Friday 20 November 2020 4:02 am

DEBATE: Are fears about remote working’s damage to Britain’s creative potential overblown?

Kristine Dahl Steidel is vice president EUC EMEA at VMware
and Chetan Dube
Chetan Dube is chief executive at IPsoft company Amelia

Are fears about remote working’s damage to Britain’s creative potential overblown?

Kristine Dahl Steidel, vice president EUC EMEA at VMware, says YES.

The future of work has arrived in the form of distributed workforces, and businesses should not be using this as an excuse for stagnant growth. 

The facts speak for themselves: new research shows that remote working is not putting businesses at a disadvantage in cultivating creativity or productivity. In fact, three quarters of UK decision-makers surveyed believe that innovation is now coming from more places in the organisation, while 29 per cent have seen increases in employee productivity thanks to digital work solutions. 

What’s more, when it comes to collaboration within teams, distance is no barrier: 61 per cent stated that collaboration has increased or remained constant since remote working came into play.

So the potential for creativity is there. To realise this, business leaders must move away from constantly monitoring inputs to focusing on output. And they must do so as part of a broader, new environment of mutual trust. Organisations need to carefully consider how they manage their now “out of sight” workers, to ensure employees remain productive and motivated in an environment where creativity can really flourish.

Chetan Dube, chief executive at IPsoft company Amelia, says NO.

It is inevitable that productivity and creativity will drop when companies try to replicate office working practices at home. 

Over many decades, we have successfully built office environments that foster creativity, collaboration and productivity, such as with the open-plan workspaces and hot-desking. While Zoom, Teams and Slack promise to replicate this experience remotely, the sheer fatigue many of us are feeling after months of depending on them shows that they aren’t a long-term solution.

This doesn’t mean we should all pine for a return to the office as we knew it. But we must stop trying to replicate what worked before and look for innovative working practices better suited to a distributed workforce. 

Part of this will be removing our reliance on other humans for collaboration and productivity, instead exploring its potential with intelligent systems. Digital employees, unlike their human colleagues, for example, can be “always-on” and available to talk through and implement new processes. This will relieve the strain of constantly using collaboration tools for more common tasks, allowing for our human engagements to be those when our creativity is required.

Main image credit: Getty

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