Creative workspaces raise morale, increase productivity

Abbey Alexander, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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There is an image that comes to mind when someone says “workplace.” Cubicles, stale cups of coffee, computer screen-induced headaches. There is a stiffness in the air, a lack of community. It does not sound like a great place to spend most of your time, nor does it seem very productive. So it is no surprise that recently, there has been a major push in the workplace to make the shift toward more creative, more effective workspaces. Companies are striving for the very best by providing their employees with a workplace that is simultaneously relaxing, productive and community-oriented.

So what is the difference between a creative workspace and a regular office? It is more than just nespresso machines and trendy beanbags. What features turn a workplace into a productive sanctuary? And who started this whole concept in the first place?

The answer is Google. Duh.

Perhaps the pioneers of creative and somewhat incredible offices, Google seems to be the best place to start. Alex Cuthbert, a Google employee, explains in an article with Fast Company his mantra at Google. He said, “The main thing we teach here is how to have fun. I’ve always described Google as a kind of mix between kindergarten and a classy law firm (…) And in terms of productivity, I think . . . what really makes people work together better is having a sense of fun, non competitiveness, non-hierarchy.”

The iconic and dreamy workplace is not a new concept to anyone. Bright colors, play areas, wonderful cafes and restaurants fill the environment with an energy like no other. It is like the Disneyland of offices. Although not every company can go as far as Google – offering free yoga classes, massage rooms or a library to rival that of Hogwarts’ – there are still little things that can be done. It can be as simple as switching out cubicles for mobile desks, or offering a small relaxation space for employees to unwind after a stressful meeting. Jason Freedman, founder of 42Floors, a design company, has an interesting insight to concept. “The core job of the CEO is to create the space where people can do incredible work,” he tells Dave Chase in an article by Forbes, focusing on the importance of creative spaces and how to achieve that perfect office aesthetic. In the same article, Chase speaks of “hot desking,” which is essentially a concept that allows employees to work with different people on different days in different spaces. The idea of hot desking opens up a new flexibility to the workplace that is on its way to becoming extremely popular.

But creative workspaces are not just for start up companies or global empires like Google. The aspiring journalists at Xavier’s very own XPress have recently experienced what a creative space can do for productivity levels.

On Monday, Aug. 8, the XPress team was introduced to a new concept that their advisors, Mrs. Cosic and Ms. Ward, call the “XPress Café.” Since the grand reveal, the students have been encouraged to utilize all the space has to offer, such as sleek white couches, bean bag chairs and cozy seats, as an alternative to sitting stiffly at desks drained of energy and motivation. The “XPress Café” also features a space for the young journalists to make their own coffee and tea, which helps create a more comfortable and relaxing environment.

With a laptop perched on her crossed legs and her hands wrapped around a piping hot cup of tea, sophomore Annabelle Goettle, a newcomer to the XPress team, emphasizes how important this space is for getting things done. She enjoys “the café because it makes the environment is so cozy and comfortable. The home-y feel makes it a much more calming and less stressful place to work. It really increases my productivity.”

The general consensus seems to be, as the year continues and XPress grows as a publication, that the new workspace will surely aid in the development and learning of Xavier’s journalists.

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