Innovation, the secret challenge behind remote work

How companies do and what tools exist to foster team creativity in times of pandemic

The first image that comes to mind when thinking about innovative teams is that of a group of professionals from different disciplines meeting in an office with a common whiteboard during a brainstorming session . But the pandemic imposed telecommuting, and organizations can’t wait to keep innovating.

According to a study by consulting firm McKinsey, companies that innovate through crises by focusing on generating new growth rather than concentrating on riding through the storm are more successful. But for that it is necessary to implement changes in the way of working.

“There are two key measures that can be applied in a sole proprietorship or in a large corporation to continue innovating in this context. The first is to analyze complaints on social networks, especially Twitter. In this way, employees of the brand that receives the complaint can think of solutions, while competitors can easily find differentials to create value. Another tip is to read the news and, based on problems, look for solutions – says Diego Pasjalidis, who is Head of Innovation at the Stefanini Argentina consultancy and author of the book Inspiración Extrema. At the beginning of the pandemic, the government prevented service companies from cutting off supplies for non-payment. By reading the newspaper and learning about the situation, With my work group we thought about creating a site so that clients who so wish can pay the invoice in advance in exchange for certain benefits, among them, build a family ecosystem so that if someone cannot pay the invoice, their family members; at the same time, companies can reduce delinquencies. Then we located the companies and offered them the development. We are currently developing it for two companies ”.

To work on these projects, Pasjalidis and his team use Miro, a collaborative platform for drawing on whiteboards in real time and with video conferencing. In Accion Point they also use this tool; This Argentine technology company, which has 250 employees, developed, within the framework of the pandemic, the Crypto Solution proposal, so that any mobile banking application can add cryptocurrencies to its product offering.

“Until we reached this development we went through a series of stages. We first brainstormed 25 people by videoconference , from the CEO to programmers, and each participant had a vote based on the proposals that they believed had the greatest business opportunities. We define continuing to think about solutions related to cryptocurrencies and digital wallets. In a second stage we investigate what type of products are on the market to develop something superior. We upload all the material to Google Drive and vote with Google Forms ”, explains Juan Manuel Cons, the company’s director of operations.

“Then we move forward – continues the executive – with other processes to understand and define what functions the product should have and know how organizations and users could be affected positively or negatively. Finally, we moved forward with its development, and the solution was launched in June ”.

Cons recommends not making video calls of more than 45 minutes, sending material before meetings to avoid wasting time in those virtual meetings and always keeping the camera on. “To promote innovation and creativity, we did not use extensive videoconferences, nor informal virtual meetings to simulate a coffee,” he points out.

The manager of Accion Point also says that it is important to go out and see what happens in other latitudes. “After seeing how European soccer teams incorporated new technologies, we did the same at Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys, in Rosario. In the context of a pandemic, when it was not possible to go to the field, and in order for the fan to have a close experience with the club, we devised an augmented reality solution that is within the mobile application of this team. In this way, in the application the user can see the club’s jerseys in 3D format and take a photo with the team’s players. This is possible because augmented reality allows virtual elements to be superimposed on our vision of reality.

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Sofía Geyer, who is a consultant in innovation and behavioral sciences, focuses precisely on these encounters that used to be casual in the office and now do not occur; for example, hallway conversation. In this sense, he points out that remote work causes spontaneous links to be lost, so it is very easy to fall into siled work, since, to innovate, it is important that disciplines and teams mix. “To overcome this problem, with the technology company Shifta, we are executing an agile process of culture design with virtual events that involve all its collaborators. The focus is on generating spaces for conversations to take place that were natural before, but now we have to plan and create spaces for them to continue happening ”, he explains.

The specialist recommends reducing video calls as much as possible because they demand too much cognitive load. On the other hand, they invite the use of tools such as Job Crafting , so that each person can redesign their work routines in their remote work. This technique consists of giving employees flexibility so that they themselves design a position based on their abilities and objectives.

Ethan Hansen

Ethan Hansen founded snewslog which was lately acquired by People News Chronicle.

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