As many carry forward working from home, we have become more accustomed to this environment and the tools that are inherently part of it. One of these tools that is not yet established as a fundamental tool is the online whiteboard. Although online whiteboards aren’t inherently present in all digital workspaces, they provide incredible upsides to people and teams that collaborate frequently. 

In this article, we will discuss the biggest upsides of online whiteboards and how they build off of the best parts of collaboration. If you want to learn more about visual collaboration or read up on our other blog posts, check out our thought lab and our guide on visual collaboration essentials.

A futuristic workspace with people working on multiple different platforms to collaborate together.

Online Whiteboard Features

Working remotely you run into a ton of different tools to help optimize your workspace. With everyone transitioning and adapting to a virtual environment, it can be overwhelming when you need to try a bunch of different tools and tasks just to get your workspace running efficiently.

So what is an online whiteboard anyways? Online whiteboards are characterized by their ability to stimulate collaboration on a blank template. The definition really is in the name. Instead of using a regular whiteboard and sending everyone pictures of the results, virtual whiteboards enable you to make real-time collaborations with your entire team. Not only can you collaborate with your team on a blank, shared canvas, but you can use many different pre-made templates to help guide your collaboration. Some common examples of online whiteboards would be tools like Miro, Mural, or Fresco.

Because of their flexibility and ability to bring real-time collaboration to an online environment, virtual whiteboards make a significant impact on the digital workspace and are irreplaceable for people who rely on collaboration either at work or in school.

Below we will discuss some of the best features of virtual whiteboards and proceed to tell you how they best engage online workspaces.

People putting puzzle pieces together to demonstrate workplace collaboration.

Flexibility/Accessibility

The first major asset virtual whiteboards possess is their incredible flexibility and instant accessibility. Simply transitioning a whiteboard from a physical entity to a virtual space changes everything about it. Some of the most important changes about virtual whiteboards are simply due to the accessibility of the internet.

When you move your whiteboard online, its collaborative potential evolves. No longer must you restrict the boundaries of contribution/collaboration. On virtual whiteboards, you can invite anybody to come and collaborate with you, no matter where they are. Not only can you involve more people than usually possible, but maybe the best feature of all is the fact that you make long-lasting, real contributions. 

Your workspace becomes a living document when you digitize it, allowing for people to learn, contribute, and access it at any time they need/their own convenience. In addition, when you finish your collaboration session, you don’t have to relegate your thoughts and progress to a picture, only to be recreated again or forgotten about. With virtual whiteboards your changes are always saved and readily accessible, creating a living document capable of convenient collaboration.

Image of people collaborating on a space through a virtual connection, demonstrating the flexibility of visual collaboration.

This feature is especially pertinent to virtual workspaces because it emphasizes the ability to work with flexibility from anywhere and helps foster an entire environment of remote work. Virtual whiteboards, through their ability to bring unprecedented flexibility to the workspace, are certainly a tool to add to your repertoire.

Interpretation

Where accessibility was a feature focused on the mechanics of how people access collaboration in a virtual work environment, interpretation is about the actual mechanisms they use during their collaboration sessions. 

Virtual whiteboards are versatile in many ways, one of them being how they implement structure into collaboration sessions. Many times, brainstorming occurs in a chaotic rush of ideation and the results don’t fully reflect the intentions. Virtual whiteboards understand that in order for brainstorming to be productive, it needs to have some kind of structured approach. 

Implementing structure is incredibly easy through these tools. All you need to do is find a template that fits your needs and begin collaborating. If none of the templates seem to be an exact fit, however, you can also create your own unique template that fits your needs perfectly.

Creating a personalized and specific template to guide your whiteboard session cannot be underrated as a highly effective method of brainstorming. Not only does it allow for your team to create their own way of ideating, but because of the lasting nature of virtual workspaces, you can recreate your collaboration sessions on this board multiple times. Through this mechanism, you can create an entire flow that personally caters to your collaboration needs or style, and you can repeat it over and over again with the click of a button.

Two teams using two different workspaces, colored to show how an online whiteboard is more effective.

Not only does providing structure give direction to brainstorming, but it also allows for everyone involved to better understand the content they’re working with. Structure and design streamline people’s understanding of ideas and concepts that they otherwise would have difficulty grasping. This lets people not only gain a quicker understanding of certain relations but also gain a deeper understanding as well.

These are all ways that virtual whiteboards best integrate a structured approach to collaboration and demonstrate their integral value to any digital workspace.

Multimedia Support

Something that virtual whiteboards have that traditional whiteboards don’t is the ability to add and manipulate HTML rich content. Through traditional collaboration, all of your contributions are either sticky notes or writing, and if you want to reference something external, it just has to be mutually understood.

This is another incredibly useful difference-maker virtual whiteboards possess. By transitioning to a collaboration space that capitalizes on the reach of the internet, digital whiteboards create an environment where you can diversify your contributions and use more outside information. This is not to say you can use links that don’t apply, but you can simply apply more diverse and thorough content because you have a far greater reach.

Person using a virtual interface, demonstrating the multimedia potential of an online whiteboard.

Multimedia support brings a new dimension of collaboration to the mix and allows teams to work in new ways than before. This flexibility and expansion of possibilities is characteristic of virtual whiteboards and another reason they make collaboration excellent in an online workspace.

Conclusion

Online whiteboards capitalize on the best parts of traditional collaboration methods and build on them to create an essential tool for any digital workspace. Not only do they make simple use of what the internet has to offer, but they add flexibility and creative potential to any collaborative space. If you are looking to enhance your workspace while working remotely, look no further than an established virtual whiteboard.


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