Space to Think
If you’ve ever been to our office, the first thing that jumps out at you is the 28-foot ceiling height. This differs sharply from our last office where the ceilings were a paltry nine feet.
Now, you might say, “Well, come on, does this really matter? You’re staring at a screen.”
Because, as human beings, we’re affected by our space even if we think we’re not. To validate this, we spoke to occupational therapist April Lebovsky.
Us: So, really, can the amount of space in a room affect creativity?
AL: Absolutely. Think about how your heart rate increases when you feel constricted, be it in a small plane, among a crowd of people or in your dreams if you have that “stuck in a coffin” nightmare. That constriction carries over to your active mind; the part that helps you create. Constricted body leads to constricted mind leads to constricted thoughts — which is the enemy of creativity.
Us: And so a large space has the opposite effect?
AL: For sure. When your mind feels like it has more space to breathe, it can take deeper breaths. And a deep-breathing mind is the one that generates the best ideas. It’s free and unencumbered.
Us: That’s all fine and good, but do you have any evidence of this?
AL: I do, actually. Last year, we studied how space affects productivity. We gave 100 test subjects in the same building the same right-brained task to complete, but we put 50 of them in tiny offices with low ceilings and no windows, and the other 50 in a large atrium. Then we got the two groups to share their ideas with the other. The atrium group did their tasks faster. Their ideas were more well-received by the tiny office group than the latter’s ideas were received. We ran the experiment four times and the results were consistent.
Us: So what advice would you give people who actually have to work in small spaces?
AL: Get out of there as much as you can. Give your mind the room it needs to stretch its arms.