Business development · 28 July 2020

7 expert tips for effectively brainstorming with a remote team

Brainstorm with a remote team

Most of us have been working from home since the start of lockdown, and it doesn’t look like we will be returning to our offices soon, if ever.

In an office, brainstorming happens in front of a whiteboard sparking creativity with colleagues in the hopes to create unique ideas. Working remotely, you can’t physically interact with your team, but this isn’t necessarily a drawback. Moving around rooms, taking coffee breaks or even playing ping pong in some industries, are used as creativity boosters but, it wastes a lot of your energy.

Remotely working online opens doors to tools where effective brainstorming can take place, and unlike in an office, time won’t be wasted, and everyone can boost their creativity in a way that suits them. To explore how to brainstorm with a remote team, marketing expert at Ueni, Javier Bello, shares his 7 tips.

Send out the topic and goals of the brainstorm prior to the meeting

If you spend time reviewing the purpose and topic of the brainstorm during the meeting, you will cut into your creative time. Make sure your entire team is aware of the topic before the brainstorm session so employees can prepare high quality ideas and findings. It is key to ensure everyone has their own ideas and questions so you can jump straight into the team discussion. A plan will lead to a clear and concise brainstorm.

Set a time limit

In a remote team, you may be unaware of your employee’s schedule. Daily tasks still need to be completed each day and you should avoid the scheduled brainstorm pushing into your employee’s personal time. This is a factor for members who aren’t in the same time zone, 10am might work for some, whilst it’s dinnertime for others. If the brainstorm isn’t finished at the end of the scheduled time limit, plan a follow up session to complete. The shorter the brainstorm, the better for your team. Generating original ideas requires attention and focus.

 Use collaborative tools

Studies have shown that collaborative brainstorming is correlated with higher convergence quality. Whilst there are many collaborative tools available that make brainstorming easier such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Docs and RemoteHQ, it is harder to change your team’s behaviour when brainstorming. Instead, pick tools which everyone involved is familiar with. Meetingroom.io is a creative platform which allows employees to share ideas in a virtual room equipped with an editable whiteboard. The personalisation goes even further as you can create your own avatars be face to face like a real-life session!

Be creative

Structured brainstorms work better when everyone is working remotely. If there are over 10 employees, consider breaking them up into teams of 2. They can work together prior to the session for a mini brainstorm before presenting to the team. To make it more interesting, pair together those who don’t usually work together as this encourages idea development in a new dynamic.

Consistent capturing

Make it clear to your team on how you wish for their ideas to be captured and in what format. A headline, description and sketch is a simple formula which companies follow but remember that ideas should be consistent with how they look. A consistent format makes for an easy evaluation of the ideas presented.

Provide feedback

Once the time for sharing ideas is up, encourage members to offer feedback to each idea. The best way to do this concisely is visually, such as adding a comment box or sketch next to the idea. Feedback should be scheduled in the agenda and will help to further develop the ideas.

Diversity

Research shows that diversity adds value to a brainstorm and increases the appearance of creative tension. Diversity of skills is key when brainstorming as similar people might not develop ideas into their full potential. If your team is lacking diversity, invite employees from different teams and even people from your social media following to a brainstorming session. This is a great way to build your brand awareness online and gain a personal insight into what people expect from your business.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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