Can You Boost Workplace Innovation With a Remote Team?

In the past few months, we’ve all faced uncertainties. Sales were unpredictable, reliable revenue streams were broken and the workplace practices were completely changed. The scariest part is, none of this is over. A new wave of the pandemic is looming over and the only way we might be able to face this is more workplace innovation.

workplace innovation

Innovation is not limited to new products or services. Innovation is a new marketing approach, a new packaging that reduces material use and costs, and a new way of doing things within the company. The one thing that all innovations have in common is the people – the real drivers of innovation. And in this desperate time, they are the key to a solution that will enable your company to grow and evolve. Here is how:

1. Keep the team together by organizing weekly workshops

The best ideas are born through collaboration. This is why the workplace is an ideal fostering environment. However, with teams getting dispersed and internal communication getting reduced, the space for creative collaboration has significantly shrunk. Bringing several minds together is a recipe for innovation, and there is no reason this type of flux can’t happen online.

Thanks to modern technology, we don’t actually have to be physically together to work together. But it’s important to understand that formal and strictly task-oriented communication is not going to boost innovation. You need to encourage it through other creative activities and collaborative challenges.

workplace innovation

The best way to do this is by organizing weekly workshops. Gather the team in a conference call and give them a creative challenge. It can (but doesn’t necessarily have to be) related to the challenges you are facing. The idea is to relax, bond, and have fun. The reason why these workshops are so effective is that creativity is highest when the mind is relaxed, free to connect ideas, and discuss them with others. We started doing this practice every week and overall creativity levels, as well as motivation, have significantly increased on a team level.

Bonus: How to Grow Your Sales Through Online Marketing During Covid-19

2. Encourage your team to have more calls and video meetings

While most video calls can be an e-mail, not all should be. Verbal and visual expression is far more natural and expressive. We communicate faster and more holistically when using facial expressions, tonality, and rapport. When we can’t do it in real life, video calls are the second-best thing.

workplace innovation

Innovation is a process that encompasses 2 general stages: 1. coming up with an idea, and 2. bringing it to life. While more heads always think better than one, sometimes group effort isn’t necessary for stage 1. One individual can have a great idea on their own if they are stimulated or naturally creative.

But for stage 2, a team effort is crucial. And it’s not as simple as delegating general tasks to people, because when innovating, everyone will need to do something they’ve never done before.

That’s why including others in stage 1 as well as boosting excitement and support for stage 2 can increase the odds the innovation will be brought to life, successfully and more quickly. And verbal and visual communication is crucial for boosting team spirit. So next time when you advise your employees to cut it short on the zoom calls, consider the fact that video calls are necessary for sharing ideas and coming up with new solutions.

3. Seek examples of innovations and share them with the team

When asked where inspiration comes from, most people attribute it to a state of constant curiosity. Some say it’s a manifestation of a divine source, or energy flowing from other dimensions into our reality. Whatever the real cause might be, most people will agree that is was some external sight that inspired their brain to connect old ideas with a new perspective.

Looking at the work of others is always a great way to get inspired. Fortunately, the World Wide Web was not affected by the pandemic and we can still see other individuals and the organization’s great work. This doesn’t mean we should compare or obsess with the competition. Sometimes, looking at great examples in other industries can inspire us to come up with unique and innovative solutions.

workplace innovation

A concept ad for Guinness created by copywriter Luke O’Reilly

It’s a wonderful practice to encourage this form of inspiration within your team, but what’s even better is sharing the inspiration with everyone else. For this purpose, we created a #inspiration channel in our internal Slack, where everyone can share, comment on, and analyze cool innovations from all over the world. This practice has enabled us to create more innovative slogans, campaigns, and approaches.

4. Set goals

It’s difficult to think about the future while uncertainty is looming over. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to dial down your ambition or lose focus on organizational goals. Moreover, at times when productivity and motivation are suppressed by the pressure of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to keep steady speed towards your goals.

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The current situation calls for fast adaptation. And, unfortunately (or fortunately) only the organizations that are the most agile will survive the storm and flourish. The factor that sets them apart is their fixation with the goal. Goals are important for many reasons but the biggest one is psychological. It keeps everyone pushing even when there is no immediate threat. When the threat comes, the team is ready to face it full force, and already ahead of the competition because they didn’t rest while everyone else was.

Setting a simple goal can move everyone forward. It gets people thinking, talking, collaborating, and imagining. Even if the goal is not reached, the team is further than they would have been without it.

workplace innovation

5. Organize a virtual innovation workshop

If your goal is to create a real game-changer, in other words, an innovation that will be a real eye magnet, and change the way we do things every day, you will need to invest more time and team effort into its development. The best way to do this is by organizing virtual innovation workshops.

These activities can last a few days or several weeks. In addition to preserving the health and safety of the team, virtual workshops eliminate travel costs and save time too. Organizing an innovation workshop is a bit of a challenge, but its fruits are more than worth the investment. And right now, while the daily tasks are reduced in the heat of the summer, is the ideal time to have one.

If you’ve never organized an innovation workshop, the task can be quite daunting. An innovation workshop needs to include stimulating activities that will guide the ideation process between the teammates. Ideally, these activities need to be led by an experienced individual that will explain and excite the participants, have the relevant know-how, and effectively handle potential conflict.

If you need help in organizing your innovation workshop, reach out to our team of licensed facilitators, and learn about our proven methodology.

And if you want to learn more about how to innovate with co-creation check out the following articles written by our own team members and experts in co-creation:
Corporate Innovation Management: The Best Ways To Get From Idea To Prototype
Idea Generation: How To Define Which Ideas Are Worth Working On?
Building The Future Of Business with Open Innovation

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