Workplaces can either stifle or promote employee innovation. Most American workplaces are hardly shining examples of interior or exterior design, focusing on cost effective design rather than aesthetics. Good workplace design is not only focused on aesthetics, but also function. Well designed, functional workplaces can increase worker productivity and allow better communication, whereas poorly designed workplaces can create dysfunctional relationships.
Google and Pixar have the most well known, innovative office designs in America. Google's Googleplex is divided into themed areas in the office for locations ranging from Buenos Aires to Zurich, with bicycles and scooters being the normal transportation around the massive complex, which boasts massage chairs, large inflatable balls, aquariums, slides, gyms, video games and many more perks. Meanwhile, a day at Pixar's incredible Disneyworld like themed offices - based on its major films - feels like a kid's vacation rather than work. Pixar also intentionally centralizes its cafeteria, meeting rooms, mail boxes and restrooms in order to promote employee interaction.

Maybe your company doesn't have pockets as deep as Google or Pixar, or the motivation to convert your office into an amusement park. That shouldn't stop you from changing up your office setup to reflect your business' uniqueness. Nothing is more stifling than working at an anonymous office with its sad gray cubicles, drab blue carpet and bland white blinds. The employee fades into the background and becomes just another cog in the corporate machine - hardly encouraging for overall company morale. Here are some things to consider to spruce up your office environment.

Communication and Morale

Poorly run businesses fail when lines of communication break down. How is your office structured? Do people from different departments mingle with each other, or are they in isolated circles? Take a note from Pixar's playbook and put shared use facilities in a centralized location - such as the meeting room, break room and restrooms.

Cubicles are also a corporate cliche that stifles innovation and promotes isolation. If you feel like being revolutionary, you can choose to do away with cubicle walls altogether, although this might incite an employee revolt. Instead, find ways to make cubicles more interesting, whether by color themes, decorations or positioning.

Windows and Lighting

Stale white fluorescent lights in sprawling windowless rooms are another office cliche. The popularity of this setup is obvious - it's cost effective and only requires cubicles and desks to divide the room. However, for a mature company this look is dull and anonymous. Consider replacing your overhead lights with individual desk lamps, while reducing your overhead room lighting. This can save you lots of money on electric bills and the balanced lighting can create a softer work environment.

Themed Areas

"Cool" companies such as Facebook or Red Bull often divide their workplaces into themed environments in the same manner as Google and Pixar. Most managers, however, view this as a high-cost zero-reward scenario. To offset costs, you can make it a competition between departments and offer them a limited budget with no restrictions on outside materials from their own home. While it's doubtful one of your departments will create Google's Zurich, you can get themes for each of your departments at minimal cost. In addition, it will boost your employee's morale, encourage teamwork and test their cost efficiency.

A little renovation in your office will go a long way to spur innovation in your employees. Be practical, but don't be afraid to make a few capital sacrifices in order to improve your workspace.