The best collaboration tools for remote working teams

With coronavirus forcing many to work from home, your teams need the right platforms and tech for efficient and collaborative remote working.

30 April 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has had a clear impact on every aspect of daily life, not least how we work. With the government instructing people to work from home, thousands of businesses have begun experiencing the world of  remote working – something which, with the right tools, can be very successful.  

For small businesses who may be struggling to keep their teams connected and engaged during the coronavirus lockdown, here we share our essential top tips on the best collaboration tools for remote working teams.

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Apps and platforms for virtual conferencing

With face-to-face interaction paused for now, virtual conferencing platforms offer the next-best-solution for collaboration between remote workers. But with so many apps to choose from, deciding which is right for your business can be tricky.

Here, we take a look at three leading virtual conferencing and chat platforms that can aid collaboration between your teams.

Zoom

You’ve probably heard of Zoom; its popularity has soared in recent weeks in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This tried-and-tested conferencing platform has been used by some businesses for a few years now, and it provides a no-nonsense solution for facilitating simple communication between remote-working teams.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect from the free Zoom package:

  • Live video chat for up to 100 participants in a single session
  • Whiteboard feature allowing for in-chat collaboration and brainstorming
  • Easy screen-share function for enhanced synchronicity
  • Minimal login or profile setup time required
  • Handy record function for logging sessions
  • Can be integrated with Zapier and Slack for increased functionality

There are four different Zoom packages, ranging from Basic to Enterprise. The Enterprise package offers meetings for up to 500 participants, unlimited cloud storage and a dedicated customer success manager – but, it does start at £1,599/month. The Pro and Business packages are more suitable for the vast majority of businesses.


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Slack

Slack is a reliable and cost-effective partner for small businesses, facilitating comprehensive communication options between remote teams. The platform excels in its instant chat and direct messaging format, with the option to create multiple channels between teams. It also has an excellent video conferencing service, with a range of other handy app integrations whatever your team needs.

Here’s a look at the benefits of using Slack:

  • Slack calls facilitate simple video conferencing with anyone in your channel list
  • Centralise all your projects and collaboration with the option to integrate tools like Trello
  • Add teams to a single channel for flexible collaboration and increased socialising throughout the working day
  • Quickly add files, images and documents, and screen-share using Slack calls.

There is a free version of Slack, but that is perhaps best suited to very small teams with minimal requirement for interaction and collaboration. The Standard package is only £5.25/month and covers most things an SME will need from video call capabilities to unlimited integrations with other apps.

Skype

Skype has long been the go-to for video conferencing and internet-supported calling, and was one of the first platforms to provide both chat and video calls on a single platform. Many small businesses will go to Skype first to ensure that their personnel can still communicate effectively, but is the old workhorse still as able as the likes of Slack and Zoom?

Here’s a look at some of the benefits you’ll get from Skype:

  • Simple screen and document-sharing
  • Integrated whiteboard feature, with other tools including ‘post a poll’ and Q&A sessions
  • Free version is great for small teams
  • If you’ve already invested in the full Office 365 package, Skype comes as standard along with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so you can benefit from the premium version without paying more

Most businesses will have already installed the Office 365 package on their team’s hardware – meaning access to Skype for Business. This is a great option for businesses who don’t want to spend extra on their comms software.

 

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Collaboration tools for remote working teams

To keep projects on track, collaboration between teams is essential when your personnel are working remotely. There are a number of apps out there that make managing projects and collaborating on tasks an absolute breeze, so much so that we’d recommend them when you’re all back in the office.

Here’s a look at three essential collaboration tools that make light work of project management.

Basecamp

Basecamp has been around for years, but it remains a firm favourite for its simple interface and intuitive functionality. From simple to-do lists to full-scale project management options, your teams will find Basecamp accessible and easy to use from the word go – making an essential stop-gap solution for businesses who have been thrust into a remote working environment.

Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from Basecamp:

  • Assign individual tasks to the right teams or individual, for streamlined project management
  • Set deadlines for individual tasks to keep projects on track
  • Easily communicate with third-party stakeholders and partners
  • Receive emails and updates whenever the status of a project changes

Basecamp has a Personal package which offers access to three projects for up to 20 users and 1GB of storage. For most businesses, this isn’t sufficient, so the $99/month Basecamp Business package is a must – offing unlimited projects, users, clients, templates and more, and even offers 500GB of storage space.

Trello

Trello is a competitively-priced collaboration platform whose attractive and easy-to-use interface ensures it can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Using Trello’s ‘boards’ setup, you can stay on track of various projects or simply use the functionality to share ideas or brainstorm between teammates.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using Trello:

  • Assign ‘cards’ to different team members in project lists, for an organised and concise workflow.
  • Gain an excellent overview of a project’s progression, or dive into individual cards for detailed information and to-do-list functionality.
  • Personalise boards and decks for added organisation

Again, Trello has a free option, but this is pretty limited with only simple power ups and restricted team boards. The Enterprise level pricing gets cheaper per user as you add more members – so, this is a good option for larger teams looking to collaborate.

woman working on laptop

Monday.com

Monday.com is a relatively new collaboration platform, which borrows many of the traits popularised by the likes of Basecamp and Trello to create a comprehensive, all-in-one collaborative working platform. Intuitive and easy to use, Monday.com can be used for a range of tasks and projects, including simple project progress tracking to overviewing sales pipelines and managing major events.

Here are the key benefits of using Monday.com:

  • Total customisation and control over your teams’ workflows
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Comprehensive communication and collaboration functionality
  • Work allocation and priority functions allow you to easily keep projects on track

There is no free package for Monday.com users, with four differently-priced levels starting at £35/month for Basic up to price-on-request for Enterprise.

How business leaders can keep employees engaged

For business owners not used to managing their team remotely, making sure that every individual feels motivated and engaged is crucial. Here are a few helpful tips that can aid employee engagement in a remote working environment:

  • Encourage socialising on chat platforms like Slack – your teams may be used to socialising in the office, so it’s important to let them have the freedom to do so at home, too. Instant messaging platforms like Slack are great for socialising remotely.
  • Organise games, quizzes and events for remote workers – quizzes, games and other remote events can help boost morale and help everyone feel involved, wherever they’re working.
  • Invest in the right platforms – it’s important that your teams feel they have the right tools and software in order to collaborate, so be sure to invest in efficient systems that facilitate the right kind of interworking – even if that means some outlay.
  • Organise a weekly debrief – remote workers may start to feel adrift without regular communication from senior members of staff. A weekly debrief via video link is a great way to keep the whole team of abreast of important company updates and status.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.


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