How to get your creative team working together when they’re working apart

It won’t be long before many of us have access to a ‘hybrid remote week.’ Working part of the time together in person with our colleagues, and part of the time away from the office. 

I am aware of several large employers who are taking this moment to reorganise their leases and offices to achieve a fantastic win-win: fit-for-purpose office space and a more manageable work-life for their people. 

Together we can get our best collaboration done. Working from home or your own space somewhere else is where we can concentrate and churn through large volumes of work. 

The right balance of time away and time together is unique to each person and organisation. A small number want to be 100% colocated. Another small group wants to be 100% remote. Employers get the best workplace engagement when they understand where their workforce is at and create an approach that is flexible enough to accommodate everyone.

The awesome thing about collaborative work is the energy of creating. It is those fantastic moments when you lose track of time, doing something you love. Multiply that across a team and you get a lot of excitement about collaborating. But creative and brainstorming sessions, like other meetings, can be run really badly. 

To collaborate effectively, creative teams need to get comfortable with adopting a few ‘bumper bars’ that will stop your meeting from derailing. Let’s face it, there’s a high degree of chance in effective collaboration. There is no guarantee that you’ll get that winning idea or that innovative breakthrough. So the best approach is to stack your odds, and create the setting for good ideas to flourish. 

We have developed the GROUP method, our own model that clarifies how to set up an effective group session. When you address each of these your collaboration is set up for success: 

  1. Have a clear Goal
  2. Clarify Roles
  3. Have Open discussion about what you want to achieve
  4. Ensure everyone Understands at each point, and 
  5. Clarify your Process in the session
Transformed Teams GROUP Collaboration model
Transformed Teams GROUP Collaboration model

Another idea that we’ve been using a lot lately is Edward De Bono’s six hats, which give you a licence to take all kinds of perspectives and gain new insights into a problem. 

Getting this right is particularly important when you’re working remotely. It’s hard for people to be seen, to manage group dynamics on remote collaboration software. What is much more important than the tool you use is the way you set up the interaction to get your results. 

A great tool I’m enjoying using lately is Mural – a digital workspace for collaboration, which is like a giant whiteboard. Jamboard by Google is another option. When you’re setting up your meeting, you need to ensure that at minimum, everyone has access to video – and keeps it turned on. 

Make the most of your hybrid remote week by getting clever about your remote collaboration with these ideas.