Visual collaboration is a unique tool available to businesses that require a shared medium of interaction and is especially useful for those who cannot come together to share each other’s presence. Visual collaboration can be a broad spectrum of communication and participation, so understanding its variables and how you can best integrate them into your workplace is very important. Below we will outline the different categories of visual collaboration while also positing ways that you can both integrate them into the workplace and use them alongside one another. If you want to read more, check out our comprehensive walkthrough of everything you need to know about visual collaboration.

A desk with multiple work items on it, showing how visual collaboration is possible from your desk or anywhere.

Visual Collaboration Types

Being a versatile platform, visual collaboration tools can span a variety of different categories and applications. Mainly, however, we can group these tools into two main categories — those that function as virtual whiteboards, and those that function as project management tools. 

Virtual Whiteboards/Template Editors  

Virtual whiteboards and template editors are the principal form of visual collaboration and are a flagship of the platform in general. They allow for collaborators to work together in real-time, using the same space to create and ideate in any capacity. Virtual whiteboards are especially useful to teams that often find themselves brainstorming or in need of a quick visualization of their analysis. With the ability to integrate real-time edits to any established and pre-made template or create your own template from scratch, visual collaboration offers a variety of different possibilities to any team that needs a shared platform.

Virtual whiteboards provide an online alternative to the problem posed by remote work, where you cannot collaborate in person. Whiteboards have long been the pinnacle of what collaboration has to offer and if teams are going to remain efficient in the workplace then they need a useful replacement. Virtual whiteboards are not only a short-term replacement until people can return to working in person, but they seek to change how people envision collaboration altogether. Without physical restraints, visual collaboration tools can unlock brand new potential for people to work in innovative ways, something that physical workspaces could never offer.

Futuristic workspace showing people working together from their own little bubbles and in different locations.

Project management tools

Project management tools are not inherently ones that emphasize visual elements but these tools can integrate visual aids in a variety of useful ways. These platforms are a mix of project management tools and task managers that infuse the ability to collaborate visually to increase their attractiveness and usability. They center around the ability to assign tasks and structure sprints visually. This means that the emphasis lies on the ability to utilize visual elements to increase the cohesion and collective understanding of whatever you are planning. 

The difference between project management that emphasizes visual collaboration and traditional project management platforms is the living workspace that is enabled. This means there are unique and helpful visual elements that allow you to quickly visualize tasks, schedules, and specific people’s contributions. These elements help you pivot between different tasks you have and moves your team’s greater understanding forward.

These are the two main forms that visual collaboration takes and they both emphasize elements of visualization and live participation. Visual collaboration is a very broad category and can be applied to a litany of different situations, and these applications are usually found through virtual whiteboards and project management instances.

Visual Collaboration Integration

Visual collaboration tools do not only work as an aid to businesses that need them, but they work brilliantly in tandem with one another. Project management and visualization go hand in hand, and some tools even try to merge the two into the same platform. 

RyeBoard logo, a platform used mainly in visual collaboration.

An example of this integration can be seen in the tool RyeBoard. Rye board has a couple of unique functions and is less of a whiteboard tool than it is a visualization and integration platform. People can post links, drag & drop cards, and combine them between your different boards. These boards allow you to create tasks and lists and manage them as well, which demonstrates their attempt to integrate task managers and virtual whiteboards into the same tool. The association of cards between boards and updating them in real-time is a great example of how visual collaboration tools function as a living workspace, and how they offer new possibilities of expansion within the workplace. Rye board is simply an example demonstrating the integration of virtual workspaces/whiteboards and showing how they can provide completely unique opportunities depending on the tool you’re using.

A diverse and connected workspace, showing people using visual collaboration in order to interact from many different devices and platforms.

Visual collaboration enables your workspace to evolve into a living document, or on a greater level a living workspace entirely. These tools work in tandem to recreate the workspace that you left behind, merging the collaborative possibilities and participation of a whiteboard with the organization and structure of your project management. When using certain tools, or using them in tandem with one another, your workspace can be digitally optimized even when you can’t be there in person. Not only is this a recreation of your physical space, but you are able to create new and innovative possibilities through the living workspace that visual collaboration tools create.

Conclusion

Visual collaboration tools are celebrated for their versatility and innovation, and this allows them to reinvigorate their workspace in new and exciting ways. There are a couple of different types of visual collaboration and using them in tandem can create something alive and brilliant, and something impossible to replicate in person.


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