Does Remote Working Hinder Creativity? Could A Virtual Office Help?

18 April 2013
18 April 2013, Comments: 0

When Yahoo dropped the bombshell banning remote working many saw this as a step backwards in a world where even notables like Richard Branson are quick to assert, “Remote working is easier and more effective than ever”.

And what are the hard and fast facts backing up Yahoo’s pre-technological age policy? In a nutshell they believe that more decisions and ideas alongside faster quality work happens in an office environment. One can’t help thinking that if trendsetters like Yahoo continually came up with regressive theories like these that we’d still live in a world encouraging child labour and no minimum wages! So to think back to our title, if you’re a remote worker will your creative resources dwindle?

Psychologists from the University of Toronto conducted experiments to determine if happiness and creativity could be linked. The author of the study, Adam Anderson, sums up the results with this quote:

“With positive mood, you actually get more access to things you would normally ignore,” he says. “Instead of looking through a porthole, you have a landscape or panoramic view of the world.”

If you’re a remote worker enjoying the benefits of working from your home environment it stands to reason that your “workplace” is exactly as you want it. Whilst there might be distractions they are very much your own distractions because you are in your own chosen place. At the same time the stresses of a twice-daily commute and an office dress code are non-existent. In short you’re happier and this makes you a creative powerhouse!

We’re not even going to pull out the big guns of in depth psychological studies to show how stress detracts from creativity and performance, because it’s such a well known fact. Now that the world of virtual office spaces is starting to open up for modern workers do we really want to tie ourselves to the stress-induced rat race of the cubicle crowd?

Ignore for a minute all the many factors that make a workplace away from your own comfort zone stressful and just think of all the common sense advice that cures stress: good diet, exercise and rest are all among the top contenders for natural stress relief. Aren’t all of those so much easier to do as a remote worker?

The equation for enhanced creativity is obvious: A good home/work balance minus external stressors equals more creativity. A fact that Yahoo seems to have overlooked but Richard Branson hasn’t when he recently wrote in his blog:

“To force everybody to work in offices is old school thinking.”

Coincidentally a LinkedIn photo shows Branson hard at work at his favorite desk-which just happens to be on a tropical beach!

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