialization. We also have a real and professional kitchen where we organize show cookings and events for the press, students or customers, etc…”.
What is the most important step to lead a company towards the smart working?
Melchiorri has no doubts: “ It is the change managment, a mix of a guidance and the explanation of the sense of the new way of working.
That’s why we had decided to show the different steps of the realisation of the new spaces in a dedicated website and we organized an internal focus group to pay attention to all the doubts and ideas of our people. The fundamental thing is to take nothing for granted and to answer to all the objections.
As Melchiorri underlines, the transition to smart working is something that needs time and it has to be made step-by-step.
We are not a totally agile company, but for now we have chosen a more flexible working time, starting between 7:30 to 9:30 and with a free time management during the day. Most of all we have eliminated the clock in system, in pursuit of trust and accountability. In this phase we decided not to allow the home working, maybe in the future…”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.