As Companies are grappling with questions about whether to bring employees back to the office. Many turn to surveys and studies of labor productivity and how this affects people working from home. But while this news is good, the people are even more productive Working from home – that’s not the most important metric either.
When it comes to the human workforce, terms like “productivity” and “efficiency” reflect a bygone era. What companies need from the workforce is innovation and creativity, both of which can thrive whether the employees are at home or in the office.
AI and the pandemic
For years, new technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence have been taking on more and more tasks – the things that “productive” and “efficient” workers previously did in many factories.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon in numerous sectors. Robots are replacing people “faster than ever”. time Reports. In one surveyThree quarters of companies named AI as critical to their success in 2020. After discovering the productivity and efficiency of these machines, companies are expected to accelerate these developments even further.
However, this does not mean that there is no room for people in organizations. But on the contrary. What companies need from today’s workforce is what remains uniquely human: our minds. Technologists may try, but no one has developed machines that can compete with the human ability to innovate and create.
The process of innovation is understanding one another, learning about each other’s problems, considering solutions, and working together to come up with strong ideas that work. No wonder, then, that a number of surveys find the skills most in demand now include Things like communication, agility, problem solving, flexibility, and people management.
Innovation can flourish anywhere
So the big question is whether innovation and creativity are affected by so many people working remotely during the pandemic.
The Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, spoke this in one speechand indicates that working from home can have both positive and negative effects on creativity. “The lack of distraction and noise is an important factor in creativity. To be in the flow, you need a certain amount of cognitive tunneling, ”he said. “For many people, working from home provides a quieter, less distracting environment.” This will surely be the case for millions of people when young children return to school and parents can focus on work for longer periods of time.
However, Haldane noted that working from home can prevent chance conversations and meetings with people who have new ideas and perspectives, which are also helpful in sparking creative sparks.
For the book that I co-authored The Expertise EconomyI’ve done a lot of research on creativity and innovation. It is clear that people can be creative and innovative no matter where they do their work. There are things that they need from their employers to achieve this.
Workers need the time to learn, reflect, and explore new opportunities. They need tools to develop new skills and work together. Via online platforms that make it possible to make contacts and brainstorm (or “Brainwriting”) Can people meet, connect with, chat and develop ideas together with others throughout their organization. One recently survey from Canva found that Americans say they are more cooperative when working remotely.
Workers also need a culture that values learning, experimentation, and failure along the way – one that provides the psychological security to take risks and challenge norms.
What investors can do
Innovation cannot be measured in the same mathematical way as productivity traditionally measured. McKinsey did written down that R&D and sales of new products can provide insight into innovations. However, it is impossible to know at what rate employees are developing new ideas.
However, investors can push companies to focus more on innovation. Ask executives about their latest innovations and new products and services along the way. Ask employees if they are innovative and what can be done to make it happen.
The rewards are waiting. research Finds that companies with open innovation practices perform better and pay higher shareholder value. And the more innovative the employees are, the more productive and efficient the tools they use. Therefore, the productivity metrics are also leading. Invest in innovation creates a profit all round.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.