5 Ways Remote Work Sparks Innovation

Your business needs creativity. It’s the magic ingredient that drives your company’s growth, innovation, and resilience. It’s also very misunderstood.

We tend to think of creativity as a mysterious force that’s best triggered by face-to-face interaction. In-person brainstorming sessions have long been the norm for creative workplaces looking to harness that force, but what happens when your team wants to work remotely? 

The recent shift towards remote and hybrid work doesn’t have to be the end of innovation. In fact, research shows that remote working can actually improve creativity - if done correctly.

How remote work helps creative thinking

1. It provides opportunities for virtual brainstorming

Pivoting from in-person brainstorming to sharing ideas online may seem like a creativity-killer, but, according to research, it’s actually more effective at generating ideas. Virtual collaboration can boost creative performance by as much as 50%.

Why? Because face-to-face sessions make many employees uncomfortable. More junior staff are often unwilling to submit their ideas for group evaluation, worried about criticism or appearing stupid. Introverts also have a hard time in groups, finding it difficult to speak up. They may be nursing an amazing idea, but if they’re constantly being shouted down, no-one will hear it.

The key to encouraging all team members to contribute virtually is to make sure your meetings are well-structured. Stagger breakout sessions to keep numbers low, give participants the chance to submit ideas anonymously through online collaboration tools, and appoint a session leader to group ideas for feedback.

2. It gives employees their own space

Offices are not neutral spaces, they’re environments that come with a lot of stress, competition, and pressure. All of which puts the brakes on innovative thinking

Employees working from their own home, however, are much more comfortable. And that’s good news for their managers because relaxed brains are more creative. Working from home also gives your employees more control over their own creativity triggers - research shows that ambient noise and low light help innovative thinking - so they can create a space that works for them, not the entire office.

3. It builds a creative archive

Office brainstorming generally involves a bit of chaos as everyone rushes to exchange ideas. In that kind of session, ideas inevitably get lost.

With virtual meeting apps, you can record every conference and build a brainstorming archive. This ensures you don’t miss out on any gems, but it also helps assess employee performance to see who’s contributing and who needs more support.

4. It encourages openness

Anyone who’s ever used social media knows that people tend to be more disinhibited online. 

In a business context, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Exploring ideas involves risk. You have to be brave enough to blurt out your messiest, most nonsensical thoughts and that’s much easier when there’s a screen between you and your colleagues.

5. It provides distance

The link between distance and creativity is an interesting one, suggesting that we need to be somewhat removed from an issue to think imaginatively about it.

Research shows that when people think an activity stems from a far away source, they give more creative responses and perform better on problem-solving tasks related to that activity.

It’s all about attitude

Remote work is here to stay. Over half of all US employees surveyed for a recent PwC report said they wanted hybrid or remote work models to become the norm. Adopting this more flexible schedule is clearly what employees want, and happy employees are creative employees

But it’s not as simple as transitioning to a remote office and expecting innovation to turn on like a tap. The move must be managed correctly to get the maximum creativity benefits, and that starts with a shift in company culture.

Companies who kept innovating throughout the pandemic had something in common - they all embraced change. A recent MIT study surveyed 1,000 innovation leaders last year, dividing them into two groups, ‘mourners’ and ‘stormers’.

Mourners were those who adopted a conservative attitude to change while stormers forged ahead with their plans regardless of the pandemic disruption. Less than 10% of the mourners thought about innovation, with most suffering from decision paralysis that hindered their business. Stormers, on the other hand, actively focused on building relationships, innovating to improve their communication and connectivity with customers. 

Moving into a new era of working, companies have a choice - will they be mourners or stormers? 

Employee Productivity Monitoring solution Prodoscore helps managers maintain productivity in remote workspaces. The innovative software monitors your team’s activity to see how well they’re performing, identify opportunities for improvement, and reduce employee burnout. Contact us today to schedule a demonstration and discover how Prodoscore can keep your team on track.

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