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7 Ways Remote Work Fuels Innovation

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

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Disabled Employee Working Remotely.

Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent years, but lately some companies have made a concerted effort to force workers back on site disrupting the work life balance of the employees, and increasing their cost due to commuting, food, and wardrobe expenditures among other things. These challenges coupled with inflation as everything is more expensive now lead to unhappy employees and silent quitting.

Several studies explored by Scientific American show that most of the reasons employers use to impel workers to come back on site are often dispelled when advanced, and creative tools are used for remote collaboration, and innovation.

Remote employees also save companies a ton of money due to the decrease of overhead expenses. According to a recent study by

Global Workforce Analytics, companies can potentially save upwards 7 billion a year!

If innovation suffered during the pandemic at your organization, it is not because your employees were working remote. It is because you approached brainstorming, and collaboration the same way you would, if the team was onsite, and that will not work. New working environments require new strategies. I think it was Albert Einstein that said:

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.

Another plus comes from Behavioral Economists. They agree that digital brainstorming yields far better results by eliminating evaluation apprehension, and increasing teaming among employees. We will explore the benefits in greater detail in this article.

Let's look at some of the key reasons why remote work is great for innovation, and how it can help companies stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing business landscape.

1. One of the top reasons your company should increase remote work opportunities is because you'll have access to a wider talent pool here's how:

  • No Geographic Limitations

Remote work eliminates the geographic limitations of traditional offices. Employers can hire talent from anywhere in the world, without the need for relocation. This allows businesses to find the best talent, regardless of where they're located.

  • Attract and Retain Top Talent

Remote work is a major perk for top talent. Offering remote work options can help businesses attract and retain the best employees, especially those who value work-life balance. Remote work can also lead to increased employee satisfaction, and loyalty which fuels innovation.

  • Diversity in Skills and Backgrounds

Remote work increases diversity in skills and backgrounds. When businesses are not limited to hiring employees from a specific location, they can access a wider range of skills and experiences. There was a sharp increase of employment for disabled workers during the pandemic. In 2022 alone, the increase was over 20%!

This cross section of diversity can lead to increased representation across socioeconomic groups, which in turn will create diverse contributions, innovation and creativity. And when we look at some disabled workers, going to an office is not a realistic option.

2. Technologically Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

Remote work is not just about working from home, it is also about utilizing modern technologies in communication and collaboration. With remote work, communication between colleagues can be more effective and efficient. Text and video chats, virtual meetings, and project management tools can make collaboration with teammates from different time zones and locations more seamless.

  • Better Communication with Colleagues

In remote work, communication is key. Remote employees are often encouraged to communicate regularly with their team members to stay in sync with the company culture. This regular communication helps build a sense of trust and connection that makes collaboration even more successful.

  • Maximize the Use of Remote Collaboration Tools

Remote working gives employees access to remote collaboration tools that can promote teamwork and enhance productivity. These include cloud storage, virtual whiteboards, messaging apps, video conferencing, and project management tools. These tools provide a more structured approach to working and foster a culture of collaboration. Some of our favorites are Trello, Milanote, and Rocket.

  • Increased Engagement and Participation

In remote work, everyone is given a voice. Employees who may have felt overshadowed in a traditional office environment can have their ideas heard, leading to increased engagement and better participation. In a recent Forbes article, remote work was a significant vehicle in increasing representation in top companies. It provided more access to opportunities that would not be available otherwise due to lack of connections, and geographic constraints.

Remote work is found to reduce the inhibitions that can arise from sitting in a meeting room, and instead fosters an environment that encourages open communication and idea-sharing.

3.More Control Over Work Environment

Remote work provides employees with the freedom to create their own work environment that suits their needs. It could be working in a home office, a co-working space, or even a coffee shop. They can work when they are most productive and where they feel the most comfortable, and creative.

  • Ability to Make Decisions Independently

Remote employees have more control over their schedules and can plan their day accordingly. They can work on projects at their own pace and make decisions independently, without being micromanaged. This sense of autonomy leads to higher job satisfaction and a sense of ownership over their work.

  • Encourages Personal Responsibility

When working remotely, employees are solely responsible for their work, and this encourages a sense of personal responsibility. They are more likely to take ownership of their tasks and deliverables, which leads to better results and more successful projects.

4. Increased Innovation Through Diverse Perspectives

Remote work provides the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. This diversity leads to the sharing of new ideas, perspectives, and approaches.

  • New Ideas From Different Backgrounds

Remote work encourages employees to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. This diversity can lead to a wealth of new ideas and approaches to problem-solving. When people come together with different experiences and perspectives, they can create something truly innovative.

  • Encourages Creativity and Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Working remotely can promote creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. When employees are free to design their own workspaces and schedules, they are encouraged to think outside the box. This can lead to creative solutions and new ideas that may not have been explored in a traditional office environment.

  • More Opportunities for Brainstorming and Idea-Sharing

Remote work enables multiple people to work together without the limitations of time and space. This means that colleagues can collaborate on projects at any time, from anywhere in the world. Remote work promotes an environment brainstorming and idea-sharing, where everyone can contribute to innovation.

5. Digital Brainstorming Can Fuel Innovation Exponentially

  • Digital Brainstorming is a powerful tool that can improve creativity and innovation in remote teams. This is because digital platforms reduce social pressure, foster anonymity, and promote divergent thinking. Digital brainstorming also enables individuals to participate equally irrespective of their seniority or positional power in an organization, which can enhance idea generation and reduce the effect of biases caused by hierarchy.

However, these benefits are not guaranteed, as some studies have shown that group polarization can occur during digital brainstorming when people selectively seek out information that supports their views while ignoring conflicting evidence. Therefore, successful digital brainstorming requires careful design and management to overcome these challenges so that a broad range of perspectives are represented while overcoming cognitive biases to produce creative solutions.

Moreover, the incorporation of gamification techniques such as rewards and recognition for contributions or competitions among different groups can increase participants' motivation and engagement with subsequent ideas generated being more innovative than under traditional forms of brainstorming.

6. Smaller Work Groups Generate More Innovative Ideas

  • Jeff Bezos, and Forbes agree that small groups tend to generate better ideas because they allow for improved communication and collaboration among members. With fewer people involved, individuals are more likely to feel comfortable contributing their unique perspectives and ideas, leading to a greater diversity of thoughts and creativity.

Moreover, small groups are often able to dedicate more time towards exploring different possibilities in depth, without being distracted by external factors or competing priorities. In addition, smaller teams often function with greater agility, allowing them to make quick decisions and pivot when necessary.

Small groups are ideal for remote working environments. This fosters a culture of risk-taking and experimentation, essential components of the innovation process. Ultimately, the close relationships that develop within small groups create a sense of shared ownership over project outcomes which drives team members towards excellence in idea generation and execution alike.

7. Five Examples Of Innovations in AI Created Remotely.

  • Natural language processing (NLP), virtual assistants, predictive analytics, recommendation systems and chatbots.

  • NLP uses machine learning algorithms to process human language and create responses.

  • Virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa use speech recognition technology to respond to requests made by users.

  • Predictive analytics is used in business operations to identify patterns of consumer behavior while recommendation systems suggest products or services based on previous choices made by consumers.

  • Chatbots automate communication with customers and can answer queries instantly while reducing the need for human intervention.

These AI innovations have revolutionized industries ranging from education, healthcare, e-commerce, and finance as they provide unprecedented efficiency, accuracy, speed and convenience that could not be achieved without remote development during the pandemic era.

Remote work is officially here to stay. As shared by CNBC's Finance Reporter Greg Iacurci, the five day a week grind is over. We live in a much different world now with many options, and advancements to ensure productivity, and quality of life.

Whether you love it or hate it, companies must adapt and embrace the new reality of a more flexible workforce or suffer loss of employees, innovation, and reputation. Companies that can provide a variety of options will fare well in these uncertain times. Workers globally are looking for a palette of options, but fear not with the right tools and mindset, you can create a thriving remote culture that benefits both your employees and bottom line.

From implementing collaborative technology to fostering strong communication channels, there are endless ways to ensure your virtual team stays connected and productive. So go ahead, embrace the change with open arms (and maybe even some flip flops). After all, who needs an office when you have WiFi and Blue Jeans?


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