The exhaustion of back-to-back meetings and video calls has workers today longing for solutions that boost productivity, engagement, and alignment. Since 2020, the amount of meetings workers attend has increased by 13.5%, with 70% of those meetings actually keeping people from focusing and completing their tasks. These adverse effects show that meetings don’t always equal effective collaboration. To truly help workers innovate, organizations need a way to extend collaboration beyond meetings.
The fundamental answer to these perpetual problems lies in visual collaboration. The digital solutions connected with visual collaboration provide flexibility and cloud-based environments that allow teams to brainstorm, collaborate, and problem-solve both in real time and asynchronously, regardless of location, experience, or personality. By 2024, visual collaboration applications will become the center of 30% of meeting experiences, according to Gartner.
What is visual collaboration?
Visual collaboration is the practice of simplifying and streamlining organizational teamwork digitally through scalable canvases—thereby promoting inclusivity, innovation, agility, and creativity in every single workflow. This kind of collaboration is vital for today’s hybrid, distributed, and remote teams, making it possible for anyone to work together asynchronously or in real time.
Visual collaboration may include mapping processes, diagramming systems, virtual whiteboarding, brainstorming, creating organizational charts, and tracking ongoing projects like timelines and road maps. By using visuals, team members can more easily communicate complex ideas while also staying aware of what their colleagues are doing.
With visual collaboration, workers may focus on ideating, evaluating data and insights, understanding the current state of the business, planning action items, assigning responsibilities, building out project plans, and creating deliverables. When each step is recorded in a shared space, team members naturally create a living blueprint of how the business works. Teams can then use this single source of truth to stay aligned, guide decisions, and innovate continuously. Everyone is, quite literally, on the same page.
Enabling a mix of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration
While meetings are important to collaboration today, they represent only a fraction of a project’s life cycle. Visual collaboration software can improve engagement and productivity through all stages of a project—not only in meetings.
For example, intelligent diagramming—a key component of visual collaboration—can promote alignment on team structure, workflows, resources, and project goals. There’s less confusion when teams can easily see who they’re working with and how different tasks have progressed. When important information is documented in a central space, it’s easy to onboard new employees or align with key stakeholders.
With the right visual collaboration solutions, new data or unexpected information shouldn’t derail a project’s progress. A visual collaboration solution that can automatically pull data into your diagrams, and then update those diagrams to indicate the latest state of affairs, can create a dynamic project that minimizes friction and misalignment.
Visual collaboration solutions can also help employees provide valuable input on projects. For example, team leaders can use virtual whiteboards to document team members’ ideas and plans, prioritize the best ideas to move forward, and make group decisions. When the meeting is over, a virtual whiteboard serves as a record of the discussion and creates avenues for post-meeting feedback.
Empowering a wider range of collaboration styles
One of the greatest advantages of visual collaboration is that it leverages the neurodiversity within your teams, acknowledging that not everyone collaborates in the same way. Research shows that more than half of knowledge workers self-identify with one or more of three distinct collaboration styles. Each style has preferences on how they like to receive information and strengths in which they excel at sharing information.
Visual collaboration solutions provide the tools for every person, regardless of collaboration style, to contribute. Sticky notes, polls, emoji reactions, activities, and surveys are just some of the ways team leaders can further enhance collaboration without the added pressure of contributing on camera and in real time.
The ways in which we work together have vastly changed, with an increase in tools to help remote workers connect without working from the same space. With new opportunities for growth and potential hurdles to overcome, it’s time companies take their collaboration efforts a step further. Prioritizing team alignment, increasing engagement, and tapping into the diverse talent pool within your own organization are all possible through an investment in visual collaboration software.
Dave Grow is CEO of Lucid Software. Lucid Software is a partner of Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech.
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