Working From Home- The Downfall of Team Creativity?

25 Mar, 2021
Insightful Blogs

Working from home was a term most of us regarded as a luxury before 2020, but as we approach a full year of communicating via Teams across the globe, commuting from our beds to our laptops, what has the impact been on creative businesses?

Digital innovation has allowed us to stay connected with work colleagues over video conferences and messenger services. It has served us well, allowing meetings and conversations to go ahead, connecting people from house to house across the world. But there is a limit.  How many meetings with saying “your mic is off” do we have to have before we really get sick of it?

In the event industry, community and creativity is at the heart of everything we do. Combining ideas and collaborating is key to creating successful events, as well as the team culture itself- which is pivotal to business success. Taking away the office environment removes the ability for free-flowing conversation and teamwork, leading to loss of connection and greater potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding. Apprentices and younger employees lose the invaluable experience of the workplace with all its interactions.  Without the ability to validate decisions easily with those around, you can begin to feel a little lost and uninspired.

Despite the perks of working from home, such as saving on commuting time and being able to spend more time with family, the ability to maintain a work/life balance becomes significantly harder. The lack of a daily structure and routine disrupts daily working and personal life with no clear division between the two. The “at home” environment is an area to relax and unwind from the day, productivity and focus can be hard to manage especially with home-schooling and housework.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states there are 5 vital elements to motivation and productivity: Physiological, Security, Social, Esteem and Self-actualisation. The hierarchy addresses 5 needs utilised to understand employees’ motivation and address ways that lead to high productivity and job satisfaction. Maslow suggests that when needs aren’t met, employees can become frustrated. With the change in current working environments, social needs and esteem needs are clearly deficient. In the light of this, managing a team can be challenging, as encouraging productivity and ensuring social creativity without micromanaging is hard when you spend the majority of your day in your home.

Maslows heirarchy pyramide of needs. Vector hand drawn illustration

So, with the return to the office not likely for another few months, what can we do to improve the situation now?

It’s important to find your own way to be productive to yield maximum results, stepping away from Zoom fatigue and keyboard warrior emails into a more effective way of working.  Having regular breaks to reset and refuel away from the computer throughout the day helps your mind to focus. Ensuring your office space is separate to your home makes the commute from bed to laptop a little easier, enabling you to relax in your home without feeling the stress and pressure from work.

As much as virtual meetings and digital software like Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp and email allow us to stay in touch with our work colleagues, just like in an office environment, talking about more than just work allows us to get to know people in a different way and brings everyone together. Checking in on your team is important to ensure your employees feel connected but you also need to have trust in your team to do their jobs, and accept that if they need you, they will reach out. In some cases, working alone allows employees to tunnel into an environment with fewer distractions, actually enhancing creativity. But for others, the loss of community impacts their creativity and productivity, and therefore requires a different working approach. It’s important to recognise the needs and requirements of each of your team members in order to build an effectively strong workforce and manage what has become a long-standing reality.

Mental health issues have been receiving a lot more attention in the past year, reflecting the very tangible challenges that we have all been facing.  It’s not just about our work but what’s going on behind the scenes as well that is impacting on our creativity, sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction.

In our industry, with its emphasis on co-creation and collaboration, we all feel a sense of personal loss at the necessary changes in working practices.  In the early days of the pandemic and the first round of lockdown, we managed to maintain morale more easily than the second and even third time around.  We may be worn down and worn out by the situation, but the human race is incredibly resilient and we will bounce back!  There is genuine light at the end of the tunnel, and we are learning some very precious life lessons that will ultimately contribute to our personal development and enhance our professional skills.

So, the past year of home working is very much not a downfall of creativity. We need to take the positives and channel them into the future, as part of our core skillset – more versatile communication skills, focus, ingenuity, determination, endurance – they add up to an impressive list.