In 2020, Workplace collaboration is crucial to succeeding in the business world. It is more like a ‘new normal’ that exists in most of the growing companies across the globe, especially for tech startups. If you run a company, you will agree to the fact that you can expect better results when diverse team members work more closely with each other than cutting off from one another. However, you can only ensure higher efficiency and improved productivity at work if you have the best collaboration tools with you.
Featured Image Credit: Freepik
Collaboration is not only for technical teams but also can be used for business and education as well. So we will also cover online collaboration tools for education and collaboration tools for business in this article.
Reasons for Using Collaboration Tools
For every organization, teamwork is essential for business growth and is also a part of regular work done by the employees. However, the lack of communication between the team often results in efficiency issues at work.
According to SalesForce, 86% of employees and executives have cited that lack of collaboration and ineffective communication resulted in workplace failures.
They are developed for professionals to work at higher productivity through transparent communication channels. Depending on the tools you choose, you can allow different teams to communicate better about the work related to various projects.
When team collaboration tools are used it significantly increases communication and productivity of the employees.
Consider the situation where you have the teams in different locations that need to work together. If the offices are located in different cities, it certainly not possible for the employees to meet and work together every day. It is where collaboration tools help a lot.
Also, more and more businesses are allowing employees to work remotely from cafes to even from their homes, so there is definitely a need for collaboration tools.
In other words, the best collaboration tools are known to add more value to their work and save time. Whether it is about meeting deadlines, managing diverse tasks altogether and offering support to peers, collaboration tools are a must for your company to reach greater heights.
Since there are so many workplace collaboration platforms or tools available online to meet your business needs, choosing one is a tough task. Let’s start with the different types of collaboration tools first.
Types of Collaboration Tools
- Team Collaboration tools
- Task Management tools
- Project Collaboration tools
- Virtual Collaboration tools
To help you out, we have created a list of the best collaboration tools that your team will love to use. We will cover all of the types of collaboration tools in this article.
Note: Some of these online collaboration tools also offer a free version so they are also free online collaboration tools.
Microsoft Collaboration Tools
Irrespective of the industry, every business gets the benefit of team collaboration software, which comes from excellent communication. It’s the quality of that communication that matters more than how often you communicate. Keeping that in mind, Microsoft Collaboration Tools are a very efficient set of workplace collaboration tools. Here are some of them:
It is a chat-based collaboration workspace that gets seamlessly integrated into Office 365 productivity suite. It comes with the prime features of enabling meetings, notes, chats, and various extensions. By introducing simplicity to the teamwork, it makes workplace collaboration easier under one platform.
Microsoft Office 365
Office 365 is a comprehensive experience of apps and services backed by Microsoft. It works seamlessly with familiar programs like Outlook, Word, OneNote, cloud-powered email and others. It makes communication inside and outside your company easier and secure.
It is a document-based collaboration tool developed by Microsoft. It can also be considered as an intranet used to help various teams within an organization collaborate. Its core functions are to store documents, track various versions of the documents, enable constant communication within teams.
Google Collaboration Tools
If you particularly want to get started with online teamwork management, you need Google Collaboration tools.
Google offers G Suite that is a set of tools that is already popular among teams to collaborate over Docs, Sheets, and Slides to maximize productivity. It is a suite based on Google cloud computing to enhance productivity and collaboration at work. Google Suite consists of the following:
- Gmail – email service which can be used to create business email addresses as well
- Google Drive – a cloud-based drive meant for storage of files and folders
- Google Docs – a document collaboration tool
- Google Forms – a survey administration app
- Google Slides – a presentation collaboration tool
G Suite helps teams to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations to utilize co-editing capabilities.
Visual Studio Live Share
It virtual collaboration tool by Microsoft, created exclusively for web developers. Collaboration among developers working on diverse programming languages is not easy. For editing or debugging code, they had to send complete files to one another, then execute them to look for the impact of the changes done. Visual Studio Live Share is a boon for them all.
It enables them to work in collaboration to edit or debug code in real-time. They can securely share their project in almost no time, start a debugging session, have voice calls, and share terminal instances. Visual Studio Live Share simply means real-time collaborative development.
Other features of Visual Studio Live Share:
- Easy to share your project with peers, irrespective of the type of app you build, programming language, or OS
- Works for multiple use cases
- Easy to add customization
- Live editing
- Easy to view web apps and databases without exposing ports
Direct communication between teams is crucial for seamless collaboration. In that aspect, Slack needs no introduction.
Slack is a team collaboration tool with millions of users across the globe. It is an online collaboration platform that allows instant communication between teams. You can send a direct message to an individual or a group of employees in one go. Similarly, the sharing of data files becomes easier using this platform.
One of the best features of Slack is its ability to help you organize conversations for different channels. Let’s say you want to create a group to include the team of your employees working for one specific project. Using this platform, you can easily create such a channel and enhance workplace collaboration to the next level.
Prime Features of Slack:
- Impressive interface
- Video calling support
- Ease of sharing files directly to team members
- Compatible with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box
- Searchable history to know more about past decisions or messages
Free version available and standard pricing starts at $2.67 per month for each member
Assigning tasks to team members in one is the core element of collaborative project management. Just imagine how challenging the job would be if you have to assign tasks one by one to a group of hundreds or thousands of people altogether.
Asana, being one of the most popular task management and project collaboration tool, can help you in simplifying such tasks. Using this tool, you can allow users to assign tasks to the team members, create to-do lists for diverse projects, set reminders for deadlines and much more.
Prime Features of Asana:
- Easy to track progress or daily activities
- Best suited to create to-do lists
- Members can assign comments to posts within the app
- Organize projects in a list or board format easily
- Easy to locate past work using the search function
- Effortlessly monitor key initiatives in real-time
- Seamless management of workload
- Over 100 integrations to bring files, emails and more in one place
- Pricing starts at $10.99 per month for each user
Depending on the type of business, a regular meeting between team members or various stakeholders is an essential part of the decision-making process. But it often happens that you can’t get to meet your team members or clients in person to discuss important things related to the business or work respectively.
GoToMeeting, as the name suggests, is a virtual collaboration tool that facilitates video conferencing for its users. It can help you schedule meetings and share screens for frequent communication with your clients or hired workforce. The best part is that it is not limited to just video conferencing features but also offers much else to help you drive meaningful insights and strengthen professional relationships.
Prime Features of GoToMeeting:
- Face-to-face HD video conferencing
- Screen sharing from anywhere, any time
- Integrated VoIP calls to help you save time and money
- Easy to schedule online meetings using mobile devices
- Effortlessly record meetings and take notes for later use
- Comes with GoToRoom, an affordable solution to creating a meeting space quickly
- Quality-based performance metrics also available
- Starter plan starts at $19/month
The present and future of doing business involve a distributed workforce where employees work from different geographical locations. It is beyond the scope of a traditional business environment, but it comes with several benefits. These include work-life balance for the employees and more flexibility when at work. However, the biggest challenge in working with distributed teams is to enable collaboration for work-related needs.
Miro is an all-in-one collaboration tool that can be used for Team Collaboration, Task Management, Project Collaboration, and Virtual Collaboration. It was previously known as the RealTimeBoard. It is more like a digital whiteboard to help cross-office users in managing work on a single board. Using this collaboration platform, it is easy to create teams and add members, who can then create boards for improved workplace collaboration.
Prime Features of Miro:
- Best integrations with other collaboration and project applications such as Atlassian tools (JIRA & Confluence), Microsoft tools (Teams, Azure, Office 365, Active Directory), SalesForce, Trello, Slack, Google Drive, Airtable, Zapier, HubSpot, ZenDesk and many more.
- Best for a wide range of use cases, like Agile Management, UX Design, and many others
- Real-time chat on the board
- Easy to check live changes on the board
- Effortlessly export the board in various formats like JPEG and PDF
- Enterprise-grade security and compliance controls
- The basic plan for small teams starts at $8 each month per user
What comes to your mind when you get to think about meeting rooms? Is it a big conference room to accommodate a group of people for a business meeting?
These days, technology has enabled us to work on the go. Why can’t meetings happen that way too?
Webex, from Cisco, is a virtual team collaboration platform to help you host and join collaboration meetings no matter where you are. Unlike the need to have a specific device like a computer system or laptop, you can do this using any device. One of the best features of Webex is that you get to experience the same quality of digital meeting rooms, no matter which system or device you use.
Prime Features of Webex:
- Adjustable room size as per members in a meeting
- Best for team collaboration, webinars, and training
- Easily share screens or video feeds
- Effortlessly start meetings using unique video IDs
- CMR-Cloud, a global cloud-based services
- Easy to schedule meetings ahead
For every service-based business, ROI depends on three main segments – sales, marketing, and customer support. For a business entity to succeed in achieving their targets, each of these teams needs to collaborate around a rich set of documents.
Quip is a team and project collaboration tool that could fulfill all your business collaboration needs. It comes with built-in office suite functionality, including word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Salesforce bought Quip in 2016 and embedded it directly into its sales and customer service cloud platforms.
Prime Features of Quip:
- Offers robust integrations with Salesforce for various teams such as service, sales, and marketing workflows
- Easy to collaborate on documents
- No need to switch between multiple applications or losing context
- Build templates to facilitate team-building without breaking a sweat
- Effortlessly set up the pages to discuss problems and work together
- Pricing starts at $10 per user monthly
While using an online or app-based collaboration platform for improved workplace productivity, you expect a clean, clutter-free and easy-to-use interface. It helps in simplifying the work-related chaos without adding more to them.
Trello is a task management tool that can help you organize all your projects and collaborate with your colleagues online. It is available as a web and mobile app so that you can get more done. With this Trello, prioritizing projects becomes flexible and rewarding too.
Prime Features of Trello:
- Easy to work with boards or lists
- Integrate with other apps such as Microsoft Teams, ZenDesk, BitBucket, JIRA, Confluence Cloud, Adobe XD, Evernote, GitHub, Google Drive, Slack, and more
- Effortlessly set up to-do lists and delegate work to your peers
- Comes with a built-in workflow automation
- Sync across all the devices in use
- Free version available; Business class plan starts at $9.99 per user per month
When you work with your team on complex projects, you get things divided into parts to maintain an agile workflow. However, it often happens that project related information, be it task updates, delivery deadlines, feedback and much else gets scattered across emails, chats, meetings, and spreadsheets. It is where keeping control over the workflow becomes harder.
Basecamp is a task management and project collaboration tool that makes things simpler in such situations by providing a platform to organize everything in one place. Using this tool, you can see you are on top of things that matter to your work the most. Diverse businesses, be it software development firms, design firms, freelancers or consultants use Basecamp to improve their project workflow.
Prime Features of Basecamp:
- Easy to use message boards, schedule tasks
- Group chat feature to allow team collaboration and also direct messages for 1-1 conversations
- Easy to share files across teams and split projects
- Automatic check-in questions feature
- Integration with 3rd-party tools such as ZohoFlow, Zapier, Automate.io, and many other tools
- Basecamp business pricing starts at $99/month
If your business revolves around digital product designing, certain peculiarities need to be addressed uniquely. Whether it is about creating a mobile app prototype, web prototype, navigation flows or desktop site prototype, it is crucial to connect the entire design workflow.
It is where InVision, an advanced collaborative digital product designing platform to help you and your team design better and faster. Using this platform, you can create interactive prototypes to nail the details of your products and validate each one. Team collaboration and experimentation, which is a must in designing prototypes, becomes seamless using Invision.
Prime Features of InVision:
- Freehand digital whiteboard
- Boards to share goals and ideas
- Easy integration with other collaboration tools like JIRA, Confluence, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Dropbox, Confluence, Trello, and many others
- Offers InVision Studio, a powerful screen design tool
- Comes with InVision DSM (Design System Manager) to manage UX components
- The starter plan is priced at $15 per month for three prototypes
How to Choose The Right Collaboration Tool for Your Business
The right tool for your business must be based on individual needs. Here are a few criteria that you can follow to identify and select the best tool:
Consider Multiple Features, Not Just a Single One
You might have found a salient feature of a tool that seems to fit the exact needs of your business in terms of team collaboration. However, it is crucial to check in how many ways a workplace collaboration tool is worth the price you will pay for it. This way, you can save money and time switching between multiple tools.
Select The One That is Easy to Understand and Use
For improved workplace collaboration, there is no point in opting for a tool that has features you can’t quickly get used to. If you think your teams will find it hard to understand the characteristics of a specific tool, opt for a demo version before paying the price for it. Look at the elements like interface, navigation and built-in tools that fit your needs.
Don’t Neglect Security and Privacy Concerns
While collaborating with a team using a third-party platform, you must ensure that the conversations held between the team stay private, and there is no risk of leaking the information. So, it is vital to consider data security and privacy options before you zero in on a workplace collaboration tool.
Give First Preference to the Cloud-based Tools
Cloud-based technology has many advantages when it comes to thinking about improving efficiency and productivity at work. Since the information gets saved online in the cloud-based tools, it ensures everyone in your team stays on the same page while collaborating for work.