Is your creative team thriving in a hybrid world?
COVID has fundamentally altered the way we work as well as the hybrid work environment. Working both remotely and in-office has become the new normal. While this new way of working has many advantages including increased flexibility and work-life balance, it does come with concerns about a potential impact on creativity.
Hybrid work can be hugely beneficial. Working remotely, team members have more control over their environment, defining what works for them – from working from their beloved chair to having a furry friend by their side. It may also eliminate distractions and allow for more focused time to ideate.
Consequently, there are concerns that hybrid work may impact team engagement and creativity. By removing the in-person interaction that often inspires new ideas and innovative solutions, teams may find it challenging to ideate and collaborate successfully. The level at which teams can bond is also a concern, as engagement scores have been closely tied to a sense of belonging. Additionally, remote work may be isolating for some and lead to a lack of motivation or inspiration, in turn impacting creativity. Unplanned and often ‘accidental interactions’ at the office can be meaningful to the creative process. There is a need for more unintentional conversations since creativity thrives in the spontaneous collection of ideas.
What about bringing teams together? No one likes to be the only person in the office or in front of their laptop in virtual meetings all day. Thinking through the rationale for teams to be in the office is crucial and will lead to more efficient use of time, drive engagement and create brainstorming opportunities. Engaging people in a hybrid format will be a new competency that leaders will have to develop.
The ability to ideate in collaboration spaces with team members bouncing ideas around in real-time, feeding off the energy of each other, certainly can’t be dismissed. We need to challenge ourselves to rethink how we use time, tools and spaces to promote greater engagement and the free flow of ideas.
Below are some suggestions offered by the CMA’s Creativity Council:
- Build and maintain a strong company culture where team members feel a sense of belonging by creating more connections and bonding opportunities. This could include holding in-person meetings or an all-staff town hall.
- Consider setting a structure for teams in the office; think through what the anchors for the day are and why. Communicate expectations clearly and transparently.
- When arranging meetings, be purposeful in your intention. Be clear about the objectives, who you invite to the table and why, and the intended outcome of the session together.
- Having different teams coming in on different days does not enhance cross-collaboration. Aim to have critical mass across multiple skill sets to enhance creativity.
- Be intentional about the design of the office and meeting spaces. For example, consider how the layout can enhance or hinder collaboration.
- Do the work to understand how to best motivate your team members who might have varied expectations and goals for contributing and collaborating.
Remember, the hybrid work environment is still relatively new. We’ll continue to learn what’s best for our teams and evolve over time.
With that, we’ll leave you with some questions for consideration:
- How, in hybrid work arrangements, can we encourage more unintentional conversations?
- Conversely, how can we be more intentional when we bring teams together?
- Is there a magic formula for creativity in a hybrid work culture?
- Are there any tools or techniques that help your creative collaboration excel?
Charan Bhogal, Senior Director, Creative & Content Marketing, Marketing & Customer Intelligence, LCBO
Vanessa Norris, VP, GM Loblaw Agency, Loblaw Companies Ltd.