7 Unexpected Ways to Use Your Dry Erase Board
Dry erase boards have been around for a few decades now and very little has changed in how they work. Write, erase, repeat. But with such a straight-forward tool, there is always something extraordinary in how it ends up being used, especially now that more innovations have made the functionality of a dry erase board go beyond its whiteboard origins. Here are our seven favorite ways to take your whiteboard from the dorm door to the boardroom. Get it? Boardroom. Away we go! 1. Photographs 2. Glass 3. Paint 4. Magnetic 5. Wall-sized 6. Calendar 7. Markers
1. Photographs – Take a picture, it lasts longer
The greatest strength of a dry erase board is that it is temporary and evolves with your team’s ideas and projects, but unless you have the kind that has a printing function, your team might spend more time taking notes in your meeting than sharing ideas. We love taking a photo of the whiteboard during pivotal times of a meeting, then uploading them as files attached to a task in Teamwork Projects. The images are accessible and downloadable to every team member, including those working remotely who may have been on speakerphone but couldn’t see the board during the meeting. This is when you must keep reminding yourself that penmanship counts. There are even online tools, like (un)whiteboard and snapclean.me, to improve the image visibility or contrast or turn it into a PDF. Evernote is also a useful archiving tool for whiteboard content.
2. Glass – The answer is clear
The composition of whiteboards is lightweight, but also lends itself to retaining a stain from previous uses. One alternative that avoids this issue is using glass instead. You can either set it up so your office resembles a detective-laboratory hybrid or hang it on the wall. The drawback is that glass is heavy, so hanging it requires use of the studs and sturdy hardware, as well as limiting the size of the glass in use. We’ve seen a few ideas that stem from using a white glass Ikea Torsby tabletop on the wall instead of buying custom-cut (ie, expensive) glass. No matter what glass you choose, the outcome can be customized by positioning it in front of a contrasting wall, framing it, or putting it on wheels for flexibility within a large conference room. You can even use it for your desk tops or conference room table’s top, but remember to have a light background behind the glass so the marker has enough contrast to be clearly visible. Of course, if glass isn’t an option, you could consider Lexan sheets instead, though it won’t resist stains like glass.
3. Paint – Up the walls
Affixing a dry erase board onto your wall is well and good, but why not skip the middleman and use dry erase paint? It comes in white and clear. White is more practical and visible, but clear is a good option if you have pale gray or beige walls. Or if you have black walls and all your office lighting is equipped with blacklight bulbs. Though we’ve never seen an office with such decor, it could happen. Painting it also means you can customize the space used, and even the shape of your board (paint it on in the shape of your company mascot or logo). IdeaPaint, Rust-oleum, and Resene produce whiteboard paint options.
4. Magnetic – Attractive ideas
Choosing to implement a magnetic whiteboard or layering magnetic then dry erase paint gives you two features instead of just one. You can create a multimedia idea board by putting paint chips, mock-up samples, or a favorite Dilbert cartoon right up there with your brainstorming. Though this isn’t ideal for all workplaces, it is great if you want to bring in printouts, photos, or samples to prove a point, illustrate a timeline, or work out a solution. Magnetic binder clips are especially handy because you can switch around the placement of things without having to separately lift the sample/photo/printout and magnet.
5. Wall-sized – Go big or go home
Why have one window-sized dry erase board on one wall of your office or meeting room with colleagues squinting to see what is written? Instead, consider installing or painting a whiteboard on one entire wall. This expands the space for writing, which is logical since your team’s ideas have no boundaries.
6. Calendar – Mark your days
If your team prefers a tangible calendar, try a dry erase version on the office wall. This encourages constant deadline awareness, up-to-the-minute accuracy, and at-a-glance referencing. You can use painter’s tape to create lines or draw it on with a contrasting color marker. However you approach the calendar creation, the functionality will be much like a low-tech shared calendar. Post-it additions can be in a sidebar section awaiting confirmation and an adjacent corkboard could even be used for essentials, such as press passes, tickets, parking permits, or directions to off-site events.
7. Markers – True colors
When hashing out a plan on the board sometimes it helps to think two steps ahead and use color coding to show departmental responsibilities, outsourcing, timeframe elements, or other factors influencing your work. Choose practical colors, nothing too wild, and stick with them. For instance, use a green marker for ideas and tasks related to the project’s financing and budget, a blue marker for logistics, a red marker for the creative and design aspects, and a black marker for big picture points and things that need to be detailed further by the team in charge. This helps departments and individuals understand their roles at a glance. A timeline element in conjunction with color coding also encourages deadlines to be met, and various teams to know in what order things need to be completed for optimum success and productivity.
The whiteboard may have been a small blip on your dorm room door, but it is all grown up now and ready to tackle bigger things. Consider how you are using your walls in meetings and if an idea board would benefit your process. If you’ve curious whether it would work, you can always rent one or install an inexpensive version temporarily to test it out. Keeping an open mind to how you use existing tools also helps in every other aspect of your life, since the whiteboard is just one element in your work processes. We love finding new creative uses for things here at Teamwork.com and it is hard to even count how many walls have been painted with whiteboard paint, but at the core of it all, what matters most is how we share ideas and collaborate to bring the best service to our customers. Which whiteboard idea do you want on your office wall? About that squeaky noise the marker makes – love it or hate it? Do you like learning how to be more productive or collaborate better? Subscribe to the Teamwork.com High Performance Blog.