Do you remember when we used to work in offices? Do you recall all those lovely whiteboards that adorned the walls, ready for us to grab a pen and express our ideas? If you, like me, feel the lack of access to a whiteboard, then this article outlines 3 ways that you can reclaim your visual vocabulary at home.

1. Make friends with the MS Teams Whiteboard

Screenshot from Microsoft Teams WhiteboardThe Team’s whiteboard is a great place to start bringing visual collaboration into your meetings. You can easily launch it from the Share menu and everyone in your meeting can then join. The output is then saved and shared in the meeting chat.

Tips for getting started:

  1. Start a meeting with a whiteboard – it can be hard in the moment to take that (digital) leap up from the table and approach the whiteboard. So why not kick-off your meeting with the whiteboard already shared. Use the whiteboard to track the meeting’s agenda and actions.
  2. Use sticky notes and basic shapes – no art skills required, sticky notes are a really easy way to type up and share your thoughts!
  3. Get yourself a drawing tablet – if you miss drawing on a whiteboard, basic drawing tablets can be found for under £30 and make the digital drawing experience much easier than using a mouse.

2. Formalise your diagrams with

Sometimes a whiteboarding session creates complicated diagrams with dozens of blobs interconnected with arrows that need formalising.

Screenshot from displaying an example is a free, open source tool that allows you create all manner of diagrams, from floorplans to flow charts. With a little bit of practice, it is intuitive enough to create diagrams live in a screen sharing session.

Tips for getting started:

  1. Get in some practice – it is an intuitive tool, but to save your blushes when using it live it helps to feel comfortable with building diagrams on your own first.
  2. Everyone loves a flow chart – if you are discussing a process, of any kind, then shared understanding can be improved and persisted through a flow diagram.
  3. Use cloud storage to share with others – you can save your diagrams to OneDrive or Google Drive from where you control who can see and edit your diagrams.

3. Radiate Information in Planner

Whiteboards in the office are often used as “information radiators” ranging from sticky notes stuck seemingly at random to a board, to more intricate setups involving magnetic tape.

The great news is that information radiators also have a digital equivalent. There are many different tools available, including Office 365’s Planner.

Planner 365 gives you the ability to configure a “board” that let’s you move “cards” through different columns (“buckets”). These cards, unlike their sticky note counterparts can send when things change and can’t get knocked off the wall and swept up by the office cleaner!

Tips for getting started:

  1. Migrate your Excel trackers to a Board – you’ll appreciate the greater level of control and that a Planner board offers.
  2. Keep it in sight – the main advantage of a physical board is that is always visible. You will need to find ways to keep the board well socialised. One way is to add it as a tab in Teams.
  3. Filer your board when it gets busy – as your board grows it can require lots of scrolling to navigate. To combat this, tasks can be filtered based on attributes like who a task is assigned to, as well as custom labels, allowing you to quickly see what you need.


Building a clear “shared understanding” is a pillar of any group activity, be that delivering a project, or solving a problem in a business as usual activity. Hopefully these 3 ideas for regaining the benefits of whiteboards whilst working from home will help you and your teams to quickly build and communicate your shared understanding!

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