Turning Isolation into Innovation


As we enter the umpteenth day of quarantine, business as usual is anything but. Companies are looking to pivot—and adapting to new technologies and ways of working. Now's the time for innovation and creativity.

Here are things to consider as communicators work to turn isolation into innovation in the new work environment.

Virtual Brainstorming Works, But...

Virtual brainstorms work. That said, teams need to arrive better prepared to virtual creative sessions than they would at face-to-face meetings.

To avoid spending a lot of time setting the stage for a discussion, an investment of some pre-meeting work can be a big help. This way you get more quickly into the meat of what needs to be accomplished. You will ideate quicker—and, hopefully, more productively—with ideas that are vetted and are more on target.

Harness Employee Energy

Employees are the heart of creativity. In the office, creative ideas often came about naturally, with a walk around the floor or a chat in the kitchen. Today, we need to develop ways to be intentional about connecting virtually, so we can come closer to the old-school office chatter that sparks ideas.

Go beyond asking people to join sessions on a virtual platform to share inspiration or a mid-afternoon mental break. As an alternative, try an end-of-day Wednesday Water Cooler session.

Experiment with Experiences

With in-person connectivity off the table, we need to replicate the intimacy and focus that come from being in front of one another. Think about the engagement tools you use. Find new ways to use the for interacting. Is there a tool not used for meetings that you can modify for online sessions?

A simple change is limiting the number of people in a virtual meeting whenever possible. This allows participants to better see and hear one another. In addition, it allows them to have the type of personal conversations that are lost when people can multi-task and disengage from a discussion.

Strike the Right Tone

It’s always a good idea to frame ideas and feedback in a positive way. Remember to consider the world situation. Everyone is touched in some way. Communicate with as much poise and kindness as you can muster. It really makes a difference.

Before sending communication, read emails aloud to yourself. At this moment, tonality is crucial. In addition, are you being clear? Does the message consider what the recipient might be going through outside of work?

Build Confidence with Transparency and Relevance

A question so many of us ask is: Should COVID-19 change the way we communicate?

As they were prior to the pandemic, transparency and relevance are key. Prepare facts and organize clear communications channels to share information through regular updates. Convey steps taken to protect the business today and into the future. Show scenarios and how you are preparing for each circumstance.

It’s equally important to be sure that your communication is relevant. Evaluate the why behind each outreach. Given the news of the day or week, is this the right time to share? Or, are you adding to white noise or tying your story to something that is not relevant?

Stacey Gandler is EVP at Havas Health PR