A team’s ability to collaborate effectively makes or breaks a business. But, working with a group gets tricky when members are scattered around the world and working remotely.
Enter: collaboration tools.
Can’t hop over to Tim’s desk to talk about progress on a current project? Just head to your project channel for a quick chat. Need to host a companywide brainstorming session? Everyone can add to the idea thread. Looking to share files with a bunch of people at once and keep everything organized and searchable? Your collaboration tool has you covered.
There are loads of options out there, but Slack, Ryver and Flock each offer all the basic features the average team needs as well as a few added perks (like task management) to streamline your workflow.
Here’s how they work, and how you can make them work for you.
Cloud-based Slack allows you to communicate with employees, team members, freelancers and anyone else you invite to your workspace. With Slack, most of your conversations will be grouped into channels. These can be based on project, department, group or topic. When more privacy is needed, Slack allows you to send direct messages to individuals or create a private group that only certain members of your workspace can access.
- Drag and drop file sharing
- Integration with tools like Dropbox, Zendesk and Salesforce
- Video and audio calling with screen sharing
- Desktop and mobile notifications
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Linux (beta), Windows Phone (beta)
Price: Free to $12.50 per person, per month
- Put together to-do lists with stars. Just add a star to anything you need to take care of, whether it’s a message, file or comment. Then, click on the Flexpane menu to pull up a list of every starred item.
- Use search modifiers to find exactly what you need in a flash. In:#[channel] lets you search for messages and files by channel; in:@[display name] searches by workspace member; and, to:me lets you search your direct messages.
- Take advantage of the Do Not Disturb mode. Slack’s notifications are super useful during working hours, but if you’re teaming up with people in various time zones you could end up with a dinging phone while you’re sleeping. Snooze notifications for 20 minutes to up to 24 hours.
With similar communication options to Slack and an integrated task manager à la Trello, Ryver offers a wide range of tools that make collaborating and delegating simple. Your main company page features a newsfeed that shows all company posts. From there, create separate groups to keep conversations and teams organized. Set up tasks using the task management feature, then assign them—complete with deadlines—to individual group members.
- Shared files are automatically organized by conversation, not file name
- Audio and video calling with screen sharing
- Free for up to six team members
- Integrate over 500 different apps with Zapier
- Unlimited file and message storage
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, web, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free to $99 per month
- Use the chat feature for daily, quick communications, but stick to threads for sharing resources and ideas other team members will need to reference frequently. Started chatting and realized the conversation would be useful to others? Promote the chat to a post.
- Take advantage of Ryver’s ability to set which members see your posts, tasks and conversations. This allows you to bring in guests, like a current client or freelancer, without giving them access to every conversation your team has behind closed doors.
- Add the Ryver Chrome Extension to your browser and then post Gmail messages or content from any website directly on a forum, as a team post or send it to a specific team member.
This mobile app focuses heavily on creative, efficient ways for teams to communicate in groups or in private. As with other collaboration tools, Flock lets you create teams and channels to keep conversations organized, including read-only channels for resources like style guides and company announcements.
- Audio and video calling
- File and screen sharing
- Integrate apps like Trello, MailChimp and more directly in Flock or with a tool like Zapier
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, web
Pricing: Free to $4.50 per person, per month
- Use the “add reminder” feature to create a task. Or, start a to-do list directly from your dashboard. Keep the list private or share it with your team via chat.
- Add guests to Flock while keeping information secure. Before sending the invite link, just specify which chats and channels the guest account can access.
- Email every member of a channel at once with Flock’s automatic mailing list. The app creates set email lists by channel, but also allows you to add email addresses to a channel’s list to keep non-Flock users in the loop.
Teambuilding channel ideas
Sure, the above tools make talking, sharing and working with multiple people a whole lot easier. But a huge part of collaboration is building rapport among team members. No matter what tool you ultimately land on, round out your use of it by building a digital office space that rivals the physical one you left behind before starting your business.
These general channels work well for most businesses:
- The water cooler. Give team members a spot to chat over a break, share funny memes or plan a meetup.
- The help desk. Have a dedicated space for people to ask general questions not related to a specific project.
- The brainstorming space. Let the group pitch ideas, share helpful tools and provide feedback.
Just because you aren’t within arm’s reach of your team doesn’t mean you have to settle for a subpar work environment. With a little creative thinking, and a few test runs of different tools, you can create a work environment that rivals the traditional physical office.
Biz.me is not affiliated with any brand mentioned or linked to in this post.