How to Foster Innovation and Creativity During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Organizations have had to quickly adapt to the many unexpected challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most significant adjustments has included the move to a remote workforce.
While remote working environments have welcomed a more diverse workforce and increased flexibility, they have also tested organizations in addressing issues like innovation and creativity.
Working from home has many advantages, but business leaders have still had to take action to keep their remote teams connected in a meaningful way. In the same vein, finding ingenious ways of encouraging originality needs to be an ongoing aspect of any business strategy.
Here are five ways to foster innovation and creativity in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Make mental health a priority
The current pandemic has had a noticeable impact on the mental well-being of employees. Many remote workers have found this mentally challenging, and stress and anxiety are not conducive to workplace creativity.
Organizations must create an emotionally supportive and empathetic environment so that workers feel their employer cares. Stay connected and encourage team members to voice their concerns and address their feelings of fear, uncertainty, and isolation. An excellent way to do this is to have regular check-ins with individual team members and teams.
Establish clear work-home boundaries
While the work-from-home culture has created a more flexible environment, there has also been a blurring of lines between work, home, and family life. We recommend that employers and employees alike create clear work-life boundaries. This includes set office hours and a respect for personal and family time.
Encourage your employees to set times where they are not expected to respond to messages or check-in with their team; managers and colleagues alike should respect these times. When employees feel like their time is appreciated and there are firm boundaries in place, their brains switch gears better, and they can provide more inventive insights regarding their work.
Host virtual team-building activities
A common challenge for companies with remote teams is ensuring that workers feel together even when far apart. Humans need connectivity, and company leaders must find creative ways to increase team bonding and morale, leading to quality brainstorming and valuable work.
There are no longer spontaneous interactions between team members with the lack of physical office space, like hallway encounters or breakroom chats. These provide opportunities to inspire and share ideas. Consider designating social times where colleagues can chat and have time out from work mode – establishing a specific social channel in Microsoft Teams may be an option to facilitate this.
You could also hold virtual team-building activities or an occasional online happy hour. Provide some entertainment, like a band or comedian, to perform virtually for the team, or join a webinar together. These activities give workers something to look forward to, reduce feelings of isolation, and inspire more creativity.
Encourage a change of scenery
Sitting at a desk alone and carrying out repetitive tasks can quickly become monotonous. It is a good idea to take regular breaks and change your scenery throughout the day.
Managers should encourage their team to get moving. Motivate your employees to head outdoors to walk in the sunshine or take the laptop to a cafe. Changing one’s environment can significantly encourage renewed focus – and great ideas.
Acknowledge good work
It is essential to set clear objectives for virtual teams and have attainable goals while at the same time creating a culture of appreciation. In the current work-from-home business environment, motivation levels are low, and organizations need to find innovative ways to encourage employees. When team members feel appreciated, they are more productive and, ultimately, more creative in their work approach.
Some great new apps have been developed to acknowledge great work. In Microsoft Teams, Karma was designed to help people give thanks and encouragement. Praise is another handy Teams app that allows you to send badges to fellow employees. These can be sent in a personal chat or posted to a channel for the entire team to see.
The world has witnessed a digital transformation in how we do business since the start of the pandemic. Organizations need to continue encouraging more interpersonal connections with their teams to increase motivation and ensure great work. To find out how the solutions at designDATA can help your teams collaborate and produce quality ideas, get in touch with one of our Microsoft experts.