Online collaboration tools to use now that you work from home
Are you new to remote work? Welcome to the club! Now that much of the world has gone remote, companies and employees are learning how to navigate relationships and workflows outside of the office. If you need help adapting, check out our work from home tips!
If you need help staying in touch with your team and getting things done, we’ve created a list of essential tools that every remote worker should have in their toolkit. You may need some time to adjust during your first few days or even weeks working from home, but with the help of these online collaboration tools you’ll be able to create an organized system that works for everyone!
File sharing and cloud storage
What’s not to love about Google Drive? As one of the easiest and most convenient cloud storage systems, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular remote collaboration tools. If you’re not already familiar with it, Google Drive allows you to create, store, access, and collaborate on documents with your whole team. Access word documents, spreadsheets and presentations—wherever and whenever.
Dropbox, another popular cloud storage service, is used by companies and individuals around the world to sync and share files and folders.
Personally, I prefer the aesthetics of Google Drive; I find it easier to organize and locate documents. But it’s really just a matter of preference if you’re using the free versions of either cloud system. If you need to upgrade your storage space however, Google Drive will give you more for your money.
If you hadn’t heard of Zoom, I’m sure you have by now! What I love about Zoom is that it’s one of the most user-friendly video-conferencing platforms, plus you don’t have to download anything to join or run a call—you can use it directly from your browser.
The free plan gives you unlimited 1:1 meetings and the ability to host up to 100 people on a call, however there is a 40-minute time limit for group meetings of three or more people. Some cool features include: screen sharing, breakout rooms, whiteboarding, and the ability to record meetings. It really is the MVP of remote work tools.
If you have a Gmail account then you already have access to Google Hangouts. It’s a very simple platform that allows you to connect with up to 25 people for free, with no time limit! If you’re a smaller organization, Hangouts should do the job.
Unlike Zoom and Google Hangouts, Loom is a free screen recorder. Think of it as video instant messaging. If you need to visually share, explain, or walk someone through something, you can record yourself, your screen, or both to share your idea.
This is especially helpful for training because you can visually guide employees through a series of steps using both your screen and voice. Loom helps connect decentralized teams and provides quick updates without having to schedule a meeting or coordinate time zones. It’s as easy as sharing a link to your recording.
The top communication and collaboration tool for teams is Slack. In addition to communicating and collaborating, Slack lets you share important files in one central, organized hub. It’s easy to use on both desktop and mobile, streamlining the noise of email, texting, and instant messaging. You can create separate channels for different projects, departments or stakeholders, easily toggling back and forth between each team.
Trello, one of the more popular project management tools, keeps ideas and tasks organized using a framework based on Toyota’s Kanban workflow system. Its interface is simply a group of lists composed of cards, or tasks, that can be dragged and dropped. Add information to tasks such as files or comments, give them due dates and assign them to teammates. Trello is a super user-friendly app that keeps all of your projects organized and helps teams collaborate.
I use Trello to organize my workflow for She Hit Refresh.
Asana is one of the “easiest ways to manage team projects and tasks.” Aesthetically, it has a clean interface that is easy to understand, where you can map out each step of a project and organize the details all in one place. Assign tasks with one click, so teams can easily see who is responsible for each part of a project.
Asana’s drag and drop features make the tool very user-friendly, as you can quickly share, revise, and move through stages of your workflow. Use the timeline function to get an overview of your project; this gives a visual of how the pieces fit together as well as plan for problems before they arise, all while making sure you hit your deadline—great for product launches!
Airtable has become the go-to platform for spreadsheet and database lovers. But it’s so much more than that; it’s an intuitive and flexible tool that allows you and your team to organize anything and everything! It’s highly customizable, so it might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t let that deter you there are plenty of templates to choose from. To get a feel for how it works, check out this intro to Airtable video.
Time and Time zones
Coordinating calendars across time zones can be a real headache. If you find yourself juggling multiple time zones, World Time Buddy is a must to keep things straight. This time zone converter allows you to check the time in multiple locations at once—easy peasy!
Have you found that time passes differently at home? You’re not alone. If you need to keep track of where your time goes, Toggle is a simple time-tracking app that lets you do just that. Track individual projects, video conferences, client and sales calls, and online training to see how your time is being spent.
Eliminate back and forth emails and automate the process of finding an open window to meet with your team. This scheduling tool is a time saver for remote teams. Individuals can book an open slot on your calendar and it can even pool a team’s availability, allowing everyone to pick the meeting time that works best for them.
Trying to remember numerous passwords is a headache, but with this password management tool you can create unique passwords, securely store them, and share access to online accounts with your team members.
If you need to create a graphic on the fly with ZERO skills then Canva is your savior. It’s a graphic design tool that novices and professionals alike can use to create eye-catching designs. While it’s recommended to hire a professional designer to create your brand images, logos, brochures, and complex projects—you may not have the time or budget to do so right now.
Luckily, there are tons of small projects that your team can do in-house for a fraction of the cost with Canva’s pre-formatted templates. Create everything from presentations to social media images to flyers to letterheads, infographics, and more!