Can You Keep Creative Sparks Lit Whilst Working Remotely?
Ever since remote working became a ‘thing’ back in the early 1970s, the debate continues as to whether working from home inspires or stifles creativity.
During a once-in-a-century public health crisis, we see millions of employees now working from home – many of which are not accustomed to doing so.
As dining room tables and spare bedrooms are transformed into temporary office spaces, there’s been a real challenge to ensure employees remain connected. This is exactly what we’ve been striving to achieve here at the Morson Group. Strategic communications are playing a vital role in helping to retain our family ethos and values and provide the right tools to support our people in staying productive, creative and energised.
Several studies suggest that working from home does ignite creativity. Virtual communication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack allow creativity to blossom in remote settings. Supporting ‘face-to-face’ interactions through digital means often helps to spark new perspectives and ideas that may alter the direction of a project or goal, whilst enriching its result.
This sharing of ideas is extremely important for creativity and since it’s harder to remain in constant contact with your team, it is recommended to set reminders to interact at certain points of the day and support the free flow of ideas.
Research also suggests that time spent brewing up for the team or running into a colleague in the lift can boost collaboration. These small social moments are essential for creativity and easing anxiety, so remember to dedicate time to personal conversations and retaining team camaraderie, rather than getting straight to business.
Informal get-togethers are just as important as formal meetings, so try to implement a virtual coffee break whereby the team can connect without expectation and create a feeling of connection and trust. This aspect is crucial when considering the mental health agenda and the benefits of virtual interaction during a time of social distancing.
On the flip side, studies have also shown that working from home for extended periods can leave employees feeling professionally and socially isolated due to having fewer opportunities to interact and acquire information.
This counter-argument suggests that creative sparks can only fly when we’re physically present amongst our colleagues and partners, rather than communicating via Zoom or other digital means. Beyond any lost creativity and companionship comes loneliness, which is caused by the breaking of social bonds which are deemed necessary to productive teamwork. Employees need to, therefore, develop new habits and work to normalise video conferencing to ensure our craving for social interaction continues to be met.
Working from homes gives employees greater autonomy over how they manage their workload, including the hours and the conditions of their work.
The eight-hour workday revolutionised working habits in the late 1800s and has dramatically influenced workplaces. Yet today’s interconnected world where people can continue to be productive outside the parameters of the office means that they may no longer need a set 9-5 schedule to fulfil their duties.
As schools remain closed, many employees now suddenly find themselves working from home with children to homeschool and care for. In such instances, it’s important to be strategic in how you plan your day to ensure this is tailored to your working environment. On a practical level, we must maintain a set routine and structure wherever possible to manage our energy levels and support creative thinking.
As people’s commutes increase, there’s also the argument that working from home gives us back that valuable time spent away from our family. The average commute in the UK sits at just under an hour – 58.4 minutes to be precise. This figure also differs depending on where you live, with Londoners losing an average of 81 minutes a day commuting.
Studies suggest that working from home blurs the lines between work life and downtime. It is, therefore, crucial to implement boundaries and draw a line under the day, so it doesn’t begin to encroach into your home life. It’s difficult to switch off, so implement some clear rules and goals. Without your regular commute it can be difficult to switch off, so provide a separation between work and home wherever possible.
Creativity is an asset that businesses cannot afford to neglect, with it being key to fostering an engaged and innovative workforce.
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented the opportunity to implement new technology and a stronger culture that, when the economy is back to full force, could make remote working more accessible to those workers who want to take advantage of it.
Working from home is the lifeline to ensuring business continuity for many and if balanced correctly, the COVID-19 outbreak could be the catalyst for seeing such working arrangements become the new norm.