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If you’re building a small remote working team then it can be confusing to find solutions to help you all work together efficiently. From instant messaging to video conferencing tools, here is our choice of the best free online collaboration tools for business.
The good news?
We’ll help you get up and running without spending a dime!
Slack: One Collaboration Tool To Rule Them All
You have more than likely visited a few websites for ideas before you hit our site and likely saw Slack on their list also. If you didn’t, you should go back to that site immediately and point out to them that they are ‘idiots’ on their contact form.
Moving on, there’s a good reason why you have come across Slack being recommended before… it is absolutely amazing! So much so I wasted half an hour of my life creating the image below.
Ahem! Moving on…
First of all, you can integrate so many other tools into Slack that it becomes your one-stop shop for all of your team communication. In fact, the vast majority of the other tools mentioned in this article can be integrated with Slack which makes life easier and more efficient for both yourself setting this all up, and for your team when you invite them to join the fun.
In a Rush? Watch The Video!
It also stops you having to check email, Facebook, WhatsApp etc for all the different messages you get from everybody. Just make sure your team is on board and your life will get easier!
The King Of Free Online Collaboration Tools
We can’t possibly cover them all in this article as there are simply too many (browse the full list here), but here are just a few of the free online collaboration tools that Slack integrates with via its apps:
- Google analytics (We like the Arc extension)
- File sharing with Dropbox, Box, G Drive, Evernote
- Custom action creation via Zapier or IFTTT (If That Then This)
- Meditation (I like meditation, but could get weird in a Slack group? :-/)
- Video chat – Google hangouts, Skype, and (our favorite) Zoom
Finally, Slack works literally anywhere. It’s available for your desktop, tablets and mobile phones so you’ll always be in the loop with what’s going on with your team. Unless you mute it of course. 😉
Documents, Spreadsheets, And Presentations
If you collaborate online using documents such as articles, spreadsheets or presentation slides then this is the suite of online tools for you.
It is all stored in the cloud so your desktop isn’t bogged down with tons of files, and you can allow others to view these files to give feedback, or even allow them to have the ability to actually edit these files.
Bit of a voyeur?
You can, if you desire, watch in real time as people are working on documents, great if you are in an audio or video chat and want to team brainstorm while the fruits of your discussion show up in front of everyone.
These tools all integrate with Slack also via the Google Drive Slack app.
To Do Lists
OK, If you have no intention of using Slack at all, then my recommended team to-do tool is Nozbe, but as I’m such a Slack fanboy these days I had to choose something Slack integrated to make life easier for the HOG team. We picked out the cunningly named ‘To-do’ app by Workast and it’s actually a joy to use. It’s simple, intuitive, and again, all in the cloud so you don’t have software slowing down your teams’ computers.
The beauty of using this app in Slack is that you can just send items to your to-do list directly from the slack app while chatting. On top of this, you can gleefully assign a task like ‘washing my feet’ (for example) to a specific team member(s) by simply typing “/todo wash my feet” like so:
which then appears automagically in your connected todo app. Kinda like this second image:
All ready for your team to get to work on, nice!
If you already have Trello, Asana or Wunderlist already on the go, you can also integrate these with Slack if you are happy with their functionality.
If you are working in a really small team, like two to four of you, then you can probably get away with using Skype or Google hangouts. We suggest however that you use Zoom for collaborating online with bigger groups as it handles larger team calls far better. Unfortunately, Zoom is not free when integrated with Slack. You will need at minimum a pro account.
Personally, I think that’s a mistake on the part of Zoom, I bet they will miss out on a bunch of people who might have otherwise upgraded if they had allowed a basic free account to integrate with Slack, but alas you can only use the free version of this collaboration tool outside of it.
That said, if you are planning on growing your team soon, and think you will definitely get the use out of it, then you might as well get used to something you can grow into from the get-go. It will make things much easier for you and your team further down the road if you take on the learning curve while your team is small.
Erm… did I mention that Skype, Google hangouts and Zoom all plug into Slack?
Using Slack For Small Business
What about you, do you have your own pick of the best free online collaboration tools for business that make good alternatives to Slack?
How about some tips on the best whiteboard or programmer apps for Slack?
We’re always open to fresh ideas, one of the benefits of working remotely is its flexibility. So, like most ‘best’ lists, this may well change over time if we get some great ideas from you!
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