Yes. Good design can help create a workplace where ideas flow freely, where people from different areas and with different perspectives can meet, mingle, interact, and cross-pollinate their brains, and where innovative ideas germinate, take root, and thrive.
But according to designer Gina Berndt, the best office design in the world won’t make a significant difference without five other factors in place first.
The first is vision: An organization has to know where it is going, so people can get behind and be guided by something tangible. A close second is culture. Positive culture is palpable (and so is its opposite). Number three, leadership, makes the two aforementioned happen. Number four, talent, is critical — and doesn’t tend to stick around in the absence of strong leadership, a firm vision, and a supportive culture. Number five is an obvious one: fiscal responsibility — which, as we’ve seen in recent years, can be surprisingly lacking. Without these five, your physical work environment is not going to produce the results that design and management consultancies would like you to believe.
If those five factors are in reasonably good shape, Berndt offers some ideas about how design can influence innovation.