Method

Find your creative edge at home

March 20, 2020

Can working from home make you more creative than ever before? We think so. We’ve been doing it for almost 20 years – our globally distributed team holding open workshops, using remote collaboration tools, working with clients, and effectively bonding over distance.

As designers and innovators, we’ve developed powerful ways to collaborate and build stronger teams. We’re fortunate to have these often hidden digital skills – built into us since we started the company in Finland, moved to Palo Alto, and now have offices all over the world. But that is not the case with everyone. Thousands of colleagues and clients out there are facing a whole new paradigm in all this sudden need for remote work. In the spirit of design for good, we’d like to share our tools and best practices.

That’s why we’re taking it to the next level, with a comprehensive suite of offerings to help people get a creative edge during this new era of remote work. We call it Create From Home.Risto LähdesmäkiCEO of Idean

Online collaboration goes way beyond video conferencing. Let’s start with the example of Open Workshop, a ritual all Ideanists have enjoyed for the last decade. Let me tell you how it works. Whitney Jardine, our Senior Technical Project Manager, led a session last week, which started in Zoom and soon moved to a Jamboard breakout where we split up into smaller teams of three or four people. We prototyped a fun, collaborative exercise. Video and screen-sharing enhanced the human-centric remote learning (giving the feeling of a face-to-face meeting). We posted stickies, dragged in photos, and built a canvas. The results were creative to say the least. Seven teams presented, giving everyone ownership.

The creativity of play and quick pitches to the whole group showed the value of these tools for collaborative, distributed work. Just as in a real-world presentation, Whitney stuck around afterward. “Don’t just end the meeting,” she told me. “Leave the room open. Afterwards is a key moment when people connect. Give a clear directive about next steps.” It worked. We bonded! And we moved forward with more resources to do better work.

Balance is more important than ever. Twelve+ hours of my days are crammed with video calls, often starting at 6 am, a blizzard of 15-30 minute video chats. You gotta take some breaks or you lose your sanity and effectiveness. How are we dealing with it? We’re bringing traditional office rituals online. Breaktimes that help us bond, connect, have fun.

Interested in hosting your own open workshop or leveling up on your online collaborations? For more on the hows and tools, there are some great tips in this Medium post by Felicia Brossolasco, Design Evangelist at Idean France.

Spotting new leaders

Now let’s talk about the psychological component. Working online equalizes the field. Some leaders are going to find new ways of expressing themselves, and discover new champions on their teams.

Brand new leaders will emerge. It’s your job to spot and nurture them. Running a company or heading a project during a crisis demands that you find and develop new techniques and methods to truly support all your team members. Success requires a culture based on trust. When you delegate and empower your distributed team, things will go in the right direction from the get-go.

New ways of working require a new mindset. A fresh orientation toward digital work, distributed workplaces, and global teams. This experience can bring you closer together, and make you more creative. For instance, Consuelo Puchades, Head of Agency in Spain, is creating resources to “help our clients to stay productive, innovate new products and services, be aligned, and find new ways of working.” Look for her forthcoming blog post on how design can help solve today’s challenges.

New ways to share the creativity

When we get innovative about sharing knowledge faster in uncharted territory, we just may find untapped sources of creativity. Here at Idean we can proudly report tons of encouraging aspects to collaborating online.

That’s why we’ve just launched something pretty exciting in this space, because we wanna share the creativity. #createfromhome