Creating a culture of creativity 

Holly Branson speaking on a panel, with an audience in the background
Virgin Voyages
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 15 December 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, I had the pleasure of joining Virgin Unite and some members of the 100% Human at Work network for a brilliant workshop on culture and creativity in the world of remote working.

Virgin Unite
Virgin Unite

We were joined by an amazing group of people who worked everywhere from Unilever to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Together (virtually), it was quite moving to look back on a tumultuous year where healing and unity triumphed over division; and human values became more prominent than ever, despite the limited time we were able to spend together. 

As Ajaz Ahmed, founder and CEO of AKQA, put it: “The tone of 2020 is that we are one human family and we have to look out for each other."

Throughout the pandemic, culture and creativity quickly became two areas that workplaces big and small relied upon to pivot their business priorities, meet new demands, re-invent themselves, and find new ways of working. As we discussed during the workshop though, these are two areas that are difficult to translate well when working remotely. Virtual meetings (on mute) in your living room don’t make for the best environment to come up with creative ideas and feel connected to your colleagues!

While news of the vaccine brings hope for 2021, it’s unlikely we’ll dive head-first into old office habits, so it was really interesting to look at how workplaces can enable innovation, embed what they stand for, and apply the sort of leadership that is needed for creativity and culture to flourish in remote and hybrid work environments.

David Watts
David Watts

As part of the workshop, we unpacked four questions that organisations big and small should ask themselves ahead of the new year:

  1. How do we create space for creativity and exploration in the everyday?

  2. How do we build social relationships and foster personal development while remote and hybrid working?

  3. How do we define new expectations to balance wellbeing and high performing cultures?

  4. After so much immediate and crisis-driven change this year, what is the vision for your company culture vision over the next 12 to 24 months?

As part of the workshop, we broke up into smaller groups where we could design actions and experiments to apply in our own organisations. I was joined by an amazing group of people from the 100% Human At Work network who represented businesses such as Virgin Mobile, Chanel, Virgin Money, the IUCN, and Unilever. It was so valuable to learn from people working across such a wide range of companies, and it made me realise how important it is to have a network of people from outside of your organisation that you can bounce ideas off.

It was such an insightful session, and I hope the questions above help you to foster creativity and embed culture at work as we look ahead to a brighter 2021!