As an increasing number of teams question moving back to an in-person work environment, the option of a hybrid workspace seems more and more likely. Many businesses realize that working remotely is actually just as efficient as working in person and many employees actually prefer it. This transition to a hybrid workspace won’t be seamless, and just like a remote environment, there are certain tools that can make a huge difference in improving your team’s efficiency.
In this article, we will talk about why online whiteboards are the perfect tool for a hybrid workspace and some specific templates that help transition your team to your new work environment.
What is an Online Whiteboard?
When analyzing your hybrid workspace and wondering how online whiteboards will help improve your team’s efficiency, it’s important to first understand what they are.
We define online whiteboards as “A shared, online workspace where teams can utilize visual elements in order to express ideas and collaborate together. Just like people use traditional whiteboards to communicate information to each other, online whiteboards act in the same way but are able to integrate multimedia content, interact and contribute in multiple different ways, and lack the limitations of traditional whiteboards.”
Just like online whiteboards aren’t restricted by the functions of regular whiteboards, they also surpass the limitations of the traditional workspace.
Online whiteboards are able to create dynamic forms of interaction that mimic the usability of a normal whiteboard. These could be by using sticky notes, a simple drawing tool, or creating templates like a Venn Diagram to compare items.
There are other elements of using an online whiteboard that vault them above the traditional whiteboard. Things like adding images directly to the board, collaborating on complex and detailed templates in an instant, and being able to integrate a task manager are some of the things that make using online whiteboards so special.
Here we will talk about some of these in detail while also discussing some of the biggest advantages that make online whiteboards perfect for a hybrid workspace.
They’re built to work from anywhere
One of the reasons online whiteboards are so crucial to a hybrid workspace is that they’re available from anywhere. Well, anywhere you have internet.
When working in a hybrid workspace you need to have an accessible solution that enables you to create work from anywhere, not just from your cubicle. Online whiteboards are the solution to this problem.
Hybrid work environments might have some outsourced work and some in-house work. Online whiteboards can compensate for both and can integrate new people into the workflow that would have been inaccessible for an in-person workplace.
Not only can you integrate more outside knowledge into your work environment, but you can collaborate with your team from anywhere. This is one of the biggest advantages of using an online whiteboard and is something that is completely irreplaceable for a hybrid workspace. Being able to take your board anywhere you go, including in the workplace, is a great way to ensure people are able to gain insight from the board at all times, not just when you’re in the conference room.
Using an online whiteboard also removes the pesky annoyances that come with traditional collaboration. You will no longer have to take a picture of the whiteboard with your phone and zoom in just to try and interpret a grainy, handwritten note. Using an online whiteboard lets you both collaborate from home and bring these results to your workplace where you can combine the virtual whiteboard with a traditional collaboration environment.
Being able to transition easily from home and work is one of the ways that online whiteboards are perfect for a hybrid workspace.
Digital permanence is a term we use to refer to the state of information that is held through online whiteboards. By using a virtual whiteboard, all of the data herein is retained in digital permanence.
You won’t lose it forever when you clean off the whiteboard, and you don’t have to dig a sticky note out of the trash when you accidentally remove the wrong one.
All of your information, contributions, and progress is saved in real-time on the board, forever. Being able to have a permanent record of your collaboration means you will never encounter a situation that struggles with non-transferrable information ever again. You can retain and share info through online whiteboards and use it to gain insight at anytime you want, even when your team is separated.
One of the best use cases of online whiteboards that demonstrates the importance of digital permanence is virtual workshops. Virtual workshops are defined as “… an interactive session or learning experience taught over a video conferencing tool that can be accommodated by a variety of different visual collaboration programs.”
These workshops are popular both digitally and in an in-person format and are used for trainings, meetings, employee onboarding, seminars, and many other instances.
One of the biggest problems with workshops is that people usually can’t remember the information they learned, or they seem to fade out of using the important takeaways that are prioritized in the workshop. While this is a common experience for attendants of traditional workshops, it doesn’t have to be.
By conducting a virtual workshop using an online whiteboard you can ensure that there is no workshop amnesia and everyone can easily access the source material of the workshop.
This method of retaining information and moving forward with concrete takeaways is one amazing reason online whiteboards can benefit the hybrid workspace and a reason they should also transition into conducting virtual workshops.
Limitless Collaboration & Flexibility
One of the biggest annoyances of collaborating in person is the lack of space. You might think that whiteboards are plenty big for anything you could need but in reality, they run out of space quite quickly. Depending on the space you’re working with they might have never been enough in the first place.
This is another area where online whiteboards excel and surpass their traditional counterparts.
Online whiteboards have a limitless amount of space to collaborate on and thanks to their dynamic zooming and scaling of elements, you can fit many different activities all on the same board.
This means that if you wanted to analyze a specific design file, you could do that in one corner, build a product roadmap in the other corner to specify how you want your design to be built out, and create a customer journey map to look at how the customer will experience these details. This is all available on the same board and there will still be room for more collaboration.
Not only is there unlimited space but online whiteboards are also some of the most flexible tools on the market. Like we just listed, you can conduct a countless number of activities by using online whiteboards along with conducting your own virtual workshops with any number of participants.
You can use multiple modes of interaction to make sure everyone has a unique voice on the board and can do even more team-building exercises to increase everyone’s ability to collaborate effectively.
These dynamic exercises and interactions make using online whiteboards extremely easy and make them perfectly aligned with the values of a hybrid workspace.
Endless Use Cases
Like we previously mentioned, online whiteboards are some of the most flexible tools in the workplace and provide many different use cases for your team. We thought we’d highlight some of the most popular use cases for online whiteboards here.
The Kanban board is arguably the most widely used task management template that exists and is a great example of why online whiteboards are perfect for a hybrid workspace.
We define Kanban boards as “A Kanban board is a task-based project management system meant to visualize the workflow of an entire team. Used correctly, it can circumvent possible bottlenecks and improve overall efficiency.”
Kanban boards enable you to organize tasks into the columns backlog, on deck, in-progress and completed. By organizing tasks into these columns you can effectively prioritize your workflow and gain an accurate idea of what the future looks like.
Online whiteboards are ideal for creating a Kanban board because they are meant to be dynamic and constantly updated depending on the status of your project. Online whiteboards provide the perfect platform to engage in that workflow and create a dynamic space that is capable of taking your workflow wherever you go.
A product roadmap, as defined in our comprehensive guide, is “… a diagram that details the present and future plans of how a product will grow over time, and what that growth will look like.”
Similar to the Kanban board, product roadmaps are dynamic documents that are built for multiple revisions and changes as they are being used. In any case that the feature prioritization is changed during your product sprint, your roadmap needs to be able to pivot and reflect your new priorities.
Online whiteboards are the perfect tool to create a product roadmap because they can easily organize your backlog into a prioritized list, and display the methods that you’ll proceed with in a visual format.
Persona mapping is a popular tool for both marketing and product teams and creates a principal user to base your product plan on. Creating a principal user is an important exercise for multiple reasons, but mainly it’s important in order to narrow down the key consumer base that you’re trying to reach.
Creating a principal user requires a good amount of outside research, and when collaborating on this it can be difficult to organize everyone’s opinions and findings on the same document. This is why creating a persona map on an online whiteboard is so helpful.
Being able to organize everyone’s research, findings, and opinions on the same board is super helpful to creating a detailed persona map. Not only is it helpful for the creation of the map, but as you learn more about your users from direct research, you can go back and refine their image on the same board until you have the most accurate picture possible.
Persona mapping is just another example of how online whiteboards create use cases for the hybrid workspace.
The scrum board is the key tool for teams operating with the scrum framework and it is essential for scrum teams using a hybrid workspace.
Scrum boards are defined as: “A scrum board is a visualization tool that teams use to better organize their sprints and efficiently move through their workflow.”
This board organizes tasks into a product backlog, sprint backlog, in progress, and completed sections. These sections are further organized into multiple user stories, where they can get more specific as to what problem they are addressing.
Scrum boards are meant to be super dynamic and are built for daily use, so if you are working in a hybrid workspace being able to take your scrum board anywhere is a huge advantage. Not only can you interact on the board from anywhere but you can stay up to date with your team’s progress and the overall completion of the sprint.
These advantages make using online whiteboards essential for the scrum process and a big part of success in a hybrid workspace.
Transitioning to a hybrid workspace is a very possible reality for many people, and being able to add online whiteboards to your toolbox is one of the best ways to ensure successful collaboration. If you want to learn more about visual collaboration or specific templates like empathy mapping, make sure to check out Fresco.