Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we never even thought about whether we’d be in the office for the team meeting next Tuesday. Where else would we be? Nowadays, things have changed: We say “I’ll be joining remotely this time.” And nobody wonders, because we’ve entered the era of “phygital collaboration.”

Phygi- what? Dont’ worry, we’ll explain the origin of this strange, newly coined term. But first, let’s back up a little.


Remote overnight

Collaboration outside of the office turned out to be a major challenge for many companies during the first lockdown. On the one hand, the change to remote work required technical solutions that just weren’t implemented yet. On the other hand, the physical distance called for a mindset shift in leadership and collaboration. We can all agree that these challenges were addressed sometimes better, sometimes worse. Currently, we’re seeing another shift happening: Companies are returning to physical collaboration—but, in many cases, just partly. So, how exactly does that work?


Phygital collaboration

Physical + digital = phygital. Yup, sounds like science fiction, but is actually the formula for the future of collaboration. And one thing’s for sure: Returning to the pre-COVID era is just not possible anymore. Every organization needs to deal with hybrid work culture in the long run and sustainably implement the necessary changes if this hasn’t happened yet. Because we definitely see the wish for more flexibility in collaboration, no matter if it’s due to the mindset of new generations, the pandemic, internationalization, or digitalization. Actually, all these factors play a role in the development of our work world towards phygital forms of collaboration, and they underline that nobody can hide from this shift anymore, or even take steps back.

So, what’s important when it comes to phygital collaboration? We’ve summarized the essential ingredients for both leaders and team members, as well as the necessary technical and organizational aspects.


Tips for leaders

The shift towards hybrid work requires leaders to further develop their leadership skills, as well as a mindset shift regarding collaboration. The goal is to support your team members both in the office and in a digital environment in the best possible way, while making them feel safe and providing guidance whenever needed.

To make this work, our clear recommendation for leaders is to take a pass on control and surveillance-style measures in order to create a positive corporate culture characterized by respect.


  • Especially in a virtual environment, more communication and exchange are required for a conscious effort to find out how your team members are doing and what they need. You should also answer the question how you can support your team. To do this, you might miss the informal and spontaneous meetings next to the coffee machine since it’s much harder to interpret atmosphere, gestures and facial expressions in a virtual setting. That’s why it is so important to consciously make time for this kind of informal exchange.
  • Don’t consider digital collaboration something completely different, but try to keep the exact same formats and ways of working which already worked well in the office. Make time to talk over coffee to make room for informal chats, keep your regular 1-on-1s with every single employee, and distribute clear information about how and when your team can best reach you.


Tips for the entire team

For employees, it is vital to be able to participate from anywhere. Especially in phygital meetings, the whole team should pay attention to allowing those who participate virtually to speak and not feel excluded.


  • Define some ground rules together, like using the raise-your-hand function in order to prevent chaos in debates.
  • Make time for some motivating contributions at the beginning of every team meeting. Everyone should get the chance to say thanks, give kudos to someone else, emphasize a certain topic, or share relevant information. Don’t forget: It’s the entire team’s responsibility to keep up the team spirit.
  • Make sure all meeting participants are visible. This means that also all those physically present in a meeting room appear on the screen. This way, you all see each other and can better assess the others’ attention and mood, and react to virtually raised hands.
  • Last but not least: Those who participate from the office should join the meeting five minutes early and make sure the technical setup works (both image and audio). This also allows for some small talk with those who participate virtually, thereby creating a positive atmosphere right from the start.


Everything hinges on the tech setup

Phygital collaboration stands and falls with the technical setup.

  • We’ll say it again: A good setup is the prerequisite for every phygital or hybrid exchange. The tech equipment for your home office should include a PC with camera and a good headset. On-site meeting rooms require a big, movable screen with camera and a high-quality conference speaker.
  • You’ll also need the right tools for collaboration. Digital boards like MIRO or MURAL allow the entire team to collaborate interactively.


At Leaders21, we mainly collaborate digitally or phygitally too, and offer our clients most of our services also in digital formats.

Yes, it requires creativity and tact in order to ensure high-quality collaboration in a digital or hybrid setting. On the other hand, phygital collaboration also opens up new possibilities that wouldn’t have been possible before the lockdowns.

If you have specific questions about how to best set up the phygital collaboration with your team or colleagues, just shoot me a line! I’m sure we can find the perfect setup together.