A Degree in Daydreaming
Room B436 has been booked out on the third floor. It’s window-less and has bright fluorescent lighting. A white rectangular formica table sits in the middle of the room and there are six black executive chairs placed around it. In the middle of it, there is a conference phone with wiring available for laptops. There are two or three used coffee mugs on the table. There is a large whiteboard with scribblings remaining from the last meeting. A perspex dividing wall separates room B436 from the rest of the floor which is full of more white formica desks and more black executive chairs. There is no air-conditioning in the room and the temperature gauge is stuck at 25 degrees. It’s a bit warm.
A brainstorming meeting has been arranged between 2pm and 4pm. Are you looking forward to it?
Corporate Headquarters in Mountain View, California. Lots of wide open spaces, greenery and vegetation everywhere. Outdoor cafeterias with free food, fountains flowing and people riding around campus on multi-coloured bicycles. Beanbags, sleep pods and sofas everywhere and people giving you gentle massages when you start work or end the day. Pool tables, swimming pools and bowling alleys aplenty, and a dress code that is strictly jeans and flip flops.
A brainstorming meeting has been arranged between 2pm and 4pm at the beach volleyball court. Are you looking forward to it?
No brainer? Welcome to Googleplex, the 3,200-hectare campus at Google’s headquarters. This is designed as a “happy place” for all their employees because the physical working environment must be an enabler rather than a blocker to the next big thing in technology. This attempt to create a ‘children’s playground’ is trying to awaken the kid in everyone, let their minds visit far-away places and encourage their imaginations to run wild. All the fun elements at Google’s offices help to rejuvenate and recharge brains so that they remain open and never closed.
“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.”
In a study carried out on creativity, it was discovered that allowing people’s minds to wander in their day to day life is positively linked to their cognitive abilities. The common perception is that daydreaming is a sign of distraction and inattention, whereas the findings strongly suggest that people who daydream regularly possess superior intellectual and creative abilities than those who remain focused on the task at hand. So, it figures that if you can create an environment that can encourage daydreaming, then why wouldn’t you do just that?
But if you can’t, are you creatively condemned? Not necessarily. The time where people daydream most is when they are more relaxed, and the place where people are often most relaxed is anywhere but the office.
So here is the suggested answer. Set the challenge well in advance of it requiring a solution, and let it ferment in people’s brains. Shower time, TV time, walking the dog time. Even if you can dedicate a small portion of the daydreaming time available to thinking about your challenge at hand, then the ideas that pop out of your head are likely to be a lot better than those that emerge from Room B436.
However, if you do get the chance to work somewhere like Googleplex, then you can do your daydreaming in paradise!