Skillshare Audio: How to Cultivate a Creative Work Environment | Emma Gannon | Skillshare

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Skillshare Audio: How to Cultivate a Creative Work Environment

teacher avatar Emma Gannon, Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Why Explore Your Creativity?


    • 3.

      Foster Employee Creativity


    • 4.

      Promote Creativity on Your Team


    • 5.

      Build a Creative Company Culture


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

How do you cultivate a creative work environment? Author and Broadcaster Emma Gannon has some tips to share with you!

Finding time to balance creativity and work can be hard, but does it really need to be? In this audio class, Emma discusses the importance of exploring creativity at work - at the individual, the manager, and the company level.  When we cultivate a creative work environment, it allows for all team members to thrive, play to their strengths and enhance their motivation to help projects succeed.

Together with Emma, you will learn:

  • Why creative exploration is important
  • How to foster employee creativity
  • How to promote creativity on your team
  • How to cultivate a creative company culture

By the end of the class, you’ll feel empowered to use more of your creative energy to help your everyday workflow no matter if you are on an employee, manager, or company level.


This class is designed to be welcoming of students of all levels. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Emma Gannon

Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host


Emma Gannon is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her career guide The Multi-Hyphen Method was a business bestseller and her debut novel OLIVE was nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2022.

She is also a trained coach, host of the no. 1 creative careers podcast in the UK, (Ctrl Alt Delete) and speaks on the themes of wellbeing, creativity, digital culture and living life on your own terms.

She is a trained coach and experienced speaker and has spoken at TEDx, the Oxford Union, Founders Forum, Instagram, Amazon and Google. She has also appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4 (Woman's Hour, MoneyBox and Word Of Mouth), BBC Radio 2 (Simon Mayo) and BBC Radio 1 (Life Hacks). She is a trusted panel host and has interviewed everyone from... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: I'm Emma Gannon. I'm an author and broadcaster. I've written five books including The Multi-Hyphen Method, which is about juggling and modern-day portfolio career. I'm really excited to bring you this class. We'll be discussing exploring creativity and why it's important. Why in the future of work, creativity is one of our most human offerings and how it can help us with productivity, how to foster employee creativity, how to promote creativity on your teams. Also cultivating a creative company culture and new ideas. This class is for everyone, whether you're an employee who wants to turn up at work with a few more ideas or just feeding more creative. It's for people who manage teams, whether that's large teams or small teams, and how to cultivate that creative spirit. But also for anyone who works in an office, outside of an office, and how to create more of a creative culture in the day to day work. One of the key benefits of being more creative at work is that you can feel more confident in the way that work is evolving. It's also great for bonding with team members and also creating an environment where everyone wants to show up at work. One of the challenges of bringing your creative self to work is just simply that so much work has to get done and sometimes in a small space of time, I think that technology has allowed us to work more and therefore we create more. It's almost endless so we could always be working. I think pausing and finding the time to be more creative, that can be a challenge. I would say to students who are experiencing that challenge, that creativity is something that we need to reframe as being very important. Just as producing the work and getting paid and showing up and being happy at work. One of the key takeaways I hope that people find and takeaway is that being more creative at work I think can really open doors for people. It can shine a light on their superpower at work, their individual offering at work and make you just feel more confident and happier and therefore more naturally taking your career to the next step. 2. Why Explore Your Creativity?: Creativity exploration is really important because it helps us to adapt. I think being creative helps us come up with new ideas, explore new ways of living. I think the way we work now is actually merged in a lot with how we live now. It allows us to try new things, not be scared of taking risks and overall, I think it helps with our well-being. Creative exploration, it's one of the things that can't be taken away from us when we talk about the future of work. A lot of people are sometimes afraid of what that might bring with AI, robots, technology, the disruption of the workplace. But when it comes to creativity, that is the one thing that we can really grow and hone and feel good about as a skill that we're bringing to the workplace forever. Whatever way our career grows, whatever career chapters are on the horizon, it's the most transferable skill that we will have in the future. When it comes to being creative at work and how that feeds into retention and employee retention, people staying in your company for longer, creativity goes hand in hand with our happiness and well-being. We will want to be creative, it's one of the most historical human things that we've ever done, whether that's writing, drawing, speaking or acting, we are all creative, and I think it's really important that everyone feels that they're being creative in the workplace. When employees feel fulfilled, they stay longer at a workplace. It's interesting that people sometimes when they are not fulfilled in the workplace, will go and start a side hustle, and that side hustle might lead them away from their job. If you want to make sure that your employees are happy at work and they feel like they're part of a team, then it's important that they feel that they're being creative. There was a study recently by Oxford economics, they found that when an employee leaves a job, it costs more than 25,000 pounds to replace them. A lack of creativity and well-being in the office isn't just impacting the individual, it's actually impacting your business as well. This creativity in the office and the spike of creativity, can actually lead to a spike in productivity. The University of Warwick found that creativity and happiness led to a 12 percent spike in the overall productivity of the team. The feeling that people are adding something of value to their work and something that is unique to them, can be even more fulfilling than just a pay raise. When I interviewed the Chief Science Officer at Headspace, it was really interesting because she explained that when employees are encouraged to take more breaks and have more time off, even just 10 minutes of meditation in a meeting room before another meeting, she found that it boosted productivity levels. Overall, we do want to be productive and we do want to create good work, but that doesn't mean that we can't be creative, take more breaks and take some time out. I think it's important as well, just to note that you don't always need to be creative or be hard on yourself for not being creative, sometimes it's just hard enough, just getting the work done. But I also think that where this class comes in, is that it can inspire a different creative outlets and just exploring new things. Sometimes when we force ourselves to be creative, that's when we can get writer's block or we can feel a creative block. This class really is just about putting more breaks in your day, going easier on yourself, sharing more of yourself, and just seeing what comes of it. 3. Foster Employee Creativity: In this lesson, I'm going to primarily talk about the tactics that you can use to be more creative at work and bring more creativity into your day to day. I'm going to be talking about changing up your routine, finding small opportunities and considering the timing and strategy that it needs to bring more creativity into your day to day. The first tactic is changing your routine, every day can feel quite same especially if you're working from home and every day in the office can sometimes feel quite similar as well. Bringing in something very, very small into a routine to change things up can make you feel more creative. Whether that's just signing up to a newsletter that you haven't read before, making something different for lunch, wearing something different, just sprinkling in those new things and using your lunch break wisely can make you feel more creative. An example that I always think about is a creative director at an old place of work. He used to walk home every single day in a different way, which is always quite a challenge. But whether that was walking through the park or finding a long way home or finding another streets to walk down, he found that just seeing different things every day helped him come up with new ideas and crack a really tricky brief. However small it might be, it will probably make a massive difference and give you more breathing space. The second tactic is about finding small opportunities and finding those small ways in to get to know yourself a bit better. Finding different ways to find your thing and your role at work and get yourself closer to who your creative self is and just picking up on those little clues as to what you're good at, what your creative self is, what really triggers you to be more creative. That's really important and just getting to know yourself and getting to know your own patterns. The Simon Sinek exercise of asking five friends to tell you what they most love about you and value about you can be adapted to the workplace. One thing that is really great to do and sometimes is quite scary to do is to ask five co-workers what they value about you and something that they think is your creative superpower. Whether you're really good in meetings, whether you're good at brainstorming, whether you're good at proofreading, these are all the things that you might not know that you're really good at. Asking your co-workers for advise is a good place to start as well. Another small opportunity that we don't really think of as being a big thing but can actually add so much to our creative life is finding the time to read. There's a quote by Ryan Holiday, the author who says that we treat reading as this luxury thing that we do at the weekend but it's actually a part of our jobs. Reading is work a lot of the time and it's not something that we need to save for the weekends or the evenings. We can do it sometimes in our lunch break. We can do it during the day. Reading up on things and reading old books, reading new books can help bring that creativity that actually adds so much to our job. An example of a small opportunity that I did and I found to be quite useful later down the line was when I was an intern at an old job, I would organize for some of the employees that work to just go to the cinema on a Thursday evening. I just set up a calendar invite and basically sent an email around saying, who wants to come to the cinema every Thursday we're going to go and see a new film. Not everyone came every week, but a few people did and it just meant that we could talk about things outside of work. We could talk about the film and sometimes the discussions that we had at the cinema outside of work played into some projects that we are working on in the office. The other thing is to consider timing. It is about finding the time which a lot of people feel like they don't have. Starting that conversation with your boss you might be surprised that they actually want to encourage this creativity. They want you to have maybe a longer lunch break and it's something that we should talk about because it does help with productivity at the end of the day. With that in mind, we can talk now about the unique position that managers are in when it comes to fostering creativity in that team. 4. Promote Creativity on Your Team: In this lesson, I'm going to be discussing promoting creativity on your team. We'll be primarily talking about team leads, and people managers, and the people that influence the day-to-day experience of the people who report into them, and how to encourage more creativity within your team members. I'm going to be discussing three different tactics; supporting side projects, noticing and recognizing opportunities, and team-level changes. I'm really passionate about side projects and not just when you have them on the side of a freelance job, I'm really passionate about promoting the positive impact of side projects alongside a full-time job. Not everyone has a side project, or wants to, or can find the time for it, but those people who have a real passion and enthusiasm for something that they absolutely love will probably have a side project that they do in the evenings or at the weekends. I think it's really important for managers to take an interest in these side projects. That shouldn't really be an issue if the side project is actually happening outside of work. But sometimes it can be something that isn't spoken about, and I think we should consider the passions of the people that work for us and talk to them about it so that we can find a way for the side project to actually find a benefit inside the office as well. It's important to balance this, of course, with the company and the team priorities, but I think supporting the side projects of the people that you manage can help them thrive at work, it can help the productivity of the workload that you have on, and it can make people feel valued and more creative. The second tactic is about noticing and recognizing opportunities in your employees. Finding that thing that people are good at and making sure that they notice it, and making sure that they are doing more of that thing that they clearly love and that they're good at. For example, if someone on your team has a blog as a side hustle, why not encourage them to write for the company blog, for them to talk about the content that they think is needed, for them to use that experience and that knowledge and bring that to the company. That would be a really good opportunity. The other tactic is to make some team-level changes. This is something that might be a bigger decision that needs more of a company buy-in. But one way to really make a difference is to set aside an afternoon or a portion of time every week or every month for your entire team to focus on something that is a personal project, or a personal passion, or a collective creative exploration that people can do together in teams. It's something that would benefit the company and also bring that creative spirit to maybe projects that people are working on at work. For example, the agency that I work with, we take Friday afternoons off to educate ourselves on cultural things that we want to know more about, articles that we want to read, newsletters we want to read, current affairs or petitions or activism or research around the industry. It really helps us keep up with how the industry is moving and things that interest us. It brings about so many new ideas for the next week ahead. Now we've discussed creativity on a team level, we're going to move on and discuss creativity at a company level. 5. Build a Creative Company Culture: In this lesson, I'm going to be talking about how those in the position of cultural power at a company can change and build a company culture that champions more creativity. I'm going to be talking about some different tactics around how to create more of this creative company culture in the workplace. One idea is setting up something called Zoom rooms. I know that a lot of people have Zoom fatigue at the moment and this is because most Zooms are about getting the work done, having meetings with multiple people on and everyone feeling a bit burnt out by the constant Zooms. But this is an idea of having one Zoom once a month or in whatever way you want to do it, where there is a space for employees to talk about things outside of work that interests, hobbies, sport, what they're watching on Netflix, what they're going through in their personal life if they want to talk about that, but just basically a place for people to breathe and talk about things outside of work. This allows employees to let the outside world into the office. It's not necessarily about everyone having to tell everyone their problems but it could inspire new ideas. Being able to talk about things that are completely unrelated to work can actually find themselves inspiring the work itself. Another way to make sure that people feel like they're being listened to is asking employees for suggestions via an anonymous survey and incentivizing them to take part and do so not too frequently, maybe once a year or twice a year, so that people can tell you how they feel the workplace could be improved. One thing that is proven not to work so much is the traditional perks of an office. That's bean bags and free beer and gaming rooms. This is more about finding out from employees what would actually make them happier in the day-to-day office space. At Virgin Management, for example, employees are encouraged to submit ideas through a forum, only a small number do actually get executed and usually not more than two or three are actually taken on board. But it's important to gather this information and feel like you are listening to people in the workplace and really finding out how you could improve the way things are in the company culture. One specific example is at Google, which is quite a famous example where team members were encouraged to explore their creativity with no business requirements in a good portion of time every single week. This was carved out at a company level and it was spread across the entire company so that everyone could spend 20 per cent of their work time. That's one full day a week working on a passion project and it was called the Google's 20 Percent Rule. It was created by the Google founders in 2004 and it was designed to give employees that 20 percent of their time back to work on a non-Google related passion project. But it always ended up being related to Google in the end, at least most of the time. This time that was spent on passion projects at Google actually ended up inventing Gmail. There is another example at Innocence movie in a recent case study from 2019 on the workplace innovation website that said that if an employee is 70 per cent confident that their idea is going to make a difference, they can go ahead and just try it without asking for permission. This is quite a bold and radical one from Innocence movie but they wanted people to try and fail instead of not trying at all. Their company model was definitely built on risking things, taking those small risks and just trying them. If they didn't work out, they would just move on to the next thing. The company has also said in case studies that they get together every month or so to talk about the lessons that can be drawn from the failure of the teams and of the bosses. The management also would talk about their own failure. Even people very high up in the company would share all the things that didn't go right so that the employees could feel more confident to try new things. When we think about cultivating this company culture of creativity, some people might think it's a bit of a nice to have and something that they might tag on at the end of the week or month or of the work year. But actually, it's something that I think we should be integrating into the day-to-day of a company, create these spaces for people to be themselves. People feeling like they're being heard, that they can submit their ideas and try new things. When we talk about employee retention and creativity and well-being, these things are really important and should be integrated as soon as possible. 6. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for listening to this audio class on bringing your creativity to work. I hope you found something useful within this class. We would love it if you could ask questions in the discussion section below around your own creative exploration in the workplace in your own experience. We would love to see it. Thank you so much for listening, and I hope to see you again soon.