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How do we thrive in the modern workplace? The key is to cultivate an intentional mindset of curiosity.

When we’re curious, we’re more open to forming new connections at work– connections outside our immediate team, department or even our company. These are the connections that help us break free from group think. These connections help to challenge our assumptions and spark new ideas.

Workspace design can help promote this curious thinking, supporting the inquisitive mind by creating opportunities for the casual collisions. The workplace can also serve as a tool to help employees recharge and approach their roles with a fresh sense of curiosity– combating feelings of disengagement and burn out. Here’s how:

  1. Utilize team spaces for creative connection.
    The need: In our day-to-day work lives, it can be easy to fall into repetitive patterns, approaching to-do list items using the same processes that have worked in the past. From a time management standpoint this makes sense– there’s value to applying known shortcuts to execute repetitive tasks. But consistently falling back on shortcuts can leave teams stuck in a creative rut.

    The solution: Encourage employees to use their minds in different ways. Jigsaw puzzles on a communal lounge table, for example, bring teams together over a shared goal and provides a casual atmosphere for exploring new solutions to work challenges.

  2. Take brainstorming outside.
    The need: Unedited brainstorming opens teams up to heightened empathy, engagement and collaboration, ultimately resulting in outcomes that wouldn’t otherwise be reached.

    The solution: Walking in nature stimulates the brain by increasing neural activity, according to Stanford researchers. Reap the benefits by holding your next team session outside in an outdoor workspace or scheduling a walking meeting.

  3. Designate unplugged work zones.
    The need: In our “always on” culture, disconnecting from email – even for an hour – can sometimes feel like a risk. But this constant connection comes at a price, leaving employees jumping from one message to the next rather than dialing in on focused work.

    The solution: Giving employees autonomy over how and where to work can help combat burnout by lowering stress levels and boosting productivity. Consider offering employees the option to turn off their phones and email during meetings or periods of focus, like heads down work in quiet zones or group brainstorming in team rooms.

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