Innovation meets Efficiency: How to make your Business Future-proof

The year is 2023, and I’m starting to write this blog article in my living room on a regular Tuesday morning. Even though I work full time and can get to my office building in under 30 minutes, I decided to work from home today. My colleagues asked no questions either, as many of them are likely doing the same.
What is now the so-called “new normal” for many would have been almost unthinkable four years ago. But things change, and they change fast. 

In this article, I will talk about the rising pressure to innovate and how remote work played a critical factor in recent developments.



Innovation: nice-to-have or must-have?

Recent years have prompted businesses to change the way they view innovation. We have seen how external factors, such as the pandemic and political turmoil, can cause instability, to which companies need to react and adapt quickly. Switching to remote work settings from one day to another has shown what companies are capable of under pressure.

Of course, innovation isn’t exclusive to challenging times. The 2010s have been characterised by an economic boom. While times like these breed innovation just as much, they do it for different reasons. 

During stable times, many innovators are riding the upwards wave to create the “next big thing” in hopes of disrupting the market. Innovation might be viewed as a chance rather than a necessity. As a result, it’s only the braver businesses who venture into the unknown, while others may be more careful.

The past three years, however, have shown a paradigm shift in how and why we innovate. The primary aim is no longer to disrupt the market but to show resilience. Businesses are taking innovation more seriously and are willing to allocate more resources to their internal innovation hubs and innovation labs. Managers no longer focus on the long-term yield of creation but on short-term impact. Innovation has shifted from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have”.

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Remote work as the key accelerator

The rise of remote work has been one of the critical drivers of innovation in recent years. It is widely regarded as the “new normal” that employees are no longer required to go work in the office five days a week. One of the main benefits of this is greater flexibility. Work can be done both synchronously and asynchronously. 

Employees enjoy more freedom, which may ultimately lead to higher job satisfaction. Additionally, remote work can help reduce overhead costs for the company and increase productivity by eliminating the time and expenses associated with commuting. Furthermore, virtual teams can access a broader pool of talent worldwide, leading to a more diverse and inclusive work environment.

On the other hand, managers are confronted with a set of new challenges. They will have to maintain clear communication and collaboration among team members. Some team members may even feel isolated, and the lack of face-to-face interaction can negatively impact their motivation.


Walking the line in a remote culture

Does this mean remote work is just a fad and will be considered a thing of the past in a few years? Unlikely. Remote work is here to stay for good. However, managers need to find the sweet spot to keep their teams happy while ensuring that operations keep running smoothly. 

They need to ensure that employees understand and partake in the company culture. One effective measure is to ask new employees to spend more time in the physical office space initially. This way, they can connect with their colleagues, form bonds, and learn about the company culture. 

Meeting your team in the office also fosters informal communication. Of course, it is essential to have formal communication paths in place. However, informal communication is what often promotes an efficient way of working, as well as a healthy work environment.


On-site, hybrid, remote: Realising the potential of each!

Culture is one of many aspects of a remote way of working. It unlocked an almost entirely new layer of possibilities for managing projects. Once again, it is about becoming more adaptive to the suitable needs and situations for your team, your clients or your product.

Let’s take a classical innovation project as a best practice example. A project in its ideation phase is an excellent opportunity for teams to collaborate face-to-face in a physical space. During the prototyping and implementation phase, teams might find it more efficient to work from home and use digital tools for virtual collaboration. Of course, given the right tools, projects may as well be done entirely remotely. In the end, it is mainly down to individual preference. 

The rise of remote work has shown that businesses can innovate quickly if presented with pressing challenges. If companies continue viewing an innovation mindset as a must-have rather than a nice-to-have, they are well set for the future. 


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