Remote Whiteboarding (Definition and Features To Consider)
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Collaboration is a crucial part of most industries. As the world is more interconnected now than ever before, professionals find new and innovative ways to collaborate. If you or your coworkers are working in different locations, it may be helpful to learn about whiteboarding and how to use it effectively. In this article, we explain what remote whiteboarding is, describe how it works, share what makes it effective and define synchronous and asynchronous collaboration.
Related: Q&A: What Is Remote Work?
What is remote whiteboarding
Remote whiteboarding is when professionals use interactive whiteboards for remote work, such as working from home or across long distances. Remote whiteboards serve the same purpose as whiteboards that you may find on a boardroom wall, as they're both ways for team members to brainstorm suggestions and ideas. The difference is that remote whiteboards are available as applications or browser-based tools, which people can access and contribute to from anywhere.
Related: Benefits of Working Remotely
Why use a remote whiteboard
Here are some reasons to consider using a remote whiteboard for brainstorming:
If you've ever been a part of a meeting, you know people share a lot of information, and it may be difficult to provide input or recall all discussed matters. Using a tool, such as an interactive whiteboard, where anyone can easily share their thoughts and ideas in real-time, can make for a more collaborative and effective meeting. With an internet connection, this collaboration can extend well beyond a boardroom. Remote whiteboards provide a collaborative outlet to connect teams dispersed throughout an office, a region or even the world.
Makes meetings more interesting
If you're working remotely and you're in traditional video meetings all day, you may find the constant speaking and listening to be exhausting. Many find remote whiteboarding to be a more exciting method of collaborating. It allows everyone to get involved and has tools available to provide information in other ways aside from speaking. You can share notes, charts, sales reports and videos. You can integrate many applications, allowing you to find countless ways to be creative while presenting information, making it more interesting for your collaborators.
Convenient and economical
Remote whiteboards are convenient tools for users and economical for companies. Companies that allow employees to work remotely frequently use these whiteboards. They enable teams to have impromptu meetings as members don't need to be in a precise location. Employees may appreciate the flexibility of not having to go onsite for a meeting. This tool can also save companies from spending unnecessary money on travel expenses and building workspaces in multiple locations. Instead of having employees commune to an office, they can open an application from their laptop wherever they are.
How to use a remote whiteboard
Follow these steps to use a remote whiteboard:
1. Choose an application or website
Before you use a remote whiteboard, make a list of what you want to achieve by using one. Consider the available features and do some research to determine which options seem like a good fit for your needs. Once you download the app or log in to the website, familiarize yourself with the whiteboard and ensure that it's user-friendly.
2. Create a whiteboard
Next, create a whiteboard. Often, there are various templates to choose from that may cater to different needs. If you find a template that you like and plan to use again in the future, you can save the template to your favorites.
3. Add content
Now it's time to add content. You can upload documents, spreadsheets, videos and various other media types to make your board exciting and help you explain complicated topics. You can always edit or delete any content you add to the board.
4. Invite coworkers and brainstorm together
Once your board is ready, invite coworkers and begin the collaborative process of brainstorming. Participants can use sticky notes to document ideas and topics to revisit, which appear on the whiteboard in real-time. When a user contributes to the whiteboard, all changes appear highlighted. Each participant has a unique cursor as well, making the whiteboarding easy to follow.
5. Export and save
Once you've finished using a whiteboard, you can export and save the document. Ensure that you save it using a clear title, such as August 2021 Risk Report Whiteboard, so that it's easy to locate. Share the document with coworkers if necessary.
What features make an effective remote whiteboard
When considering which remote whiteboard to use for your business needs, ensure that it has some of these features:
Accessibility: This feature allows you to share your whiteboard within a team or export it if necessary.
Infinite board space: Having unlimited writing space helps prevent your team from having no room left to write and, as a result, not being able to document important information.
Integration with third-party applications: This feature allows you to use and share the information stored in other applications on the whiteboard.
Note-taking: The ability to take notes allows any team member to contribute their ideas as sticky notes placed on the whiteboard.
Screen sharing: This feature allows you to share documents and other work with your collaborators.
Stylus support: Digital-pen or stylus support may not be a necessity, but it provides an alternate method for contributing to the whiteboard, which some individuals may consider easier and more convenient.
Templates and frameworks: This feature allows you to use pre-built templates or to create your own frameworks that help keep your whiteboard organized.
Video conferencing integration: This feature allows you to see your collaborators on the whiteboard.
Synchronous collaboration is when two or more individuals work together in real-time. The individuals may be in the same room or across the country from each other. For example, if you're in a videoconference call with your regional sales manager, who's in a different state, this is synchronous collaboration. Some other examples of synchronous collaborations include:
Asking your teammate at the other end of the meeting room a question
Conversations during lunch breaks
Synchronous collaboration may be best for team-oriented individuals who enjoy working directly with their coworkers. Having strong speaking and listening skills may help you navigate this type of collaboration effectively. As technology advances, new ways of collaborating with coworkers in real-time are becoming increasingly popular. Remote whiteboarding with coworkers working from different locations can be a highly effective way of communicating and reaching goals.
Asynchronous collaboration is when two or more individuals work together, but it's not happening in real-time, meaning time passes between correspondence. For example, if you have a client question and don't require an immediate answer, you may text them. They quickly reply to you two minutes later. This communication is an asynchronous collaboration as time passes between you sending the message and the client interpreting the message. This type of collaboration often occurs remotely and is unplanned. Some other examples of asynchronous collaborations include:
Asynchronous collaborations may be best for independent professionals who are self-motivated. While communication may still be essential for completing your tasks, you can work on a schedule that suits you and gather and share information via email instead of meetings. This method of collaboration also creates a paper trail that anyone involved can reference when needed. With asynchronous collaborations, the focus isn't on the method of achieving results, but on the results of the work.
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