We may be entering what feels like a period of hybrid working settlement after years of deliberating how a post-covid workplace should look like.

Many businesses seem to have figured out a working arrangement that suits their employees. Nonetheless, 90% of companies with office space are still expected to return to the office in 2024 powered by hopes of improving productivity and increasing revenue.

But returning to the office shouldn’t mean reverting back to the old ways of working. Over recent years, we’ve learned valuable lessons from going remote that should be carried through. While every company has different policies that work for them, there are a few common themes that just make our work better, no matter how you get it done.

Below are five business practices that can be applied to most organisations, regardless of whether it’s fully remote, hybrid, or adopting a return-to-office policy.

Respecting different collaboration styles

The transition to remote work has introduced more opportunities for people to collaborate in new ways – ways that work for them. Some workers realised they are more productive with tools like virtual whiteboards. Allowing them to prepare ideas ahead of a brainstorm rather than being put on the spot in front of a crowd. If and when people return to the office, they’ll still expect the spaces and tools that support their respective collaboration style. To avoid enforcing a one-size-fits-all working policy and to instead capture all voices, it’s important to truly get to know your team’s collaboration preferences. Having an open discussion about how best to work asynchronously with each other will boost innovation, efficiency and trust within the team.

More meetings isn’t always the answer

Soon after we made the initial transition to remote working, Zoom fatigue quickly became a reality for workers. Although it’s important to purposefully schedule time to connect, recognising when it makes sense to meet virtually in real-time versus asynchronously is key to an engaged team. Teams have therefore increasingly turned to other digital solutions, like video messaging software or visual collaboration platforms, where they can get feedback and give status updates. These can be more effective when sharing information as teams can view the information on their own time. This is particularly beneficial when people are absent from meetings or projects transition to other team members – meaning those people can be brought up to speed via asynchronous channels.

Digital-first collaboration can enhance ideation and planning

There’s been an inevitable need to adopt digital-first solutions, like instant messaging tools or cloud-based diagramming solutions, to make remote work seamless. These solutions provide an impactful way of working for all kinds of workforces, whether they’re remote or hybrid. There’s often an uncertain phase after a brainstorming session where workers aren’t sure what task they are assigned to, or which ideas are going forward. This can delay putting ideas into action. Rather than taking a photo of a physical whiteboard and deciding how to move forward in a meeting that’s already too long, team members can work directly on a shared virtual canvas as and when they like. The automation and data capabilities of digital-first collaboration allows users to also organize, summarise and prioritise the main points of a session and ultimately get a plan into action in a much more efficient way.

Being intentional about connecting with colleagues

Being purposeful about finding moments to connect with your team builds trust and strengthens workplace relationships. With some organisations looking to mandate teams back to the office, it’s important to continue finding intentional and simple ways to collaborate, especially for teams that have a mix of remote and in-office employees. These techniques could be as simple as starting a meeting with a team-building icebreaker, having a weekly virtual team lunch or planning a monthly activity outside of the office. Or, to facilitate a deeper connection, team members could fill out their “top three moments” on a project or in the current month on their virtual whiteboard. This gives other team members a closer look into what’s being worked on and a moment to reflect on what’s going well within their own role.

A single source of truth is key for documentation

Businesses still haven’t cracked the best way to document and streamline important information. Remote work made it increasingly difficult to get the context employees needed because they couldn’t just walk over to their coworker’s desks and ask them. Similarly, as companies adopt more tools, information becomes scattered across even more sources. The transition back to in-person models should be supported by a single source of truth to avoid silos and slowed productivity. It’s inevitable that knowledge gaps will appear if important context is only shared in person without proper documentation. Teams can feel empowered in their role if they are able to access centralised information in a digital format whenever they need it.

Supporting the lifecycle of anywhere work

Years of trying to crack remote work have led us to this moment, where most knowledge workers and employers have settled on a hybrid way of working. While a large proportion of workers are allowed to work from home, there remains some hope from employers that in-office days will increase again over time. No matter where employees work from, the way they collaborate can be enhanced if businesses take inspiration from the above strategies, designed to improve communication, clarity, and team alignment. Collaboration should be underpinned with tools and platforms that support the entire lifecycle of work and create a shared language through which no information gets lost in translation, or across working locations in this instance.

Chief Product Officer at Lucid Software | + posts

Dan is the Chief Product Officer at Lucid, the visual collaboration suite that helps teams see and build the future from idea to reality. Its products—Lucidchart, Lucidspark and Lucidscale—provide users with an end-to-end experience that empowers teams to collaborate and communicate clearly about the most complex topics, no matter where teams are located. Dan is passionate about creating value by solving problems in delightful ways.

Prior to Lucid, he led product and design organizations at Adobe, Ancestry, and Vivint. During his 20 years in product leadership, Dan has developed a deep understanding of the art and science of experience design and loves helping others realise their leadership potential.