How does your business rate when it comes to innovative thinking? Do your employees get time to develop new ideas and solve problems? Are they finding this harder since moving online? Remote working has reduced the opportunity for spontaneous conversations between colleagues, the type of interaction that sparked ideas and solutions in the past.
As time progresses it becomes clear that remote working, in one form or another is here to stay. Perhaps it is time to think about how remote teams can be creative.
Do We Need to Be Creative?
Innovative thinking is typically fostered in design-based businesses. But creative thinking can be an advantage in all roles as it aids problem solving and continuous improvement. A creative culture is one where employees are encouraged to generate and contribute their ideas.
In this article we look at how remote teams can be creative online with a few simple techniques that can work in any environment.
1. Provide Time
The brain needs time and space to develop new ideas. So it is important to allow time for a creative thinking session within the busy work schedule. Don’t be tempted to add a slot at the end of the weekly team meeting. Let people get into the correct mindset.
2. Set Expectations
Plan ahead to provide a context for the ideas session. Pick an ongoing issue or topic or ask the team for their suggestions. Be clear about the purpose of the session. Then ask people to give the topic some thought in advance so that the team session will be more productive.
3. Spark Creativity
Approach the online session in an innovative way. By using new tools or techniques, you help to spark people’s creativity.
What do you have available to you? Tools like Whiteboarding on Zoom or Collaboration Workspace on Teams can be used to capture ideas.
Take things a step further using a platform like Yammar, available in the Microsoft/Office 365 suite, to create an online ideas hub. You can create a Group to post initial ideas on a topic and then ask for general input beforehand.
If you can’t access these tools, use a physical white board in your workspace, visible to all during the session. Collate their suggestions on brightly coloured Post It pads and then circulate an image afterwards.
4. Be Productive
It is important that the session is productive. After the free-flow stage start to move towards prioritisation, elimination and collation of the ideas. Then consider a plan for implementation.
The team will be motivated and energised if their thinking time turns into real action. This helps build momentum for subsequent sessions.
5. Be Patient
It may take time for your team to adjust to these types of meetings online. Try a few sessions before you determine their success. Ask the team for their feedback and suggestions on the format.
Here are two techniques that can help the flow of a creative thinking session:
- Mind-Mapping for developing thoughts on a central idea or problem in an unstructured way
- De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats technique for optimising group thinking and creativity
How Remote Teams can be Creative
Creative time helps increase energy, focus and engagement within teams. It can spark some great business ideas too. Allow your team this time to be spontaneous and enjoy the results.
For more productivity tips and ideas, you can access the beproductive.ie blog here.