Working From Home Doesn’t Mean Innovation Has To Stop

Yu Zhi Wei, Innovation Specialist
21 Jun 2021 • 5 min read

Keeping innovation going is vital to the success of any company looking to grow and perform. Without driving innovation, the company risks both the short and long term outlook and survival. A robust innovation program remains a high priority and a worthwhile investment to build effective success for your company.

As we observe the trend that companies make that important decision to shift to remote work, managing innovation becomes even more challenging. This change builds greater barriers to innovation, as people are physically distanced from their teams, you want to still be part of the company’s growth. Engage them in your innovation process, making them feel empowered and valued.

Common mistakes companies make when trying to engage their people in innovation:

• Unnecessary & complicated barriers

Most companies try to get as much information as possible before making decisions, but making it too hard for people to develop their ideas in the beginning will only cause lower engagement.

• No innovation engagement structure

Most companies do not have a consolidated or central node to collect valuable information in the innovation pipeline process. This information risks being forgotten if you don’t manage it, or give feedback and develop it further.

• Little to no transparency

Information asymmetry is one of most frequent complaints when it comes to innovation. When you try to engage people but have most of your focus areas in a shroud of mystery, people will end up caring less about it.

• Overly complicated processes

Companies have a misconception that they need to spend obscene amounts of money on complicated workshops for innovation, but the truth is, the most effective way to innovate is the one that is easy to understand for your people.

The good news is that these common mistakes are easy to avoid once you’ve identified them. Let us share some of our top tips to avoid committing these obvious mistakes and instead, successfully drive your innovation even with remote working conditions!

How do you manage remote work innovation?

1. Identify focus areas for innovation

“Great innovation doesn’t start with a great invention – it starts with a great problem”

The first thing to kickstart your innovation is to prepare a couple areas which you want to focus your innovation efforts on. It would be very beneficial to align these focus areas with the company’s direction and strategy so you see strong support and organizational alignment.

A focus area could be:

  • Business processes
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Marketing
  • Sales

  • Make sure to pick an area important to both you and your company so you are willing to spend time, money and resources to achieve it.

    2. Simple and clear tone

    To draw out the best ideas from your people, you need to set a clear tone about innovation – you do not need to have a rocket science degree to start. The great thing about innovation is that it can come from anywhere!

    To engage your people, they need to have the right attitude towards your innovation process, even more so for a remote working situation. Work within the resources you have to arrange some communication within your people so they understand the simplicity of your innovation. Make it easy for people to access information, put it in the same place your want people to innovate and you’ll see higher engagement.

    3. Creating your Innovation Challenge

    Setting up an innovation challenge is easy, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps. Before engaging your people in generating ideas, you need to set up your Problem Statement specifically for your innovation challenge.

    If you’re unsure about a specific problem statement, you can start by defining a general problematic focus area. Next, collect insights within that area, building up a specific problem statement based on your knowledge.

    With a strong & specific problem statement, you are guaranteed to generate valuable solutions.

    4. Engage your people on a digital innovation hub

    If you do not have a place to drive your innovation effectively, now is the best time to start setting one up. Make your life easier and get rid of manual processes of collecting ideas through spreadsheets, forms and emails.

    Your digital innovation hub does not have to be complicated, pick something that works for you and get started! Pick a tool that makes it easier for your teams to use and engage in, this will get you the real results you want from your innovation efforts.

    5. Recognize engagement

    With remote working conditions, communication becomes ever more vital for the success of the team and the company. As an employee in your innovation program, strong recognition and communication will help drive more engagement over time.

    Utilize your initial areas of focus in innovation to check back on your progress. Whether it be recognizing the top contributors or the most creative ideas from your teams, regular conversations to engage your people will build trust and drive a virtuous cycle of innovation and engagement.

    No matter how you do it, keeping it intuitive for your people from the get go will really set up a strong foundation for innovation success in your company.