The Most Convenient Virtual Collaboration Tools
Many employers and employees have had to embrace virtual collaboration tools for projects and meetings, while working from home. Businesses that previously avoided videoconferencing now find their employees spend half the workday or more on camera. Although no substitute for in-person meetings or team lunches, businesses of all sizes are adopting these virtual collaboration tools to revamp both internal and external interactions. If used correctly, they can foster connections and engage staff.
If your business hasn’t integrated one or more virtual collaboration tools into its day-to-day operations, what are you waiting for? Continue reading to learn about a few of the top virtual collaboration tools available for businesses today.
Top Collaboration Tools for Business
There is no doubt that Zoom is the leader when it comes to virtual meetings. This cloud-based service offers video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat and webinars.
Zoom is great for one-on-one meetings. Depending on your plan, you may also host group meetings of 100 or more people. If you plan to go virtual with your next big event, Zoom for Webinars is the go-to choice allowing up to 10,000 attendees to sign up and participate. When in group meetings or a webinar, breakout rooms can be enabled to organize your meet-up into smaller virtual groups for greater engagement.
Regardless of what Zoom plan you’re using, users can instantly share their screen with other remote attendees when permitted. This process is perfect for explaining complex workflows, sharing presentations and more. Since meeting details can be useful – and sometimes complicated – ditch the pen and paper and record the presentation for future reference instead.
At a Glance: Other Helpful Zoom Features
- Allows for the integration of popular calendars like Outlook, iCal, and Gmail
- Utilize built-in collaboration tools like co-annotations, private and public chat groups, file sharing, virtual hand raising, polling and Q&A features
- Are you concerned about security? Rest easy, Zoom meetings and chats are encrypted for total privacy
Packaged with the Office 365 product suite, Microsoft Teams is one of the best collaboration tools for virtual teams. It’s a one-stop-shop for files, apps, and meetings, all living together in a single shared workspace. Cut back on lengthy email chains by using the chat function in Teams to start quick conversations with one or more co-workers. Users can opt for audio or video calls for a more personal touch.
Use Teams and Channels to take virtual collaboration to a new level. Teams are smaller groupings within the organization, such as departments or task forces for specific projects that can collaborate in a more focused environment. Each Team can be further organized into Channels. For example, the Finance team could have separate Channels for forecasting, receivables, and payables. Members can host meetings, converse, and work on files together simultaneously within a Team and its Channels.
At a Glance: Other Helpful Microsoft Teams Features
- Integrate applications like ‘Planner’ for better project management
- Depending on your organization’s preferences, you may be able to invite external users into your Microsoft Teams environment to chat and work on projects together
- Every file you share is securely stored in its original Chat, Team or Channel through SharePoint
Slack is one of the most widely used collaboration tools for business in the world. It meshes communication and teamwork effortlessly. It allows employees to send direct messages and files in a one-on-one chat or to a group. Like Teams, Slack allows users to break off into smaller channels focused on specific topics and special projects. If you like to swap out the keyboard for a camera, you can do that too with Slack’s video-calling functionality.
Slack does not feature cloud storage capabilities, however, you can still connect Slack to existing cloud-based platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Users can also drag, drop, and share files directly within the app and the free version of Slack allows users to search up to 10,000 of their latest messages, including files.
In a Nutshell: Top Slack Features
- Direct, instant messaging and group calls
- Create private groups and channels for more specific topics
Category: Project Management
Trello is one of the best project collaboration tools, combining simplicity and performance. This platform organizes your projects into boards, which are then organized further into lists and cards, so you can track open tasks, see who’s working on them and their overall progress. Businesses can organize boards and lists by team or project – the choice is yours. Within each board, users can also set up task lists, which can be delegated to other team members. Be sure to check items as ‘complete’ once finished! Users can also assign comments to cards to provide feedback to others. The free version of Trello offers unlimited boards, lists, and cards, with the ability to attach files up to 10MB.
At a Glance: Other Helpful Trello Features
- Link any file from your Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or OneDrive accounts
- Allows for app integrations, such as with Evernote, GitHub and Slack
Category: Project Management
When it comes to project collaboration tools, Asana is a veteran in the space. It’s no surprise that companies like Intel, Pinterest, Uber, and TED use it in their day-to-day operations. Overall, this platform has many features to handle task assignments and workload management. Users can create to-do lists for on-the-go projects, set reminders, send requests to team members, or simply provide feedback and give kudos. Best of all, there’s no limit to the number of tasks you can create or the attachments that go along with them. Asana also acts as a historical database for completed projects. Users can search old projects and all their components for reference. The free version of Asana can accommodate up to 15 employees, with minor limitations.
At a Glance: Other Helpful Asana Features
- Paid versions of the app include integrations with programs like Adobe Creative
- Timeline views and custom dashboards are available in premium versions of the app
The Bottom Line: Virtual Collaboration Tools Can Benefit Culture & Productivity
Technology cannot fully replace face-to-face interaction. At best, it can replicate the experience and allow us to achieve similar results. Whether you are currently using virtual collaboration tools or trying to decide which ones make sense for your organization, there are a few points to consider.
- The virtual collaboration tool you choose should be easy for your team to learn and fit with the existing company culture
- It must make communication at least as effective as if all employees were working in the office simultaneously
- Ensure that the program you choose offers integrations with other applications your organization uses
If the virtual collaboration tool you choose for your business can meet these points, there’s a good chance it will be a strong addition to your day-to-day operations.