Brainstorming As A Remote Team: Ideas to Foster Creativity

Remote work empowers companies to cut overhead costs, tap into larger talent pools across the global workforce and provide remote workers with the ability to work from anywhere. So, it’s safe to say that working remotely has many benefits. But, that doesn’t mean virtual work is void of challenges. In some cases, remote work can actually hurt innovation. The good news is that creative challenges can be mitigated with the right mindset, virtual collaboration tools, and the right brainstorming strategies.

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Why Remote Team Collaboration is Important

When is the last time your remote or hybrid team gathered in a virtual room to share your varied perspectives on a topic that impacts your company? Fostering discussion and collaboration on remote teams can be extremely beneficial for employees in a myriad of ways. Here are three reasons why virtual collaboration is important:

  1. Project collaboration offers workers the opportunity to share different ideas and gain inspiration from one another. 
  2. Collaborative work allows employees to participate in the decision-making process for a product, event, etc. 
  3. Brainstorming sessions can help companies identify the negative and positive aspects of the team’s overall structure.

Brainstorming Session Pitfalls to Avoid

When a brainstorming session goes well, it can be an empowering moment for a virtual team – allowing each member to voice opinions, share concerns, and collaborate with others to achieve company goals. However, every brainstorming session won’t be effective.

Sometimes, the team will lose focus or struggle to find the right words to discuss critical matters. In those instances, it’s important to be prepared, especially if you have a leadership role. 

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid: 

  • One-sided conversations. Some employees are extremely enthusiastic, extroverted, and have a tendency to generate ideas rather quickly. And while those traits are cherished in a remote work environment, it’s important to avoid team conversations that only focus on one team member. 
  • Verbal distractions. In some instances, it’ll be okay to go off topic a bit. After all, creativity can spark at any moment – even during the most mundane conversations. However, it’s important to keep verbal distractions to a minimum. To avoid getting off topic too much, consider having a prescribed time for questions or new ideas to be introduced. 
  • Group thinking. When you work on a distributed team, it can be hard to express one’s creativity while simulataneously trying to fit in. In some instances, this can lead to group thinking or awkward silences among colleagues who are afraid to voice their opinion. For those in leadership roles, this is very important to pay attention to. If you notice it happening on your remote team, encourage individual members to speak up more often during virtual meetings
a man looking at his colleagues on screen during an online brainstorming session

3 Effective Techniques to Try In A Team Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming techniques can vary – with each remote team finding activities that best suit their group structure and company needs. However, the goal is usually the same: to generate ideas, discuss them, critique them and then move forward with implementation. The following techniques can help you brainstorm ideas with your remote, hybrid, or in-person team.

1. Mind Mapping

If you want a visual way to generate ideas, consider using this brainstorming method to get your team’s creativity flowing. To use this technique, start with one central idea then draw lines to connect sub-ideas. This can be done using virtual collaboration tools such as as virtual whiteboards or built-in drawing tools in video conferencing apps. 

2. Rapid Idea Generation

Want to get the whole team involved? This brainstorming technique requires that employees write down as many ideas as they can think of in a prescribed amount of time. For instance, if you’re leading the brainstorming session, you could give your team 30 mins to come up with new ideas for the company’s annual retreat (or any topic you want to focus on). 

3. Brain Netting

For those who want to keep a running list of ideas from team members, consider brain netting – or virtually brainstorming in a centralized place. Brain netting is a technique that does a good job of taking advantage of the remote work environment. Employees don’t have to be in one physical location to create a brain net and kickstart their creative process. Instead, remote teams can allocate a Google Doc, Asana project board, or Slack channel to keep all of the team’s ideas in one place. 

If you employ this technique, remember that there are no bad ideas – there are just ideas that have a limited potential to inspire and there are ideas that spark innovative thinking that can change the course of an entire company. 


Brainstorming is extremely important for team collaboration – especially for teams of creative professionals who work in different time zones. However, brainstorming shouldn’t be done just for the sake of brainstorming. Instead, it should be a strategic practice that is implemented with a company goal in mind.