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What to Look for in a Whiteboard for Office Use by Adam Simpson, First Mats.

If you are looking for a whiteboard for your office, you will quickly realise that the basic, plain blackboard alternative from years past has evolved somewhat. There are now a number of different options and features available, not all of which will be suited to your requirements. As a result, we’ve prepared this handy article to talk you through some of the newer features available and help you decide what you really need from your new whiteboard.

Mobility

Your whiteboard does not necessarily need to be fixed to the wall. Getting a model that is on castors or folding legs can be very helpful when you need to move around, for example if you are training people in teams or want to bring the information displayed to a specific cluster or room. This kind of board is also great for those that don’t need to use it all the time — it can be folded away and put in storage, keeping the aesthetic of your space intact.

For much larger offices and call-centres, there are freestanding whiteboards with multiple surfaces (a three-sided rotating board, for example) which allow you to show information to multiple groups of people simultaneously. Great for ad hoc, en masse training or for keeping track of targets and tasks.

Magnetic Surface

If your whiteboard is going to be fulfilling the role of a noticeboard, work schedule or staff rota, then a magnetic surface can come in handy. This allows you to use the board as both a writing surface and as you would a corkboard/pinboard, so you can temporarily affix printouts and notices easily and quickly. If your board is to be used for meetings, briefings and training, you might find this feature surplus to requirements.

A magnetic board will, of course, also allow you to use magnetic attachments and accessories like pen and eraser holders and flip chart mounts. Most attachments and accessories are also available in non-magnetic forms as well, typically clipping on to the frame or fixing on to the wall.

Projector Screen

You can use any whiteboard as a projector screen, just as you can use a blank wall. If you are planning to frequently use a combination of projection and whiteboard, for training or briefing purposes for example, you might want to get a purpose-built board. These whiteboards have much reduced glare, to allow for clearer definition of the projected image. These hybrid boards are absolutely perfect for projecting still images and annotating or highlighting as you go.

Surface Material

 The defining feature of the whiteboard is that it gives you the ability to write and then easily erase, so the surface material is an important aspect. Lower cost boards have a melamine surface, which requires frequent cleaning with chemical sprays or wipes to keep it clear of ‘ghosting’ (when previous markings are not fully cleared and leave a faded image). This surface is most suited for boards used infrequently or for sharing information internally. If you are meeting with clients, briefing providers or conducting extensive training sessions, you’ll want an upgrade here so as to look professional and ensure information is clear and easy to read and understand. A porcelain surface needs significantly less frequent cleaning to keep clear, the simple use of a whiteboard eraser is enough for the most part.

Pre-printed

Gridded surfaces allow you to write neatly and are particularly handy if you are drawing diagrams or charts. These grids can be overt or reasonably subtle — meaning they can only be clearly seen by the presenter/user.

Workflow and project management pre-printed whiteboards are also commonly available. Sometimes called Kanban boards, these allow you to monitor the progression of individual staff members, teams, phases and full projects, with choices ranging from simple traffic light systems through to more specific ‘task assigned, started, done, checked’ style boards.

You can also find pre-printed in/out boards, which provide an easy to use, at-a-glance way of tracking staff movements on the premises.

Durability

Less expensive whiteboard options are typically made with inferior materials. An aluminium frame around a melamine surface is much more likely to show scratches, dents and dings than a steel-framed porcelain board. Possibly a low-priority issue if your board is going to be wall-mounted, away from through-traffic, but worth considering for mobile boards and any that might be mounted in corridors or break rooms for example.

Size

You should be able to easily find whiteboards in a huge range of sizes, so this element is really down to what you need the board for. If you need a larger size than your office or wall can easily accommodate, you can get boards with folding wings to give you that bit of extra writing room.

A particularly stylish and versatile option is to get a frameless board. These can be bought in multiples and positioned exactly as you like, with each board able to butt snugly up to the next both vertically and horizontally — allowing you to install a whiteboard that fits your exact size and shape requirements.

Price

Of course, price is a key consideration. It is worth really thinking carefully about the other factors in the decision that we have listed though, as if the board is not the right fit for your needs, or is of sub-standard construction or materials, you’ll either end up not using it at all, or replacing it. The old adage about buying cheap and buying twice stands true here — get the best that your budget can stretch to and you should be set up for many years to come.

Author Bio: Adam Simpson is a writer and researcher working for First Mats who specialises in office and health & safety products. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk

2018