Remote work is on the rise. With 70 percent of professionals now working remotely at least one day per week, the traditional nine-to-five will — thankfully — soon be a thing of the past. But, while employees, like myself, are quick to embrace the benefits of working remotely, we now face new challenges when it comes to collaboration. With the remote work trend not slowing down, teams have to find new and better ways to operate.
One company working hard to bring remote teams together is RealtimeBoard. Founded in Russia in 2011 by Andrey Khusid and Oleg Shardin, the company has been developing an online collaboration tool inspired by the inseparable element of every meeting: The good old whiteboard.
Much like an actual whiteboard, this digital board can be used for brainstorming, planning, and more, depending on the team’s needs and creativity. Similar to the technology used in game development that allows developers to create 'endless worlds,' RealtimeBoard lets you expand your board forever.
The startup's mission is to make our new style of work across different places and time zones as seamless as possible. As Steven Grijzenhout, RealtimeBoard’s Head of Customer Success explained, “Many employees no longer work nine-to-five from an office. The most productive work is a combination of working from an office and working from home."
With $25 million raised in an Accel-led Series A funding last month, the company is certainly getting closer to making their vision a reality. Companies like Netflix, Twitter, Skyscanner, and Spotify are already using this whiteboarding tool to add value in their remote teams' daily operations.
What makes RealtimeBoard so useful is the fact you can collaborate — as the name suggests — in real-time. As Steven explained: “We want to make remote collaboration as easy and productive as if you were sitting next to each other. It shouldn’t matter where you are as long as you have your laptop with you.”
In all honesty, I found it difficult to picture how a digital tool could achieve quite this much, so Steven and I sat down together to test it out. Although the irony of using RealtimeBoard while in the same room is not lost on me, I was still impressed with its potential. After joining the board, I could see all of Steven’s actions in real-time, almost as if I was watching him sketch out ideas in a meeting room. If we were actually working remotely, we could also use video chat to discuss the ideas at the same time.
Brainstorming is not where it ends with RealtimeBoard, though. The sketches and notes from meetings can be saved on the board for later and eventually expanded into detailed plans such as roadmaps or UX designs. With Slack integrations and comment options, you can easily discuss each element of a project right on the board.
How companies use the board depends largely on their projects: From fashion designers making mood boards and mapping out their next collection to project managers creating Scrum boards and product roadmaps. If you’re nostalgic about the past, you can easily re-create the experience of a traditional whiteboard with features like simple drawing tools, and post-it notes. For more high-tech tasks, integrations with tools like JIRA, Trello, or Google Drive are also possible.
And what’s on RealtimeBoard’s own roadmap?
The company's main focus right now is to gain momentum and reach as many new clients as possible. They’ve already established themselves in key regions, with 150 employees across offices in Europe and the United States (including six here at TQ), and they've successfully proven the value of their product with funding. Now it’s time to grow and bring their vision of collaboration to more remote workers across the globe.
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