Is remote work killing innovation? Depending on who you ask, the answer may differ from one person to another.
If you ask academics, they might say that remote working is good for innovation. In an article published by Forbes, Leigh Thompson, a professor at Northwestern University stated that remote work actually facilitated innovation although there would be more difficulties in communicating. Similarly, MIT Sloan Management Review finds that innovation is actually accelerated by remote working. Better outcome for employees and customers has been reported among companies with remote working.
On the other hand, Silicon Valley experts may say that working from home may cause harm to our creativity. Joyce Park, Co-Founder and CTO of Panda Whale, points out that during remote working, bad ideas may get embodied for a longer time since you don’t easily get disapproval these days. In addition, new employees might have difficulty absorbing knowledge as there’s no one who can readily supervise them and give them mentoring. In an offline setting, however, exchanging ideas and acquiring knowledge may not be as hard.
The answers that these experts give only mean that remote working may either be an obstacle or a boost for innovation. With this information in mind, how can we make remote working more of an opportunity than a threat? Here are several ways to become more innovative during WFH.
Address Existing Problems
The first step is to acknowledge innovation-related problems that occur among your team during remote working. And these problems always depending on how your team works. For example, some teams might have too many meetings that it is difficult to formulate and generate ideas independently. Meanwhile, some teams might need more meetings to catch up with everyone and get useful feedback. Whatever the issue is, team leaders should address and solve it.
Optimize the Use of Technology
Remote working has made us even closer to the use of technology, and such dependency can be an opportunity to create more rooms for innovation. Automation apps, for instance, can be used to save a lot of time which was normally used for less important tasks. The time saved by automation can then be used for individual or team-based brainstorming. The improvement of cyber security can also create a safety net for the moments when ideas are executed.
Keep the Good Old Times
It was found that employees in 84% of companies which maintain pre-covid routines have better overall emotional and cognitive well-being. Little things we used to do before remote working such as communal lunch break, synchronous working, and informal chats may have sparked creativity. If WFH has discarded these things, it’s probably a good idea to bring some of them back so that our daily work doesn’t have to be individual and asynchronous most of the time.
Make Innovations in the Presentation of Ideas
There are more virtual meetings in WFH, and this might lead to a pressure to create awesome, killer presentations that can impress both your clients and coworkers. Some people find the focus on presentation (rather than the idea itself) problematic. However, this may not be a bad thing. Ideas only work if they are conveyed convincingly, which is why presentation method matters. And remote working is the perfect time to focus on how we convey our ideas.
Talk to Your Customers
Communication with your customers has never been more important. Customers are also affected by the pandemic, so they might have some great inputs on how your services can be improved. This is why the quality (rather than the quantity) of customer relation should be improved during WFH. Instead of investing on chatbots (which are found to be rated the least in customer satisfaction), provide genuine human interactions for your customers.
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