Like a painter staring blankly into an empty canvas, finding ways to inspire creativity in your team can lead to incredible artistry in their craft — but can you expect the same results while working remotely?
Confined to four walls and the odd stroll in the park, this past year hasn't exactly been a rich source of inspiration for anyone, but as a manager, it's your role to ensure your team continues to do their best work in a remote situation.
With team bonding sessions and rousing speeches likely undercut by glitching webchats, you certainly have your work cut out for you.
However, the digital world lends itself kindly to those who can think outside the box. In this article, we look at the following ways you can leverage our current remote situation to nurture a team bursting with creative inspiration:
- Reassuring job security
- Hosting productive brainstorming sessions
- Encouraging flexible working
Read on as we flip the script on remote working and help you inspire creativity in your remote team over the coming months.
Make employees more comfortable by reassuring job security
Sensing some uneasiness around your team? This is a challenging year for everyone to stomach, but as if the pandemic hasn't been enough, looming threats of redundancy and economic hardship make conjuring creativity almost impossible.
Before you unleash ideas to get the creative juices flowing, you must first get the basics right by reassuring your team about psychological safety. This theory suggests high-performing employees need to know their job is protected before doing their best work.
By supporting job security, you're supporting creativity too, but your team likely doesn't have the same support they would otherwise have in an office environment when working remotely.
Take a moment to think about how you can nurture confidence and make the team feel safe in their role:
- Encourage members to talk about concerns and look to address them
- Make people feel comfortable in meetings
- Use mistakes as opportunities for learning and avoid punishments
- Be open about business decisions even when things look a little bleak
- Offer constructive feedback about work/ideas and don't ridicule
Now you're responsible for managing a remote team, addressing psychological safety is more important than ever before. Still, you'll also have to be more proactive in making these efforts felt across much larger distances.
Boost team collaboration by hosting creative sessions
Whether we're talking about video conferencing software like Zoom or instant messaging platforms like Slack, your team likely wouldn't have been able to adapt to a remote working environment if it weren't for game-changing digital tools.
However, while these tools enable communication between remote teams, they can be restricting and hold back truly collaborative sessions.
Hosting informal creative sessions is a tried and tested way of boosting creativity within teams, allowing members to brainstorm ideas freely without pressure or expectation.
Unfortunately, collaborative meetups held remotely can be difficult to make creative progress. Virtual conferencing software like Zoom and Slack attempt to fill the void; this process still feels unnatural and holds back that creative chemistry you're looking to draw out.
Enter virtual collaboration software like Topia: a creative online space that allows you to connect and engage with your team in a more natural way, similar to how you would back at the real-life office.
Using Topia, you create a virtual world for your team to meet up in and encourage group discussion. Plus, you can add in a whiteboard and imbed videos into your session
— this transforms the experience, emulates your old office space, and allows members to jump in and out of conversations much more naturally.
Taking advantage of ever-evolving online tools, you can make the most of creative sessions and claim back some spontaneity your team has been deprived of since moving to a remote operation. But that's not all.
You can also keep track of your most creative ideas using an online project board like Trello: a task management tool that can help you pin down ideas into actionable tasks; after all, coming up with creative ideas is one thing, putting them into action is another.
With Trello, you can map out your team's most promising ideas in widely accessible cloud space, ready for them to be reviewed by other business members, expanded upon in greater detail, and broken down into manageable bitesize steps.
Encourage flexible working to get the best from your team
With all that's been said about working from home this past year, you must admit it does have its upsides — and for many people, the most significant upside is a sense of newfound flexibility around the working day.
As one of the most desired perks in modern business, flexible working is also essential for nurturing your remote team's creativity. Instead of forcing members to work to your schedule, be this 9-5 or any other variation of the working day, allow them to find a groove that works best for them.
Some people are most productive first thing in the morning; others burn the midnight oil to get all their best work done. By allowing for a more flexible schedule, you maximize your team's potential, setting them up perfectly for a creative outburst.
The point being, so long as there isn't an important meeting to attend or a strict deadline to meet, it shouldn't matter when people choose to work their contracted hours, especially considering all the distractions working from home can throw at you.
Wherever possible, let your team choose when they want to work because only they know when they feel most inspired. Also, encourage members to take lots of breaks, go out for a walk, and change what area of the house they work in from time to time. A fresh mind and change of scenery can go a long way in boosting creativity while working remotely.
Whether they're working from home or huddled in the office, as a manager, it'll always be your role to encourage them to do their best work; the only difference now is how exactly you go about accomplishing this.
To get the best results from your team try:
- Reassuring members about physiological factors like job security
- Allowing for a more flexible work pattern
- Building an online toolbox that fosters remote collaboration
Remote working certainly doesn't mean your team can't still get their creative juices flowing.
About the Author: Laura May is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine. We write about beauty, fashion, lifestyle, relationships, travel, trends and anything else that matters to you. Name throwing you off? Don’t take it too seriously — we intend to stand out from the crowd.