Remember the days before COVID-19? When working from home was rare?
Yeah! Me too …
Initially, I missed being able to walk into a colleague’s cubicle for a quick chat. Or attending a fun seminar for work. And, taking up a course on the weekends to meet other like-minded people.
But then I discovered the power of online collaboration tools…
Whether to communicate, manage projects, brainstorm during workshops, or even attend weekend dance classes, there’s a tool for each task.
And I can’t imagine life without some of them.
But how do you pick the best platform? How do you know which group collaboration tool is the right choice? What is the best fit for your business?
Answering all these can get overwhelming… quickly!
So, let us help!
Not only is remote work what we do, but it’s also who we are. That is, we are a team working in a hybrid setup building a product focused on virtual collaboration.
And so, we’ve done the obsessive searching for you. Gone down multiple rabbit holes of remote work tools, tried and tested these products, and made an exhaustive list.
Work from Anywhere: Online Collaboration Tools That Make Life Easy
While quite a few of these tools have more than one feature that improves virtual collaboration, they all stand out for their core features.
To avoid information overload and make things simple, we have divided this list into a few main categories.
Click on the section you are interested in and read about your options for that feature.
If there’s one app that has made waves in this pandemic-ridden era, it’s Zoom. The company defines its product offering as “simplified video conferencing and messaging across any device.”
- Extremely intuitive and easy to use, making the transition to video conferencing easy
- Provides a stable connection even for a large number of participants
- Allows users to record the meeting to enhance shareability with absent participants
- Missing advanced collaboration features, limiting its usability in workshops and brainstorming sessions
- Constant problems with privacy, security, and data breaches.
Free for personal meeting up to 100 participants with a 40-minute time limit. Three paid plans with a Pro version at USD 14.99 per host per month, a Business version at USD 19.99 per host per month, and an Enterprise at USD 19.99 per host per month, but the latter starts at a minimum of 100 licenses.
Are you a Google Suite user? Then this one’s for you. It’s the easiest option to choose, thanks to easy integration with G Suite applications like Calendar. With Gmail and Hangouts being familiar, the user experience also becomes intuitive.
- Clean and simple interface with excellent video and voice quality
- Simple to add meeting invitation from Google Calendar
- View-only or live streaming mode supports up to 100,00 participants. Therefore, it’s perfect for a sizeable company-wide meeting.
- The UI/UX doesn’t allow for an interactive view of all participants.
- So far, lack of useful online collaboration tools except for Jamboard for whiteboarding
Included for free in all G-suite subscriptions. Basic and Business G Suite customers are capped at 100 and 150 participants per meeting, respectively. Also, they don’t have access to Recording and Live Streaming
Remember Appear.in? That’s Whereby. Appear with a new name. It’s a super-easy video meeting platform designed to run quick meetings. In other words, no hassles of login and registrations.
- Easy login
- Intuitive, simple UI with no unnecessary distractions
- Limited additional features, restricted to screen sharing and recording
- Shows the video of only 12 participants at a time, while other participants are on audio-only mode
Personal use for free for up to 4 participants, Pro account for up to 12 meeting participants for USD 9.99/month, and Business accounts for small and medium teams for up to 50 meeting participants at USD 59.99 per month.
A collaboration-focused video meeting platform, it’s available on Mac and Windows. Specifically, Toasty drives collaborative discussions through built-in tools, integrations, and engagement activities.
- Easy, intuitive interface that helps drive participation from the audience.
- No requirement of third-party apps to enhance engagement
- Variety of customizable engagement templates to choose from, which makes facilitating meetings and brainstorming easier
- Unique one-click breakout rooms can divide large groups into small groups and allow them to brainstorm and discuss.
- No downloads or installation
- Currently works only on the web
- Designed for smaller groups with a focus on collaboration
USD 15 per host per month with up to 50 meeting participants and unlimited sessions and duration.
Chatting and Communication On-the-Go
Think team messaging, and you’ll probably think Slack. Powerful integrations, powerhouse messaging, and a brilliant ecosystem rich in integrations. Without doubt, one of the most flexible online collaboration tools available.
- User-friendly interface and intuitive dashboard
- Uncomplicated installation
- Searchable messages make coming up to date easy for new members.
- Seamless and extensive integrations with leading apps
- Video call feature needs improvement
- Message notifications are glitchy with delay in receiving notifications
The Slack free plan allows unlimited public and private channels but a limited message history of 10,000 entries. Slack Standard costs USD 6.67 per user per month, the Plus plan costs USD 12.50 a month, and the Enterprise plan costing is available only on request.
A great solution for companies already using Microsoft 365. Combines instant messaging, video conferencing, real-time discussions, document sharing, and editing. In addition, it provides access to One Drive, among other features.
- Integration of different tools, especially from the Microsoft Office Suite.
- Teams also offers integrations with third-party apps like Trello, Asana, and Zoom.
- Bundled with a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 account
- Seamless file search, backup, and collaboration
- Microsoft offers three different tools for communication, Teams, Yammer, and Skype for Business. As a result, choosing one option gets confusing for users.
- Limit on channels; restricted to 200 public and 30 private channels per team.
- Another issue, adding guest members is challenging. The setup is also complicated.
Free with 10 GB storage for each team. Also includes unlimited and searchable chat, unlimited app integrations, audio, and video calls. Additionally, Microsoft 365 Business Basic starts at USD 5 per user per month. The Business Standard plan starts at USD 12.50 per user per month. And Office 365 E3 costs USD 20 per user per month.
A Slack alternative growing in popularity, Chanty is a business messenger. It markets itself as an “easy-to-use team collaboration tool.” Also allows you to communicate via text, voice, or video, share files, and integrate third-party apps.
- Significantly cheaper than other bigger players in the market
- Comparatively clean and intuitive interface on desktop and mobile
- AI algorithm predicts responses saving typing time
- Limited in custom integrations
Free online collaboration tool for up to 10 users. Also, a business plan which starts at USD 3/user/month.
Flock positions itself as an all-in-one messaging and collaboration tool for small businesses. It certainly gains an edge with features like shared to-dos, polls, note sharing, etc., which help optimize project management.
- Short load time
- Fully searchable message history
- Deep integration with Google Drive
- Team collaboration features like polls and note sharing
- Limited in-app integrations
- Limited messages in the free plan
Free plan for up to small businesses without group video calls and 10K limit on message searchability. Additionally, paid plans start with the Pro plan for USD 4.50 per month and an Enterprise version for USD 8 per month.
A cloud platform for remote teams to manage their work, use Asana for daily tasks and strategic initiatives. It also gives users access to lists, boards, calendars, and Gantt charts. Undeniably, it is customizable and limits the need to communicate via email.
- Great user experience and intuitive to use
- Tons of integrations (over a 100) with even the basic, free plan
- Enhanced security ensuring data protection
- Not very friendly for new users. Therefore, has a steep learning curve
- Cannot assign multiple people the same task
- No time tracking feature. So, difficult to track project timelines and task efficiency
The free version of Asana is available for teams of up to 15 people. Asana Premium costs USD 10.99 per user per month, and Asana Business is USD 24.99 per user per month. It also has a custom priced plan for Enterprises.
A web-based tool, Trello allows you to manage your projects using organized cards. For example, imagine writing tasks on Post It Notes and sticking them in columns on a wall. Trello is also similar. You can write on digital post-it notes, take them off of the wall, and move them around.
- Simple, intuitive, easy-to-learn UI
- Excellent real-time updates
- Easy to track workflow in a project
- Excellent pricing structure
- Lack of templates to create a task checklist or a project agenda
- Cannot assign multiple people the same task
A free version allows you unlimited personal boards, cards, and lists. Also can be superpowered with the Business Class for USD 9.99 per user per month and the Enterprise version, which starts at USD 17.50 per month per user for 20 users and reduces to USD 7.38 per user per month for 5000 users.
Toggl Plan brands itself as a ‘simple’ project planning and collaboration tool. And it delivers. A simple drag and drop interface makes it easy to create project management timelines. You can also choose custom colors to easily visualize the timeline. Furthermore add milestones and integrate your project with other online collaboration tools like Slack, Google Calendar, Github, etc.
- Easy to learn and use
- Colorful display makes it easy to differentiate between tasks
- Lacks extensive and advanced features like other project management platforms
- Low on integrations with other popular apps and platforms
Free plan for up to 5 users and paid plan for USD 8 per user per month.
Basecamp is not just a project management software but also an internal communication tool. It’s a file-sharing platform, and a scheduler, among many other things. It’s simple, easy to use, powerful, and affordable.
- Simple to use interface
- Ability to create client-specific projects
- Built-in communication and chat features
- Excellent integrations with other apps
- Its plan is much cheaper than other similar platforms
- Limited customization
- Limited chat management
- Inability to create recurring tasks
Basecamp has a free plan for individuals, freelancers, and small companies with light usage. It has one paid plan, at USD 99 per month. Additionally, the paid plan has no limit on the number of users.
Whiteboard and Brainstorming
Miro is a visual collaboration platform. Remote facilitators, product managers, design sprint organizers use the digital whiteboard to create and collaborate. Also popular in the design community for being one of the best online collaboration tools for designers.
- Pre-built templates and frameworks help adapt to different scenarios
- Infinite canvas to create your collaboration framework
- Widgets like sticky notes, freeform pens, shapes, smart drawings, etc.
- Embedded video, chat, and commenting functionalities
- Steep learning curve and confusing interface
- Difficult to track across the screen because of the infinite canvas
Starts with a basic free plan. The Team plan starts at USD 8 per user per month. The Business plan costs USD 16 per user per month. And the Enterprise version for large companies is on request.
What we liked best? Above all, the consultant plan for facilitators, freelancers, and agencies at USD 12 per month per user. This definitely makes it one of the best online collaboration tools for designers and facilitators.
Mural is a digital workspace for visual collaboration. It’s wildly popular for the speed and ease of use in creating diagrams. Coupled with various widgets like sticky notes, images, videos on wall, etc. it makes for a collaborative and engaging experience.
- Easy to navigate UI
- Ability to have free guests
- Easy user management
- Performance issues
- Wireframing components and putting a UI together quickly is difficult
- Chinks in better zooming, handling multiple objects/post-its, selection, and export of regions.
No free plan; paid plans from USD 12 per month to USD 20 per month and higher for enterprise customers. A feature we love, particularly on Mural? Special membership plan for agencies, consultants, and facilitators.
A shareable, real-time collaboration tool, Conceptboard is a web-based, Cloud, SaaS tool. It’s particularly popular for design collaboration, online education, workshops and webinars, user journey mapping, and project planning. It also integrates voice, video, and messaging chat systems. Additionally, users can upload files and images and embed video and audio files. It also has features like sticky notes, templates, guest-editing, file storage, and board version history.
- Easy to use
- Useful features for planning and collaboration
- Issues with updates and reload.
- Not as feature-rich as other similar online collaboration tools for whiteboarding
One free plan and three levels of paid plans. The latter start at USD 6 per month for the basic level, USD 9.50 for the second tier plan, and custom rates for the Enterprise plan.
Documentation and Content Creation
It’s the easiest way to collaborate, create, share, and edit documents. Google Docs is also the perfect solution for small and big distributed teams or virtual collaborators.
- Entirely free to use
- Offline mode allows you to use documents without an internet connection
- Ability to import Word docs and export them in MS Word and PDF formats
- Extremely basic document organization structure with no advanced filtering option
- Not as feature-rich as other programs like MS Word
Free to use
Microsoft 365 is the cloud-based version of Microsoft’s original Office suite of tools. Additionally, it has services like Exchange, One Drive, SharePoint, and Teams in the Basic version. It markets itself as the “best for businesses that need easy remote solutions.”
- Seamless integration of the Office suite tools
- Easy-to-use and familiar
- Reduces security risks with advanced protective features
- No offline mode to work on documents while on-the-go
- Synchronization issues can confuse.
- Extra, unnecessary features, make the experience slow and clunky.
Three paid plans starting at USD 5 per user, per month. It costs USD 12.50 for the Standard plan and USD 20 per user per month for the Business Premium plan. It also offers an apps-only Microsoft 365 Apps plan at USD 8.25 per user per month.
A document creation, collaboration, and content management platform, bit.ai is an advanced end-to-end document solution. It also lets users create digital documents beyond basic text and images, with 80+ integrations.
- Intuitive and easy to use.
- Ability to embed videos and presentations in the document
- Inbuilt templates and themes
- Real-time alerts when someone opens documents, allowing users to track shared documents
- Requires constant internet connectivity
- Not as feature-rich as other document creation platforms
The free plan allows users to create up to 50 documents. Paid plans start with the Pro version at USD 8 per member per month. The Business plan is priced at USD 15.00 per month. There’s also an Enterprise plan for which costing is available on request.
Etherpad is a “highly customizable open-source online editor.” It lets users edit documents collaboratively. The online editing tool is web-based. Users can also access a built-in chatbox to chat with remote collaborators.
- Over 200 plugins
- Usable in 105 languages
- Authorship colors feature to spot who is contributing to the document
- Open-source software allows anyone to host the service
- The tool is ideal for note-taking rather than producing a publication-ready document
As far as cloud storage and online collaboration tools go, Google Drive is the gold standard. 15 GB of free storage for photos, documents, and other digital files, makes it easy to access. Therefore, it’s also simple to share and collaborate.
- Access of files wherever you are, on any device
- Easy editing of files on Google Docs
- Simple sharing and collaboration
- Intuitive file search with simple-to-use navigation
- Sharing documents with non-Gmail users can cause issues
- Offline access needs the internet to turn the feature on
- Storage capacity shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google photos. Therefore, storage is consumed quickly.
In the personal plan, users get 15 GB of storage space for free. As a part of G-suite, there are three paid plans. The Basic plan at USD 6 per user per month, the Business plan at USD 12 per user per month, and the Enterprise plan at USD 25 per user per month.
Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive, OneDrive is a digital asset management and online collaboration tool. It allows users to access and share files across devices. Ideal for file management, document storage, and document scanning.
- Integrated with Microsoft 365 and Office 365
- Easy to use, fast upload and download
- Easy synchronization across devices
- An efficient folder organization system
- Less free storage than some competitors
- Only allows syncing of specific folders
Two OneDrive-specific paid plans. Firstly, Business Plan 1 at USD 5 per user per month. Secondly, Business plan 2 at USD 10 per user per month.
Dropbox Business allows users to use file sharing and storage services to sync their files online and seamlessly. Also, a favorite with remote teams for online collaboration and document management.
- Ability to share files with guest collaborators
- Intuitive, minimal UI, and easy-to-use search function
- Ability to recover deleted files and restore previous file versions.
- Allows temporary access through password-protected links, disabling of downloads, and expiration dates.
- Audit dashboard for monitoring of team activity, connected devices, and sharing activity
- Additionally, third-party app integrations with over 300,000 apps
- No provision for online file editing
- No private key management.
- More expensive than other similar products
Four paid plans, including the Professional Plan for individuals at USD 19/month. Business plans include Business Standard at USD 12.50 per user per month, Business Advanced at USD 20 per user per month, and Business Enterprise for which costing is available on request.
An enterprise platform, Box provides businesses with a file-sharing service. In addition, it’s a cloud content management system, collaboration service, and a project management system.
- Secure file-upload, viewing, and sharing
- Excellent security with measures like customer-managed encryption, granular permissions, and mobile security
- Integrations with over 1500 different apps
- Slow Navigation
Four paid plans, including the Starter Plan at USD 5/user/month, Business at USD 15 per user per month, and Business Plus at USD 25 per user per month. The Enterprise plan cost is available on request.
A file-sharing platform, Hightail is designed for teams to manage projects from start to finish. Users can also collaborate with clients, track changes, and share different document types. Significantly it has admin-level security measures to ensure project-specific privacy.
- Perfect for sharing files and track projects from start to finish
- Allows sharing of huge files, especially for design and artwork
- Secure and can be easily tracked
- Shared links expire quickly
- Downloading a file is confusing and not user-intuitive
- Problem with folder uploads on Safari
- Expensive when compared to other similar services
Paid plans start with the Pro version at USD 12 per month, Team version at USD 24 per user/per month, and Business plan at USD 36 per user per month. Also has a free plan with 2 GB storage.
Evernote tool is one of the best online collaboration tools for notetaking on the go. It makes it possible for you to share ideas with a team, capture, organize, and share notes from anywhere.
- Allows users to add not only notes but images, drawings, attachments, etc.
- Supports multiple platforms like Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android
- Easily downloaded notes to access offline
- No way to create sub-notes
- Difficult to follow organizational structure
- Document formatting of notes goes awry when copied
While it has a free version, if you are using it as a team, the plan available to you is Evernote Business priced at USD 14.99 per user per month
If you are a G-Suite user, Keep is the perfect tool to collaborate for notetaking. Not only can you capture and share inspiration on the go, but also organize to-do lists.
- Integration with G-Suite, especially Google Calendar
- Labeling for notes with labels, hashtags, and colors
- Easy-to-use search functionality
- No folder structure makes it challenging to organize
- More suited to quick, on-the-go short-term notes
Free with G-Suite accounts
Audience Engagement and Collaboration
An interactive presentation platform for facilitators making creation and engagement easy. It also makes it easy to present, collect responses, and analyze powerful presentations with live polls and quizzes.
- Insights on participants with trends and data export
- Different presentation themes and templates
- Easy and intuitive to use
- Minimal free version
- An additional platform for participants to use during a virtual session
Free plan which allows users to make unlimited presentations with limited questions. Also has paid plans starting with the Basic version at USD 9.99 per user per month. Then comes the Pro version at USD 24.99 per user/per month, and the Enterprise plan with custom pricing.
Advertising itself as “the ultimate Q&A and polling platform for virtual meetings and events,” Sli.do definitely delivers. To demonstrate, it allows your audience to interact with your presentations on their smart devices through polls and Q&As.
- Integration with Google Slides
- Easy to set up polls and Q&As
- Equally easy to work with presentation mode
- Slow on the web browser
- Expensive when compared to other similar services
- Makes it one more platform for participants to use during a virtual session
Free plan, which allows users to have virtual sessions with up to 100 participants. Further, paid plans start with the Engage version at EUR 10 per, the Professional version at EUR 50 per month, and the Enterprise plan at EUR 150 per month.
Toasty is a collaboration-focused video meeting platform with inbuilt engagement activities. As a result, virtual meetings can be integrated with Miro & Google Slide presentations, and breakout room experiences. During breakouts, engage attendees with icebreakers and engagement activities.
- Easy, intuitive interface drives audience participation in a video conferencing platform
- Also has customizable engagement templates making meeting facilitation and brainstorming easier
- One-click breakout rooms formed manually or automatically through the platform.
- Undeniably unique breakout room experience with timed engagement activities like Q&As
- At this time, a purely web-based platform
USD 15 per host per month with up to 50 meeting participants, besides unlimited sessions and duration.
For Other Utilities
Are you a consultant or a facilitator who runs their own business? In that case, provide prospective clients and collaborators a way to book meetings with you. And Calendly is the solution for you… Because it allows you to do just that.
- Connects with up to six calendars to automatically check availability
- Allows you to schedule one-on-one meetings. You can also schedule Round Robins, Collective meetings, and group meetings like Webinars
- Initial setup can be difficult
- Slightly expensive for multi-user setups
Calendly provides users a basic plan for free. It has a premium plan for USD 8 per user per month. Calendly also has a Pro plan for USD 12 per user per month.
Wow! This List is Long! What Else Should I Know?
If you work online and remotely, then choose online collaboration tools based on your requirements.
Want one tool to handle multiple things? In that case, look for a platform that focuses on several aspects of team collaboration and is feature-rich.
What else is essential? The platform should be easy to use. It should be secure so pay attention to privacy options. Also, check for integrations and compatibility with other tools that you use.
But what, online collaboration tools do you use, currently?
Do you have a favorite platform we have missed?
Write to us and tell us which of these platforms are an essential of your work life and also which one’s from this list you can wait to try.
🌹 Online collaboration tools are integral for a remote team to work effectively or a virtual session to run successfully. At Toasty, we are building a video conferencing platform focused on collaboration and engagement. We are determined to help you ace remote interactions by providing you the tools you need to drive collaborations and engage participants. Join the Toasty community.