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6 Bygone Business Practices That Need to Return

Updated May 11, 2023

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The emergence of the digital era, propelled by worldwide events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting global and political perspectives, has led to new ideals that are driving businesses forward. To remain relevant and appear innovative in this changing landscape, companies have made great strides to adapt. As part of that process, many businesses have ditched old-school business practices in favor of newer ones with a modern edge. 

But while some business-world traditions have fallen out of favor, not all are worth abandoning. On the contrary, many still hold value in this modern age and can be a crucial element to a business’s long-term success. Here are six bygone business practices companies should consider implementing again.

1. Sending clients thank-you notes in the mail

Today, so much of our everyday communication takes place through a screen. Although this is a great way to save time and quickly share information with those who need it, communicating through an electronic device often feels less personal to both the sender and the recipient. 

When you want to offer a heartfelt and professional thank-you to a client or customer, the best way to show your appreciation is through an old-fashioned thank-you card. If you send a handwritten note through snail mail, rather than sending an email, social media message, text or e-card, the effort you put in will impress the recipient because writing out a note by hand and mailing it requires extra time and thought. 

Ensure your thank-you note greets the recipient by name and includes personal touches, such as details about why you are writing the message. This is a great opportunity to share a positive and specific experience or moment you enjoyed with the client and why you appreciate the relationship you share. Use company cards or stationery to keep messaging consistent and on brand, and send such notes promptly.

FYIDid you know

Thank-you notes can be an effective way to show your appreciation to clients and customers, but remember the intent behind them. Keep the note to just giving thanks rather than using it as an opportunity to sell a new product or service.

2. Handing out business cards

Business cards used to be an essential part of networking, particularly for people who frequented events or trade shows where they met many new people. Without a business card, you risked potential connections thinking you were unprofessional or underprepared. However, with the advent of technology and the ease of finding and connecting with somebody online, times and perceptions have changed. Few people expect to be handed a business card today.

But while handing out business cards is less common than it once was, it’s still a practice worth continuing. Physical business cards can help you stand out among competitors and leave a memorable impression. You’re giving somebody a tangible item to hold and feel, as opposed to telling them about a URL they might forget once the conversation ends. Use any of the vast array of business card design websites available today to create professional, intriguing and out-of-the-box cards that represent your unique brand and are eye-catching to those you’re networking with.

In addition, plenty of apps can scan business cards and add them directly to a person’s phone contacts. That means business cards are just as convenient for your tech-savvy contacts as they are for old-school clients. You really can have the best of both worlds … at least when it comes to business cards.

3. Hosting fancy lunch meetings

When the pandemic hit, services like Zoom moved meetings and gatherings to the digital sphere. While many companies have since transitioned back to in-person, day-to-day business functions, some face-to-face practices seem to have fallen by the wayside. For some businesses, hosting fancy lunch meetings is one of those relics of the past. However, wining and dining a client can provide valuable and worthwhile benefits for your professional relationship and your business’s overall growth

Splurging on lunch meetings allows for plenty of quality face time with clients and the prospects who may join your meal. Restaurant get-togethers are a great way to win new business. They’re also a way to treat existing clients and say “thank you” for their patronage while strengthening your relationship with them and getting to know them further. 

Lunch meetings don’t have to be just for clients, either. Hosting offline and out-of-the-office gatherings for employees is a great way to build team morale and show your appreciation for their hard work. In-person lunch meetings also allow for easy brainstorming sessions since they take team members out of the everyday office grind and bring them into a more relaxed environment to think freely and get creative. 

TipBottom line

An in-person lunch meeting can be a low-stakes and fun way for company newcomers to meet and mingle with co-workers, leading to improved employee relationships throughout the organization.

4. Using cubicles

The modern-day open floor plan isn’t exactly what the original inventors had envisioned — over time, companies have cherry-picked certain aspects of the initial idea to create the modern open office setups. Now there is a rising dissatisfaction among employees who would prefer to work in a more private space, such as the traditional cubicle. Cubicles are rarely seen today, but their return could radically change your workplace for the better.

Instead of forcing employees to work in a crowded and potentially loud environment surrounded by distracting co-workers, cubicles provide employees with an added level of privacy and help offices remain quiet and comfortable places to work. If you’re one of the many companies today pushing for employees to return to the physical workplace, you must ensure they will be comfortable and happy in their work environment; otherwise, productivity levels could be impacted negatively by distractions and frustration with a lack of personal space. [Read related article: How the Office Environment Affects Productivity]

In light of COVID-19, cubicles can also help employees feel safer with separation and literal breathing room between colleagues. Furthermore, a cubicle gives team members a chance to add a bit of personal flair to their office space and allows them to organize the area to their liking. Cubicles also help level the playing field, with each employee having a similar setup they can personalize.

5. Having set business hours

In recent years, flexibility has become a huge priority for employees and employers alike, and many companies are offering this in the form of flexible business hours, also known as flextime. However, set business hours also have advantages and may be worth reimplementing.

With set business hours, employees can (more or less) guarantee they will be out of the office or done with their workday by a certain time, providing clarity on the portion of the day that’s for work and the portion that’s for personal endeavors. For people who are disorganized or tend to struggle with disconnecting, set business hours ensure they aren’t working beyond the hours of compensation. In addition, specific business hours establish clear expectations, firmly defining one’s responsibilities within a particular time frame and allowing for a sustainable work-life balance

Having defined business hours also builds in accountability, and staffers seeing other employees simultaneously hard at work can be motivating. In contrast, when employees feel they are the only ones on the clock, they’ll likely be less productive and push work off, which could ultimately lead to a lack of efficiency among the team and the business at large.

Bottom LineBottom line

For some employees, flexible schedules allow for more personal time to accomplish errands, decompress, or simply work at hours that better fit their lifestyle. But while some people like loosely defined business hours, others appreciate having agreed-upon time boundaries for work-life balance.

6. “No school, no work” weather policies

Before remote work was a popular option, many companies had “no school, no work” policies to account for bad weather. If the local schools shut down for the day due to poor weather conditions, this policy ensured employees received the same consideration and didn’t have to travel through dangerous storms to make it into the office. A lot of businesses have since abandoned this policy, in large part because virtual tools now make it possible to work from almost anywhere without worrying about a commute in hazardous weather. 

Though today’s work-from-home setups mean weather rarely impacts an employee’s ability to work, you might earn respect and loyalty from your employees by still giving them the option to take the day off when schools close. By granting off-the-clock time to care for their kids who are unexpectedly off from school, employees won’t struggle to get their work done and can instead solely focus on keeping their families secure and happy during inclement weather.

>> Read next: How to Work Around Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind

Reinstating a “no school, no work” policy also ensures everyone is safe during bad weather — you aren’t forcing employees to drive themselves to the nearest coffee shop to sign on for the day because they lost their internet connection at home. By returning to what some may see as a dated tradition, you demonstrate to staffers that you’re not blind to some of today’s challenging work realities.

Sean Peek
Contributing Writer at
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.
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