The report, by Okta, an identity management firm, shows a significant productivity gain from remote work, which bodes well as a potential model for companies adopting the technology and digital transformation required.
But it leaves managers with another problem in the absence of office-based workspace and experiences that often stimulate fresh ideas: How to innovate at work?
Homework will regain the time lost to travel and its versatility is conducive to both efficiency and home life. A number of the benefits of face-to - face work, however, are lost, particularly in establishing social links and mutual trust that are important to innovation.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology research has shown that effective innovators create a base of trust in the micro-interactions that take place in the workplace. And the Allen Curve suggests you don't collaborate with them if you don't see them face to face, "says David Shrier, director of program at Oxford Cyber Futures.
Even to the point of getting an artificial intelligence, or AI, assistant that helps your team do a better job of working together, modern technologies will help close this void. This technology exists but it's down to organizations' ability to adopt it.
A new research, Creativity and communication media in virtual teams: an experimental study by the University of Cologne and Leibniz University Hannover indicates that it is unlikely workers working from home would be less creative. The report says that when workers work separately from each other, video conferencing between team members will compensate for potentially negative impacts on innovation.
"Previous research has shown that when there is no face-to - face communication, creative efficiency is significantly lower," says Professor Bernd Irlenbusch, who co-led the report. However, as team members operate from home, the present lockdown has facilitated the use of emerging technology to perform collaborative tasks. Video conferencing will reduce the innovative output gap.
Remote teams can be creative at work
But can the creative spark be replicated and collective energy harnessed which drives creativity among a remote team? In an effort to replicate such casual exchanges, Wavemaker, a global media agency, is looking at how to innovate at work by encouraging everyone around the world to call five people a week to whom they would usually bump into in the workplace.
Emma Brock, Global Head of Organizational Effectiveness and Chartered Occupational Psychologist, says: "There is no agenda, no formal invitation schedule, only a spontaneous call to say hello, see how they are doing and see if a good idea or new opportunity is ignited by this."
Nigel Davies, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Claromentis Digital Workplace, claims the company has already overcome the question of how to innovate while workers are divided at work.
The team of 40 worked from home or from the workplace, as they wanted, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Through replicating the creative working culture in its digital workforce, prioritizing effective communication, using project management resources and promoting online learning, productivity levels are sustained. Employees use their mutual resources to actively evolve, whereas individuals are encouraged to work on their own product or business innovation solutions.
Davies says: "Three of our coders joined forces to develop a more open building framework for our codebase, and another team has been working on a new way to bring our customers relevant features without needing to update them, so we can very quickly and easily deploy everything they need in these unusual times." We've also built a new method that makes it easier to try our app for smaller businesses.
"How to innovate at work is to ensure that creativity is genuinely integrated in the society, and remove any obstacles to beginning. We have Slack channels dedicated to ideas and creativity, we allow people to work without asking, on their own projects and we celebrate publicly.
Innovative ideas that benefit business
The organization is holding an annual innovation week hackathon event where everyone momentarily downs client work tools and spends time together away from the workplace, working in small teams to create something they think the business will benefit from. The event last year saw bugs patched and the writing of new methods.
"There is no excuse we can't digitally duplicate our hackathon using our patented remote collaboration and project management software," Davies says. "Our employees have the time and the headspace to develop and build by dedicating a week to creativity and temporarily halting client work. We will also look to make the week as fun as possible, with social activities planned on Zoom.
To encourage innovative thought and solve problems alone, there are digital resources and applications, such as brainsparker, an app that creates random trigger cards to resolve mental blocks and encourage new thought, and Coggle, an online platform to create mind maps and flow charts.
"Innovation can take place and flourish in isolation, just as it does in team-oriented settings," says Dr Julia, Jones, neuroscientist and The Music Diet's founder. "This can happen both randomly and unconsciously during the intense, concentrated thinking. So remote work is just as likely to give rise to forward-thinking and 'eureka' moments, such as those happening around the water cooler, when someone is walking their dog and their brain is in a default, uninhibited state of mind-walking."