New research published in Nature journal suggests virtual communication has an adverse impact on creativity.
In a laboratory study, 600 people worked in pairs, either virtually or in-person, to come up with new ideas. Judges then rated those ideas according to ingenuity and value.
The research discovered that:
What’s going on here, in Team Role terms?
When the pandemic first pushed previously co-located (or in-person) teams into virtual working, many organisations were in survival mode, trying to maintain the status quo and stay afloat. They weren’t necessarily in a position to consider innovation.
In Belbin terms, Implementer behaviours (structure, order, process) came to the fore. In our 2020 Belbin and Virtual Teams survey, many reported higher productivity when working from home. But that didn’t necessarily translate into engagement and creativity. In fact, those with high Resource Investigator behaviours (the role most in need of a changing environment) were amongst the lowest in their rate of satisfaction with virtual working.
From this study, it would appear that being tied to the screen acts as another creative restraint.
The ‘decision’ phase (choosing an idea to take forward) requires an entirely separate skillset – impartial analysis and shrewd judgement. In Belbin terms, a Monitor Evaluator. For this kind of behaviour, the same environmental rules do not apply.
What do we do about it?
We still have a lot to learn about the impact of virtual and hybrid working on team behaviours. It is worth pointing out that some organisations have been successfully working and innovating in a virtual environment since before the pandemic. Strategies for mitigating the negative effects of remote working include better technology (such as virtual reality) or even picking up the phone, as 2019 as that may sound…
First and foremost, we need to understand the Team Roles required for innovation – or any project stage – and the working environment needed for each person to use their strengths to best effect.
The Belbin reports help individuals and teams understand where they can best contribute, and enable managers to create the optimum conditions to cultivate those behaviours.
Before you can analyse your teams, you need to look at each individual's contribution. So, the first thing you will need to do is to generate a Belbin Individual report for each member of the team.Find out more
Whether you're forming a new team, introducing new people to an existing team, or trying to resolve issues within a team, a Belbin Team report can help you to manage it.Discover more