The most accessible online collaboration tools

May 4, 2018

 

In recent years the number of people who work remotely has been constantly increasing. According to an Intuit report, by 2020 more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be telecommuters.

 

This big rise the number of people who do not work in an office with other people, created a market demand for alternative ways of collaborating with colleagues.

 

In this article I will review the tools that I find most accessible:

 

Slack

 

 

Slack is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) online collaboration tools on the market. It can best be described as a messaging app.

 

It’s biggest advantage is that it helps co-workers communicate instantly with each other, in the form of a chatroom, thus helps cutting back on needless internal email and the time-wasting between emails.

 

Because many of Slack’s features help replace other tools (e.g., built-in file uploads, voice/video conferencing, etc.), Slack has become an essential productivity tool that helps companies of all sizes streamline their communication.

 

Pros:
  • Public and private chat channels help employees compartmentalize topics of discussion and communicate more efficiently

  • Customizable notification levels enable users to get notified about the topics that matter most, without getting overloaded with messages

  • Integrations with more than 1,000 applications, including Google Drive and Trello

  • Built-in phone calls, video chat (up to 15 people), and screen sharing features

  • iPhone/Android apps

Cons:
  • Occasionally has availability issues that prevent users from accessing the app

  • No fuzzy search capabilities when searching through message history

Trello

 

 

Trello describes itself as“a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards."

 

A Trello board is basically a web page containing lists on the page so you can get a view of your project. Items within the lists, called cards, can be dragged and dropped onto other lists or reordered within lists.

 

Individual cards themselves can contain images, attachments, deadline dates, colored labels, and discussion notes from others who share the board.

 

Trello cards are like sticky notes you arrange on a cork board—that is, digital sticky notes that are searchable, shareable, and come with reminders.

 

Pros:

  • Simple layout with simple instructions

  • iPhone and Android app

  • Ability to create unlimited cards

  • You can invite as many people as you want to a board

  • Trello backs up your data

Cons:

  • Exporting is not available on free plan

  • Interface can get messy and confusing with many cards and lists

 

Google Docs

 

 

 

Google Docs is an online word processor. Although simpler than Microsoft Word, it contains all the essential features that you would look for in a word processor.

 

It’s biggest advantage is that through it you can share the documents you create with your colleagues and work simultaneously on the same sheet and see each other’s changes as they are happening in near real time.

 

The documents are stored on the “cloud” which means that you can access them on any PC which has an internet connection and as a bonus this means that your data is always backed up.

 

Pros:

  • Files can be downloaded in many formats

  • Documents are auto-saved to your Google account

  • Simple interface

  • Automatically identifies spelling errors

  • Embedded chat application makes it easy to collaborate

Cons:

  • Only works as fast as your Internet connection

  • You must be logged on to use it

  • Missing advanced formatting and style options only found in a traditional word processor

  • Uploading other document files sometimes results in missing or changed formatting

 

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