April 8, 2020
April 8, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, several countries are either in nationwide lockdown or shutting down their borders. This situation makes it more important than ever to stay and work from home to limit any direct contact with people.
When working from home during these troubled times, it can be confusing and stressful. But, fear not. There are tools that can help collaborate with your colleagues and make a smooth transition into remote working.
Here’s our list of best online collaboration tools that are worth checking out.
Slack is one of the most popular online collaboration tools among businesses and teams. It has instant messaging, and you can create either private or public channels for teams and projects.
The interface can take some time to get used to, as there are many options and settings. But you will mostly use the left sidebar where the list of your channels are, and the chat column. A third column will slide out if you want to see a post thread, and the user or channel details.
There are settings for the messages you want to post, like inserting links to your texts, changing it to blockquote, and code format. Plus, the chat messages are editable as well.
You can also share files such as images, documents, and videos, from your computer or Google Drive. Or, converse with your coworkers through audio or video call and screen sharing.
Here are some of the advantages of using Slack:
The free version is powerful enough to get you started. But, If you need security measures, bigger storage, group calls, support, and other extra features, you will have to purchase its paid plans. The Standard and Plus cost $6.79 and $12.76 per person/month, respectively.
As a project management and online collaboration tool, Trello is one of the best. It’s based on the idea of task cards in lists that are placed on boards. The drag-and-drop feature also makes the process seamless.
You can easily invite colleagues to the boards through their usernames, emails, or by sharing an invite link. There are visibility options for the boards as well — private, team, organization, and public. Personalizing the boards’ background and colors is also possible.
Cards can be assigned to a team member, be labeled, have checklists, due dates, and attachments. Furthermore, you can add power-ups or add-ons such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, and many more.
The benefits of using Trello are:
If you sign up for free, you will get unlimited personal boards, cards, and lists. However, for extra security, plus unlimited team boards and power-ups, you need to sign up for the premium plans.
Business Class costs $9.99 per person/month. For Enterprise, it can be from $5.92 up to $20.83, depending on the number of users.
Github is a git repository hosting service dedicated to version control (tracking of changes), mainly of code. It’s one of the most used online collaboration tools among programmers.
However, teams in different niches can use this tool as well to manage tasks and track their productivity. Since projects are updated in one place and transparent, managers can follow their progress with ease.
You can create issues for the team and pull them to different project boards and decks. Collaborators can assign themselves on an issue, comment, add links, insert code, or close the issue.
It’s other advantages are:
Github for teams will cost you $9 per user/month with $25 for the first five users. This package comes with the addition of two-factor authentication, team discussions, organization, and team management, plus role-based access control.
NextCloud is a self-hosted productivity platform that is ideal for companies that need extra security. Since the data will be stored on your own server, leaks and other security risks are minimized.
With this collaboration tool, you can manage your calendar, files, emails, contacts, activities, and media uploads all in one place. Creating, sharing, leaving comments, and editing documents with team members are all possible as well.
There’s an in-built task board similar to Trello, where you can insert task cards and assign them to people. Chat and video calling features are also integrated so you can easily take notes while on an online meeting.
NextCloud’s other top points are:
If you’re planning to use NextCloud, you can host at Hostinger’s Cloud Hosting server for at least $7.45 a month.
Google Docs is one of the most popular online collaboration tools. It allows teams to collaborate on creating, editing and sharing documents. The interface is like any other text editor with a toolbar at the top and the document itself.
You can suggest edits, plus leave comments and tag team members. Email alerts are sent to them automatically, so you don’t have to notify them every time.
You can share documents through a link or email. As the creator or admin, you can also set the file to view only, allow people to comment, or that it’s editable.
Here are the benefits of using Google Docs:
Not only is this collaboration tool free and easy to use, but it’s also excellent and convenient for projects that focus on creating content.
Google Spreadsheets also has the same basic features as Google Docs. You can create online spreadsheets, edit, and share files with your team members.
Changes are all automatically saved, and the revision histories are sorted by date and who made the change. The sheets are also editable offline, and will automatically sync once you’re back online.
It’s also flexible and powerful as you can use it as a project management tool and goal tracker for your teams. However, you will need to have prior technical knowledge on how to use its functions.
Other advantages of Google Spreadsheets are:
This free online collaboration tool is more than meets the eye. Its functions can also be extended with add-ons like Google Analytics and Lucidchart.
Monday is a project management tool that’s based on instant messaging and task boards. It has a clean and visually appealing interface that makes creating and finishing projects clear for everyone involved.
The premade customizable templates plus the drag and drop feature makes it easier for you to start building your project workflow. You can customize fields from branding aspects, boards, to user profiles.
Tasks and projects are trackable by time and due dates. There is also automation for recurring activities. You communicate with your teammates using the instant messaging feature on their assigned tasks as well.
When using Monday.com, there are:
Monday uses TLS encryption and AES for security measures, and you can always activate the two-factor authentication.
The pricing for premium plans varies, depending on the number of users. Its Basic package ranges from $39-$999 per user/per month.
Asana is one of the most used online collaboration tools with a visually appealing interface and a freemium version. It has a drag and drop feature which makes working very easy.
Boards are very helpful for to-do lists and task assignments. A task can also be in multiple boards. The Timeline is a great way to track the progress of your project, while Calendar keeps your schedules in line.
The Workload is a statistical feature that you can use to make sure that team members are not over or underworked. The Portfolio is like the headquarters, where you can track the company’s progress.
This tool eliminates the use of emails as notifications can be set for real-time communication surrounding your tasks and the projects you’re part of.
Here are some of its benefits:
The free version lets you collaborate with 15 members max. Paid plans have a 30-day free trial, but you need to input your credit card information.
Premium stands at $10.99 per user/month, and Business costs $24.99 per user/month. You will be provided with advanced project management tools and reporting, plus priority support.
It is a project management platform that offers all-in-one collaboration and communication. You can divide your work into separate projects, with each containing the people involved, tasks, files, and discussions.
There are tools like a message board for announcements, a group chat, and a scheduler to help you with the workflow. It has features like time tracking and converting emails into to-do lists.
Other advantages of Basecamp are:
Basecamp Personal is free but has limited features. It’s useful for light use, personal use, freelancers, and students. You will get three projects, 1GB of space, and can have up to 20 members.
For unlimited projects, clients, and users, templates, 500GB storage, company HQ, plus priority support, you will need to upgrade to its Business plan. It will cost you $99 per month flat.
Integrated within Office 365, Microsoft Teams combines group messaging with video meetings, file storage, and attachments. Team members can work together on various types of files from Word, Excel, OneNote, Sharepoint, and other Microsoft services.
A great thing about this collaboration tool is that you can personalize it to your needs. There can be chat rooms dedicated to different teams, custom tabs for frequently accessed information and apps. If you don’t want to start from scratch, then you can use the premade templates.
There are also settings for guest access as people outside of your team can join meetings or view certain files.
The benefits of using Microsoft Teams are:
To get Microsoft Teams, you will have to register for Office 365. The Business package is $8.25 per user/month. For the Business Premium that costs $12.50 per user/month, you can get a free trial for a month.
If your business is heavily centered on video-conferencing, GoToMeeting is one of the best online collaboration tools to use. What’s great is that participants don’t need to have an account to join a meeting.
With this tool, you can arrange online meetings in HD and high-quality audio. Team members can join meetings by dialing a conference line or simply answering the phone using the Call Me feature. The screen sharing option is also available.
Other advantages of using GoToMeeting are:
The Professional plan for $12 per month has the essential tools you need to organize meetings, including the features mentioned above. However, it can only host 150 participants.
If your team is bigger (maximum 250) and you need additional services such as unlimited Cloud recording, transcripts, and add-ons integration, you’ll have to upgrade. Its Business plan will cost you $16 per month.
Part of the G Suite ecosystem, Google Hangouts is an online collaboration tool that can be very helpful when you’re working from home. You can create a message group for your team or make audio/video calls. It’s great for online conferencing.
Separate chat groups can be created for different teams or projects. Plus, chat histories are saved online, so you can always go back to check or review them.
The interface is straightforward, clean, and clear. Setting up team meetings and discussions is also very convenient because it’s integrated with Google Calendar and Gmail.
Some of its benefits:
All in all, Google Hangouts is a useful tool when it comes to communication among remote members. It’s trouble-free and has the necessary features to conduct web conferences.
Skype for Business is one of the most popular online collaboration tools and is a part of Microsoft Office 365. It can accommodate up to 250 participants, including non-Skype for Business users.
The Web Scheduler lets you arrange meetings quickly and manages them efficiently. Team members can join conferences with just a single click or through their calendar reminders.
There are controls available only for the presenter as well, such as mute all or individual participants or block any member’s video.
Other than that, the Group Chat lets you create multiple team chats. Sharing files are possible, and chats are saved over time, so you can still come back to them. The privacy of chat rooms can also be set.
Here are the advantages of using Skype for Business:
Skype for Business has so much more to offer than just a communication tool. It’s recommended for you to give it a try.
If you’re looking for an online mind-mapping tool that allows team collaboration, the Coggle is the solution. It can be used for taking notes during meetings or when you’re creating content. Plus, you can add teammates to contribute and edit your diagrams.
The tool allows you to create powerful and flexible mind-maps. You can add multiple starting points, join branches to create loops, and insert texts or images outside of the diagram.
Here are some of Coggle’s strong points:
With the Free version, there’s the addition of three private diagrams, shared folders, 1600 icons, and auto-arranged branches. If you want full control of the style and path, offline editing, as well as unlimited private diagrams, then go for the Awesome plan of $5 per month.
Draw.io is another powerful online diagram drawing tool that can be integrated with Google Drive, Github, Trello, and Dropbox for team collaboration. You can publish the diagrams, generate a link, and share it with your colleagues with edit permissions.
Due to its rich functionality, you can create different types of diagrams — flowcharts, network diagrams, infographics, and many more. Just like spreadsheets, there’s a multi-page option, so you won’t have to open new files if a project requires more than one diagram.
It can also be used offline by downloading Draw.io’s desktop apps available for Microsoft, Linux, Macintosh, and Google Chrome extension.
Draw.io’s other benefits are:
This tool is completely free to use and open source — very helpful if you need a quick solution to display project workflow.
TickTick is a productivity or task management tool that allows you to create project lists in collaboration with other team members. You can assign tasks to certain teammates, mark priority levels, and set reminders.
What’s more, it’s available across all platforms — Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Apple Watch, Chrome and Firefox extensions, plus Outlook add-ons.
Additional advantages of TickTick are:
It’s free to use. But, if you need extra functionality, you need to register its premium plan at $27.99 annually. You will get full calendar access and settings as well as more lists and tasks in addition to letting you track progress and shared projects.
Also, a part of the G Suite, Google Drive is a cloud-based storage management service. It allows team members to store, edit, share, and access files, especially from Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
You can keep track of company’s data. Plus, as admins, it allows you to add or remove members and specialize permissions on certain files.
Google Drive can also synchronize files across multiple devices, plus there are apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS with offline capabilities. Therefore, your team will have access to work files anywhere and anytime.
The free Personal plan will give you 15 GB of storage, while with the G Suite Basic plan of $4.20 per user/per month, you will get 30GB. For Drive Enterprise, it’s $8 per active user/per month.
Other than that, here are the benefits of using Google Drive:
You won’t have to worry about losing information or make backup files as they will be securely stored with Google Drive. Definitely, an essential tool when it comes to online collaboration.
Dropbox Business is not just a place to store and access your files – it can also be a team management tool. Files from different platforms like Google G Suite and Microsoft Office can be centralized in one place.
Monitoring team activities and editing shared links are made easy, plus you’ll be informed when there are changes. The Dropbox Showcase feature also allows you to display work in an organized manner, and you’ll be able to track who engages your files.
You can extend its functions as well with apps integration such as Slack, Zoom, Office 365, Trello, and many more. Accessing the tool from your computer and mobile devices are also possible, plus the changes you make will be synced across your account.
The Standard package will cost you $12.50 per user/per month, starting at three users. You will get 5TB of space, plus easy to use sharing and collaboration tools, if you need more storage.
With Dropbox Business, you can:
Dropbox Business is a powerful collaborative tool that you can use to track and manage your team’s productivity and data.
Online collaborative work doesn’t have to be confusing or stressful as there are tools that can help you with the process. They let you manage tasks easily, communicate with teammates, and track your productivity in these troubled times.
So let’s recap the best online collaboration tools to use when working from home:
Feel free to give them a try, stay safe, and keep on being productive.