Free Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams

Gimena Aguerreberry
May 12, 2021

Many companies are comfortable allowing their employees to work remotely. Research shows that remote employees are more productive and engaged, not to mention the company and employees’ cost savings.

1. Teams Communication

Regardless of the type of team and its tasks, all team members need to interact and exchange information to achieve their goals. Here is a pick of our favorite communication tools.

a. Slack

Slack "makes it downright pleasant to work together". With Slack, you can connect all your software tools and services, and find the information you need to do your best work — all within a secure, enterprise-grade environment.

Slack's strong points are that it can integrate with a wide array of services you are probably already using, like Google Drive or Zoom. It's used across the world by a wide range of companies, including big names like NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

b. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a communication software that lets your team chat, voice call, and video conference with one another from their computers or mobile devices. You can start one-on-one message threads or add up to 100 people in a group chat, and have your chats synced across devices. Video calls can be held with up to 10 people.

2. Collaboration Tools

Collaborative tools give exploitable pieces of information that are updated regularly so that the whole project team can follow the overall progress.

a. Google Workspace

If we’re talking about raw functionality in the context of remote collaboration then nothing beats Google Workspace. Whether you’re using Docs, Sheets, or Forms, it will be significantly more convenient to collaborate with those on your team if G Workspace is the center of operations.

You can even use G Workspace to set up company email addresses that end with your web domain.

b. Notion

Remote work demands transparency so people don't duplicate work or go in the wrong direction, and Notion is an awesome tool to keep track of everything. Notion is a hub for asynchronous communication, with collaborative docs, messages, and seamless docs editing.

3. File Sharing

File-sharing tools help to improve security and productivity, with many providing useful features such as allowing multiple users to collaborate simultaneously on the same document and secure file transfer.

a. Google Drive

Google Drive is a file storage service that gives your team the ability to store files in the cloud, synchronize them across devices, and share them with others. Like any Google product, Drive integrates natively with other Google solutions such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

b. Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service offering cloud storage and file synchronization. You can share files or collections of files with teammates and clients alike, and vary the sharing permissions to ensure only intended parties can view them. Depending on your needs, you can even employ security measures, like two-factor authentication and remote device wipes.

4. Video Conference

When you can’t meet in person because your remote workers are scattered in multiple locations or just because you work from home, video conferencing is a must-have tool.

a. Google Meet

Google Meet is an upgraded version of the free Hangouts software that is better suited for business uses such as webinars and video conferencing.

One of the biggest advantages of Meet is the additional programs that come with it. Having access to the full complement of G Suite programs, in addition to a sophisticated video conferencing service, is a nice plus for businesses that already use or plan to use this platform

b. Zoom

Ever since working from home became the new norm, Zoom has seen a giant spike in its user growth. That’s not to say that it wasn’t popular before the societal shift since it’s been an industry leader in the video conferencing space for years.

The free plan of Zoom has the main limitation of a 40-minute time limit on group meetings. One-on-one meetings have no such time limit though, regardless of which plan you’re on.

5. Project Management Tools

A project management software gives you the ability to easily establish a hierarchy of tasks for effective and efficient completion. It also lets you indicate which steps are sequential and which tasks are dependent on one another. In turn, this makes it easier for the team to do their work.

a. Trello

Trello focuses on giving teams a way to stay organized and on top of work. Cards are a primary feature of Trello, and you can add comments, attachments, due dates, checklists, and more to them. Card movement is updated in real-time for viewing by all other members.

One reason why Trello is so popular is that it’s free to use and doesn’t put non-paying users under strict limitations. Those on the free plan will be able to create as many boards as they want without committing to a paid subscription.

b. Asana

Asana is a work management platform that helps teams stay organized. You can assign and prioritize tasks, set deadlines, and comment on task threads. Adjust the visual representation of tasks to whatever suits your style—to-do lists, cards, or timelines. The platform even includes a workload feature that shows a snapshot of each team member’s current capacity.

Asana’s limitations in the free account are 15 team members and a 100MB file storage limit per file.

6. Development and Design Tools

Collaboration software is intended for team communication, collective code sharing, and editing, bug monitoring, as well as screen-capturing and image sharing. It also provides the team with up-to-date insights on its productivity, deadlines, performed tasks, and synchronized to-do lists

a. GitLab

GitLab prides itself on being an all-in-one DevOps platform that provides essentially every feature that developers need. Those using a free subscription will get a monthly allowance of 2,000 CI pipeline minutes per group which is enough for most teams.

If all you’re looking for is a solid project issues board then you won’t need to upgrade beyond the free plan. However, those looking for extended functionality such as roadmaps, merge approvals, pipeline graphs, and container scanning should consider an upgrade.

b. Figma

Much like Google Docs, Figma allows multiple designers to simultaneously collaborate on a single document. Since Figma is a web application, anyone can view a project and leave comments for free by simply clicking a link, regardless of the platform. Even if you only have a subscription for a handful of designers, the entire team can collaborate and provide feedback.

Figma includes a free-for-ever plan with unlimited editors on 3 team files.

7. Remote Management Tools

a. Toggl. Time Tracking

Software like Toggl removes the obstacle of time tracking when you’re not physically in the office so that you can seamlessly collaborate with your coworkers while still keeping track of your billable hours.

You can create a different timer for each project so that you know how much each client owes you and which projects you spent the most time on. You can start a new time entry or continue tracking a previous task with a single click.

Its apps come with tracking reminders to let you know when you’re not tracking time; it also detects idle time for when you may have forgotten to stop the timer. For teams that don’t like real-time tracking, Toggl also allows manual time entries.

b. Krisp. Noise Cancellation

Krisp is a background noise cancellation tool built for use cases such as conferencing, voice messaging, video calls, and streaming. With one button, you can speak or listen without background noise. It works with numerous communication tools such as Google Hangouts and Zoom and is available on Mac, Windows, Chrome, and iOS.

c. Zapier. Workflow Automation

Zapier is an integration and automation software that allows users to connect web applications. For example, a typical marketing use case for Zapier would be connecting a social platform like Facebook to MailChimp, Slack, and HubSpot.

"Free Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by krakenimages.

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