Insightful takes on scaling your business

How to inspire creativity from your remote workers

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Yessi Bello Perez
Story by
Yessi Bello Perez

Senior Writer, Growth QuartersYessi leads the writing efforts at TNW’s Growth Quarters. Yessi leads the writing efforts at TNW’s Growth Quarters.

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Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

This implies creativity is something you’re born with as opposed to something you can learn on the go.

While this may be true to a degree, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you from taking inspiration and ideas and encouraging yourself and others to think outside the box — and let’s face it, being able to do so is often what spells the difference between survival mode and business success.

[Read: Why your website’s lack of accessibility options is opening you up to lawsuits]

Why is creativity important?

Creativity is crucial for every company, regardless of the business climate — it fuels change and innovation and it’s a key component in the recipe for long-term growth.

Laura Jordan Bambach, chief creative officer at Grey London, agrees: “Many businesses have failed because of lack of creative vision, and in this moment of uncertainty it’s even more vital. Creativity is what sees opportunity in challenge, and what sparks empathy and connection when there’s so much disconnect.”

Even though it’s important, it’s not always set as a business priority, a mistake that can have a significant impact on performance and morale.

“The conditions for creativity are rarely put center stage when designing a business process or culture. There tends to be a belief that creativity just ‘happens’ — that it’s a magical thing that therefore doesn’t need process or investment,” Jordan Bambach explains. 

Some entrepreneurs will argue that process is the enemy of all creativity but there are certain steps and structures that can allow creativity to bloom — and these processes need to be encouraged and invested in.

So, how do you foster it across a remote workforce?

Fostering creativity across a remote workforce can be particularly challenging, but it’s by no means impossible.

By it’s sheer definition, creativity is about bringing together different ideas and points of view to spark something new — and this, my friend, doesn’t need to be restricted to the offline world.

With this in mind, here are some simple tips to help you inspire your employees and colleagues:

  • Create a safe space for people to share things that aren’t necessarily associated with the problem at hand and can help spark new ideas. This doesn’t have to be a physical space. It can be a Slack channel created to enable idea sharing or problem solving, where people can post things that inspire them or discuss the latest trends in art or innovation. If you want to follow a structured approach, schedule regular online brainstorming sessions or workshops.
  • Allow time for your logical and resting brain to work on a specific problem. Fostering creativity is great but you can’t force solutions out of people — so don’t pressure them. Acknowledge it’ll take time for things to happen naturally and make sure you’re fully comfortable with letting your colleagues and workers explore this process.
  • Embrace spontaneity and allow for impromptu catch-ups online or on the phone without the need to share an agenda. Talk to people and make sure they feel comfortable picking up the phone, video chatting, or DM’ing colleagues to chat through things without expecting immediate action. Communication is key and fostering transparent working culture will help breed creativity across teams.
  • Allow for distractions. Let yourself and others around you get distracted by passion projects. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundanity of every day life, and even though going off on a tangent may seem like a waste of time you’ll be surprised by how much clarity it can bring. Give people enough breathing room to help them learn and let them inspire others to do the same.
  • Make diversity a priority. There are countless reasons why you should seek to employ a diverse workforce, and creativity is definitely one of them. People will have different perspectives, backgrounds, ideas, and will all bring something different and wonderfully unique to the table. Make sure you ingrain this principle into the hiring process and encourage different voices to be heard regardless of where they’re from or where they are in the world.

Creativity is a muscle, and while much of the emphasis to be creative will fall on the individual, it’s important to find ways to allow this to trickle down and across an organization.

Having people within close proximity in an office can often make things easier but there’s nothing to stop you inspiring your team online.

The stakes are high so don’t let your business — and your employees and colleagues — down.

How do you motivate your team to be more creative? And why do you foster creativity? Share your experience with the Growth Quarters community

Published July 16, 2020 — 08:00 UTC