How visual collaboration turns the challenges of distributed teamwork into competitive advantages
Our team at RealtimeBoard has dedicated the past few years to creating a universal tool for visual collaboration in order to turn online whiteboards into something much greater than their physical counterparts.
Having talked to hundreds of the best teams from around the world, we collected valuable insights about their pain points. This allowed us to take the next step toward helping teams achieve their desired results faster. Now we are excited to introduce the new version of RealtimeBoard. We know that it’s just the right moment to present the results of our work as well as talk to you about our product vision and the mission behind it.
Whether you have been with us from the very beginning or just started looking for a team collaboration solution, we want to share our experience and insights about the future of teamwork with you.
If you are curious about the way we will live our professional lives and communicate with our colleagues in the future, don’t miss this special article we have carefully prepared for you. We hope you’ll help us spread the word about it.
Building great things may seem easy from a distance: there are thousands tools, frameworks, methodologies, and experts out there to help you create the next big thing. With so much support available at the tap of your trackpad, why are a lot of us still frustrated?
Oftentimes, the problem comes down to collaboration. In order to hire and retain the best talent, more and more companies are allowing employees to work remotely—but without the ability to get the whole team in a room together, it can be hard to experiment and come up with innovative approaches.
And while there are so many tools to make remote collaboration easier, they rarely give the same feeling of syncing up with our teammates. Messaging can feel exhausting and distracting, video calls are still shockingly unreliable, and task managers sometimes feel more like an obligation than a good way to organize things.
At the end of the day, your team is far from being on the same page and delivering expected results.
After talking to hundreds of distributed teams, we realized that the challenges of collaborating remotely were the same whether it was a startup of 3, a team of 30, or a corporation of 30,000:
Ideating on a whiteboard feels like the simplest and most intuitive way to collaborate, but the tools don’t exist to do it well remotely. Many teams try to get around it by pointing webcams at whiteboards, but just end up running out of space or losing their notes when they digitize them.
Teams have to carve out specific time to share ideas (which becomes even harder when the team is spread across time zones), rather than being able to hop in a room and collaborate when inspiration strikes.
Then teams have to document and digitize their meetings. According to some of our customers, it can take two hours or longer after the workshop to write down all the ideas. It’s often challenging to transfer the structure you created on a whiteboard into a digital format, because existing tools aren’t suited to creating visual systems.
Collaborating across teams is often difficult because they use different tools. These silos make it hard to see the big picture of the project, and to make sure everyone is truly on the same page.
Communicating is also difficult because each professional group has its own professional language and its own way to describe and proof its ideas. So you need a normalisation layer between different mindsets.
Using text-based communication to give feedback on a visual idea is not ideal, and it often takes some back and forth before everyone truly understands what’s being said.
Combined, these small but mighty snags in the current workflow prevent teams from coming up with the solutions they need in a timely manner. And it’s not just a challenge for distributed teams—anyone who needs to digitally share ideas after leaving the meeting room faces similar roadblocks.And finally you don’t come up with the expected solution. And it’s not solely the problem of completely distributed teams: as soon as you leave a meeting room, you need all these tools to share your ideas and you face similar challenges.
That’s why we’ve created RealtimeBoard—a simple whiteboarding platform that lets your team collaborate visually no matter where they are. It makes it feel like you’re in the same room; It’s a missing piece in the standard workflow that helps knit all the employees together to achieve your desired result, faster.
Our goal is to turn the challenges of distributed work into competitive advantages. We’re a distributed team ourselves—we get it. We have the same challenges, and test every new feature ourselves, all to empower ourselves and other team-driven companies to create outstanding products and experiences.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve done a lot of research on how people work in teams—and gained some compelling insights. To learn more about them, check out our Head of Product’s article.
Head of Product at RealtimeBoard
No one likes complexity and our users love and stick to RealtimeBoard due to its simplicity and low learning curve. They often say, “It just works!” Keeping this in mind, we started to work on the new version of the product. After several iterations, we realized that we must keep the basic product as simple as it was and allow people to use it the way they want at the same time. So, the major challenge was to find a balance between simplicity and functionality, and build a scalable solution that will allow us to add more and more features over time and stay simple.
Allows you to whiteboard like in the real world, but within a digital interface
Works seamlessly across multiple platforms, and updates in real time
Adjusts to your workflow with a customizable toolbar, add-ons, and integration options with your favorite tools
Creates a central hub for your team’s collaboration
Helps beyond brainstorming with a wide variety of tasks that require working together
While developing RealtimeBoard, we realized how valuable it is for a variety of use cases, many of them challenging even on a physical whiteboard because of the finite amount of space. Our users explored so many different possibilities for RealtimeBoard: workshopping, brainstorming, ideation, strategy mapping, agile ceremonies, product development, customer discovery, and process visualization.
After seeing all the ways customers want to use our product, we’ve added new features to help meet their needs. To learn more, read our Product Marketing Manager’s post.
Product Marketing Manager at RealtimeBoard
RealtimeBoard combines all these pieces in one place and lets your team collaborate beyond formats, tools, notifications, locations and time zones. As a digital whiteboard, RealtimeBoard allows you to store all the pieces on the infinite canvas thus giving a helicopter view on the entire project. Any team member with access can open the board any time and check up the current status of any file without searching the branches of folders, additional logging in, or switching between tabs.
The way we work is fundamentally changing—and RealtimeBoard is part of a new category of tools that will help your team stay on the cutting edge.
By 2020, 34% of businesses anticipate half of their team will be working remotely.
At the same time, these distributed teams have to work faster and be more productive than ever before. The pace of innovations makes the company’s efficiency a critical factor: 70% of CEOs are concerned about speed of technological change and disruptive innovations.
Plus, with more companies integrating Scrum/Agile methodology into their workflow, they need ways to accommodate visual thinking. RealtimeBoard helps to overcome these problems and lets teams collaborate visually and communicate ideas faster. Most workers (65% of the world’s population, according to statistics) are visual learners – that’s why they often fail to understand complex concepts in a document-centric workflow. RealtimeBoard is tailored to help visual learners succeed and turn messy procedures of ideation and brainstorming into organized, well-documented and frictionless processes.
RealtimeBoard helps to overcome these problems and gives a way to collaborate visually and communicate ideas faster. It’s helping teams work remotely and be more agile.
For us, driving a team’s creativity has always been the main goal. To learn more about the story behind the product and the way we contribute to the future of work, read our CEO’s essay.
of CEOs are concerned about speed of technological change and disruptive innovations
of the world’s population are visual learners
CEO at RealtimeBoard
When you get it right — when you all iterate, explain, draw mind maps, collect references, create moodboards, draw schemes, and finally, have this aha-moment you strived for — you experience “the joy of understanding”.