24 March 2021
As we reach the one-year mark of working from home, remote teams are at risk of losing motivation. By drawing on techniques used by creatives, business leaders can revitalize teams and spark fresh momentum and innovation with the help of art. For example, studies show that jazz musicians’ improvisational skills are achieved via heightened sensory activity in the brain alongside a deactivation of cognitive control functions, leading to an incredible, unbridled process of self-expression.
This shows that business leaders can improve the performance of its people by using art to motivate their team during the COVID – 19 pandemic where everyone is working remotely.
Paint new perspectives through visual arts to help your people.
Visualization works through brain imagery, with neurons interpreting that imagery as if it were a real-life action. That means that when we visualize something, our brain cells perform similarly to how they would if it were actually occurring. You probably know the expression “seeing is believing,” but really, seeing is doing.
Let’s take an actual example. We had employees at a major nonprofit organization visualize that they were attending an Academy Awards ceremony. They were tasked with picturing which awards they would not have made the shortlist for, which awards they were nominated for, and which awards they ended up winning. This helped them realize what they were and weren’t set up to achieve; by visualizing the scenario, they could understand how they needed to reorganize and bring their goals to fruition.
Entertain, energize, and escape in theatrics.
One of our favorite artistic transplants is improv. It helps people learn to read cues, laugh at themselves, listen more intently, and loosen up. And because improv is a team sport, it’s ideal for connecting everyone through a joint scenario. Improv doesn’t have to be full-on dramatics (which can sometimes scare people away). You can pull elements of improv into team meetings and exercises so people won’t immediately withdraw from the spotlight.
For example, during a team call, ask individuals to take one minute to find an object in their house that reminds them of an issue at work or with a client, then explain their choice to the group. As they’re challenged to act with limited resources, this exercise encourages people to do some mental gymnastics to reach an efficient conclusion. It also places a physical object on an abstract problem, forcing people to see it from a new perspective.
Create harmony through WFH dance and art.
Over a third of remote workers worry they’re not moving enough at home, now that commutes and coffee breaks with colleagues are scarce. That sedentary activity can lower employees’ energy and motivation over time.
Physical movement triggers the release of endorphins, which interact with receptors in the brain, stimulating positivity. Something as simple as changing locations can benefit employees, whether it’s taking a meeting in another room, changing the desk position, or walking while on a call. A great suggestion is a walking group call where everyone in attendance is on the go (outdoors or indoors) as they chat, stretching their physical and mental muscles.
Use poetry to merge creativity and content.
Sometimes, the biggest energy rush comes from an outpouring of sorts, when you’re hit with inspiration and spew out an endless string of ideas. Poetry helps people extract thoughts from the recesses of their mind in a completely free-flowing, non-judgmental form. It isn’t about sonnets and iambic pentameter — poetry can be as abstract and nonsensical as you like.
Try implementing a poetry session in the morning where people take a few minutes to free-hand. It could be a stream-of-consciousness ramble, a six-word response to a prompt, or a carefully structured poem. Like all poetry, some will be absurdist babble, while some could tangle into that person’s reality. Don’t force people to share this with the team unless they want to draw out its potential — to see whether any themes emerge from their internal monologue and how these can apply to what’s happening at the company.
If people respond well to these poetry sessions, you could organize regular online poetry slams or open mic events, giving people the space to experiment with their communication style, ultimately switching up how they process and deliver their creativity.
The arts have an important place in business. They’re not just fun for fun’s sake — they allow employees to channel thoughts and pent-up emotions into something constructive. Especially for remote teams that are at risk of feeling bored and uninspired, artistic activities unite people while they feel out new flows. Try out these artistically inspired techniques to see if they help your team tap into their creativity.
Source: Harvard Business Review