The modern work environment is digital, fast-paced, and increasingly distributed, with team members spread out around the globe. Collaboration is key to creating the best work possible and drawing on the strengths of each team member. But without helpful collaboration tools, things can get lost in the shuffle: team members don't communicate, no one tracks progress, ideas get dropped or never get heard in the first place.
Luckily, there's help. With the right collaborative tools, you can boost productivity and strengthen team unity regardless of where team members are working. Beyond collaboration, many of these tools offer fringe benefits across your organization, from streamlined communication to improved project management.
Let’s take a look at some of the best-of-breed collaboration tools to meet all of your team's collaborative needs.
How can team collaboration software help your team?
With the continued rise of distributed teams and remote work, it can be challenging to keep teams collaborative, productive, and engaged. But it’s worth the effort—finding ways to help your teams collaborate online can boost productivity and strengthen team unity regardless of where team members are working.
Team collaboration is a crucial part of successful project completion. In response to shifting workplace dynamics, many leaders are focused on finding and investing in tools to help facilitate better collaboration and communication across their organizations.
The tech industry and developers have responded, building more and more collaborative tools for every task your team needs to accomplish—from brainstorming and ideation to time-tracking and online meetings. And the best news? Collaboration tools have been shown to boost productivity by 30%—allowing your team to stay connected, creative and focused on the work that matters most.
Best team collaboration tools
Manage projects and tasks
To collaborate effectively, you need a way to track progress and make sure everyone is contributing to team objectives—and you need that in real time. Workflow management tools make it easier for your teams to see all work in progress, avoid duplicative efforts, and keep work connected and on track.
When it comes to project management software, Asana is the old pro in the room. This veteran software tool allows teams to create drag-and-drop Kanban boards to organize workflows; create project timelines with intersecting deadlines, goals, and benchmarks; and graphically represent work and progress reports that everyone can see. Plus, it's flexible, offering easy integration with other collaboration tools.
If you want a one-stop collaboration shop that shepherds your projects from start to finish, Wrike's your guy. Wrike manages and customizes workflows in a real-time workspace that allows teams to create requests, delegate tasks, create and provide feedback on documents, and wrap up loose ends. It also comes with all the bells and whistles including time tracking tools and customizable reports.
Communicate with your team
You can't collaborate if you can't communicate. Luckily, there's an app (er, many) for that. Collaborative messaging tools make it easy to quickly connect with teammates without chasing down emails or documents. Many of those tools offer integrations to help keep conversations connected to where work is happening.
The tried-and-true communication app channel for up-and-coming and established businesses, Slack allows users to communicate remotely with the same liveliness as being in-person, offering real-time chat and voice and video calling with as many sub-stacks as there are team members projects and interests (and yes, we’re talking about sharing pictures of cute cats).
All the benefits of Office 365, plus a software rich communication tool that allows for chats, side-chats, and sub-chats ad infinitum. Once you communicate your goals and tasks, you don't have to leave the app—simply get to work using Microsoft's suite of spreadsheets, docs, slides and brainstorming tools.
The teams that share the work do the work! Visual collaboration tools like digital whiteboards, prototyping tools, and virtual workspaces can help your team cross-pollinate ideas and riff off each other’s amazing ideas.
For a feature-rich collaboration tool that makes work feel like play, check out Lucidspark. Lucidspark is an online whiteboard with digital sticky notes you can drag and drop, freehand drawing tools, and an infinite white board so you can brainstorm to your heart's content. Once you've got the ideas down you can transfer them into action by sharing your board with your team using the Join ID feature. From there, you can host strategy sessions, group and tag team members via task tools, and create collaborative, real-time documents and presentations.
Created by designers for designers, InVision offers the same benefits of other collaboration software—think ideation canvases and templates, user journey whiteboards, and communication software—with design-specific needs, allowing users to create brand moodboards, import product design sketches into prototyping tools, and solicit developer feedback in the design journey.
How to choose the best tools
If you think your team could benefit from collaboration tools, first spend a few minutes identifying what you most need.
Do you want help tracking assignments and checking in on progress? Are you eager to host effective, remote meetings where everyone gets a chance to give input? How about communicating regularly and effectively with your team to remain agile?
Make sure to ask your team what tools they most need to feel valued and productive at work and then get a clear picture on your budget. A few other considerations can also help you decide on the best tools for your team.
Look for ease of use
Old habits die hard, and that can be especially true when it comes to legacy tools and technologies. Organizations waste an average of $1.4 trillion every year on digital transformation projects that have real business impact.
Many of these projects fail due to poor user adoption. Harvard Business Review found that employees spend an average of 22 minutes each day figuring out how to complete their work in new applications. Knowing that onboarding and adoption is always a challenge, look for tools that are user-friendly and easy to incorporate into existing processes and workflows. For preboarding and onboarding new hires, we recommend using our online employee training template.
Find one that offers multiple features
When it comes to new tool investments, it’s all about ROI, which means finding a tool that does double duty can help you get more bang for your buck. That doesn’t necessarily mean a rip-and-replace solution, but if you’re torn between two valuable solutions, consider choosing the tool with more features and cross-functional capabilities.
Check integrations and capabilities
Speaking of capabilities, every piece of your tech stack should ideally integrate and play nice with each other. If you need a work management tool, consider a platform that integrates with your existing collaborative spaces, CRM, or file storage tools.
Test it before sharing with the entire team
Many tools offer free trials or freemium subscriptions before you sign a contract. Test drive the tool yourself before evaluating it with your larger team. A little upfront legwork can do a lot to avoid wasting any time on a tool that simply won’t work at your organization.
Remote work and dispersed teams are here to stay. Collaboration as the backbone of effective project management and organizational success will also stay the course, and new tools will likely emerge to meet new workforce demands. By staying up to speed on the latest tools and technologies, project leaders will be ready to empower their teams with the tools they need to stay productive, communicate effectively, and do their jobs well.
Collaborate seamlessly with Lucidspark.Try for free
Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidspark.com.