The sudden shift to remote- first settings for board meetings that was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a positive catalyst for change, board directors say. A recent survey undertaken by software platform OnBoard has found that almost 80 per cent of directors, executives and administrators saw improved effectiveness in board meetings since remote meetings began 12 months ago. Twenty-three per cent of the 280 respondents cited a “significant” improvement.

A purpose-built platform

Two-thirds of survey respondents agreed that the shift to remote meetings had a beneficial impact on collaboration. That is because the boardroom’s digital transformation was completed, rather than existing as a somewhat awkward hybrid, according to OnBoard CEO and co-founder, Paroon Chadha.

“Prior to COVID-19, all boards were digital to at least some extent,” says Chadha. “Some board members were using their tablets, laptops or even iPhones in board meetings. A lot of boards created digital documents, but then a funny thing would happen — those same documents would be printed out, bound and distributed. It was almost like going from digital to analogue.”

Chadha adds that a unique opportunity arose for boards to go completely digital — not just for distributing information but for attendance, consents and approvals. This was the turning point when many boards recognised they required a different toolkit and adopted a purpose-built platform such as OnBoard.

Chadha developed OnBoard in 2011, using the insights he gained from a decade in the employee collaboration space. “Boardrooms tend to involve a type of collaboration that is unlike any other, because there is a lot of curated content, very structured agendas and almost by definition, a cognitive overload as you go into every meeting,” he says. “A big burst of information arrives a few days in advance of the meeting, and the collaboration that ensues is unique.”

User experience

Security is absolutely paramount to the OnBoard user experience, due to the inherent nature of information at board meetings being privileged. “Software such as Dropbox and Google Drive were built for sharing seamlessly. The ‘share’ button is generously sprinkled around such platforms. However, that is actually the exact opposite of what you want in your boardroom,” explains Chadha, adding that a built-in feature is ascribing users with different levels of access.

One of the biggest gains of using OnBoard is having all the information organised in a consistent and intuitive manner. As Chadha says, “Think about being able to pull up board information, not just for the last budget approval that you gave, but for the past three years, with just a simple click.”

“Think about being able to pull up board information, not just for the last budget approval that you gave, but for the past three years...” Paroon Chadha, CEO and co-founder OnBoard

Multiple screens & endpoints

OnBoard also works on every single device, and is compatible with every screen-sharing software program, including native integration with Zoom. “A lot of directors were not only dealing with going digital, but suddenly being expected to handle multiple screens and endpoints,” says Chadha. “Our focus was on making sure that it was a completely seamless experience for our consumers.”

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