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January 20, 2022 (Updated April 3rd, 2024)

Keeping it real: embracing virtual improvements for the real-life aims of business success

by Caragh Medlicott posted in Ayoa, Quick Tips.

Ayoa | Keeping it real: embracing virtual improvements for the real-life aims of business success
The home office has become a fixture of working during the pandemic. More people than ever before are working remotely, and even as we continue to recover from COVID-19, it looks like the rise of flexible home working is here to stay.

Many people have praised the benefits of working from home over the last two years. In fact, some reports indicate that it has triggered an increase in productivity. While that’s all well and good, these improvements have been scattered in some areas of work, and non-existent in others such as creativity. After all, even the most motivated of employees can begin to feel despondent without any face-to-face interaction whatsoever.

Yet, creativity is a crucial part of good work. And in all other areas of our lives we’ve been able to adapt to the technologisation of tools and processes – so why not with our work lives, too? Keep reading to find out creativity and productivity lessons learnt from the real world that we can bring into the virtual space.

The progression of tech in society

Technological advancements have, and always will, change the nature of daily operations. After all, technology generally triggers a chain reaction. Why keep horse-drawn carriages when you have cars, or lanterns when you have electric light bulbs? And this doesn’t just apply to older advancements – it happens all the time. Whether it’s the move from VCR to DVD to streaming – or from landlines to brick-like mobile phones to the sleek smartphones we have today. As we progress, our tools change to match.

Not to mention, technology can also be superpowered by global events like COVID-19. Just look at the rise of contactless payments. Contactless was already widely used prior to the pandemic, but now it’s even more ubiquitous than before thanks to a boom triggered by the pandemic. What’s my point, I hear you ask? Well, in essence, it is this: if in the past we have readily embraced new technologies to improve our attainment of essentially the same objectives, why can’t we do so with technology in the world of work in the same way?

Remote working should be a process of adjustment and progression, not the total eradication of the way we used to work in office, or a complete replication of that way of working, either. The solution lies somewhere in the middle. Just in the same way we have advanced our technology without changing the core purpose (just think: whether a landline or a smartphone – the purpose remains communication). So here are some creativity and productivity lessons we can adapt for the new virtual, remote work environment.


Traditional: Brainstorming sessions

Approach: Brainstorming sessions have long been a mainstay of creativity in the workplace. You know the drill, you get people together, get the ideas rolling, and capture ideas on sticky notes and white boards so that the best ideas can be implemented post-session. While this way of working isn’t perfect, it does reap results. In fact, the basics of this process haven’t changed much in the last seventy years or more. So we know the foundation of this process, but how can it be streamlined, improved, and adapted to the virtual world? Keep reading to find out.

Adapting to virtual: Brainstorming over video calls can be difficult at the best of times. Whether it’s everyone going to speak at once, a lack of dynamism, or – as is most often the case – the chaos of collecting ideas without a central area for capturing and gathering thoughts from the group. After all, in person, it’s reasonably easy for the session leader to collect everybody’s sticky notes and add them to the board. But that’s a whole lot harder when none of you are in the same room.

The solution to adapt this traditional technique to the virtual world is to add more focus and improve your technological tools. Inject a bit of energy with a digital space or app built for creative ideation. Using something like Ayoa’s live mind mapping function not only provides a central space for real-time collection and organisation of thoughts and ideas, it also uses a visual innovation-inspiring look to get the cogs turning in everybody’s brains. Plus, with templates to get you started and AI to keep your ideas chugging along, virtually brainstorming can be more impressive than any “IRL” brainstorming session you’ve ever run in-office. Most importantly though, Ayoa’s virtual take on creativity is linked directly to productivity thanks to their innovative Task Bar, meaning that they are assigned for completion before any real-life distractions get in the way! Talking about productivity, take a look below.


Traditional: Project management

Approach: The traditional approach to project management has generally involved a few moving parts. Team members are assigned sub-tasks of a project by their manager, and these tasks are handled across a variety of mediums. In recent years, those mediums have included email, excel and docs – and the discussion of task progress has typically been monitored via over-the-desk chats and lengthy meetings. It’s hardly been the most efficient way of managing projects, but it has on the whole worked (even if it’s created stress along the way!). Adapting this method in the virtual world has often caused issues because of the dispersion of teams across a number of locations. In remote work, you can’t just pop over to a colleagues desk to discuss a few things – so how can project management be adapted in the virtual?

Adapting to virtual: To improve upon in-office approaches to project management and make it feasible within the virtual sphere, remote teams need to look at a central place for online work. Spreading project management across documents and emails is even more stressful when colleagues are working from home, and oftentimes leads to demotivation and even burnout. The ideal solution is an all-in-one tool like Ayoa, a place where managers can have live oversight of task progress to avoid micromanagement, and colleagues can talk both one-on-one over direct message and group chat. Plus! With the flexibility to view the same project in a number of different views colleagues are empowered to work in the way they like, while still working together. Making virtual project management streamlined, motivating and possible even in a hybrid world of both in-person and remote work.

To summarise

All in all, we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in the past. The rise of remote and hybrid work provides the perfect opportunity for us to advance, not revert or plateau. However, never forget that so much of true creative work begins with a foundation of knowledge and skills. That’s why OpenGenius offers certified training in facilitating innovation, creating teams who know how to work and innovate at their best regardless of whether they’re in office or at home. With the right know-how, and proper tools, you can superpower your team to be their best every day. Check out the OpenGenius Certified Innovation Facilitator (CIF) course here.

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Caragh Medlicott

Caragh Medlicott is a freelance writer and interim Editor of Wales Arts Review. After graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University she began a full-time writing career in Wales. She is the author of several published short stories and was shortlisted for the Lunate 500 award in December 2020, and a finalist in Narrative’s 30 Below competition in 2021. She is a regular contributor to BBC Wales' The Review Show.

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