Using an online whiteboard allows you to do many things, and especially for people doing remote work, it can help align your entire workspace. Remote work isn’t a perfect solution, however, and there are many ways that it might seem limiting to work from home.
In this article, we will talk about the advantages and limitations of remote work while highlighting some templates that help improve your remote work experience.
Remote Work Advantages
There are many different ways to construct an efficient digital workspace, but before we are able to discuss the templates that best improve the remote work environment it’s important that we outline some of the advantages and disadvantages that come with working remotely.
By doing so, we can understand how these templates and virtual workshops highlight the advantages and address the limitations of remote work. That being said, here are some of the biggest advantages of working remotely.
Employers Can Utilize a Larger Talent Pool
One of the best parts of working remotely is the ability for employers to pull from a much larger talent pool when filling positions. They no longer have to look for people strictly in their geographic area, but they can now pull from talent pools across the country, even from different continents.
Doing so provides access to expertise from across the globe and pulls many unique perspectives into the workplace, something that is much more difficult without remote work.
People Can Access Their Work From Anywhere
Similar to the previous advantage, having a remote workspace also means that existing employees can access their workspace from anywhere. This gives people much more flexibility over their work environment and their schedule.
Having a schedule that is customizable and unique is super helpful for a lot of people and has ushered in a mentality for many that emphasizes “work completed” instead of “hours logged”.
This flexibility is a massive relief for many employees and means they can complete tasks around other important parts of their schedule. It also means that they don’t strictly have to work at home or at an office, they can take their work anywhere that they find the most efficient.
Employees Can Customize Their Workspace
This is important because in the past many workspaces have been very rigid when allowing people to customize their workspace. This refers to both the physical workspace and the digital workspace.
Both of these factors have huge impacts on the mental health and happiness of your employees, and enabling them to work somewhere that is personalized and enjoyable is a huge advantage of remote work.
Creates More Professional Accessibility
One barrier many people with disabilities face is the lack of accessibility accommodations readily available in the workplace. While working remotely is not a permanent solution, it does provide more accessibility to those who need it.
This creates job opportunities that wouldn’t have been as achievable otherwise and it makes the workplace a more inclusive environment for many people living with disabilities.
Enables Automation of Tasks
Remote work allows teams to utilize an expansive toolbox of programs that help increase their efficiency at work. Many of these also focus on the automation of tasks that were previously done manually.
Task automation enables you to increase the efficiency that you work with helps focus your effort where it’s truly needed, rather than wasting time on tedious tasks. This is possible in an in-person setting but much more accessible when working remotely.
Remote Work Limitations
While the advantages of remote work are very important and make a big difference for many people, there are some other limitations that make remote work difficult. Here is a list of some remote work limitations.
Less Personal Socialization
One of the big things that’s missing from the remote work environment is the non-work socialization that happens around the office. These encounters are really important to team building and the mutual understanding that employees have with each other. Without non-work socialization, it becomes much harder to create a community within the office and build trust in one another.
Similar to the first limitation, there is a special type of communication that occurs when people are able to collaborate in person that is lost when collaborating remotely.
Many things like body language, subtle cues, and inherent communicative signals are lost when collaborating online. This can stem from the lack of cohesion that teams have in the remote workspace.
Building a cohesive workspace is super important, especially for collaborative teams. Being able to communicate quickly and understand one another is crucial when collaborating, and the inherent communicative barriers that exist online make building team cohesion much harder.
Lack of Efficiency
While the remote workspace enables the use of new tools and programs to help increase efficiency in the workspace, it also might be an unproductive setup for some employees.
Some people work much better under supervision and with in-person guidance, while others simply struggle to create the same forward progress while working at home. This is a problem that can be solved but will take some effort to break negative habits.
An example of this is the double-edged sword of working on your computer all day. This provides a really accessible workspace but also can be a portal to a world of distractions. It’s up to each employee to commit themselves to stay focused, which can be easier said than done while working remotely.
Lack of Supervision
Similar to the lack of efficiency, remote work lacks a supervision element that is inherent with the in-person workspace.
This doesn’t mean it’s a positive thing to hawk over employees until they finish their day, but being able to talk to people, solve problems, and provide assistance in real-time is a huge positive of working in-person and is lost when working online.
Now that we understand the various advantages and disadvantages of remote work, let’s discuss the best templates to help increase your efficiency online.
The retrospective analysis is one of the best templates to align your team and create a collaborative environment to enhance your digital workspace.
This board asks you to look back at your previous project and collaborate on what went well, what went wrong, and the actions you can take from these insights.
By sorting your projects into positive and negative aspects, your team can gain an accurate picture of the things they want to prioritize going forward and the things they want to cut out of their future sprints.
This is a great way to get people on the same page and ensure that they are content with the state of your collaborative process. When understanding how to improve efficiency going forward, your team builds a sense of cohesion and a shared understanding of your goals which helps bridge the gap that is usually left by remote work.
The Kanban board is one of the most used task management templates that exists and is extremely popular with both in-person and remote teams. Using a Kanban is the best way to easily improve your workflow and communicate tasks in real-time with your team.
This board has you sort all of your pending tasks into columns of “Possible Ideas”, “Backlog”, “On Deck”, “In Progress”, and “Completed’.
By organizing ideas into these 5 columns your entire team can gain a shared understanding of the overall progress of your project and can easily reprioritize based on what the most urgent needs are.
This board is also a great space for your team to connect daily and manage both daily workflow and even some non-work socialization. The Kanban board creates a daily touchpoint for online teams and helps improve your remote work communication and efficiency.
Project Planning Templates
Project planning is a sector that benefits greatly from visual collaboration and many teams find themselves working remotely with questions about how they will effectively plan their product online.
Without the cohesion inherent to in-person collaboration it can be difficult to create the same outcomes online as in person, but the following templates are great for teams looking to plan a project or provide value to a possible idea.
The Moscow Analysis is a board that is built to focus the scope of your future projects and creates a very simple analysis for you to do so. This board asks you to sort project features into one of four categories: Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t have.
By collecting various features in these categories, the Moscow board enables you to narrow the scope of your project to only the items that you want to prioritize, and even helps eliminate ones you purposefully want to leave out.
This is a great board to use if you’re project planning, and even if you’re using it for another reason, the takeaways can be applied to many different sectors.
The CO-STAR board is one of the best ideation boards out there and helps teams build their ideas from the ground up. The whole purpose of the costar board is to build the unique value of an idea that might not be fully formed yet. This is one of the best ideation templates for individuals and teams to take a potentially valuable idea and create it into something bigger with tangible touchpoints.
This is a valuable board for people who have an idea for a project or product but aren’t exactly sure how it will function and want to flesh out the value of it a little more.
The loss of value is something many people experience when brainstorming online, and this board can help you take potentially successful ideas and launch them into an evaluation of their innovative potential, rather than having them simply die out.
Business Model Canvas
The business model canvas is a really popular board that also enables people to highlight the value that their idea has, but takes a more executive-level approach to the process.
This board, along with the lean canvas, attempts to take an idea for a product or a business plan and build the important variables around it. This analysis helps inform you of what needs to be accounted for or finished before the plan can be moved on.
The main things that are focused on in this board are the partners, activities, resources, and customer segments that your business will target along with other factors.
This template can provide a lot of value to a business and, especially in a remote setting, can help build consensus and cohesion with the greater team.
If you notice your team struggling to cope with the limitations of remote work, it might be time to try an online whiteboard session to take advantage of the potential at your disposal. Hopefully, these templates helped highlight how you can utilize the biggest advantages that online whiteboards have to offer your remote work environment. If you want to read more about how online whiteboard templates can help improve your agile workspace, check out our article on the IdeaScale blog or check out Fresco.