Is remote working killing our creativity?

Zoom Vs Room

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"You're on mute", “Zooming” and “Collaboration” remain the top terms post-March 2020 alongside “Pivoting” and “Unprecedented times'', thanks to video calls becoming “The New Normal”. So it piqued our interest when the latest study published by Nature has found remote meetings have also dampened creativity and brainstorming. 

Social scientists have spent much of the past two years analysing what happens when face-to-face exchanges are replaced by online meetings or as we like to call them…. Zoomies. Yes, the pandemic has taught the world about hybrid working and now there’s growing evidence for employers to use when deciding about the future work environment. Here at KEO we use it too! 

One portion of the study was with 745 pairs of engineers tasked with finding ways to use a frisbee or bubble wrap either in face-to-face meetings or video calls. That sounds like our kind of meeting! However those in the same room generated one more idea on average than those working remotely, and their ideas were deemed to be more creative. 

It was an outcome that the researchers expected, but they were surprised to find it wasn't because the remote engineers lacked a social connection. 

The eyes gave it away. When they tracked eye movement the team found that people in the same room gazed away more often, looked around. But the remote meeting pairs didn’t.

Creativity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If the eye isn't moving and is devoting too much attention to a meeting, or looking like they are focusing on a meeting, their brain isn't working in the wonderful world of creativity. 

This isn't saying all Zoom meetings are bad, this is saying that creative thinking and problem solving needs to be done in a different way! 

Here at KEO we didn't need the research to tell us what we were experiencing, but it helped when we looked at why our Zoomies worked. Utilising more than a few other awesome resources, we combatted the Creative Lull. We love our Vibe Board that allows all participants to draw and connect on one interactive sheet. We have an OWL… that follows the speaker or speakers in our own meeting room (trust us it's cool), and we have learnt that a double screen should always happen. Our Creative Workshops, Collabs, Client Briefs whether in person or online are always fun, engaging and creative!

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