How do digital whiteboards make teamwork more participative?
If you need to work as a team, that team needs to be efficient and effective. The result is likely to be poor if you are not working together well. And a team with team members who are disengaged, uninterested, and not open to participating in group work and activities is wasting time and resources. And no one wants that!
Giving your teams a basis upon which they can build, that helps increase engagement and participation will lead to better outcomes. Offering opportunities to help team members take an active role in their collective work has to be a priority. Empowering teams has always been a challenge, and as the world changes this is only likely to increase. Your teams will benefit from using an online whiteboard to help increase their engagement and ability to work well together.
Why is it becoming harder for people to engage and participate in teamwork activities?
Over the last few years our lives have changed significantly. The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Global lockdowns forced a lot of things that were previously only or predominantly undertaken in ‘real’ spaces, to go online. And many have stayed there. Technology was forced to evolve and adapt to allow people to do more efficient remote work.
Remote and hybrid working practices
As the world slowly returned to a new normal, companies had to evolve and adapt to allow new working practices, including remote or hybrid work. So much more can be done online and while this can have positive impacts, it can also make it harder for teams to work well together. Not to mention, many teams are cross-functional and cover areas that many members may not be completely familiar with.
It’s not so easy to just pop into a different department and have a chat with someone if you (or they) are working remotely. Even if you are based in the same workplace, you might not work there on the same days. This fragmentation of the workforce can lead to issues and has meant that a lot of teams have lost their sense of ‘team’.
What do you need for effective teamwork?
The ability to communicate easily and effectively is essential for team members to work well together. Remote or hybrid work can make it harder to keep communication open and flowing. If people are working different hours because they have various family commitments or are in different time zones, it can be hard to stay in touch.
Productivity in remote and cross-functional teams
Technology also plays a part in communication, particularly with cross-functional teams using different communication tools. And they don’t always speak the same technical language or approach things in the same way or with the same programmes. Team members may have varying perspectives, approach how they solve problems differently, or favour alternative ways of presenting or assimilating information. This can make it difficult to collaborate effectively.
Remote and hybrid work can also make it harder for managers to know how well the projects are moving forward. If it is harder to monitor or track the progress of individual team members, it can be difficult to make people accountable within the framework of the team itself. A lack of accountability can make team members feel less invested and will give them little focus. This is also true for cross-functional teams where there can be less transparency about who is responsible for what and when.
Building relationships can be challenging
Trust is a critical element for effective teamwork. Remote work can make it more difficult to establish trust. If you have never met someone in person or have not seen them in years because of the pandemic, it makes it harder to build and maintain a strong personal relationship. It can also be difficult for cross-functional teams: not only might team members not have a shared history of working together, but there may also be a degree of rivalry between departments or business areas.
Developing trust is a key ingredient for creating an effective team where all members are keen to participate and make a difference.
How does an online whiteboard increase teamwork and participation?
There are many advantages to using a virtual whiteboard with your teams. An online whiteboard is accessible by all, whenever they wish to access it. Not everyone presents, processes, or understands information in the same way.
An online whiteboard allows people to share video and audio files as well as documents, helping those who are more visual. They also give you other visual ways of presenting information including drawing tools, diagrams, charts, graphics, and so on - all in the same place.
This means team members can express themselves in the way that best suits them, and others are able to share feedback easily and immediately also using visual means if they wish.
An interactive and engaging platform for teamwork
Virtual whiteboards are interactive and engaging. There’s nothing worse for your team members than having to sit through a meeting while someone drones on about an abstract concept that they can’t visualise. An online whiteboard enables all team members to actively participate in a workshop or meeting, rather than one person taking over.
They can contribute ideas and offer feedback and suggestions in real-time, and all have a say. This can promote a greater sense of team and belonging and the sense that everyone is equally important and relevant.
Online whiteboards simplify complex information for teams
Visual representations of ideas and concepts can help people understand complex information more easily. It also helps participants retain information better. This saves time and ensures all team members are on the same page and up to speed in less time. This will aid collaboration and can help the development of ideas.
Teams that work well together are more likely to successfully build on each other’s ideas, leading to more creative solutions in shorter time spans.
Real-time, useful feedback
An online whiteboard allows participants to provide feedback in real-time, rather than waiting for emails or messages to go back and forth. Moreover, the whole team has access to this feedback. It also means that new ideas can be developed – or dismissed – far more quickly than they might otherwise. The ability to offer real-time feedback is likely to increase engagement as well as make meetings and workshops more productive.
The flexibility for teams to work the way that works
It is important for your team members to have some flexibility in the way they work. An online whiteboard provides this. Team members do not need to be in the same location to work effectively together. This means you can easily open up the discussion to a more diverse group of people than you might otherwise be able to bring together.
You also have a centralized hub for all your files and documents, making it easy to access everything you need, whenever you need it. This makes it easier to actively participate in a discussion, meeting, or workshop as you have all the information you might need at your fingertips.
How can you help teams adopt the use of a digital whiteboard for faster engagement?
Online whiteboards – or at least the good ones – will not require your team members to undergo significant training. They will be able to get started quickly as they are very intuitive. This means that they should not frustrate those members of the team who are more digitally challenged. Once they have seen the capabilities and functionalities of a visual whiteboard, they should be quickly on board with the process. And even if they are resistant to the idea of utilising technology, they should be competent using a virtual whiteboard much more quickly than with some other technologies.
So, showing people how a digital whiteboard can help them become more efficient is the first step to creating team working environments that are more participative and productive.
How can online whiteboards be used to facilitate faster engagement in workshops?
Visual whiteboards can be used with different tools and templates that are designed for maximum engagement and productivity. Templates inspired from proven methods are available for all sorts of tasks and to complement different methodologies and ways of working.
Using your online whiteboard for icebreakers
Teams may be struggling with getting back to their former closeness after the pandemic. There are many cases in which team members have only ever met virtually, having been hired during or since Covid-19. Some people work entirely remotely now, which was relatively rare before the lockdowns come into force. Others have a hybrid work arrangement whereby they may be in the office on certain days but rarely, if ever, meet their teammates.
It can be harder to build up trust and that team bond that is so important for active participation and great teamwork. Getting people to relax and open up can be difficult when people are dialling in from different places or have not spent much time together. Using an icebreaker at the beginning of a workshop, meeting, or videoconference can help put people at ease and lead to better outcomes for the session.
Icebreaker templates for your virtual whiteboard
There are various ways to break the ice and different icebreaker templates can be used for different situations and scenarios. They are readymade, quick, and easy options to get your team into the right frame of mind before you start. They help create an environment where your team members are more inclined to participate actively in the group discussion.
Design thinking and participation in team activities
The design thinking process is widely used by companies and teams who want to come up with innovative ideas. Design thinking focuses on the end user and their problems, and looks for creative ways of solving them. The process is a five-step one, and all the steps can be enhanced by using a visual whiteboard.
One of the key elements is brainstorming ideas to come up with solutions for a problem. This can sometimes be challenging for some team members. Maybe they do not feel they are senior enough to put forward their ideas or will come up with ‘silly’ ideas that would make them look ridiculous and never work. Perhaps they are shy and are not keen on speaking up in front of others. None of those reasons mean that they will not have the best ideas. Using a digital whiteboard addresses all these issues and helps increase participation.
Everyone has access to the whiteboard at the same time during a brainstorming session, so they can contribute more easily and effectively, regardless of who or where they are. There are various templates you can use depending on what the objective is. And of course, the session can be saved for later reference.
A digital whiteboard has an inbuilt timer that can be used for these types of sessions, helping people to focus and actively participate. This helps ensure that precious time and energy is not wasted.
Assigning tasks and tracking their progress is also far simpler when you are using an online whiteboard for a project. And when you know what part you play in a team, it is easier to feel like you belong to it and that you are important. This aids participation and gives team members greater accountability and clearer objectives.
Better participative teamwork with an online whiteboard
Making sure your teams are equipped with the right tools will help you increase participation in teamwork activities. This is the case whether they are working together in person, remotely, or collaborating in a hybrid work environment.
You will find the Klaxoon digital whiteboard possesses all the tools and resources you need. Why not check out our resources page for more ideas?