Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean the collaboration can stop. On the contrary, you may need to collaborate more than ever, given the state of rapid change and flux at the moment. The good news is that there are so many online tools that can help you feel that great communication, file sharing, project planning, etc is right at your finger tips. The bad news is that there are so many tools, that it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s where we come in. The following article looks at 24 great online collaboration tools that can keep your business going from your home office, and improve collaboration and connectivity. A brief guide, with the essential information, features and uses that you can use now and in the future. Check out the latest prices, there is huge competition right now for obvious reasons, and supplier are reducing prices, increasing limits and giving promotional offers to capture there share of the market.
- Tools for Communication
- Tools for File Sharing
- Tools for Project Management and Planning
- Other Useful Apps and Tools
Tools for Communication
Communication platforms are an absolute godsend in times of remote work, whether enforced or not. Quite a few platforms are well known and well used, and it is an advantage to be able to use a familiar system for both you and the person you are trying to communicate with.
One of the best known is
Increasingly popular and well used Slack is more than just a communication tool. With more than 12 million daily users, it is a full online collaboration hub that brings people, information, and tools together into one place. It has the usual video and messaging service but also 1000’s of integrated apps, enhanced security and dedicated channels for different projects or conversations. It is also cloud-based so you don’t have to download onto every device. Used by Airbnb, EA, AutoDesk, Oracle.
- Cloud based
- Integrated applications -including google drive, office 365
- File sharing
- Video and voice calls
- Multiple channels
- Shared screen
- Instant messaging
- Collaboration features
- Free option -unlimited trial offer for small teams, 1:1 voice/video calls
- Paid options from $6.67 (standard) per month – $12.50 (plus) per month with great security, numbers. support etc
- Enterprise option for very large businesses -contact the slack team
2. Microsoft Teams
Part of the versatile Office 365 suite, Microsoft Teams is the communication and business collaboration section which will replace replace Skype business in 2021. You can utilize cool features like document collaboration, one-on-one chat, team chat, and more. Microsoft Teams is also fully integrated with many other Office 365 services, such as Skype, SharePoint, Exchange, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint. It needs to be installed on your device, desktop, tablet or mobile.
- Increase security
- great integration
- Video/chat services
- Multiple channels
- collaboration tools
- file-sharing/ screen sharing
- Customizable – keep your branding for internal collaboration
- Free version for up 300 people if you have Office 365
- Enterprises you will need to buy Enterprise licenses, then you will get Teams with E1, E3 and E5 licenses.
- E1 -$5 per month per user
- E3 -$20 per month per user
- E5 $35 per month per user
3. Cisco WebEx
WebEx is virtual conferencing software that allows its users to collaborate not only communicate in an online environment as opposed to face-‐to-‐face. Meeting Center conveniently works inside your web browser so there is no program to download, install, or configure. There are separate versions for business and education and healthcare.
- Web and Video Conferencing.
- Application/File Sharing.
- Call Sharing.
- Multimedia Content Sharing.
- Free -personal use, up to 100 participants per meeting.
- Three paid options from $12.85 – $25.65 per host per month with increases scale and features at each level
Rocket.Chat is an open-source team collaboration platform that enables businesses, organizations and community groups to have their own chat tool, and also to customize its look and feel, choose their users, and securely manage data all either free or at a very affordable price. You can use Rocket.chat on your own server or the cloud. You can communicate and collaborate with your team, share files, chat in real-time or switch to video/audio conferencing. Used by Zibtek, Unicomm, Curvestones and others.
- Audio and video conferencing
- Guest access
- Integrated plugins and themes
- Screen sharing/ file sharing
- Free community version
- Pro version $3 monthly
- Enterprise – contact for details
More than 300 organizations around the globe, especially in the fields of retail and hospitality use Speakap. Easy to use software with good features to be able to set-up structures in line with organizational hierarchy, and specialist groups for specific content types. The employee set-up process is easy and easy to post news items and on the timeline. There are the usual features plus useful features for private messaging. It also allows customized company branding.
- Video and chat services
- integration of 3rd party apps
- custom theming
- File management and sharing
- Free Demo and trial
- Basic, Premium and Premium + options -request a quote.
Another collaboration and communication platform is TeamViewer, it has the usual video and call communication, file sharing etc but also offers remote control, desktop sharing.
- Access and control of remote computers
- Custom branding
- File sharing
- Remote printing
- collaboration and presentation features
- Free for personal, non commercial use.
- Business License -$29.90 per month – one user,one session at a time
- Multi user – $57.90 – multiuser one session at a time
- For teams- $124.90 – multiple seat, up to 3 sessions at a time
User friendly and easy to use interface, Chanty is a communication and collaboration tool used by some big players such as Upwork, GoDaddy, HubSpot and Foundr. Its free version is great for small businesses and there is a relatively cheap paid version if you need to expend.
- Video and call functions
- instant messaging
- Remote join call option
- Collaboration tools and integrations
- Workflow boards
- Shared files
- Free for teams up to 10 members with up to 10 integrations
- Paid version $3 per month per user -unlimited users, and use.
GoToMeeting is a web-hosted service, that combines online meetings, desktop screen sharing, and video conferencing software package allowing communication and collaboration. Featuring a whole host of video conferencing tools and collaboration integrations it is used by Marketo, Make a Wish, and Solidworks.
- Screen Sharing
- Video/Voice calling
- Mobile integrations
- Plugin integrations for office 365 and others
- Meeting transcriptions
- Hand over controls
- Interactive whiteboard
- Free 14 day trial
- Paid options from $10.75 (150 participants) to $14.33 (250 participants)per month
- Enterprise option up to 3000 participants-contact sales team
Tools for File Sharing
In the online collaboration and communication tools, we’ve talked a lot about file sharing, this is quite simply a way of sending your document to the person or people you are in conversation or a group with. Could you email an attachment- yes you could, but this way you don’t have to open separate windows or have multiple applications open you do it directly from your chat room. There are options for editing in real-time and remote access. The advantage of these systems is also that you have access to your own documents from other machines, not just your home PC.
9. Office 365
An easy way to share files if you have the Office 365 suite.
Go to OneDrive admin center.
1. Select the file or folder you would like to share. …
2. Click on the drop-down and choose anyone, people in your organization or specific people whom you would like to share the document or folder.
3. Enter the name or email address of the person you would like to share the document or folder
10. Google Drive
You can share files individually or create a shared drive, where all the group have access. You can use Google Drive with any free gmail account, you do not need the full G suite.
1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
2. Click the folder you want to share.
3. Click Share.
4. Under “People,” type the email address or Google Group you want to share with.
5. To choose how a person can use the folder, click the Down arrow.
6. Click Send.
11. Dropbox Paper
Another option is a dropbox account for free with a 2GB limit. Create an account and open Paper docs. If you share a Paper doc with someone who doesn’t have a Dropbox account, they’ll receive an email with a link prompting them to create a Dropbox account. Once they create an account, they can access your Paper doc.
1. Open the Paper doc you want to share.
2. Click the blue Invite button at the top of the doc.
3. Type the email address of the person or people you want to share with. You have the option to include a message.
4. Click Can edit to choose the permissions access you’d like invitees to have:
4.1. Can comment allows others to leave comments on your content
4.2. Can edit allows others to directly add to, edit, or delete your content, and to invite others to the doc
5. Click Send.
Quip is a collaborative software suite that allows groups of people to create and edit documents and spreadsheets as a group, typically for business purposes. It’s free for personal use but limited, so you’ll need to subscribe for larger groups.
1. Click the “Share” button from within the nested sub-folder.
2. Select “Advanced Options” from the drop-down menu
3. Select “Add People to this Folder Only” and type in as many individual names or email addresses as you’d like.
Tools for Project Management and Planning
If you are looking for something more than a communication, file sharing tool then there are specialist Project Management and Project planning tools that could be right up your street.
Trello – an easy, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything, with 19 million users worldwide and a free version. It lets an unlimited number of participants work on a series of boards, lists, and cards. It is used by Google, British Red Cross, National Geographic, Kickstarter and others.
- Free version – unlimited card,boards, and lists
- Paid versions – as above plus bigger file attachment, templates, customization, unlimited power-ups plus more
- Detailed & Quick Overviews of Front/Back Cards.
- Easy, Drag-and-Drop Editing.
- In-Line Editing.
- Easy Organization with Labeling, Tags, and Comments.
- Records Archive.
- Easy Upload (Local Devices, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box)
- File Attachment.
- Free – no restriction on users, one power-up per board, and 10 team boards, 10MB per file attachment
- Standard -$9.99 per month per user
- Enterprise from $20.83 per user per month for up to 100 users -to $592 for 5000 users
14. Bitrix 24
Bitrix24 provides a complete suite of social collaboration, communication and management tools for your team, including CRM, files sharing, project management, calendars, and more. It is available in cloud and on the premises. With everything in one place it is an all encompassing system.
- Video chat
- File storage, sharing and management
- Customizable boards and projects
- work group
- Gantt chart
- online store
- online payments
- invoices and quotes
- Free version – 5GB storage, unlimited
- Paid versions from $17 – $99.50 depending on number of users, increased storage, increased features etc.
A project management software that is used by HealthAdvocate, Allianz, WellsFargo, and others. WorkZone is an easy-to-use, cloud-hosted project management and document collaboration application. You can manage projects by tasks (and subtasks), assign responsibilities, and notify when a task is due. You can also connect tasks together to see how a change in a single area impacts the rest of the project.
- Approvals workflow
- Automated reports
- Custom branding
- Email alerts
- File versioning and sharing
- Gantt chart
- Individual to-do lists
- Project request forms
- Project templates
- Projects overview dashboard
- Task dependencies
- Time tracking
- Unlimited, free support
- Free Demo
ProofHub is a cloud-hosted project management solution. It has scalable features that can work with the requirements of any business size from small startups to large enterprise. It has excellent reviews and is used by Artisan Ink, Lu Racing, Fractal Fox and others.
- Kanban boards
- Gantt Charts
- Chat service
- Task management
- Reports and Timesheets
- File sharing
- Essential $45 per month – 40 projects, 15Gb storage, unlimited users
- Unlimited Control -$89 per month – Unlimited users and projects, 100Gb storage
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. It is a software-as-a-service designed to improve team collaboration and work management. It helps teams manage projects and tasks in one tool. Teams can create projects, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines, and communicate about tasks directly.
- Gantt charts
- Manage portfolios
- App integration
- Boards, lists, timelines
- Custom templates
- Sync Projects
- Free trial for all versions except Enterprise.
- Basic -Free, up to 15 colleagues
- Premium $10.99 per user per month
- Business $24.99 per user per month
- Enterprise – contact sales dept.
Clarizen is an online project management software that helps teams and organizations simplify work and accomplish goals. It is an enterprise collaborative work management solution that allows users to share goals and increase accountability. Used by such companies as Moss Adams, De Beers, Xtrac and M Squared
- Timesheet management
- Social collaboration
- Budget tracking
- Data encryption
- Activity tracking
- Role & assignment per project
- Salesforce integration
- Financial management
- Gantt Chart
- Issue tracking
- Mobile app for iPhone & Android
- Security & encryption
- Third party integration
- Email alerts
On request, starting from $45 per month
- Free 30 day trial
- Enterprise -1GB storage per seat,
Redbooth is a web-based workplace collaboration tool and communication platform. It is a flexible team management solution that eases communication for faster project conclusions with proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) technology and include video conferencing integrations It gives you multiple tools to help you organize projects, tasks, and people. It’s used by Leidar London, LabStarts and ONeil interactive.
- Video calls and conferences
- Task management tools
- Kanban Boards
- Productivity reports
- Visual project tracking
- Free trial
- Pro -$9 per month per user
- Business – $15 per user per month
- Enterprise -on request
For something a little different, MindMeister is an online mind mapping application that allows its users to visualize, share and present their thoughts via the cloud. Suitable for more creative projects and sharing. Used by Tesco, CNN, and Vodafone amongst others
- Mindmap templates
- Mindmap editor
- Project management
- Images, video, and more
- Publishing and embedding
- Import and exports
- History mode
- Mindmap presentations
- Basic – Free up to 3 mind maps
- Paid versions from $4.99 to $12.49 per month
Wrike is an online project management and work collaboration platform that enables teams to deliver work with speed and efficiency. it has tools that allow users to simplify project planning, centralize communication, and streamline workflow. The key is simplicity. Used by Airbnb, TGI Fridays, and Kelly Services.
- Organized File Management
- Collaborative Editing.
- Easy Time Tracking
- Reporting Using Real-time Data
- Visual Timelines
- Resource Management
- Task Management
- Free trials on all versions
- Free up to 5 users
- Free up to 15 users for 6 months trial
- Business -$24.80 per user per month
- Enterprise -request pricing
Other Useful Apps and Tools
You may be interested in some other remote work apps, that can help in various specialist ways. Here are a couple that will think fit the brief perfectly.
LastPass is a freemium password manager that stores encrypted passwords online. The standard version of LastPass comes with a web interface, but also includes plugins for various web browsers and apps for many smartphones.
Loom is free screencasting software available via Chrome extension or a desktop app. Loom allows you to record your camera and screen with audio. You can then download your video, embed it on your blog, or share it via social media or email, etc. There is a free version too.
Remote working is not a new thing but it has certainly gained momentum in the last few weeks, often not through choice. As you can see from our brief but informative guide, there are many, many options available often frighteningly similar. It’s a competitive market and every platform is desperate to catch this wave, so keep checking the prices and special promotional offers. Make the most of free trials, you know yourselves what you really need and what is essential; for your own work. There are opportunities in this new world of work, and you may find new possibilities and avenues out of desperation and necessity. These Apps aren’t just for now, they will continue into the future as the world keeps changing. Get on board.
You may also be interested in these related articles: