Patchy Wi-Fi, awkward silences and stage fright – we’re all familiar with the tropes of virtual brainstorms. But if you need to host them regularly, finding a space where people can come together and feel comfortable participating is paramount.
Mark Dixon, Founder and CEO of Spaces parent company IWG, says: “It’s important to design spaces that are inviting and flexible, where people can work together and be creative. Hybrid working means that when colleagues do come together it is for collaboration, so they need more spaces for meeting and working with one another.”
Chris Baréz-Brown shares his expert advice for firms making the hybrid shift to get the creative juices flowing in the workplace…
1. Get a facilitator
If you’re being creative in a group, you need facilitators. It used to be quite easy when everyone was all in one room with a flip chart, but now there’s often a very different dynamic, with some people in the room and some remote. That requires a much higher level of facilitating skill. But if you don’t have a facilitator, you are going to have a car crash.
2. Don’t let the room win
When some people are in the room and some people are on screens, the room always wins. What you need to do is to start off the brief with everyone together, then facilitate the group in the room separately, and let the remote people go off and do their own stuff. Then bring them all back again at the end to harvest ideas.
3. Explain what an idea looks like
If you are getting loads of people to go off and have ideas on their own remotely, they need to know what an idea looks like. It sounds simple, but most people can’t capture an idea. An idea is something that you can tangibly do. Try capturing it on a piece of paper that you can give to someone to read and think about. Most people capture thoughts, which are just the starting point of building an idea. If you teach your people to know what an idea looks like, it means that when they’re on their own, they will come up with something of value.
4. Do it in bursts
Short periods of creativity are great. Don’t do day-long sessions. The latest research suggests that people can only focus for between 90 and 120 minutes a day, and for most people the best time is early in the day. So book your creativity in then, because you will get way better ideas out of it.
5. Invest in tech
With hybrid working, tech makes all the difference. Everyone has been on calls where people are dropping out or they can’t share their screen. Anything that breaks down the human connection is going to undermine creativity. Using flexspaces where the internet is super high-speed, and the tech is top-notch is a great way of guaranteeing a good experience.
6. Try changing the dynamic
Pairing people up on headsets and getting them to go off and talk to each other away from their screens can work well. It’s a really neat way of getting a kick back into creativity. They always come back with ideas. So if you find the energy’s dropping and the ideas aren’t there, break people off into different dynamics, then bring them back in again and see what you’ve got.
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