Remote whiteboarding is the future: Here’s how to start

Remote whiteboarding is the future: Here’s how to start

The increased popularity (and necessity) of working from home has changed office culture faster than ever before. Unfortunately, some people are feeling the absence of breakroom chats, cubical catch-ups, and stealing empty conference rooms pretty hard. While remote whiteboarding might not help you recreate every office interaction, it can help bring back the feeling of having a productive group brainstorming session.

Remote whiteboarding is surprisingly easy to bring to your team with predictably amazing results. Want to get started but don’t know how? Don’t have the online tools in place yet? Then get ready because Cacoo’s whiteboarding feature is here to save the day. Here’s how you can get remote whiteboarding in no time.

What is whiteboarding?

It may seem like a flashback to the ‘90s, but whiteboarding is still as relevant today as it’s ever been. As obvious as it may seem, whiteboarding is when you integrate the usage of a whiteboard into your processes. Some of the most common uses are assisting brainstorming session for a team, illustrating a plan during a sales pitch, or showing off a thought process during an interview.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be sitting in a room with a physical whiteboard to get started whiteboarding. Remote whiteboarding is a great option, given the right tools. That’s where Cacoo comes in! Using Cacoo’s convenient whiteboard function, you can whiteboard by yourself or with your team, working and editing in real-time. With drag-and-drop shapes, lines, and ample space to work with, the online whiteboard easily takes the place of the old-fashioned wall staple.

If you want a more in-depth introduction, check out our blog on whiteboarding basics.

Benefits of remote whiteboarding

If you’re not already whiteboarding and still need convincing, here are a few more points to consider.

1. It’s easy to get started

If you have a team that’s dispersed around the country (or the world), it’s an easy way to get everyone to work collaboratively online. The distance becomes irrelevant when everyone can add to and edit the whiteboard in real-time.

2. It aids visual thinking and learning

Many people find it difficult to understand how a project or process fits together by just talking or hearing about it. By adding a visual element, your whole team will quickly be on the same page.

3. It encourages collaboration

When whiteboarding, many people can get involved at once. People can simultaneously hold discussions, organize items, and add new ideas. Plus, the interactivity keeps everyone actively engaged.

As you might have guessed, we’re going to spend the rest of this post focusing primarily on the last of these three points. We’re ready whenever you are — let’s dive in!

How to conduct remote whiteboarding

Successful remote whiteboarding comes down to some smart planning and having the right tools. Luckily, in the twenty-first century, there’s no shortage of ways to connect and work remotely. Here are a few tips we’ve gathered to help you plan and carry out your first remote whiteboarding session.

Plan ahead

Like all things in life, having a detailed plan will always start you off on the right foot. The more you can have laid out before turning on your video, the better. Make sure you know what goal you’re looking to achieve in the meeting, the timing and length of the meeting, and who all will need to be involved. Do any research necessary ahead of time and write down everything you’d need to share so your team will understand the plan.

Communicate agenda

When you’ve figured out what you’ll be doing, make a detailed agenda to send out to the team well in advance of your first meeting. Include the start and end times (with the time zone if your team is spread out), the goal of the meeting, and any background information that the team will need to get started. If you want them to show up to the meeting having already completed some research or with some ideas to present, include that expectation.

When it’s finally the day of your first whiteboard meeting, make sure you run through the agenda at the top of the meeting together. This way, everyone has a chance to ask questions or gain a clearer understanding before your whiteboarding session is underway.

Use the right tools

The right tools are essential to a successful remote whiteboarding session. You’ll need to have a whiteboarding space everyone can see and edit and a way to talk to (or even see) each other to discuss.

The good news? Cacoo’s whiteboarding space offers all of this and more! The whole team can access and edit your shared whiteboarding space in real-time. Plus, Cacoo includes in-app chat and video chat features, so you can hold your full meeting without ever having to change tabs. What could be easier?

Follow up

When the meeting is over, send out follow-ups. If you took any additional notes or minutes during the meeting, share those with the team. Assign any action items from the meeting like further research, contacting other stakeholders, or continuing ideating independently before a regroup. This will make your next session that much more effective.

Synchronistic vs. asynchronistic collaboration

When it comes to working remotely, your team members have the option of working asynchronistically. What does that mean? Basically, they can get their projects done or put in their mandatory hours during different hours of the day than their fellow coworkers. Asynchronous work is often necessary if you’re working across time zones. If they work better in the evening or have to break their work time up between errands, asynchronous work can be beneficial too! Part of your whiteboarding can also take place asynchronistically as long as your team is willing and committed.

To do this, you’ll need to start with a clear agenda (as noted above). Make sure to add any due dates or times if you’re allowing the team a wide window to complete their portion.

You can create a whiteboarding space ahead of time that matches your meeting requirements so you don’t end up with a sloppy mess at the end. Maybe that’s a mind map, a Venn diagram, or a dynamic chart with some important figures. Once you share this space with your team, they can go in at any point to add in any ideas or points they have on the topic.

Depending on the project, you can then either go through the whiteboard to make any executive decisions or select multiple ideas worth further discussion and plan a follow-up meeting to go over those items.

It’s entirely up to you to decide whether or not an asynchronistic style will work for your team. For most, hopping in a meeting together will be faster and easier unless you’re spanning too many timezones to find a convenient meeting time before the project needs to move forward.

Final thoughts

Working remotely doesn’t have to mean forfeiting the perks of working together in an office. No matter where your team is located, whiteboarding is always an option. Using Cacoo, you can get your team online and whiteboarding remotely to start conducting meetings more efficiently than ever before. Cacoo has helped millions of users build online diagrams together, and it can help your team too! Give it a try and see how quickly your team reconnects.

Lauren Grabau Lauren Grabau is a globetrotting copywriter providing SEO web content, puns, and a keen eye for spelling wherever she can. She's probably currently planning her next trip or lost on a long walk.