A shift to remote work was one of the many changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer and fewer people now rush to offices in the morning, there is no chatting in the break room, and managers don’t gather everyone in a conference room for important updates.
Almost everything about remote work is different from on-site work, from hiring new specialists to assigning tasks and giving feedback. Remote collaboration tools proved more helpful than ever under pandemic circumstances. Yet, with so many tools available, it’s not surprising if you feel a little overwhelmed trying to choose the right ones for your company.
I’ve gathered some of the best remote collaboration tools that make remote team collaboration go smoothly. Most tools have a free plan or a free trial and prepaid monthly or yearly plans, with cost depending on the number of users and which features you need. Enterprise pricing is also available for most.
Let’s explore the different types of remote collaboration tools so you can decide which ones will benefit you most.
The next significant challenge to tackle when managing a remote team is organizing the work process and distributing tasks among team members. You need a platform to create and assign tasks, follow progress, and otherwise track all tasks activity.
It’s quite easy to overlook a detail or skip over an entire task if you don’t have an organized system. The right task management tool can save you time and organize tasks efficiently so you won’t miss a thing.
Let’s take a look at the options.
With Jira, you can create, assign, and track the development of tasks for every team member.
Managing projects in Jira is easy thanks to strong, agile views, including kanban and scrum; custom workflows; roadmaps that provide a clear vision and path for your team to follow; and in-depth reports to track and analyze the development of projects.
If you are in no mood to get familiar with complex interfaces or learn about dozens of different features and want a simple app to keep track of your tasks, check out Trello.
It has a user-friendly interface, real-time updates, and follows a Kanban system. Trello is also mobile-friendly and has a customizable notification system.
While perfect for small teams and projects, Trello lacks advanced functionality to be the right fit for larger organizations.
Like other task management tools, Asana lets you create tasks, assign them to team members, and set deadlines. You can integrate third-party apps and software and securely store information about your employees, projects, and customers.
Asana doesn’t have a user-friendly interface, though, and it takes time to get used to it. New users usually need guidance to understand the tool.
Basecamp is a web-based tool for team collaboration, storage, and project management, all in one. With this tool, you can centralize teams, all sorts of files, messages and ensure that everyone involved in a project is on the same page.
Basecamp users praise its ability to create various projects, backup data, and integrate with many third-party apps. On the downside, you need to consider that Basecamp offers limited customization options.
Teamwork’s rich feature set, general usability, and user-friendly mobile support make it impeccable task management software.
Teamwork’s features include email integration, task history, document management, project templates, prioritization, and multiple projects support. In addition, it integrates with Google Drive, Gmail, Dropbox, Harvest, and dozens of other third-party apps.
Regarding its disadvantages, users complain about lack of reporting tools and two-factor authentication.
Wrike’s main features include an activity feed, interactive timeline, project and team reporting, templates, and status & workflow options. Users appreciate that Wrike has all the right tools for managing resources, increasing collaboration between distributed teams, and simplifying complex processes.
On the downside, Wrike has a steep learning curve, slow interface, and limited customization.
Your software developers should have a robust platform to track application code changes and to collaborate on modifying and improving code. Review the following platforms to find out which one matches your needs.
Created 13 years ago, GitHub changed communication and collaboration between tech people. It’s a Git server where you can collaborate with fellow developers, creating and changing projects together as easily as you can order pizza online.
GitHub has built-in code review, meaning you can propose changes, browse code, ask for input, and much more, all in one place. Users say security is a potential drawback because the service doesn’t offer private repositories, and anyone with a login can access your data.
GitLab is another Git server. Less popular than GitHub, it’s still a reliable open-core platform for software development collaboration.
GitLab’s feature set includes setting and grouping project milestones, focusing and grouping issue boards, organizing team and individual deadlines, shuffling and tracking issues and tasks, and configuring issues boards.
Features like code review and pull requests make it user-friendly, but users note that the interface isn’t as amiable as they expected.
An additional Git server, Bitbucket, is less popular than GitLab, but it’s used by companies such as Ford, PayPal, and WeWork.
Software developers and coders praise Bitbucket's public and private repository options, secure workflow, and distributed control framework. Meanwhile, the lack of a developer community is a negative.
The saying that communication is the key to success is wildly overused but still true. And with remote work, it’s necessary to organize communication between team members effectively. Simply sending emails won’t do. Instead, you need to create an efficient system of communication where employees won’t waste time asking for task details from multiple people.
Luckily, plenty of communication management tools were explicitly created to avoid such situations. Of course, each has different features and functionality. Let’s take a look.
This instant messaging platform became a menace to emails. Slack offers an easy-to-use interface and separate channels for communication between different departments or about various topics.
Slack users consider searchable history, shared files, and integration with other tools and services like Trello, GitHub, Dropbox, Mailchimp, and dozens of others, as its main benefits. Slack’s co-founder and CTO, Cal Henderson, also noted that more and more companies use Slack’s recording feature because “it levels the playing field for whether people are physically in an office together or whether they're distributed.”
On the downside, Slack lacks organization and structure. It’s hard to keep up with multiple channels and chats, especially in a large company.
I once read on TechCrunch that Twist is Slack without unwanted distractions. It’s close to the truth because the platform’s interface is composed of threads but resembles more an email structure. To start a conversation, you click on a channel, type in a thread with a title and some body text. But only after you post a new thread, other users can add comments, react with emojis, and you can tag people. This way, it helps track important messages and information, specifically for large teams with fast data streams.
Your team workplace consists of channels made up of threads, which in turn are made up of comments. You can divide channels by general topics, departments, or projects, while threads represent specific issues or questions you want to discuss in-depth.
Twist eliminates the problem of real-time communication when you open your laptop, and 100+ notifications and messages jump right at you without any warning. It utilizes the principle of asynchronous communication, where you can think about and respond to messages in your own time.
When choosing Twist, be aware of limited integration with other tools and the absence of audio/video calls, screen recording, and keyword alerts.
Loom is a video recording and screen-sharing tool that positions itself as an enterprise-tailored one. The one-click record feature allows team members to exchange information via instantly shareable videos. It can be video messages for new employees, sales and marketing teams, and more.
Other features of Loom include link sharing, video editing, comments, access control, and advanced reporting. As for the cons, users mention poor video editing options.
I wrote a detailed post of how to use Loom with your team.
Long gone are the days when we gathered in conference rooms for weekly meetings. Now it’s all audio and video calls. Your video conferencing tool should include options like screen recording and screen sharing to ensure communication on and offline.
Skype is a Microsoft app that allows real-time communication for up to 250 people at a time. You can make voice and video calls via Skype and send instant video messages.
You can either create an account or join video calls as a guest (but this option has limited functionality). The platform enables screen recording, document sharing, and third-party integration. On the downside, Skype takes up a lot of bandwidth to install (meaning, it might take some effort to install on slower computers).
Released a decade after Skype, Zoom quickly became its main competitor. If you host a video conference via Zoom, you control the call. For example, you can control who attends, mute everyone’s microphone, and create breakout rooms.
As a call attendee, you can raise a virtual hand to get the speaker's attention, and you can share your screen with others if given permission by the host. Zoom meetings can handle up to 1000 depending on your plan and which ad-ons you purchase. You can also record video calls and share them later.
When working remotely, most employees use their private computers and access various WiFi networks. This makes it much easier for cyberhackers to gain access to your company’s sensitive data. So, don’t forget to ensure proper security protocols. Consider the following security tools to make your company’s information bulletproof.
LastPass is a password manager platform. Its pros include a user-friendly interface, automatic syncing between multiple devices, a solid security and encryption framework, and third-party integration.
Did you know that 67% of breaches are caused by credential theft, errors, and social attacks? Using LastPass reduces this risk because it prevents employees from reusing passwords and creates a safe place to store and share passwords.
Disk Drill is data recovery software for data stored on computers running Windows or Mac OS. With Disk Drill, you can ensure that any critical data or documents that get accidentally deleted can be recovered.
When managing a remote team, it’s especially challenging to understand what your employees are doing and how much time they’re spending on particular tasks. On top of that, hour-based estimates are the cornerstone of the outsourcing industry. Luckily, time tracking tools for remote collaboration are available.
TimeDoctor is web and app usage time tracking software. It also allows automated screenshots and mouse and keyboard activity tracking. Additionally, you can integrate TimeDoctor with payment software so you can pay employees through TimeDoctor.
Users who worked with TimeDoctor pointed out that it slowed down their computers and crashed frequently. They also noticed issues with data synchronization between devices.
Toggl is mainly used to track time spent on specific tasks. You can create and track multiple projects and log time manually or use a real-time automated tracker. Toggl also provides you with detailed weekly and monthly reports and analytics of time logged and projects completed.
One con of Toggl is that it doesn’t offer many customization options for time tracking.
Most software development projects are joint efforts of many employees across different departments, and you need to provide an environment in which they can work simultaneously on the same tasks.
Sounds hard, but it’s not if you use one of the following remote collaboration software tools.
With Notion, you get to plan tasks, collaborate with team members, and organize your team. You can use Notion’s wiki tool to organize your company’s documentation, policies, and practices. It’s user-friendly, and your employees can quickly learn how to create custom wiki pages, create tables, and work with web clippings.
One negative is that Notion requires some time to set up.
Miro is a digital whiteboard you can use for research collaborations, creating customer’ journeys, story maps, and other collaborative tasks.
Team members can use Miro’ to create mockups and schemas, jot down ideas, and leave feedback. However, users complain that it’s slow when working with many objects on the same board.
With Figma, an interface designing tool, team members can work on the same design simultaneously, without hassle.
Figma attracts users with features like real-time collaboration, seamless file sharing, and many community-driven plugins that can considerably improve your workflow. It’s an all-in-one tool for design, prototyping, and software development. Meanwhile, one of Figma’s main drawbacks is that it requires substantial RAM & powerful graphic cards to run smoothly, which some computers lack.
From onboarding new employees and to managing daily tasks, remote work can be challenging for any company. But not if you know how to organize it properly and you have the right tools. So, please browse through our list again and decide which tools match your needs. Many of these tools have similar features, so remember to check them for compatibility when choosing several.
Also, don’t forget to check third-party integration to see which tools can work together. For instance, because Jira and Slack integrate, it would be smart to pair them.
At Altigee, we specialize in building and managing software development teams. If you still have questions about remote collaboration tools and want advice on how to organize the work of a remote team, don’t hesitate to contact us.