We’re working from home in higher numbers than ever before. What’s more, recent global events have emphasised the importance of an adequate home working system for businesses large and small.
Until recently, a business that required high levels of collaboration wouldn’t consider remote working an option but, undoubtedly, times have changed.
Now, it’s impossible to overlook the potential of home working, especially with such a wealth of brilliant collaborative working tools available. This focus on collaboration should spell improved efficiency and increased productivity wherever your workforce is based. We’ve scoured the web and have compiled a list of the most effective production tools for remote working teams.
Best for ease of use
If you’re working reactively and want to get something set up as soon as possible then it would be remiss to overlook the mighty Microsoft Office 365 with Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is, of course, the most widely-used office operating system out there but many won’t realise it’s also a great collaborative tool. One great benefit to the system is, it’s unlikely to require a great deal of staff training. We’ve all used Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc. for years so Office 365 certainly won’t be difficult to get on board with. The addition of Microsoft Teams allows for unified communication, so staff can collaborate on documents, share information and take part in video calls and instant messaging with ease.
Best for free collaboration
If you don’t want to spend a penny but you do want to collaborate with colleagues, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better application than Google’s G-Suite. The free web-based application allows users to cooperate on documents in real-time and users can import, create, edit and update documents on the go. With the “share” option, users can choose who can and who can’t see work, making it great for documents that aren’t quite ready for the boss just yet. Participants will be able to see who made which changes and can save documents both online and to their laptop (thereby negating the potential for loss of important work). Hangouts and Chat also provide a perfectly satisfactory messaging service.
Best for instant messaging
Slack is undoubtedly one of the best-known collaboration tools. With millions of users worldwide, it’s a smart, intuitive platform that you can access from laptop, desktop or mobile devices. There are a whole host of great features but undoubtedly one of its finest is the instant messaging system. You can send direct messages to an individual or a group; you can add attachments and send files and then you can easily search for old messages at a later date. It’s also compatible with a number of services including Trello, Google Drive and DropBox (to name but a few). There’s even a free version although this does have limitations if you’re working at a larger scale.
Best for hassle-free multi-person video calls
You’d have to have been living under a rock during lockdown if you hadn’t heard of Zoom. The video conferencing service was created for webinars and company meetings but has happily morphed into something far less corporate in recent months. The cloud-based conference video calling service connects simply and easily to either video or audio chat (you have the option to choose which when you enter the ‘room’) and even allows you to record the call to view again later. Screensharing is simple and effective whether you’re using for a lecture, a webinar or simply to show off your recent holiday snaps.
Best for Project Management
Asana is something of a remote working stalwart having entered onto the scene in the practically prehistoric (in online collaboration terms at least) 2008. All those years in action have meant it’s had time to refine its product and the result is one of the most respected project management tools. The platform allows you to create to-do lists, set reminders, track projects and request updates from colleagues. Users can also assign work and add comments to posts and easily search posts to locate past work. In essence, Asana is an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that makes hiring a remote team, a breeze.
Best for Kanban
If you love the Japanese system of Kanban and can’t see how it could ever possibly work without your trusty whiteboard and coloured cards, fear not, Trello is here. Trello is a web-based collaboration tool that allows you to organise your projects into easy-to-read boards. The nifty system of Kanban is used to great effect and you can see at a glance where you are with a specific project, who’s working on what and which items are still outstanding. It’s simple to use and integrates well with a number of other apps including Google Drive and Slack.
Best for mobile usage
If your workforce is highly agile and tend to move from place to place, then you’re probably looking for a collaborative work tool that is just as effective on mobile as it is on desktop. Good news, Podio is that tool. Like many of the offerings previously mentioned, it enables you to share files, view the status of tasks and receive feedback on projects. What’s more, it does all of this very effectively from the humble smartphone or tablet for when you’re on the go.
These are just a handful of the tools out there and there are so many more that could have made the list (Flock, Basecamp and Ryver for example) but one thing is for sure, collaborative working is no longer purely the preserve of office-based employees. Collaborative apps started to change the way we work and then a global pandemic came along and shook the very bones of work as we know it. With a decent introduction and an enthusiastic team, the right collaboration app might just transform the productivity of your entire workforce. Now all that’s left to do, is choose which one is right for you…
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