How a Simple Whiteboard Changed Our Office

In May, a brown box the size of our conference table arrived. As curious eyes peeked around the doorway, our operations manager, Sarah, broke out the scissors and brushed by us to begin opening the box. A “finally,” murmured under her breath.

Eventually, our team of ten stared at the scattered pieces of a massive whiteboard that was, of course, missing several screws.

“So, what are we doing with this exactly?”

Well, we’ve come to realize that something so simple can help productivity in many ways:

Managing bandwidth
From key projects of the week to upcoming vacation time – it all goes up on the board. So far, it’s been a straightforward way for our team members to communicate “Hey, I’m drowning!” without physically raising a white flag.

In a mid-size agency, this is vital to establishing a work-life balance, determining availability for some hands-on help, and not planning an event when half of your team is out.
Sure, emails and calendar invites can be helpful, but there’s nothing like a stark white reminder as you walk through the office.

Monitoring current events
With clients ranging in industries from ridesharing to renewable energy, monitoring the news cycle for every industry we work with or could potentially engage can be daunting, and as a mixture of public relations and public affairs, the layers of need-to-know information only continues to grow. And, these days, a news cycle that would have lasted a week now only lasts a few hours.

To combat the Grand Canyon-sized fountain of knowledge, our team will pick a few issues at each weekly staff meeting and track its lifecycle in the news, even placing bets on how long it will stay relevant. This promotes an environment of in-depth discussions on client opportunities, foreseeable issues and, sometimes, a light political conflict internally, which can be a refreshing perspective to start your day.

Brainstorming (the obvious one)
As a company approaching our 10-year anniversary, it can be easy to get caught up in the daily drumbeat of client needs. From one-off requests to ongoing projects, looking for a way to refresh a service model can be questionable if everything is working just fine. But, our clients (and us) are facing an ever-changing and competitive climate where we must consistently reinvent what it means to do business, which is where the white board comes in.

Long before May we’ve been accomplishing strategic wins through creative brainstorming, but sometimes, simply picking up the dry erase marker can spark a conversation. When you’re working on paper or at your laptop, the world can feel a lot more permanent and a lot less collaborative. Having the whiteboard in the center of the office can open a smooth flow of communication that allows for even the “bad” ideas to enter the arena.

I know what you’re thinking – doesn’t every office have a whiteboard? Isn’t this a little too simple?

But, it isn’t – simple tools like collaboration and an open line of communication can be lost in small offices where it’s easier to keep your head down and get to work.

Brainstorming, combined with your knowledge of your team’s availability and current events, can be an effective tool to increasing productivity, creativity and more, depending on what mountain needs to be climbed by the end of the day. In the end, the whiteboard is an asset for the client.