Online collaboration tools empower employees to work together on projects from anywhere in the world.
At SnackNation, we believe that collaboration and transparency are two key components to the modern workplace experience. Our teams harness the power of the best online collaboration tools to help increase productivity and efficiency.
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.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -African Proverb
Thankfully, there is nearly an endless list of such online tools for remote team collaboration available today. In this guide, we look at some of the tried and true selections that can help boost your team’s productivity and remote onboarding experience.
- Online collaboration tools help both remote and in-house teams achieve greater levels of transparency, execute projects better, optimize resources and work together better overall.
- There are collaboration 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 your collaboration tools based on your business needs and budget.
Online Communication Tools
What would it mean for your productivity if you never had to check email, Slack, Salesforce, and Excel just to track down information about one project?
Whether you’re working in the office, from home, or from across the globe, monday.com helps your entire team stay in sync. This work operating system (Work OS) keeps all of your work clearly organized on one visual platform everyone can access.
Without any coding skills, you can customize monday.com so that it works best for your team. Automate data entry, workflows, and other repetitive tasks, so you can focus on more meaningful work. Then assign tasks so nothing falls through the cracks.
Plus, we surveyed 1,273 executives that use collaboration tools on a regular basis. And they voted monday.com as their favorite platform.
- Sign up for a free trial without entering your payment details
- Download pre-designed templates perfectly suited to your workflows
- Get the “bird’s eye view” of multiple projects in one convenient location
- Check your progress at any time from the mobile app
- View your projects in a calendar mode so you never miss any deadlines
- Assign new tasks to available team members so no one is overloaded
- Automate your workflows without coding
- Integrate all of your other apps on one unified platform
- Mobile app can be cumbersome, but they are working on it constantly
- More content on advanced concepts
True collaboration is where communication meets action. If you’re planning in one place and discussing in another — where is the collaboration truly occurring?
Nifty is the award-winning project management tool that closes the gap between communication and action to serve as the all-in-one remote office you and your team have been looking for. Packed with easy-to-use project management tools as well as direct and group messaging experiences, Nifty is the glue between planning and execution.
- Build roadmaps with Nifty’s milestones which are phase-based Gantts that roll up tasks into actionable steps and automate progress as the tasks are completed.
- Timeline, Kanban, List, and Swimlane views let teams of all types visualize their work in the way that suits them best.
- Tags scale across tasks, docs, and files in all projects to create scalability within the workspace
- Built in docs, including a two-way Google Doc, Sheet, and Presentations bring your notes, content, and specifications directly into your workspace.
- Overviews, Workloads, and All Tasks give automated managerial insight on project and portfolio health and make managing resources across projects as simple as can be.
- Project Discussions and Team Chat give opportunities for group and direct communications
- API in the process of being opened
- Free trial, but no Free plan
Nectar is an award-winning employee recognition & rewards platform that bolsters online collaboration. It creates a simple, standardized way for organizations to give out recognition, spot bonuses, awards and wellness challenges all within budget. This includes peer to peer recognition as well as manager to direct reports.
With Nectar, you can reinforce great work anytime, anywhere through an interactive recognition feed. Keep morale up, teams connected and promote your company’s core values in an online working environment.
- Connects with your other tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and more to make recognition as seamless as possible
- Has a robust rewards engine with hundreds of global gift card options or branded company swag
- Unlike others in this space, Nectar aligns with its customers through Fair Billing. You only pay for ACTIVE users instead of per employee per month. They also don’t do contracts or implementation fees.
- Has a free tier along with paid plans
- Wish there was more functionality on the free tier
- Reward options are limited outside of the US, UK or Australia
Otter automatically transcribes your audio into text. Text notes full of timesaving ways to search, find, and share with your team no matter where they are. Otter has several integrations with apps like Zoom that make collaboration and remote work faster and more efficient.
Price: Starts at $9.99, billed every month. Learn more on Otter.ai Plan’s pricing page.
Free Plan: Yes, with limited usage and features. Get started.
Here are just a few of the things we love about Otter and the one minus we could think of.
- Otter integrated with Zoom making it quick and easy to add live comments, delegate tasks, and action items in real-time
- Allow Zoom participants to add photos, audio, and highlights in real-time to create collaborative meeting notes
- Get a text summary of your meetings instantly, no waiting for notes to be cleaned up. No delays, no loss in productivity
- Search within and across all your transcribed conversations
- Love that Otter is available on desktop and mobile we wish more of Otter Premiums were available in the free version
5. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan makes it easy for managers, stakeholders, and team members collaboratively plan and deliver projects. It makes collaboration easy with color-coded visual overviews, making communication transparent, keeping all work related information in one place.
Managers can plan work based on team availability and workloads.
Team members get clear visual cues and notifications about what’s coming next. Plus, team members can work together on tasks. As well as, share ideas with task comments and file attachments.
Stakeholders can stay up-to-date without bothering about day-to-day activities with shared timelines.
- Start with 30 days for free. Basic plan is always free
- Improve work clarity with simple, intuitive, visual overviews
- Plan work with high-level or detailed, color-coded project plan timelines
- Set milestones and track work progress
- Manage team availability and workloads with team timelines
- Deliver agile projects iteratively with scrum and kanban boards
- Work closely on tasks with other team members. Discuss ideas using comments and file attachments
- Manage work better with Google Calendar, Github, Slack and Toggl Time Tracking integrations
- The mobile app doesn’t have all the features from the web app. But new features are being added continuously
Chanty is a simple 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.
It is a messaging tool that enables your team members to complete projects, activities, or tasks easier and faster. It also helps you consolidate all the information you need in one easy-to-use application.
- Unlimited searchable message history
- Inbuilt task manager
- Simple and clean interface
- Easy-to-start and easy-to-use
- Limited in custom integrations
Nextiva brings all the features of traditional business phone systems to companies that work remotely or across multiple locations and time zones. Using just one robust online platform (and one service provider), you can deliver and manage reliable phone service to employees in multiple locations.
Remote and flexible companies traditionally struggle with reliable communications. In fact, LucidChart points to a Zogby Analytics study that isolated information gaps and delays as a top obstacle facing remote workers.
Nextiva helps companies overcome the remote communication barrier. Manage call traffic over the internet, establish a cloud-based call center, and so much more.
- Top rated customer service and free trial period
- Reliable cloud-based enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with zero outages last year
- Streamlined control panel and single platform for easy management of phone, email, chat, and SMS
- Collects customer insights to supplement business decisions
- Security monitoring and protection
- Tons of bells and whistles, including automations and integrations
- Physical phones available on request
- Employees may have to change existing phone numbers
- May require a light communication and training plan if you’re replacing an existing system
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 the best Slack apps like 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.
13. Microsoft Teams
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
Filestage allows you to easily review content with your team and clients on a clean and user-friendly interface. Manage digital projects while bringing your stakeholders (internal and external) together to collaborate in real time. As an intuitive tool, Filestage allows your clients to feel great about the project review and approval process.
- Manage project members (internal and external) with one platform
- All-in-one platform allows you to review videos, images, and documents
- Timestamped & documented approval from all stakeholders for active feedback
- Does not offer a mobile/desktop app
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
Karon is a work management platform for accounting firms and professional service businesses. It provides a truly collaborative platform to manage workflows, communicate with teams and deliver exceptional client work.
Karbon combines email, internal discussions, tasks and powerful workflows, which gives teams a single place to communicate and collaborate. It is proven to increase visibility and efficiency. In fact, according to a recent survey, the average Karbon user saves more than 10 hours each week.
- Integrated email
- Automatically compiled activity timelines
- Lots of task automation
- Extremely robust and feature-rich
- Designed for accounting firms, so many features aren’t relevant to other businesses
- No free version (although there is a 14-day free trial)
Bonus: Go Brief
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
Online Documentation Tools
17. Google Docs
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
19. Office Online
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
Online Software Tools
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
TimeCamp is widely known as an automatic time tracker, but also helps teams and freelancers manage tasks efficiently. Its unique project structure allows the user to add as many tasks and subtasks to the projects, so it’s easy to assign hours spent on working for each customer.
The tool offers a wide range of reports, so that managers know exactly how their teams are performing.TimeCamp minimizes time spent on filling timesheets manually. Desktop app works in the background and tracks time for each activity performed during working hours, then it assigns them to the appropriate project. Saves a lot of time for being more creative!
- You can define different billing rates for specific users and groups
- Easy to invite your clients to let them keep an eye on time and resources spent for their project
- Attendance module allows managers to track employees workdays, leaves, vacations and holidays
- Employees can fill their timesheets automatically with activities tracked during work hours
- Some users point the UX is quite outdated
22. Adobe XD
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
If you’re searching for a creative management platform to improve the workflow of your remote design teams, Bannersnack is a solid option to consider.
Whether you’re looking to save time when designing the next set of marketing campaign deliverables, or for a cost-efficient alternative to other design tools, this handy platform has plenty to offer.
Plus, with Bannersnack, you get an online workspace in which you can create and store unlimited designs and animations. You can also share notes and projects, give feedback, and pass around links, not files.
- Cloud-based collaboration for all stakeholders
- Accessible, intuitive interface with a drag and drop editor
- Design presets, templates, and original illustrations, available at no resale
- Processing and editing PSD files for free
- No coding or design skills required
- Designs can be exported as HTML5, GIF, AMP HTML files
- Requires a stable internet connection
- They don’t have a mobile app yet
Online Project Management Tools
ProofHub is a remarkable project management and team collaboration software. It enables managers to work jointly with their team members to plan and deliver projects spotlessly. You can organize and assign tasks to the team members smartly. The in-built chat app helps you eliminate remote communication barriers.
ProofHub provides you an online workspace where you can organize files, share notes and monitor everyday progress. There’s an online proofing tool that helps you review and approve files. Comprehensive Gantt charts help you plan your project effortlessly by placing it into easy-to-understand visual timelines.
- Free trial
- Easy to set up and understand
- Simple pricing with no per-user charges
- Powerful collaboration features
- Limited third-party integrations
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. By updating in real time, it helps project managers run a team of remote employees with ease.
- 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
Online 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
Online 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
29. Google Keep
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
Online 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
Bonus: Google Drive
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.
Online CRM Tools
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
People Also Ask These Questions About Online Collaboration Tools
Q: What are online collaboration tools?
- A: Online collaboration tools are the web-based platforms and technologies that help teams connect, no matter where they are. These tried and tested tools allow teams to communicate, share project status, delegate assignments, create seamless feedback loops, and so much more.
Q: What can online collaboration tools help with?
- A: Online collaboration tools help keep everyone in the loop, even when they’re not in the same office or location. The tools provide platforms where everyone can see and communicate about ongoing work. This transparency means everyone has up-to-date information and can work productively and efficiently while feeling connected to their team.
Q: Why should I use online collaboration tools in 2021?
- A: You should use online collaboration tools in 2021 because, no matter where you work, these tools will enhance the clarity, transparency, and efficiency of your work and your collaborations. There are also a variety of tools that benefit specific industries and team structures, making it easy to find a tool that feels designed just for you and your needs.
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).