remote work kill creativity

What do you think? Can remote work make you less creative? Luis shares all the insights!

Well, the truth is any overly structured environment kills creativity. People usually believe that there is no creativity applied if work teams don’t get together to smash ideas. But that’s a false concept!

Working remotely, brainstorming may be different and sometimes harder, but it’s not impossible.

Watch the video to know why!


Does remote work kill creativity? Let’s talk about it. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Virtual Coffee Chat with Luis. I am your host Luis and this is my coffee. This is my coffee chat. Welcome. Let’s have a sip together.

                Yeah, this is actually a funny story before we get to into creativity. Now, as you see, I’m having my usual espresso, not the mug of coffee. And just because I’ve already had a mug of coffee. It’s a bit later than my usual recording so I can’t just be having coffee willy nilly. But in any case, this, I actually bought this while working remotely from the Gran Canaria. It’s made by the natives there. So, this little coffee cup has a little remote work history off its own.

                But, anyway, let’s talk about creativity because today the first thing I saw when I went into my login was a lot of people sharing an article arguing that remote work kills creativity. And I think that this patently false and I actually have some arguments to back that up. Let’s talk about why.

                Well, look, any overly structured environment kills creativity. Now there’s this myth that was probably propagated by Google because, and maybe even Yahoo, that like to mash people together in a room so they have ideas in a process of brainstorming. And I will grant you, brainstorming is a bit harder in remote work because we miss the physicality, the physical presence, but brainstorming is different from creativity. Let’s discuss why.

                Actually, it doesn’t have to be completely separate from creativity, but you can brainstorm alone. The basic way of brainstorming is putting a piece of paper in front of you and scribbling all the ideas that come to your head without any self-censoring. The idea is you put into paper everything, even the most ridiculous things, because the most ridiculous things are often clogging the system and we need to sieve through the sand in order to get to the nuggets of gold. This is actually easier done alone than in the group because the pressure to self-censor is much higher in a group.

                There has been some crazy ideas that I have been unable to voice even between friends because I just, “Oh God, I’ll never hear the end of that.” I’ll say something just to get it off my head and then fast forward 10 years, my friends will be calling me out on this stupid thing that I said. So, it’s actually detrimental being in a group, is actually detrimental to brainstorming in some aspects. Of course, when you start riffing off other people, some good stuff can come out of it so not to mitigate the benefit of that. And that is truly harder to do remotely because of the lack of physicality.

                That said, as an online gamer, have been for many years, I’ve had to solve some pretty difficult inter-social, interpersonal problems over nothing but text chat, old world of Warcraft days. And I’ve definitely did my fair share of brainstorming text, live brainstorming with some fellow Guild members and Guild leaders. It’s definitely not impossible you just have to bring your fuller self to it. You need to be more focused on the problem and what you’re trying to achieve, instead of just relying in your attention being captured by the physicality of the people around you.

                Now this is brainstorming, and of course, if you want to do a better brainstorming by Zoom, there are several ways to do that. There are a couple of books that I would recommend. I would ask you to Google, for example, a Clean Language by Judy Rees and it will help you do better meetings, make better meetings. By the way that’s not the name of the book but you’ll get to the book if you just Google those terms. And that will get you a long way to having better meetings where you can brainstorm.

                But I actually want to refute this idea that creativity is something that happens together. Brainstorming is something that can be done together, but creativity is a whole different ballpark. As a friend of mine, Ruston, pointed out on LinkedIn, creativity is not something that happens in a call with 20 other people. What happens when a call with 20 other people at best is the surfacing of the problems that need to be solved. When a lot of people are talking together, maybe you can hone in better on what the goal should be on what you should be doing or what the problems are and that has value. For sure. You can’t really find the solution if the problem isn’t well defined. The first step of finding a solution is defining well the problem.

                But then what I, and most other people that are in the business of solving problems actually notice is that the solutions come after that. The solutions come when you’re in the shower. I know it’s a cliche but it’s true. The solutions come when you’re jogging, when you’re playing a video game, when you’re reading or listening to a podcast. This is the whole Pascal scale. I believe that was it call when Pascal had the eureka moment while he was on the bath. That’s when the solutions come to you. It’s not when you’re focusing on the problem with other people. That’s important because that phase will prime your brain to get ready for the creative part that then usually happens in stillness.

                Stillness is key. I actually believe that there’s a book about the creative process with that name. I might be wrong. Fact check me on that. In any case, after this long windy road, we come to remote work. Remote work is primed to offer more moments of stillness, more moments of contemplation. If I am faced with the problem, what I can do is I can sit back, I can close my laptop, I can go for a walk, and I’m working. A friend and mentor of mine at Trevor Longino, hi, Trevor. I know he watches this. He once told me in a podcast interview that work is something that sometimes happens when you’re out for a walk and that is one of the truest statements that I’ve ever heard.

                Creative work is something that happens when you’re out for a walk. And guess what? If you’re not constrained by a nine to five office work style you can have more walks and you can do better quality work during those walks. So, I absolutely refuse the premise that remote work hinders creativity in any way. It actually boosts it. Butts on seats do not equal creativity.

                And there you have it. This was virtual coffee chat with Luis. I was your host Luis, of course, and if you liked this insight, please press like, subscribe, and head on to ThinkRemote.com where you can find the finest and latest news and advice for working remotely. See you tomorrow.


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