Video conferencing and remote working are damaging creative talent. Such is the opinion of global brand expert Martin Lindstrom. It’s something of a two-pronged attack, with both the intense schedules of Zoom calls and calendar invites and the unstimulating nature of home working up for debate.
While remote working has proved a vital lifeline for many businesses over the past 12 months, Lindstrom suggests that anecdotal evidence is showing an increasing number of workers in creative professions seeking therapy as a result of the changes to their work life.
“They have had breakdowns. They have had identity crises and a lack of purpose because they are disconnected from other people in a linear environment which is everything they are not.”
Creative team members have lost the “water cooler moments”, the spontaneous meeting of minds, that would spur the growth of ideas and inspiration. Such connections are the stark opposite of rigidly scheduled Zoom calls and the greige of your living room wall.
It’s also much harder to build team rapport over a video call and creatives rarely generate big ideas on their own. Microphones are muted, communication between colleagues can feel stilted and body language isn’t immediately obvious.
Interestingly, Lindstrom also feels that “the structure of video conferencing hinders critical discussion and encourages safe contributions such as “I agree with Pete” and “I’m totally onboard, Marie”. Hard to come up with ground-breaking concepts in such an environment.
While art directors and copywriters are cited in Lindstrom’s discussion, the dilemmas are still applicable to many of us. Almost all jobs have some element of creativity to them, especially when you consider this to be the basis of most problem solving.
The blurring of the lines between work and home will also be familiar territory to those across many industries. With calls and emails creeping ever later into our evenings, it’s not just creatives who feel left with “no time to think”.
For those who are feeling like remote working is slowly sapping their creativity, Lindstrom firstly advocates reducing the amount of video calls that you’ll need to participate in. Could you schedule all calls for the morning and then let others know you’ll be offline after, say, 1pm?
He is also a fan of creatives taking a break from their surroundings to get out for a walk, preferably somewhere green. Could you suggest a “walk and talk” meeting the next time your team needs to brainstorm ideas?
I also came across the intriguing idea of “mental gymnastics” as a means to reinvigorate creativity. Elaborated by Jean Marc Moncorger, the author of Creativity – A New Look, it’s centred on reclaiming the creativity of our childhoods through undertaking imaginative exercises. Examples include:
This brain training is all about gaining new perspectives, something many of us could do with after long periods of lockdown!
Read more about author and branding expert Martin Lindstrom’s thoughts on the downsides of remote working here.
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