How to spark creative innovation in your remote team
In the final article of a series of three Elliot Mark, Senior Copywriter at Ecommerce Platforms, gives us a wealth of tips to help spark creativity and innovation in your remote team.
Remote working can offer a lot of flexibility and freedom for your team, but it also lacks some of the spontaneity and opportunity for face-to-face interactions that allow people to bounce ideas around and collaborate on projects. If your remote team is lacking in inspiration or motivation, then read on for some tips to help spark creative innovation again.
One of the main benefits of working remotely is that it allows you to be more flexible towards the working day. However, if your team switched to remote working almost overnight when the pandemic hit then you might not have fully embraced this.
Instead of requiring your remote team to log in from 9 am to 5 pm each day, allow them to find a schedule that works for them. Some of them might find that they’re most productive and creative in the early hours of the morning, while others might find the ideas start flowing in the evenings. By allowing a greater level of flexibility you can take advantage of your team's creative outbursts.
Where possible let them choose their own working hours so that they can work when they feel most inspired and motivated. If you can’t be completely flexible then you can set two or three core working hours in the middle of the day when you require everyone to be present. And encourage them to change locations and work somewhere different if it’s going to help boost their creativity.
You need a certain amount of structure to stay in touch with your team and keep them working towards the same goals. Book in a daily or weekly meeting at a time when all of the team is usually in so that you can go over what everyone’s up to and let them know about any news or updates.
Use an instant messaging tool like Slack so that your team can communicate in a less formal way. This will help them to discuss ideas and overcome issues or blockers without taking up too much time. Keep internal communications organised so that it’s easy for everyone to know where to find different details, discussions, and updates. For example:
- Use instant messaging for ongoing communications about projects and company news.
- Use email to share finished work and any client or external communications.
- Arrange regular company-wide meetings and send out regular updates via email or an intranet system.
Making sure there are clear ways for your team to communicate will allow them to easily share their creative ideas and encourage innovative discussions.
Informal creative sessions
While it’s important for your team to be able to suggest and share their ideas at any time, it can also be really valuable to have virtual face-to-face sessions.
These don’t need to be formal, structured meetings, but an opportunity for everyone to bounce ideas around and inspire each other. Instead of one person presenting to the rest of the team, you can make it open for everyone so that more people can contribute.
This kind of creative session is more difficult to instigate as a remote team, but there are tools like Topia, which allow for more natural video calls that seem like conversations. You can create a virtual world for your team to meet up in that encourages group discussions. Add in a whiteboard for collaboration or imbed videos and your team can share their ideas and easily break away into smaller conversations.
Setting up regular creative inspiration sessions is a good way for everyone to collaborate. It can help overcome the lack of spontaneous conversations that you might have in an office, and will really help to spark innovative ideas.
Allow time for personal projects
Allow your team a couple of hours each week or an afternoon once a month where they can work on a personal, work-related, project. This could be anything such as:
- Resolving a bug or problem that they’ve noticed that isn’t currently a priority for your company.
- Learning how to use a new piece of software that can help streamline some aspect of their work.
- Teaching themselves a new skill that can provide your team with an additional resource.
- Researching a new idea or approach and putting together a pitch to demonstrate why it could be valuable.
While it’s important that your remote team is focused on the business’s goals and aims, allowing time to work on their own projects can help them to come up with innovative ideas and approaches that might offer significant value to the business.
Regular training sessions
Regular training can fall by the wayside when you’re not in an office, but it’s important to keep your team up to date with the latest developments, software, and best practices. It’s also a key way to keep your remote team engaged and motivated, which will help with sparking creative innovation.
Schedule in a certain allowance for training each month so that it gets prioritised and use it to cover a mix of training that helps them to do their job better but also teaches them new skills. Provide access to online training resources such as LinkedIn Learning, so that they can learn a range of things that will benefit them and the team.
Use the right tools to encourage collaboration
You need to make it as easy as possible for your remote team to collaborate with each other, so it’s important to use the right tools. Use cloud-based systems that are easy for everyone to access, rather than sending updated versions of documents or files back and forth.
An online project board like Trello can help you to keep track of different ideas, suggestions, alongside your team’s current workload. You can set up a board where people can drop in their creative ideas and others can leave comments and feedback. Virtual mind mapping tools can also be a good way to start off your creative process when you’re starting new projects or campaigns.
The key to sparking creative innovation in your remote team is finding ways to encourage communication and collaborations, and keeping them engaged and motivated when they’re not in an office environment. Follow these tips and your remote team will be sharing inspiration and innovation again in no time.
Elliot Mark Senior Copywriter, Ecommerce Platforms