Despite some companies taking a firm stance on returning to the office as the pandemic wanes, at least 92 million office workers are still working remote. For over half of that workforce, remote work is now a permanent offering from their employers.  

But it's not just tech workers who are taking advantage of this new normal. Entire career fields are being upended by the shift to remote work. In response to pandemic burnout and the flexibility remote work provides, teachers and healthcare workers alike are leaving their careers en masse to take on remote roles. In addition, 21 percent of job seekers are leaving their current careers in search of remote work opportunities elsewhere. Clearly, the home office is not just here to stay; rather, it has become the national preference.  

Thanks to powerful suites of services like Google for Work and Office 365, organizations all over the world were able to transition to a remote setup overnight as we sheltered in place two years ago. Google Drive, for example, went from 1 billion users before the pandemic to nearly double that by the start of this year. Over that same time period, Office 365 users climbed from 120 million to 321 million. While growth across both services is impressive, it begs the question: are they truly the best tools for every job, or has our overreliance on them blinded us to better options? 

Remote work has stretched Google for Work and Office 365 to their limits and back again. Once dedicated to managing documents online, email, and quick-turn communications, these tools have been forced to replace all forms of workplace collaboration, taking in-person meetings, brainstorming, and concepting into the virtual realm. And while they do a great job of it, organizations must build entire processes around using these tools to ensure nothing gets lost in the mix. 

Nobody feels this pain more than marketing and design teams. Tasked with producing a wide array of content week after week, these teams must be in constant communication. To succeed remotely, they must brainstorm solutions through a combination of conference calls and shared docs rather than enjoying the organic--and often more successful--experience of a true whiteboard session. While it's amazing that tools like Drive and Office 365 can be leveraged beyond their original intent, there is now another competitive tool for workplace collaboration worth trying, and it's not at all what you would expect. 

Recently, Canva unveiled Whiteboards as a new brainstorming feature, and it's the workplace collaboration tool we've all been waiting for. While there are plenty of whiteboard tools out there like Figjam for Figma or Miro (which is now available on Google for Work), Canva's whiteboard tool should have them--as well as Google and Microsoft--quaking in their boots.  

Canva started out as a DIY design tool with a mission to empower non-designers hoping to meet the immense demand for visual content that exists today. But over the years, Canva has evolved this mission considerably. Beyond enabling non-designers with DIY content solutions, the organization is focused on launching products to empower modern workplaces looking to thrive in today's visual economy. Canva Whiteboards does just that. 

Unlike Google for Work and Office 365, Canva's new toolset offers an infinite space to collaborate. Traditional methods for virtual collaboration require spinning up new documents (organized through a set process or haphazardly), hopping on a conference call, and taking arduous notes to ensure all ideas are documented. But Canva Whiteboards changes that narrative.  

Teams can choose from myriad whiteboard templates as thought starters, like Kanban boards, flow charts, SWOT analysis, and more. Alternatively, they can launch blank whiteboards to work within. Through the use of sticky notes, users can add to the whiteboard in real time, assign tasks through at-mentions, connect all comments to teammates (a photo of the teammate appears next to each comment they make), and color code comments to better organize information. At all times, users can connect their brainstorm session to other documents and projects within Canva, creating a far more organized and manageable ecosystem of ideas. 

What might be the most impressive feature of Canva Whiteboards though is how it can empower marketing and design teams in ways we haven't seen since the start of the pandemic. Thanks to an easily searchable database of thousands of images and templates, non-designers can better express their ideas to their design counterparts. Midway through a project, anyone assigned to the work can spin up a whiteboard and discuss solutions to a design problem, which can then be immediately implemented within the design itself. In addition, entire content calendars can be created in the tool, which can then be linked to templates, design inspiration, and final projects.  

While Google for Work and Office 365 have a great deal going for them, real-time collaboration and brainstorming within these tools has never been as rewarding as simply using a whiteboard. It took a shift to remote work to show the value in such a clunky and seemingly archaic piece of office furniture. After two years of remote work, Canva Whiteboards has solved the problem--and has taken that last reason to go into the office with it.