When collaborating in a team – and especially if you're working from home or remotely – it can be tricky to make sure everything flows smoothly. You need to share tasks out and communicate clearly and often enough to avoid teammates getting caught up with certain tasks and causing bottlenecks in your workflow. With the right set of tools, a team can maximise their potential and build creative workflows at any time and in any place.
In the sea of communication and collaboration tools on the market, finding the ones that will take your team’s productivity to a new level is not an easy task. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the most powerful tools to help your team stay focused on real work – no matter where they are or what they are working on.
01. Slack (opens in new tab)
No matter whether you work with a remote or in-house team, Slack gives you an incredible opportunity to communicate with your colleagues through instant messages and chatrooms. Plus, it lets you create open or private channels and make voice or video calls. You can drop any files, documents and images into Slack to share them with anyone in the team. With Slack you can connect all the tools you use, incorporate feeds from social media into the application, and archive any messages and files in one central place.
02. Figma (opens in new tab)
Free (individual plan)
Figma is an excellent tool that lets teams collaborate on a UI design project and immediately share it with other team members. It’s the first browser-based interface design tool that lets you design vector-based UIs, edit, comment, share and store your work all in one place. Figma does for graphics what Google Docs does for text, connecting to the cloud so that many designers can work simultaneously on projects. To learn more, check out our article on how to create a responsive dashboard with Figma (opens in new tab).
03. Active Collab (opens in new tab)
From $25 (around £19) per month
Active Collab is a project management tool that helps your team stay organised in real time. It allows you to keep track of tasks and events, upload files, comment directly on tasks and keep all of your project feedback in one place. It also offers a number of features to help with collaboration, time tracking, task management and invoicing – you can issue invoices to your clients in just a few clicks. The tool runs in the cloud but you can also install it on your server.
04. Zapier (opens in new tab)
Zapier saves you time by enabling you to connect over 750 different apps and services and move information between them. It can automate daily tasks between applications too, such as uploading files you receive in an email to the team's Dropbox, then alerting you via Slack. On top of that, the tool gives you access to task history and lets you import and export via connected accounts. If you want to step up from the basic plan, a work plan costs from $20 (around £15.50) per month for an individual.
05. IFTTT (opens in new tab)
IFTTT (‘If this, then that’) is another handy collaboration tool that helps you link up a variety of internet-connected apps, services and devices and set up automated sequences. IFTTT works with over 400 services, including Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify. So for example, if you’re making a status update or posting a photo on one of the channels, you can set up IFTTT to replicate the actions on another channel. These trigger-action relationships (referred to as ‘applets’) can save your team from drowning in endless administrative tasks.
06. Buffer (opens in new tab)
Free (personal use)
Buffer makes managing your social media a breeze. Buffer helps your team share content at any time, throughout the day. Simply add great videos, images and articles to Buffer and it will instantly share them on a variety of social channels. You can manage several accounts at once, and it’s possible to timetable posts for specific times or set them up to fill the next available time slot in your schedule. You can upgrade to a business plan from $10 (around £7.70) per month.
07. Zoom (opens in new tab)
Whether you are part of a small businesses or a large corporation, Zoom helps you improve your communications. It’s a one-stop video conferencing solution that enables you to conduct online meetings or group messaging in one software-based conference room. This means team members can chat easily with each other or clients, without needing to be in the same room. Upgrading to a pro account so that you can host conferences costs from $14.99/£11.99 per month per host.
08. Google Hangouts (opens in new tab)
Google Hangouts is another communication platform that gives your team members quick access to chat and enables them to make video calls with users across various platforms. The interface is clean and simple and the installation process is relatively easy. With a number of fantastic features such as video chats, group hangouts and the ability to add pictures directly into your conversations, it’s no wonder Hangouts is loved by users worldwide.
09. Join.me (opens in new tab)
Join.me is an excellent communication tool, and it’s totally free. With Join.me, you can keep everyone in the loop with unlimited video and audio conferencing. It also lets you instantly share your screen or a single window, and join a meeting in just a click without having to sign up or download anything.
10. Google Docs (opens in new tab)
Google Docs is the easiest way for teams to collaborate by editing documents with other people in any real time. It’s a free web-based application that allows you and your team to create, edit, import and update documents and spreadsheets. One of its biggest assets is that it allows your team to store documents they create online, without running a risk of data loss. Finally, it’s compatible with most presentation software and it’s totally free.
Next page: 10 more tools to boost your productivity