Innovation is perhaps one of the most aspirational words any business can use. It's become something to strive towards in recent years, as companies seek to make themselves stand out, not only in the eyes of their customers and clients, but also to their staff.
For some time now, innovation has been seen as one of the most important drivers of business growth, and even as far back as two years ago, Tech Pro Research found that as many as 92 per cent of companies value innovation as a vital tool.
Finding ways to drive innovation can be the real challenge for companies, however. It's one thing to know that you need to innovate to find success, but making it happen is a different issue entirely.
However, according to a new study, innovation starts at home, with the vast majority of employees saying they cannot be innovative without a workplace environment and company culture that exudes the same qualities.
Capital One's Work Environment Survey of office professionals shows how the younger generation of workers have helped to bring in a new age of attitudes towards work, where it's no longer solely about roles and rewards, but also about environment and space. Where you work is now as important, if not more, as what you do and how well you are paid.
According to the survey results, as many as 82 per cent of office-based professionals working across five major American markets believe that it's impossible for them to be innovative in their role if the company does not provide a workplace and environment that reflects this. When only millennials were considered, this rose even further, with 86 per cent of the modern workforce saying the same.
And despite this reality, companies appear to still be far from hitting the mark. Of those who said they want a more innovative workplace, as many as 63 per cent say that this is not reflected in the way they are asked to work at the moment.
In terms of what companies can do to make their workplaces more conducive to innovation and growth, the survey discovered that it mostly boils down to office design and layout. Of those who responded, 62 per cent said an office must have natural light, while 44 per cent said they want to see more artwork and creative imagery at their office, and 43 per cent want to have furniture and spaces that can be easily reconfigured.
It's the last of these that is perhaps of most interest for those looking to create a workspace that benefits for everyone. The study discovered that when it comes to encouraging new ideas and promoting innovation, there is nothing more important than flexibility in a space.
A large majority of 88 per cent of young people said they always have their best ideas when they are able to work in a flexible space, so it's something that firms who want to encourage visionary thinking might want to consider in their own office spaces.
Perhaps the key takeaway from the report, however, is the fact that things have changed, and this is all thanks to the emergence of a new skilled workforce, who bring their own attitudes and values into their careers. Even when it boils down to the office, the new generation have completely different outlooks on what matters.
Whereas those who came before valued location - for example, an office in central London used to be hugely important to many - the new generation of worker cares more about what's inside the office. As many as 71 per cent of millennials surveyed said that when they come to choose a new job, it's more important that they are able to work somewhere that meets their needs in terms of design and environment, rather than somewhere in a favourable location.
Innovation may well be at the heart of what companies are looking for from their employees, but it's clear that this is now seen as a two-way street, perhaps more than ever before, as people seek an environment that allows them to be their very best.
Bruntwood’s experienced team of designers, surveyors and project managers could help your next workspace fuel innovation throughout your business. Find out what products we can offer.