Do you sometimes find yourself responding to some email on your phone at night just when you’re supposed to go to bed?
I suppose you do, and you’re not the only one…
Remote working conditions (or aspects of it) have become commonplace in today’s workplace. And with this kind of shift, it is more urgent than ever for organizations to leverage the best online collaboration tools to keep their teams on the same page at all times.
Online Collaboration Tools Glossary:
- Communication Tools
- Documentation Tools
- Software Tools
- Data Visualization Tools
- Note Taking Apps
- CRM Tools
Thankfully, there is nearly an endless list of such tools available today. In this guide, we look at some of the tried and true selections that can help boost your team’s productivity.
- Online collaboration tools help both remote and in-house teams achieve greater levels of transparency, execute projects better, optimize resources and collaborate better overall.
- There are tools for just about every aspect or type of business.
- Most online collaboration tools support more than one means of communication such as chat, instant messaging, screen sharing, audio/video conferencing, and file sharing.
- It is important to choose the tools based on your business needs and budget.
Consistently rated as one of the top productivity softwares, monday.com makes collaboration a breeze with an intuitive and visually pleasing interface.
Creating boards and knocking out tasks become a full transparent process through monday.com. It’s highly customizable and you’ll be able to design whatever workflow works best for you!
- Simple user interface
- Customer service
- Basic package provides great value compared to other softwares
- Easy to use and streamlined
- Automation and integrations allow for less redundancies
- Plans beyond basic can be expensive
- More content on advanced concepts
Brief is a team collaboration tool that boosts productivity by enabling team members to prioritize and focus on important tasks while minimizing distractions. In 2018 and 2019, Brief was featured by Apple among the Apps We Love.
It has an elegant dashboard that combines chat, video, team hubs, to-do lists and file sharing.
- Turn any message into a task with one click
- Create hubs that let you organize your teams, chats, tasks and files
- Available on the web, desktop, iOS and Android
- Has a user-friendly interface
- File sharing of any size
- Offers exceptional quality video and audio calls through integration with Zoom
- Has an elegant dashboard
- This tool is free at the moment
- Has few integrations so far
Slack is a smart collaboration tool that is available in both desktop and mobile versions. It allows teams to send direct messages to each other as individuals as well as groups.
You can also organize conversations into various channels for specific initiatives or projects, and integrates with Google Docs, Box and Dropbox for a more unified experience.
- Hosted in the cloud so no need for costly installations
- Messages are fully searchable
- Supports private group communication
- Allows for external sharing
- Has a message visibility limit
- Pretty expensive on a per user basis
- Is slower to load than other apps such as Flock or Brief
- It can be cumbersome to sign into each workspace to communicate with different teams
GoToMeeting is a robust online meeting and video conferencing tool designed to enable businesses to collaborate with their teams, clients, customers, and other businesses in real time via the Internet.
It is particularly great for international teams and can greatly reduce the learning curve as it also supports screen sharing.
The other handy features of the platform include messaging, group chat, recording, integration with other tools, and a one-click meeting feature that instantly schedules meetings in Google Calendar or Outlook.
- Intuitive user interface
- Can host large meetings
- Allows users to record meetings so you don’t have to attend in real time
- Subscription is fairly expensive
- Requires a stable internet connection
Like Skype, HipChat is a popular online collaboration tool that allows teams to share files, share screens, video call and discuss tasks. The platform has stable and secure features including team rooms and is easy to use.
- Easy to use and maneuver
- Only Admins can set up chat groups
- Few bugs if any at all
If you are looking for more comprehensive communication features, then Flock is a great alternative for Slack (above). It is a communication tool that allows teams to have different channels, as well as individual and group conversations.
Unlike Slack, Flock is much faster with short load times and allows users to search through all messages, URL and files with ease. The tool is optimized to find virtually any search query regardless of its source in the channels. Further, it supports screen sharing, audio and video calls. Flock users can conduct polls, set reminders, share notes, and assign tasks for maximum productivity.
- Has short load times
- Messages are fully searchable
- Has unlimited message visibility
- Has fewer app integrations than Slack
- Does not support automated bots
The world’s biggest social media network, Facebook, has a team collaboration service – Facebook Workplace – that can serve as a corporate intranet portal.
The platform has a very user-friendly interface where teams can collaborate through their own portals, as well as through the Facebook Pages, Notes and Docs. On Facebook Workplace, team members can collaborate on tasks via voice/video call and instant messaging. The platform also has machine learning bots built-in to automate certain tasks.
- Supports polls to measure employee opinions
- Integrates with other systems
- Unlimited photo and video uploads
- All data is stored on Facebook servers in the cloud, which may be prone to privacy issues.
Chanty is a simple AI-powered team chat solution, with easy-to-use collaboration features, unlimited message history, and apps to enable teams to foster healthy relationships through transparent and accessible communication.
With its AI algorithm, Chanty can predict any number of responses and help save time spent on typing – with the added benefits of voice transcripts, audio and video calls, as well as third party integrations.
- AI powered, has predictive texts that can reduce typing during chat
- Unlimited searchable message history
- Simple and clean interface
- Easy-to-start and easy-to-use
- Limited in custom integrations
Microsoft Teams is a unified communications platform that merges workplace chat with video meetings, file storage, attachments and app integration. Your teams can host web conferences on this platform, and communicate through audio, video and chat – with both people from within and outside the organization.
- Full integration across Office 365 apps
- Ample cloud storage per user
- Provides access to Microsoft Office tools in one place
- The interface is fairly complicated
- Challenging to start
Most of us are familiar with Skype. Simply put, it’s an online collaboration tool that allows users to communicate with any other Skype user for free via instant messaging, voice, video and screen sharing.
More importantly, Skype supports conference calls for up to 25 people, which means it can be a very convenient way to bring all your team together for a quick update of project status.
For more premium features, opt instead for Skype for Business.
- The tool is free
- You can call anyone in the world who has a Skype account
- Supports screen sharing
- The app is easy to install
- Offers no language translation services
- Skype picks up background noises easily
- Sound quality is dependent on bandwidth
This is likely nothing new to you. It is perhaps the most famous documentation tool out there. Google Docs allows multiple people to edit the same file at same time, leave comments, and see changes made by every participant (revision history).
All you have to do is invite team members to work on a file in Google docs. With that, all participants have a central place to store and share information, take notes, and just seamlessly collaborate and have access to the information they need to get work done.
- Cloud based, no installations required
- All changes made on documents are automatically saved to Google Drive so you won’t lose them
- Multiple collaborators on a document can see changes in real time
- Limited features compared to Microsoft Word
This is a smart document collaboration platform that allows teams to create and collaborate on robust internal and client facing documents with built in tracking capabilities.
Bit has over 50 integrations, and lets you collaborate on interactive documents, track the engagement levels on your documents, and manage your digital content with ease.
- Numerous integrations
- Robust templates
- Slick interface
- Lacks a robust mobile app
To edit the same document paragraph by paragraph with the rest of your team remotely or from different devices, Office online is the go-to tool.
Provided that you have internet connectivity, this web version of Microsoft Office allows you to co-author a document in real time, edit and converting PDF documents to Word documents and vice versa, resume reading your word documents where you left off, and send in-line replies to your team by email. And it allows you to do all these from any device, securely and reliably.
- It is free
- Works perfectly from both mobile and desktop
- Changes made by collaborators are updated in real time and everyone can see who is making them.
- Requires internet connectivity to work
Consider GitHub if you are into programming. This development platform owned by Microsoft Corporation allows programmers to seamlessly collaborate and work on the same projects simultaneously.
On the platform, each collaborator gets a working copy of the code displayed on their computer through the GitHub web-based graphical interface. Any changes made on a project can be reviewed and easily rolled back if need be.
- Unlimited private repositories on the tool’s free tier
- Easy to use and track changes with the Gists feature
- Can easily be affected by a security breach
- Some great features are locked away behind a SaaS paywall
For designers, AdobeXD makes quite a bit of sense. The software allows for real-time collaboration between team members on design projects.
The solution has a creative cloud that allows others to edit and make any needed adjustments on design in real time. With this solution, teams can design and prototype websites, mobile apps and more in real time.
- Replete with great native UI elements
- Has a tutorial to help you get your way around
- Very clean interface
- Easy to fill the UI with content
- Fairly hard to animate the UI
- No CSS export
Project management tools
Here’s one of the most famous project management tools out there. Trello is optimized for keeping tasks organized and lets users create boards or lists that can be assigned to and shared with others.
Trello is replete with deadline reminders and email notifications, plus; it can integrate with other tools including Evernote, Google Drive, GitHub, and Slack for a unified team experience.
- It’s free
- Quick real time updates
- Simple and easy to add new member, create and assign tasks
- Difficult to handle large projects
- Not the best way to collaborate; You can choose tools such as Slack or Brief for your real-time communication
For project management, few other tools can beat Asana. The tool is designed to let teams organize, track, and manage their work. It is complete with video calls, project tracking, and handy integrations such as to-do lists, reminders and direct requests as its core features.
- Has a free plan
- Has numerous integrations
- Loaded with plugins to let you modify projects
- Limits the assigning of project tasks to only one person
- Projects can get complex with the many features
Data Visualization Tools
You want somewhere to brainstorm effectively? Jump aboard the MindMeister bandwagon and start doing just that. The tool lets you manage meetings, plan projects and sketch out business plans with your team.
It is the go-to platform for teams to be more innovative as it provides them with the required environment for brainstorming and planning. Users can share their mind maps directly with others in real time or make the mind maps public for everyone to see instead. The platform has numerous templates for organizing work that users can choose from.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
- Unlimited possibilities for brainstorming
- Multiple colors, themes, and styles for maps
- Cloud hosted, no installations needed
- Requires strong internet connectivity
Note Taking Apps
Evernote is known as a note taking app. It syncs across all devices to make your notes available on the go, everywhere you go, and has additional features for organizing, archiving and listing tasks.
With Evernote, your team can easily capture ideas on research and interviews, draft blog posts and eBooks on the go as the ideas emerge, save articles to read later, annotate PDFs, record audio, and save texts, links, and images with ease.
- Unlimited space for storage
- Has a robust search engine
- Paid version is pricey
- It is prone to occasional bugs
Google also has a note taking tool – Google Keep – that rivals Evernote.
The tool allows you to quickly take and save notes, photos, voice memos, and checklists; and share them with the rest of your team. It seamlessly integrates into the mainstream Google, and lets users set reminders.
- Has a beautiful colors that enhance the user interface
- Simple and easy to use
- Fast and responsive on both web and mobile
- Limited way to organize notes
- Has limited features, no bullet points or numbered lists
File Sharing Apps
Dropbox is one of the most popular file storage solutions with file syncing and sharing.
For many business owners, we work from our homes, the local cafe, in our cars between meeting. The difficulty with this business lifestyle is having access to everything you want on all of your devices. There are multiple ways to store and share files. One of those ways is by using Dropbox.
- 16GB Free storage
- Easy to sync files across multiple platforms
- You can use the file version history feature to recover and restore deleted and previous versions of files
- Companies need to purchase employee licenses for Dropbox when using it as a business solution
- It can sometimes be challenging to find folders or files
This is a cloud service for sharing large files and obtaining feedback, over a secure channel. The tool allows for digital signing of files and synchronizing them.
It is loaded with creative collaborative features to make everything easy and seamless, eliminating the need to share files through emails which allow for miscommunications to occur.
- Unlimited online file storage
- Easily sends large files of up to 10gd in size
- Great security features including identity verification
- Less interactive support team
- Files shared tend to expire quickly
If you have a Gmail account then you are definitely familiar with Google Drive, your online storage for saving all your files and sharing them safely with your team(s). Once you grant them access, your team can easily reach the files stored on your Google Drive directory and use them to complete various projects as needed.
You can invite them to view, edit or leave comments on files stored on the drive, including videos, photos, and documents.
- Lets you choose the level of interactivity to assign a participant
- UI is intuitive and easy to use
- Accessible from both mobile and desktop devices
- When using Google Drive, it is challenging to login from other work addresses.
We also found a tool for your sales reps <smiles>. It’s called Salesmate, a sales CRM Software for small and medium-size businesses.
It has an intuitive and easy to use interface that allows sales reps to be more productive, increases their sales and allow them to engage deeply with customers.
The solution provides sales reps with the right insights, integrations and data to help them sell faster and deliver more personalized experiences to each customer.
- Built-in text sender allows for quick sending of promotional messages
- Integrated calling tool, connect with a single click
- Has a great level of transparency
- Requires a bit of learning to use properly
So, there are online collaboration tools for virtually any task in the business environment. And, your team doesn’t have to be spread over a wide geographical area to use these tools. In-house teams too can execute projects better, optimize resources, and achieve a higher level of transparency and unparalleled collaboration from the use of these tools.
If you want to become more efficient and effective in your business therefore, it’s time to consider and start using these tools.
And, perhaps share your experience with us (in the comment section).