Setting the mood for creativity

June 2, 2022
Setting the mood for creativity

And just like that, winter has arrived. The recent rains brought with them  frosty temperatures and chaos at our airports with the school holiday exodus to warmer climates.

While Covid restrictions have been relaxed across Australia and the world in general, there are still plenty of uncertainties that have translated into systemic changes in the way that we go about operating our businesses. 

One such change seen in many organisations is the move to virtual offices and the eventual return of staff from remote work to an office or shared public space. The workplace landscape has changed and many businesses continue to have their people working remotely, or in a combination of remote and office work. Covid has afforded us with a never imagined opportunity to reflect on this ongoing evolution of how we work.  We ask; what is the  optimal way to work?

This quite obviously is a question that doesn't have a definitive answer, with a vast amount of variables to be considered. But in the interests of seeking a broad general impression, it’s worth questioning what the most common factors are that allow us to be the most comfortable and creatively stimulated in our working environment.

It is obvious that there are plenty of differences between working remotely and in an office. But one of the most obvious contrasts is noise levels. Compare being alone in a quiet home study to a bustling office or café that’s filled with a steady background of activity and it’s clear this would have an effect on how we work. On the face of it, a rational assumption would suggest that working remotely would be the clear winner, with the peaceful space and solitude allowing us to focus completely on our workflow, but this is not necessarily the case. Whilst of course there are a wide variety of personal preferences with regards to work habits with every person being individual, there is strong scientific evidence to suggest that there is an optimal level of noise and environmental activity that will actually enhance our productivity. Without getting too scientific, there is a phenomenon called 'Stochastic Resonance' that occurs in natural conditions and animals (people included of course). Although a fairly complex subject, the simple explanation is that it suggests that a certain level of continuous noise actually serves as a stimulus that improves our production and decision-making output.

Consider how popular it is for people to take their laptop to a café or shared public space and get their work done, as opposed to doing it in a quiet space at home. The steady level of background hum and chatter stimulates us to be productive. This is only further strengthened by the fact that we’re surrounded by others who are doing the same, which has a motivating effect. No doubt we can all relate to this, but it is actually backed up by a 2016 study that showed that when individuals were asked to perform a task next to someone who was working strenuously, they too became motivated to be more productive.

The subject matter is intrinsic to the human condition and has wide reaching examples, such as an infamous instance that occurred during World War 2. With factory workers weary from the war and struggling to meet production demands, the British government and BBC began playing upbeat background music at the factories. It proved to be an outstanding success, with reports of it having a significantly positive impact on the production levels and affecting the war outcome.

All of this brings us back to the question, what is the most effective of work conditions? The team at Flametree can attest to the fact that we are all individuals and as such have our own preferences in regard to work styles and musical tastes. There really is no one simple answer, of course, but it is clear that working together face-to-face motivates us and often inspires ideas that might not have occurred via email or zoom calls. We are truly social creatures, and when we get together unexpected brilliance can burst forth. Whilst the future undoubtedly holds many unknowns in the ways we work, one thing we are certain about is that we can achieve so much when we work together.

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