- As hybrid teams become more common, there has been an increased need for collaboration applications among remote employees. These solutions allow teams to come together and work more efficiently no matter where they are located.
- Slack is one of the best productivity apps for remote workers. It allows users to communicate in an organized and secure way while working on projects.
- Other apps to consider while working remotely are Google Workspace, Dialpad Meetings, Google Drive, Zoom, Dropbox and more.
- This article is for businesses that are seeking out better ways to collaborate with remote employees.
In the United States alone, nearly 5 million people work remotely at least half of the time, according to a survey conducted by the Becker Institute for Economics. By 2025, estimates predict that the number will jump to around 37 million. The increase in remote workers has sparked the growth of collaboration tools that make communicating and asynchronous working easier across the globe. As a result, the market has become saturated with solutions that make everything from conference calls and project planning to video chatting and account management simpler. Figuring out which apps you can make use of to manage a remote workforce more effectively is the tricky part.
The importance of remote collaboration
Remote collaboration involves working with employees from around the world on the same project without having to be in the same room. Remote collaboration is so important because it ensures that productivity isn’t affected negatively by the time or distance created by a remote working environment.
Remote collaboration tools can:
- Help employees work more effectively together
- Lead to better brainstorming and more innovative ideas
- Promote higher levels of productivity
- Give employees greater flexibility and work/life balance
- Prevent lengthy commutes that can tire employees out
- Grow the trust between employees and management
Remote collaboration allows employees to work asynchronously with universal participation and accessibility. Office politics that all too often plague a business become less pronounced and cost savings due to reduced rent for workspace are also benefits that shouldn’t be ignored.
The best apps for remote business collaboration
There are a variety of useful apps for remote business collaboration on the market. Each app has unique strengths, and many businesses use a combination of collaboration apps to suit their needs.
Slack is a video, text and audio chat tool that’s beloved by established small business owners, major enterprises and newbie startups alike. Slack users can set up different channels that other users have access to and even invite temporary workers, such as freelancers or contractors, to join in the conversation.
Slack has a few price plans:
- The free version that everyone can try out
- The pro plan, which costs $7.25 per month
- The business plan, which costs $12.50 per month
Google Workplace is a great option for small businesses that don’t want to invest in more Microsoft 365 products but still have the need for effective communication and collaboration. Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, Calendar and email as well as Google Chat — for chatting via text or video — are powerful productivity and collaboration tools, especially when you consider that they’re all free remote work tools. There are a variety of Google Workspace tips to be aware of that’ll make collaborating more efficient.
Dialpad Meetings, formerly known as UberConference, offers unique functionality that’s especially valuable for small and medium-sized businesses with international clients and partners. With Dialpad Meetings, users can host conference calls without a required PIN or any software downloads. A unique feature of Dialpad Meetings is that there are built-in artificial intelligence tools that transcribe the conversation. Getting started with Dialpad Meetings is free of charge. If you want extra features, the business plan starts at $15 per month.
For file syncing, especially among a spread-out workforce that’s not necessarily all using the same operating system or software, Dropbox is a great tool. The minimalist design is easy to use, allows teams to access and share information together, review items, leave notes and stay organized. Each Dropbox plan carries thousands of gigabytes of secure storage that can be used to back up files or use for quick and easy file sharing.
Dropbox rates are:
- $9.99 per month for the plus plan
- $15 per user per month for the standard business plan
- $16.58 per month for the professional plan
- $16.99 per month for the family plan
- $24 per user per month for the advanced business plan
- Enterprise plans at a custom quote
If your business already uses the Microsoft Office Suite, then taking advantage of OneNote is an easy decision for collaboration. OneNote users can sync their notes across different devices, share notes and add to them, limit permissions on different notebooks and do some light project management. Additionally, since it’s a Microsoft product, it is fully compatible with the rest of the suite, including Excel. OneNote has quick and easy navigation that uses pages and sections to divide information categorically.
OneNote comes with a Microsoft 365 plan. The plans are:
- Microsoft 365 Personal: $69.99 per year
- Microsoft 365 Family: $99 per year
- Microsoft 365 For Schools & Students: $149.99
- Microsoft 365 business plans range from $6 per month to $22 per month
Zoom has become the go-to application for video conferencing. The user-friendly application comes with simple controls and an easy-to-use interface. Free options are available for those with small teams, but conference call times are limited to 40 minutes per meeting. Paid options are low-cost with unlimited call times and can become a part of your daily team meetups. Zoom has surpassed the popularity of Skype for video work calls.
Paid Zoom plans are:
- $149.90 per year for the Pro plan
- $199.90 per year for the Business plan
- $250 per year for the Business Plus plan
Collaborators on digital design projects can come together through InVision. Throughout the design process, team members can meet up and share progress through this platform. Feedback from team members can be tracked through the app along with providing remote access to a whiteboard tool. The whiteboard feature allows you to share plans in real-time and give design presentations to other members of the team. InVision has strong integration features that let you connect it with other remote collaboration tools you use.
Beyond the free plan, pricing is as follows:
- A free plan is available for individuals and small teams.
- A pro plan is available at $7.95 per user per month for 15 active users, unlimited documents and archiving, and unlimited private and public workspaces.
- Enterprise plans are for organizations with specific needs and have customized pricing.
Trello is one of the best project management tools available for remote collaborations. Trello boards can be customized to meet your specific team needs. You may create a board for a multiperson project or create a board for each department within your company. You can use project boards for blog planning and project launches or specific boards for the customer service team and marketing staff. Assigning tasks and monitoring progress is straightforward with Trello. Trello works as a virtual to-do list and keeps everyone on track for meeting company goals.
Annual Trello pricing tiers for everything beyond the free plan are:
- $5 per user, per month, for the Standard plan
- $10 per user, per month, for the Premium plan
- $17.50 per user, per month, for the Enterprise plan
Google Drive and Docs
Google Drive has become an important and popular resource for working on remote projects together. The ability to share file access between employees makes it easy to keep everyone informed of updates on files. Google Drive is simple to use and accessible from anywhere. Google also has an offline mode that allows users to access files when they’re not connected. Each Google Drive account provides 15GB of storage capacity. With Google Docs, you can increase the speed at which files get completed by adding collaborators. Google Drive and Docs are free of charge and perfect for those wanting to save money on what they’d otherwise be spending on a Microsoft Office 365 account.
Protecting remote workers from hackers is important for all businesses to keep in mind. Dashlane is a secure password storage manager that has become a must-have app for remote workers who need to collaborate with team members. Storing passwords on an Excel spreadsheet is no longer considered safe for team projects. Dashlane allows you to save and share details to make it convenient and safe for your teams to gain access to the tools they need. Dashlane provides both free and paid versions of the service, depending on how many users are required.
Dashlane pricing plans are as follows:
- $2 per month for the Starter plan
- $5 per month for the Team plan
- $8 per month for the Business plan
More than 550 million passwords have been compromised since 2017 while 27 percent of people have tried to guess someone else’s password at one point in their life.
Start collaborating more effectively
The sooner that you get involved with one or more of these remote collaboration apps, the further ahead your business will be. While apps focused on increasing teamwork are the most popular ones available, using a combination of a few different apps is even more beneficial. Whether you choose several third-party apps integrated together or a comprehensive software suite, your hybrid team will be in a better position to work together anytime, anywhere with access to solutions like these.