What does it mean to become creatives? This is a question to seriously think about, especially during a time where creativity is needed now more than ever. Read below for details.
As we collectively reach nearly a year of working under the circumstances of a pandemic, many of us have had to reinvent boundaries and find ways to halt or slow the inevitable melding of home life and work life and struggle to find ways to remain productive or even creative.
Some of us have been faced with crippling social isolation for months, while others have lost friends and loved ones to an unrelenting and uncaring virus that no one was equipped for.
As we continue to brave each day, we are faced with new and recurring challenges at work, the boldest of which is the challenge to remain steadfast in our duties and uphold our responsibilities as workers and employers – and continue to deliver fully on the 30, 40, or even 60-hour weeks we spend on a collective vision.
It’s important for us to recognize that this pandemic has had a significant and understandable impact, one we need to learn not only to accept but adapt to. Some of us haven’t been able to face that issue, scared of falling behind and losing out on a precious work opportunity that not everyone is privileged to.
Employers must give their employees the courage to openly speak out about their personal struggles – and understand that these causally relate to their professional and creative struggles because, in a COVID-era, the personal and professional have too often become one and the same.
This is the first step towards helping and inspiring your employees to become better creatives and find that spark that might have fizzled or gone out in the face of the pandemic. From there, it’s all about creating a better and more positive environment – even remotely.
Set the Right Environmental Factors
It’s a huge cliché to see your employee’s creative potentials as flowers waiting to bloom, but the simple fact of the matter is that environmental factors are really important – but not just at work.
As the pandemic has forced us to redefine the workplace and accept remote working concepts into our business, many have found themselves falling in love with the idea of working from home forever – while many others struggle to draw the line between work and home and try to compensate with ever longer hours, and an ever-greater threat of stress-related burnouts.
Building a stronger creative team starts with building the factors that nurture and support that team. Encourage stricter boundaries between work and home.
Help employees with flexible work schedules and nearby coworking spaces find safe and hygienic remote solutions to try and create a physical barrier between work and home, via a shorter, safer, more accessible commute to a coworking space.
Help those who can afford it create a home office and work with them to develop a schedule that allows them to balance and split their responsibilities to their work, and their responsibilities to family.
Encourage simple routines and rituals to begin and end the workday, cut short unnecessary or distracting meetings, and ask employees to identify their greatest daily blocks and distractions, and find ways to mitigate them within reason (there’s very little anyone can do about the needs of a new-born, but it’s important to explore other options where organization and flexibility can help forge better boundaries).
For employees who are at work, be sure to address both the physical and organizational factors that help forge creativity – such as:
- Better natural light
- A clean office space kept tidy and organized
- Art that isn’t too distracting but provides places for the eyes to linger during brainstorming sessions
- Private spaces where employees can withdraw to think alone or rest their eyes, or simply get away from the noise
When creating a supportive organizational environment, ensure that you aren’t encouraging or tolerating behavior that is potentially silencing other creative voices in the room, such as picking one idea before hearing the others, shutting someone down before they finish, or critiquing one person’s idea before everyone had a chance to present.
Cooperation is a more effective approach to creativity than competition, and creatives will generally thrive in a safe space that allows them to explore any and all possibilities without being crippled by self-doubt and constraints created by other people’s immediate reactionary opinions. Each idea can be refined and rejected once it has had time to develop. But shutting an idea down in its incubatory phase keeps it from getting to a point where it might have become the right one.
Provide Clear Guidance
The worst thing you can do as a manager or director is to simply give the command to “get creative.” It is your job to present guidance and provide limitations for the rest of the team to work around.
Talk about what pointers you have been given by the client and provide further direction by discussing the basics – such as deadline, budgetary constraints, and what you know isn’t in the books. And then exploring what else you know about the project, such as its origins and style, details about the client and their audience, and any other information you can provide to paint a better picture.
Give Everyone a Real Breather
True breaks are hard to come by in the pandemic age, but wherever possible, encourage creative employees to pursue meaningful breaks into nature – from something as simple as a brisk walk in the park to a weekend trip up into the mountains.
Studies have shown time and time again that we think much better when surrounded by open skies and the smells and sensations of nature, and a few hours spent among the trees will do far more for a creative type’s headspace than another weekend spent indoors.
Harnessing Creativity Demands Creativity
Finding ways to create a constructive and nurturing environment both physically and remotely will require a huge amount of creativity. Especially as most managers are constrained by very specific limitations that might keep them from helping their employees unleash their best creative potential.
To that end, you will have to accept that these limitations, wherever they cannot be overcome, will serve to impede or prevent some from being as creative as they could be.
Never Underestimate the Importance of Creativity in Success
Every conceivable business that offers a product or service needs creativity to help reiterate concepts, renew ideas, and adapt to a world that is evolving and changing faster than ever.
It’s the creative employees who came up with the concepts that helped save countless businesses during the early days of the pandemic, from developing unique ways to continue to provide a product or service while maintaining social distancing, to finding new ways to offer a face-to-face service remotely. And it is creatives who will continue to find ways to increase your value proposition and make your business the one that stands out above the rest.
The biggest value in creativity is its ability to find solutions to problems. That is the true definition behind every creative type – a problem solver who finds new ways to answer both old and evolving questions.