Team collaboration has always been vital, but with the rise of distributed teams and remote work, ease of collaboration is more important than ever. According to one study, the best collaboration tools can boost productivity by 30%.
To achieve the type of powerful workplace collaboration that keeps teams aligned and garners results, you need to find and use proven team collaboration tools.
Why team collaboration matters for your distributed teams
Millions of companies are redefining the way they work. Collaborating effectively is vital as companies respond to global health events like the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritize the needs of an increasingly borderless workforce.
Managing work seamlessly with geographically distributed teams means team productivity is high-priority. Team collaboration tools that help organizations stay connected, respond to change, and keep business moving forward are essential.
How to know if a team collaboration tool is right for you
Having the right team collaboration tools can improve real-time communication, boost productivity, and ensure that everyone stays on the same page.
But, what should you consider when choosing the right work collaboration tools for your team? Start with understanding your exact needs and follow these tips when considering whether a particular collaboration tool is right for you:
- Identify pain points that are slowing your team down or hampering their productivity levels.
- Gather recommendations from your team for any tools or software
- Establish whether the chosen list of tools or software is compatible with your organization's budget and needs.
- Spend time testing out a free trial to learn whether the tool is compatible with your specific team processes.
Below is our ultimate list of top team collaboration tools.
For each category, we’ve list multiple solutions in no specific order of importance. Our suggestion is you spend the time to vet each option properly or explore similar tools in the same category until you find the one that works for you.
50 best collaboration tools for teams
A. Real-time chat tools
Where would every hot Silicon Valley startup be without this feature-rich messaging app? (Probably back in their mom's garage.) Slack is a real-time chat app that operates in channels. Slack also supports voice and video calling
What do you get when you build a collaboration hub atop Office 365? You get Teams — a chat tool that combines conversations and teamwork tools with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, and much more.
When Nasdaq and Bosch use Mattermost, you know it is great for companies looking for a highly secure real-time chat solution. Choose this open-source chat application and host it on your company’s own secure servers to take privacy to another level and enjoy a Slack-like experience for internal collaboration and communication. Get the free, self-hosted version for your teams and see how real-time communication becomes a breeze.
B. Voice and video conferencing tools
When we talk about collaboration tools for teams, Zoom is at the top of the list. 2020 was the year Zoom officially became a household name in HD video conferencing. Zoom enables screen sharing from desktop or mobile, meeting, recording, and the ability to choose full screen or gallery views for video streams. It has some cool features, such as the collaborative whiteboard and the ability to send group texts, images, and audio files during meetings. And if you want a better conference system, it has a solution for upgrading your conference room hardware called Zoom Rooms.
The other stalwart in video conference tools, GTM is a popular choice due to its HD-quality video, screen sharing, personalized meeting URLs, and the ability to connect to meetings via desktop or mobile. Teams can collaborate via a whiteboard feature that allows users to annotate and highlight the presenter's screen. A bonus: international toll-free numbers and options to translate control settings make it perfect for global teams.
If your company uses Gmail or Google Apps, then Hangouts is a solid choice for video conferencing and screen sharing. Just make sure you don't need more than 25 video call participants at a time.
Skype has been around forever and is a solid option for instant messaging, voice, and video calls. Skype for Business has all the bells and whistles of the other tools here except for toll-free numbers, which GoToMeeting and Amazon Chime have.
Amazon Chime is available across all operating systems. Its features include video recording, screen sharing, remote desktop controls, and chat functionality.
It isn't easy to get everyone on the same page when they're miles apart. Join.Me gives you a screen sharing and video conferencing tool that makes it easy to review deliverables, hold training sessions, or simply demo your latest product features. And yes, remote whiteboarding too.
C. Document collaboration tools
Evernote is the tried-and-true titan in note-taking and note-sharing. Their business plan allows you to take and manage notes and then share them with your team. Its basic and most powerful features are the Notebook Stacks and the tagging system that lets you find anything in seconds.
The other big player in the note creation arena is Microsoft's OneNote, whose shared notebooks feature makes it super easy to disseminate entire data collections with your team. Yes, it's a part of Office 365, but we figure it deserves its spot on this list for its utility outside of office document tools. Best of all, it's a free product (complete with mobile apps) that can be used extensively for personal and business use.
Of course, no collaboration tool roundup would be complete without Google's ubiquitous suite of cloud collaboration tools, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Sites — plus the ever-present Gmail, Hangouts, and Calendar. Many companies choose to work collaboratively within the G Suite ecosystem because of its auto-sync and cloud capabilities that make working from anywhere a breeze.
Dropbox Paper is a collaborative document creation tool that allows all team members to weigh in and work on the same doc or provide feedback. At the same time, it has checklists and @mentions to help you track action items and assign them to specific people.
Quip meanwhile calls its documents "living documents" because it acknowledges that your content (text, images, spreadsheets, and data) will change and evolve as you collaborate. Like other tools, Quip has a solid chat/commenting system that allows your team to communicate within the documents themselves.
Where would this list be without the true forefather of the modern word processor? Office 365 gives you the complete suite of online Office tools, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, and OneNote.
If all you want is a collaborative text editor that allows you to write and edit text simultaneously, check out Etherpad. It's free, open-source, and cross-platform.
D. Knowledge center tools
This tool by Atlassian allows you to build a centralized knowledge center where all processes can be documented and shared outside of work silos. And because Atlassian owns JIRA, it is much easier to connect issues or bugs with your wiki entries in the knowledge center.
Bloomfire is a great tool for creating a centralized repository of information for your company. Bloomfire makes it easy to upload and manage content from any device. Even better, the search function is fast and hassle-free, which is integral to finding the right info at the right time.
As a central knowledge base, Guru prides itself on instantaneous search results. But the key factor in this tool is its browser extension, which allows you to search from wherever you are on the web and get your result "cards" (containers for your data) at lightning speed.
E. File sharing Tools
Dropbox makes it supremely easy to upload and sync files no matter where you are and which device you’re using. While the free version is useful for individuals, the business plans provide more space and support more sharing and team collaboration functionality.
Boost your team’s productivity when you use Box. Simplify the way you work by letting your teams collaborate with anyone on any device wherever they may be in the world.
Share images, videos, PDFs, and more with your team using this file-sharing tool. Any file format is easily previewed so that you can leave feedback and get closer to final approval for your project deliverable.
Mediafire is a nifty little app that makes file storage simple and dead easy for professionals on the go. Let your team easily share their files, folders, images, audio or docs with the free forever plan, or choose the paid version if you want higher-level features.
Of course, Sugarsync backs up your files, but a bonus is that you can use your existing folder structure to make it all work. Since it's set up the same way your storage folders are on your personal computer’s local network, it’s so much easier to operate and find what you need.
F. Internal social network tools
Jive-n is primarily an internal social network but also includes file sharing. Users can post updates that the rest of the team can see, or it can become an internal wiki to help you disseminate up-to-date reference documents.
Originally known as Facebook for Work, Workplace allows you to use all your favorite and familiar Facebook tools (news feeds, voice and video calling, group discussions, and more) to interact with your colleagues. It is separate from your personal Facebook account — because this is supposed to be used for serious work! Just make sure you turn off notifications if you start getting too distracted by all the pings.
Here's another blast from the past. Yammer was one of the first social networks explicitly built for office use. Users have the ability to post updates and communicate in groups as well as specific channels.
G. Mockup and prototyping tools
Their tagline is "Design Better. Faster. Together," which is pretty accurate, as this tool allows designers to quickly create clickable mockups that can then be shared with their team. It enables team members to review and provide feedback on mocks, an essential feature for any fast-paced design team.
Marvel is another easy-to-use mockup tool. Marvel makes it fast and efficient to create and collaborate on the mobile, tablet, and even desktop prototypes of apps and websites. Best of all, you can draw directly into the UI, which can be invaluable when innovating.
Ultra simple, ultra-fast mockup tool allows "hotspot" linking, just like the previous two tools. The differentiating factor? Mockup.io is free.
Justinmind is a sophisticated prototyping tool that goes beyond giving you rectangles and circles to lay out in a user interface. Along with extensive menus and options, Justinmind allows you to build everything from a simple wireframe to a full-fledged GUI.
Flinto allows you to quickly put together a more refined product idea while still giving you the power to do some timeline-based animation and gestures. Also, unlike more complicated prototyping tools, the learning curve here is much smaller. The app comes in two flavors: a Mac app and a browser-based lite version.
If you wish to scale, elevate or even start capturing user experiences to create smarter products for your customers, you need a powerful all-in-one UX tool like UserZoom. Building the right product is critical, and with UserZoom, you spend less time thinking and more time creating what your users want. Let your digital teams grow their creativity with this UX insights tool that lets them take user-targeted product decisions and measure UX performance seamlessly.
H. Project management tools
If you're looking for a tool to plan and organize projects within a real-time workspace, then Wrike is it. You can manage and customize your workflows — from incoming requests, delegating tasks, reviewing initial drafts, providing feedback, and approving revisions, all the way to project completion. Wrike delivers that in a real-time workspace that adjusts to fit your needs. Plus: custom workflows & statuses, Gantt charts, customizable reports, time tracking, board view, and much more.
A newcomer to the project management space, Zenkit is an online tool that gives you the flexibility to view your work data in many different ways: as a Kanban board, as a list, as a calendar, even as a mindmap, a unique feature all its own.
Use Trello to quickly build Kanban boards to visualize basic projects within task cards.
If all you need is a Kanban-type board to see who is doing what, your team may like the simplicity of KanbanFlow. It organizes all your tasks into columns and even gives you a time tracker that can be used to track the hours spent on completing specific tasks.
Use Zoho to build project workspaces where you can collaborate with your team. Your team gets a bunch of in-built tools such as group chat, commenting and a stream of all activities you're involved in, project forums (topic-specific message boards), and the ability to create an internal wiki or knowledge base.
Does your team feel disconnected from each other as they work together in a geographically distributed manner? Using Basecamp can be a great idea to break your work down into different projects based on their priority, function, or geography. Everything related to a project stays in one place so your team can avoid spending time finding what they need and focus more on doing things that are important.
If your team has no need for bells and whistles and simply wants Gantt charts for visualizing project schedules, then Gantt Project is your free and open-source solution.
I. Time tracking tools
Harvest is a popular choice for time tracking on any browser and any device your team may use, from laptop to mobile device (and yes, even Apple Watch). Harvest gives you all of this including a manager approval function that makes this a versatile choice for logging time spent on work.
Toggl is an indispensable tool for billing with features like real-time entries and instant overviews of billable time. It seamlessly integrates with several of the major project management tools and productivity software as well.
If you need client billing and invoicing, expense organization, or even time tracking, this online cloud solution should help. FreshBooks was created to ease the stress of the small business owner and with its array of useful features.
Want a simple and easy-to-use time tracking app? With Clockify your team can easily track the hours they work for projects, billable hours and their individual and team productivity for free! Since it works across multiple devices, you can track your time at work from anywhere making it a must-have tool for geographically distributed teams.
J. Miscellaneous tools
What about your stakeholders? Prezly makes it easy to track and communicate with your stakeholders so that they are never the last to hear about an important milestone. The tool gives you newsrooms, contact management, and even outreach.
Visually communicating can be really powerful, more than other forms of written or verbal communication. Apart from being super fast, Whimsical also allows many people to understand the core idea quickly. Whimsical is a great visual workspace that your teams can use to bounce ideas off each other, spend more time creating and get things done faster.
An editorial calendar makes the life of a marketing project manager a lot easier, and CoSchedule is one of the best. Plan out your blog, social media updates, and more — all from one place.
This digital marketing platform unifies your marketing automation, social media, email, and more. Converse with prospects on multiple platforms while measuring relational results.
What does a DAM do? It allows you to create, manage, and distribute content easily to the right people at the right time. Widen is a digital asset management tool that can easily become the central hub for all your sales and marketing materials.
How could you collaborate on your social media accounts without a tool like Hootsuite? With the team, business, and enterprise plans, you get multiple users, a ton of social profiles, and everything from analytics, reports to publishing approvals. Not to forget the custom branded URLs — a must for any organization serious about increasing engagement on their social media channels.
Check out Wrike's collaboration capabilities with a free trial
To accelerate performance and get better team results, an all-in-one team collaboration tool such as Wrike is what you need. Wrike has been named a Forrester leader with the right features to help your distributed teams maximize their joint performance, accelerate growth and ensure that customers get what they want.
With built-in time trackers and in-depth timesheets, you get a direct view of everyone's work, and adjustments can be easily made to manage work demands. Sharing documents, files and folders are easy and seamless for everyone on the team with Wrike's unified workspace.
Staying on track has never been easier! Start a free trial to see if Wrike's features work for you and your team.