The coronavirus pandemic has forced several companies to let their employees work from home indefinitely. While this setup aims to promote better work-life balance, some workers are having difficulties adjusting to the new norm. Face-to-face interactions were replaced by virtual meetings and online chat groups, while workers are frequently interrupted by several distractions at home during working hours.
Some experts argue that the lack of in-person collaboration could mean detrimental effects on productivity and creativity among employees. This is evident in a recent study done by Valoir, a technology workplace advisory company. The group’s survey revealed that employees in North America reported a 3% drop in productivity due to remote work. Additionally, nearly 60% of them prefer to return to physical offices as soon as they are allowed to do so.
As lockdown measures begin to ease, a few employers have started allowing their workers to report onsite. However, you might find some of your employees having trouble coping with such changes, especially when it comes to innovative thinking. Workers may find it difficult to let their creative juices flow after being on lockdown for nearly a year.
With this, we rounded up a few tips on how you can help your colleagues regain their creativity once they head back to the office:
1. Be accepting of their ideas, no matter how crazy they are.
Encourage your employees to be open and “fire their ideas away” during brainstorming sessions. Every member of your team has the capacity to share new ideas and perspectives, so make sure that everyone gets his or her chance to do so. Having more options will also help you come up with the best innovative idea, which can be vital for your next business move.
2. Allow your employees to submit their ideas anonymously.
Most employees are reluctant to share their thoughts publicly. They fear humiliating themselves if their managers dismiss their idea. Letting employees submit their ideas anonymously can combat that fear. Set up an “idea jar” in the office or start an online poll to encourage people to share their thoughts on a new project. Also, let your employees approach you or message you directly if they prefer to discuss their ideas in private.
3. Create a “creativity hub” in the office for brainstorming.
Having a designated area for brainstorming can help your employees generate new and unique ideas. Studies have shown that a colorful and visually appealing workspace can stimulate the brain, which is vital for creative thinking.
Set up a mood board and scatter some pens and papers. Install a writable wall and provide some brain recreations such as interesting jigsaw puzzles, memory games, and scrabbles.
Also, allow your employees to design their work cubicles according to their liking. Everyone has a unique way of coming up with ideas. Some people prefer a quieter space to focus, while others want a vibrant area to get their creative juices flowing. Giving your workers more flexibility in the way they work can help boost their creativity and productivity in the long run.
4. Establish common areas where employees can interact freely.
Some of the best ideas often stem from casual conversations and random encounters at work. Consider changing your office setup to allow more common spaces for workers to relax and chat freely. Explore the idea of installing a coffee bar, an office lounge, or just a random spot that is relatively distant from the workspaces. These spaces can also serve as a breather for your employees, which can improve their mental well-being.
5. Invest in activities for knowledge sharing.
Enhance your team’s collaboration by conducting activities that can boost teamwork and creative thinking. Simple brain breaks and ice breakers can significantly improve problem-solving, brainstorming, as well as team cohesiveness in your organization.
Aside from this, consider investing in professional training and online modules that can cultivate curiosity and improve the analytical abilities of your employees. Not only do you give your workers a chance to learn new skills, but you also make them feel valued by investing in their professional development.
6. Praise your employees for their valuable inputs.
Acknowledge all ideas and reward those that stood out. Recognizing your employees for their valuable inputs can encourage them to be more open and collaborative during meetings and brainstorming sessions. Aside from this, employees who feel appreciated by their bosses are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best at work, according to research.
Creativity can always be enhanced. Empower your employees to share their ideas by cultivating a work environment that is accepting and conducive to innovative thinking. Embracing these simple tips will help your business to stay ahead of the competition in the years to come.