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Microsoft Industry Blogs – United Kingdom

The original Industrial Revolution changed the face of work forever. The UK rapidly shifted from a nation where most people worked in unskilled, agricultural jobs, to an urban economy, where industry increasingly relied on mechanisation. We are currently undergoing an equally revolutionary change in the way we work, with technology advancing to the point where it is fast taking the place of human workers. So much so that PwC predicts that by the early 2030’s up to 30% of UK jobs are at risk of being taken over by robots and AI.

This will undoubtedly mean another seismic shift in the skills required to operate in the modern workplace, with a much greater emphasis being placed on that uniquely human skill – creativity.

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020 creativity will be in the top three most important skills, with employers seeking creative minds to solve business problems and come up with ways to use technology to develop new products and services. The term creativity might traditionally be associated with artistic pursuits – drawing, painting and designing for example – but it is defined, according to the Oxford Dictionary, as the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.

Edward de Bono, one of the world’s most renown thinkers on creativity, adds that creativity is about breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a new way. Research Microsoft conducted with YouGov backs up this more technical understanding of creativity, with 62% of British workers defining it as solving a problem in a new way. The ability to be inventive and think outside the box is crucial to success in any industry, yet UK businesses could be at risk of a creativity crisis, according to our research, unless they recognise its importance and act now to ensure workers are supported to develop their skills.

Our research also found that, while almost three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed consider themselves creative, they feel their workplaces are stifling innovation, with both work environment and culture blamed for failing to nurture original thinking. Uninspiring and stressful workplaces, with a lack of inspirational spaces to focus and think, were cited as major inhibitors to creativity. Almost half of workers (40%) surveyed said that creativity was not a skill that was encouraged or rewarded.

Three-quarters (75%) of those surveyed said that their employer hadn’t offered any formal training to encourage creativity. Stress, tiredness, and heavy workloads were also highlighted as major obstacles to creative thinking.

In this ebook our partners at Steelcase reveal practical ways to help create workspaces that will inspire creativity; neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis explains how to tap into the human brain to promote agile, imaginative thinking; and we look at how technology can be better harnessed to boost creativity at work.

By enabling employers to fan the spark of creativity amongst their workers, we can help the UK economy to survive and thrive even as technology makes revolutionary changes to how people work.

Download the Microsoft Surface Creativity in Business ebook