Expert advice for firms making the hybrid shift: Six ways to spark great ideas
Patchy WiFi, 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, who is the Founder and CEO of Regus 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.”
Here are six tips from Chris Baréz-Brown for effective brainstorming online, in a shared workspace or a combination of both…
1. Get a facilitator
If you’re being creative in a group, you need facilitators. It was quite easy when we were 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 break out into online and offline groups to work on ideas. Afterwards, everyone can come back together to share 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. So if you were to capture it on a piece of paper, you’d be able to give it to you, and you’d be able to read it and think, ‘I can do that’. But 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 so avoid day-long sessions. The latest research suggests that we can only focus for between 90 and 120 minutes a day, and for most people the best time is early in the day. For this reason, book your creativity in then, because you will get way better ideas out of it. And don’t do it for too long – just do it in bursts.
5. Invest in tech
With hybrid working, tech makes all the difference. We’ve all been on those calls where people are dropping out or they can’t share their screen, for example. Anything that breaks down the human connection is going to break down your creativity. So invest in good tech or encourage remote workers to access local flexspaces where the internet is super high-speed and the technology is top notch.
6. Try changing the dynamic
If you find the energy’s dropping and the ideas aren’t there, create a different dynamic. A neat idea is to pair people up on headsets and get them to go off and talk to each other away from their screens. It’s a really good way of boosting creativity. They always come back with ideas.
Of course, not all ideas will work for everyone but the point is that creativity tends to emerge when people are feeling comfortable, at ease and enthused. A short burst of effort in the morning can be better than an entire brainstorming day.