Is creativity at your company scarce? It’s not due to a shortage of ideas.
Think about it—your hiring process is competitive so that you choose the sharpest, most talented professionals to join your team. And you’ve witnessed countless moments of your team rising up to the challenge and producing exceptional results.
A lack of creativity isn’t an ideas problem. It’s not even a people problem. It’s a workplace culture problem.
Here’s a question: what is your current internal process for pitching an idea?
If the answer is “talk to your supervisor,” that’s not good enough. Even if the supervisor thinks the idea is great, it can often fizzle out when spoken to the next person in the chain of command.
Even worse is no process at all. How can you expect your company to be innovative if new ideas aren’t invited to exist?
Remote work doesn’t help the cause for creativity. Many companies adjusting to the remote workplace fall into the trap of leaning upon task-driven assignments and practical decision-making during the transition until this pattern of behavior becomes expected and familiar.
Creativity is about the unexpected and the unfamiliar—and it’s time to embrace it.
To inspire creativity across remote teams, focus your actions more on the workplace environment and less on the brainstorming process. With a workplace culture that invites new ideas in, you can expect to receive an abundance of creativity.
And here’s how to make that happen.
Create a Safe Space for Ideas
Ideas cannot grow if the seeds cannot be planted. You can inspire creativity across remote teams by providing a positive place where your teammates can share, discuss and build upon each other’s ideas.
Create an online space where your team can post their creative ideas. There are dozens of virtual brainstorming tools designed to support idea sharing, voting and collaborating on new ideas.
At certain companies, these idea boards can quickly turn into negative suggestion boxes. To combat this, uphold rules of behavior within this safe space. For example, all ideas must:
- Have a positive intent
- Impact the consumer experience
- Aim to solve a problem
Shark Tank It
Push your professionals to brainstorm an idea from start to finish. You can inspire creativity across remote teams by regularly hosting virtual pitch sessions—be it monthly or quarterly—where ideas are evaluated by a panel of judges.
A pitch requires more than idea. The professional must make the case for the problem(s) the idea can solve, the value it can bring to the consumer, the benefits it provides investors and/or the brand, the plan on how to roll out the idea and the metrics to measure the success of the idea.
A pitch can push your professionals to brainstorm through their idea until the end. And regular pitch sessions can inspire your team to refine their innovative ideas instead of abandoning their creativity if/when it initially misses the mark.
Too many companies spend most of their time fixing “issues” as deemed by internal clients or high-up leaders. But how do these fixes benefit the consumer? And what real consumer problems are ignored because time is allocated elsewhere?
It’s easier to act on a solution rather than define the problem. And that’s what most internal requests are. “Design this flyer” and “create this report” are easier to respond to rather than “what is the problem?” and “what is the best solution for the problem?”
Creative play can define both the problem and the solution. It’s all about stepping outside of our personal perspective.
Inspire creativity across remote teams by encouraging them to take on the mindset of the consumer. To do this, set time aside for your team to undergo the customer experience, taking notes on challenges that arise during that experience as well as the emotions felt during the process. That way, your team can experience the consumer’s problems firsthand as well as step back into their professional role to devise the best solution.
Embrace Schedule Flexibility
Certain forms of structure can inspire creativity across remote teams, but the 9-to-5 schedule isn’t one of them.
Conventional workhours isn’t always the best times of day to increase workday productivity. The creative answer that your team seeks to find may be better realized by working a few hours in the evening or before sunrise.
There’s a reason why set business hours came into existence. Even in the remote workplace, it’s essential for your team to share overlapping workhours so that communication doesn’t stall projects or hinder upcoming deadlines.
That being said, do you place more value on when your employees work or on what they can deliver?
The truth is, your team doesn’t turn off their creativity during the hours when they are the most inspired. They simply project their creativity upon other passion projects. In short, someone else (or even another business) gets to benefit from their creativity—not you.
When a project could use a creative boost, have a conversation with your team about their schedule. When you show that you trust them to work during off hours, they are more motivated to discovering that solution or delivering on a creative task.