You’re probably hearing a lot about creativity at the moment. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020, creativity will be the third most important business skill, just behind complex problem-solving and critical thinking. And two (or three, or four) creative minds working together are better than one.
But what does creativity mean? You might think of it as being artistic – drawing and painting – but the dictionary definition is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something new. And these days every business needs to be inventive to get ahead.
Yet in a survey by Microsoft, 40% of employees said their workplaces did not encourage or reward creativity. People reported that stressful, uninspiring workplaces and heavy workloads made them even less creative.
New ways of collaborating
Clearly business leaders need to foster creativity in their workers, which could start with reconfiguring their workspaces to give employees spaces to work alone as well as collaboratively.
Then it’s important to think about how each team member can share their ideas. Many companies are swapping brainstorming sessions for ‘brainshaking’. With old-fashioned brainstorming, senior members of staff tend to get more air time, with more junior or introverted colleagues sidelined.
But brainshaking involves people coming up with ideas ahead of time, submitting them anonymously then voting on which ideas to debate. Randomly assigned teams come up with ideas for and against the idea, which helps the business really examine the pros and cons.
The rise of flexibility
Of course, some of these colleagues may be working in different places, away from fixed desks; people increasingly want to work flexibly, which in itself can harness creativity. Therefore leaders need to equip teams with up-to-date, intuitive devices and the training to use them.
Microsoft Surface devices help employees to be innovative wherever they are. The Surface Hub can bring teams together to solve complex business problems, allowing everyone to be active participants in conversations, while its touch-screen transforms the conference room, helping people work together in new ways.
And if you’re an old-fashioned notebook kind of person, the Surface Pro is your friend – like a notepad, it can catch your ideas at the moment of inspiration, whether they’re doodles, notes or sketches.
Protecting your data
Working remotely and sharing information raises questions of security, but Microsoft has an ethos of ‘Sleep Well, Dream Big’ – you can rest easy that you’re protected even when you’re collaborating in ground-breaking ways.
For instance, Windows Hello enables users to sign into their device using a PIN, which is more secure than a password and specific to that device. There’s also biometric sign-in, in the form of fingerprint, iris or facial recognition – Microsoft’s security processes aim to provide a quicker, simpler experience for the user.
And with cyber attacks increasing in frequency and sophistication, Microsoft solutions help protect, detect and respond to these threats in real time, harnessing worldwide intelligence to guard the data on your device and in the cloud.
Cloud-based collaboration itself means you only have one version of the document you’re working on and it’s possible to protect this information wherever it goes, even stopping it from leaving the cloud.
With the right devices, the right services and the right leadership, employees are no longer bound to the office environment or to outdated modes of working. This is a huge step forward to helping businesses unleash the potential for collaboration that leads to success.