Peak productivity – how and when are UK employees at their most creative?

UK employees feel their most creative in the morning, with 11:05am being the optimal time

UK employees feel they’re most creative at 11:05am, according to new research by innovation funding specialists MPA Group.

The survey of 1,000 UK office workers looked into the time of day employees feel most creative, and which working environments best help to stimulate our creativity. Interestingly, the morning was the most creative time across all industries, with the overwhelming majority claiming their best ideas come between 10am and 11.30am. More specifically, across the whole country, the average time for optimum creativity was 11:05am.

The moment workers feel the most creative, by industry is:

● Journalist – 9.48am
● Architect – 10.06am
● Designer – 10.16am
● Scientist – 10.30am
● Accountant – 11am
● Teacher – 11.01am
● Admin staff – 11.14am
● Salesperson – 11.15am
● Lawyer – 11.19am
● Technician – 11.21am
● Artist – 11.46am
● Engineer – 11.54am
● Doctor – 12pm

Office design and atmosphere are also important considerations for those wishing to maximise innovation. When asked what kind of working environment best encourages their creativity, a quiet office was the most popular choice, with 43% of workers claiming this will help them to create their most innovative ideas, followed by a comfortable break out space (28%), and colourful or vibrant walls (22%). Only one in seven (14%) felt they could be creative in an environment where music was playing and being surrounded by other creative people is only a stimulus for less than one in five workers (19%).

To help employers build an inspiring and engaging work environment for their staff, MPA Group has teamed up with a range of industry experts to produce a useful guide on maximising creativity.

Biophilic Design

Kevin McIntosh is Head of Design at Chameleon Business Interiors. The company specialises in commercial office design and focuses on creating spaces which encourage collaboration and creativity. Kevin believes in the value of green space: “The number one office trend is a move to go greener with elements such as living walls – a trend known as ‘biophilic design’. Studies at Exeter University show that biophilic design can boost creativity and increase productivity by up to 15%, just by having a few house plants in an office space. It is also proven to reduce stress, blood pressure levels, and heart rate.”

Set time aside

Vic Ulfik, Operations Manager at MPA Group commented on making sure your team is setting aside time to focus on new ideas: “You’ll never truly realise the creative potential of your workforce unless you give them the opportunity to push boundaries. Make sure you set aside time purely for research and development, where the focus is on innovation and progress, rather than simply performing everyday tasks. Give employees the chance to push themselves and develop their knowledge, as doing so will benefit both themselves and your business. The government’s R&D Tax Credits scheme which rewards businesses investing in research and development can provide the much-needed cash some companies may need to invest in their employees.”

Encourage autonomy

James Lloyd-Townshend, is CEO at Frank Recruitment Group, a global niche technology recruiter that has been connecting businesses to workers for nearly 15 years. James discusses the importance of encouraging independent thinking: “In any business, good teamwork is vital for long-term success, but in my experience encouraging a healthy amount of autonomy across your organisation fosters the kind of confidence and creativity that a business needs to grow and truly compete in its industry.

“I’ve always felt that it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, and that philosophy inspires our employees to claim their independence. It’s important that senior management creates a space where every member of the company feels comfortable sharing their ideas. That’s how you as an organisation can push the boundaries of what’s happening in your industry.”

Reward creativity

Sue Andrews is an HR and Business Consultant at KIS Finance. With 25 years of experience in the HR sector she has supported business leaders in a variety of sectors to design and deliver workforce strategies. Sue believes that incentivisation is key in inducing creativity “Encourage creativity by recognising and rewarding those who find ways to bring creativity and innovation to life.

“Monetary reward is one route but investing in them as an individual, through further development opportunities, will have a longer-term impact on their motivation.”

Embrace failure

Finally, Steven Garrod, Managing Director at MPA Group, discusses the importance of failure when it comes to driving creativity: “As Winston Churchill famously said, ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm’. Failure is part and parcel of business life and unless you and your employees accept this, you may discourage risk-taking and creativity. Treat every attempt as an opportunity to learn and as another step towards your ultimate goal. A great incentive for this is in R&D tax credits, which almost rewards failure allowing companies to make a claim even if their project is unsuccessful, so the fear of failure shouldn’t dissuade businesses from innovation.”

The UK is a hub of innovation, but without effective work environments and schedules, employers might be inadvertently restricting the creativity of their staff.

Allowing employees to be creative has numerous benefits to companies. A more innovative environment helps staff feel more comfortable and motivated, which can lead to the development of ideas and the sort of progress that keeps businesses at the forefront of their industries. This alone will typically lead to increased revenue and market value, but there are further financial incentives available for innovating companies.

HMRC’s R&D Tax Credit scheme rewards such businesses by allowing them to claim back on research and development projects in the form of substantial tax relief.

To find out if your research and development time could be eligible for R&D tax credits, visit:

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