How To Inspire Innovation In Your Remote Workers

Embrace the change

With vast swathes of employees now working from home, many of us haven’t seen our colleagues for months. But what does this mean for maintaining an innovative company culture?

Whilst it’s true that innovative companies tend to grow faster, embrace change and build more effective revenue streams, this can be a challenge when staff work remotely. However, during these tough economic times there’s never been more reasons for businesses to innovate. But how can this be encouraged?

The first thing to do away with must be the temptation to simply continue on blindly. Just because something “has always been done this way” it doesn’t make it right or efficient for 2020 and beyond. COVID-19 has brought change to our lives on an unprecedented scale, and our working lives may never be the same again. Businesses have needed to adapt - fast - to meet the needs of their customers and will continue to do so in order to survive. Now is therefore the perfect time to evaluate company practices, products and procedures. Out with the old and in with the new.

Companies must be bold, and forward thinking. Teams should be encouraged to step outside their comfort zones and be proactive in bringing new ideas to the fore - especially when working from home.

Take a look at our tips to encourage innovation amongst your remote workers throughout this challenging time.

Provide the right tools

Employees need to have the right tools for the job, regardless of whether they’re office based or working from home. The must be able to easily access all the required company systems, and feel comfortable which what’s expected of them so they can remain productive. This means it’s important to understand from the outset exactly what tools and support each employee needs.

So consider your customer service team. What will they need to work remotely? Likely they’ll need access to a computer or laptop, a cloud CRM system and a business phone. Your marketing and communications teams will probably need access to content management systems and email marketing tools.

Another important thing is to make sure that employees have the tools they need to collaborate with each other. This might be physical software and systems, but it might also be some basic training for example in using Zoom or similar. Cloud storage systems are crucial here, allowing easy file storage and sharing of documents. Task management tools are also useful, where staff can keep track of their progress and deadlines too.

Finally, we can’t highlight this strongly enough - make sure everyone has the right ongoing training to do their job effectively. Not all employees will be equally “tech savvy” so make sure no-one gets left behind.

Make sure the lines of communication stay open

Many employees relish the chance of the peace and quiet of their own home with no distractions. However, it’s important to make sure they don’t become siloed and isolated, as this is not very conducive to an innovative, dynamic business culture. It’s about effective collaboration and preventing isolation.

Face-to-face video calls are the ideal way for people to stay in touch (we’ve already mentioned Zoom which is a particularly popular one). It means staff can stay in touch but also collaborate on new ideas and accelerate decision making. This is why regular video conferencing is so beneficial, not just for the wellbeing of your employees but for your company as a whole.

Tip: If your team is new or hasn’t used video conferencing as a way to collaborate before, make sure everyone is clued up on the system and knows what to expect. It’s also well worth scheduling in some extra time at the start of the video conference for people to introduce themselves, test out cameras and microphones and generally feel comfortable.

Keep team sessions interesting

Video calls can sometimes be a little awkward or staid. So make sure you include some ‘down time’ where people can chat and discuss freely any new (sometimes rather wacky) ideas they may have had. By making the atmosphere light and fun, people feel more inclined to speak up and bring up their innovative potential new plans.

Another good tip here is to start with an ice breaker question. Something like “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you in lockdown” or “What’s your favourite colour and why” are a good way to relax people and get the conversation flowing.

Once the team is more comfortable then the creative juices are likely to flow and the problem at hand can be tackled. A brainstorming session is useful here, and if you have a large number of participants you would break them down into small working groups. That way everyone feels they’re having a say and that their voice is being heard.

Recognise employee success

Your team members need to feel you’re on their side and that you’re celebrating their successes with them. This is why it’s so important to recognise when someone has done something well, so that they and their team can remain inspired and motivated.

Lack of motivation and inspiration kills creativity and innovation. But it’s much easier to recognise employee success when they’re sitting in front of you, and far more challenging when they’re not.

A good way of measuring and recognising your employee’s achievements is to keep track of them in some way. This will likely involve people keeping a note of what has gone well each well (and for that matter what hasn’t). Avoid micromanaging though! After all, when a team member feels trusted and that their ideas are valued, they’re likely to be healthier, happier and more likely to be creative in future.

Make your R&D Tax Credits claim using the Tax Cloud portal

If your company is based in Ireland and has undergone an innovative research and development project recently then R&D Tax Credits then could help cover the cost. See our R&D Tax Credits page.

Tax Cloud allows you to make an outstanding value, fully guided, R&D tax relief claim that’s bespoke to your business. It’s a fast, hassle-free way to see what you could be owed, and of course the R&D experts at Myriad Associates (creators of the Tax Cloud) are on hand to help.

See the Tax Cloud portal for businesses to sign up for free and begin your claim today.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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