Best Online Collaboration Tools for 2022
Work Better Online
Good teamwork is essential for the success of any joint project. When you’re working online, you need the best tools to keep your team communicating, share data, and manage tasks. Projects that require teamwork and communication aren’t just limited to the office. If you’re planning a family event, renovating your apartment, or planning any group activities, online collaboration tools can save you a lot of time and stress - and maybe even some money.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns gave a massive boost to companies that develop online collaboration tools. As millions of people began to work remotely, the video conferencing tool Zoom went from being a niche tool to a household name. Managers who’d previously sat with their teams for nine hours a day suddenly had to depend on project management tools like Asana to coordinate people working from home.
It looks like work from home and remote working are here to stay. Each company has its own approach and requirements, but there has definitely been a cultural shift. Companies are also more likely to outsource tasks and roles to freelancers. Big organizations are also expecting their own staff to collaborate directly with teams in different cities and even in different countries.
Recruiters like to hear that candidates are familiar with various project management and online collaboration tools and that they are happy to use them on a daily basis. For many roles, familiarity with Asana or Monday is as basic a requirement as knowledge of Word, Google Docs or Excel, etc. If you’re not up to date and (outwardly) enthusiastic about online collaboration tools, you’re at a strong disadvantage.
What are Online Collaboration Tools?
Online collaboration tools fall into 5 broad categories. There’s always some overlap and there are plenty of tools that perform multiple functions. Most people already have at least one chat program or app, and possibly more than one video conferencing tool on their laptops and smartphones. The big companies like Microsoft and Google are keen to push suites of programs onto clients but currently can’t offer any comprehensive solutions that satisfy the wider markets. Zoom, Asana, Slack, Trello, and other tools are incredibly popular.
- Video Conferencing
- Project Management
- Document & File Sharing
- Other Online Collaboration
What is the Best Chat Tool?
If you’re looking for a basic free chat tool that’s easy to use and reasonably flexible, Whatsapp wins hands down. It’s simple to install, you can use it across multiple devices simultaneously, organize Whatsapp groups and make calls. You can also send photos, videos, and other files. Whatsapp also claims to be fully encrypted, although the Jury is still out about whether its end-end encryption is genuinely secure. It’s fair to say that Whatsapp is the go-to option for people who need to communicate.
Plenty of companies use Whatsapp groups for teams and employees, but many prefer to pay for specialist chat tools. We’ll take a look at the top 5 chat tools.
Top 5 Chat Tools in 2022
The top 5 chat tools come with a variety of pros and cons. The size of your business, team budgets, and the type of projects and online collaboration that you’re attempting will count when you choose a chat service.
Slack - Chat App for Teams
Slack is a cloud-based app that offers a basic version for free and a more sophisticated subscription package. The paid version isn’t cheap but does come with some great features.
What we like about Slack:
- Slack is compatible with over 2,000 third-party apps
- Excellent real-time messaging and file transfer
- Slack is reliable and is backed up by good customer service
What we don’t like about Slack:
- It’s more expensive than comparable services
Twist - Affordable Basic Chat App
Twist is a basic workhorse that dispenses with fancy frills and advanced features. If you’re looking for a reliable, free/low-cost messaging app for your team, Twist may be a good choice.
What we like about Twist:
- Twist is well designed with a great user experience
- The app is compatible with third-party apps
- The paid version comes with a 50% discount for nonprofits
What we don’t like about Twist:
- There are currently no voice or video calls
Chanty - Chat App for Team Projects
Chanty is a chat app that’s designed to boost team productivity and make online collaboration easier. It has an excellent user interface and a Kanban board and is great value for money.
What we like about Chanty:
- Chanty is possibly the best-designed chat app
- It is genuinely useful for project management
- There is a free plan and a cheap paid plan
What we don’t like about Chanty:
- There are currently no group video calls
Flock - A Slightly Cheaper Copy of Slack?
Flock is marketed as a cheaper version of Slack. It’s certainly a very similar chat app and provides many equivalent features. The price plans aren’t significantly cheaper than Slack.
What we like about Flock:
- Flock is easily compatible with a range of third-party apps
- There is reliable IM organized into channels
- The app is logically designed and easy to use
What we don’t like about Flock:
- The free plan is not particularly generous in terms of features
Rocket - Customizable Open Source Chat App
Rocket is an open-source app with huge potential - if you are technically minded. It’s ideal for tech companies who need to customize their tools and have people who can do coding.
- Rocket is sophisticated and can be tailored to your exact needs
- There are some innovative features and designs
- You can integrate virtually anything if you have the know-how
- The pricing structure for paid versions is unnecessarily complex
Zoom - Best Video Conferencing Platform?
Almost everybody who works online is familiar with Zoom or has at least heard of the video conferencing tool. It became a vital asset for millions of employers, teachers, and even families during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Zoom is probably the best all-around tool for video conferencing available in 2022.
Zoom is available for free and is simple to use and provides good call quality and some useful basic tools. A free Zoom plan allows you to host 40-minute video conferences for up to 100 people at a time. That’s more than enough for most private users and even for many corporate users.
The requirement to limit non-essential meetings to less than 40 minutes is sometimes a healthy one for modern companies. People who teach online can also benefit from a 40-minute limit on their Zoom sessions. After 40 minutes, the average student’s attention will definitely already be wandering.
There are some drawbacks to Zoom. Zoom Professional will set you back $14.99 a month, and the Zoom Business will cost you $19.99 a month. There were also some security issues with Zoom and a number of ‘Zoom bombing’ incidents hit the headlines during lockdowns. You should consider your security requirements before you use Zoom.
Other Video Conferencing Tools
The other best-known video conferencing tools are Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. The two tech giants were quick to see the potential of using video conferencing apps to extend their reach. Google Meet is deeply integrated with the existing G Suite and works with Google Drive and document editing tools. The free version offers similar facilities as Zoom but lacks some features like a whiteboard.
Microsoft Teams is more advanced than Google Meet and comes with extra cloud storage. Teams come as part of the Microsoft 365 Suite and come bundled with other Microsoft apps. One problem is that even the free version requires users to create an account and sign in. The paid versions do come with some impressive features and are reasonable value for money. Not everybody likes Microsoft though.
What is the Best Project Management Tool?
Every manager has their own favorite project management software. The two best-known tools are Monday.com and Asana. Both allow team leaders and members to schedule and organize tasks and add timelines, charts, and updates. Monday is an excellent tool for startups and SMEs and is designed to simplify online collaboration. Asana is more task-focused, rather than trying to be a broader project management tool.
Monday - Affordable Project Management Tool
Monday doesn’t offer a free version, but the paid plans start at just $8 a month. The software is easy to use and gives users some flexibility. Monday is a solid tool that simplifies online collaboration.
What we like about Monday:
- Everybody in your team can master the software
- The price plans are reasonable
- You can use flexible project views
What we don’t like about Monday:
- It’s currently impossible to subdivide tasks
Asana - A Team-Based Online Collaboration Tool
Asana is designed for convenient task management. It helps team members to prioritize their work and keep on top of deadlines. The software has a friendly format and is a pleasure to use.
- You can connect up to 15 people on the free version
- Asana lets you subdivide tasks for greater efficiency
- It is user-friendly and motivates employees to succeed
- The price plans are higher than rival Monday.com
Google Docs - Best Document and File Sharing Tool?
When it comes to document and file-sharing tools, there is a clear winner. Google Docs is the best all-rounder for online collaboration at the team level. The free version of Google Docs is more than adequate for most users and is simple and straightforward. Any Google doc that you create is secure and document owners can assign different levels of access to recipients.
Google Docs allows a high level of editing, and crucially, users can work offline without losing their work. Google Docs is deeply integrated with Google Drive and gives users free cloud storage. If you lose your computer, you won’t lose your stored files. Google Docs is great for workplace collaboration and is also an excellent tool for personal projects.
If you’re running a business, you will probably need to upgrade to a paid plan at some point. The G Suite plans are affordable, starting at $6 a month per user. The pricing is comparable to Microsoft’s 365 Suite, but Google is well ahead of it when it comes to document sharing.
Google Docs - A Comprehensive Collaboration Tool
Google Docs is the simplest and most effective document and file sharing tool for the average user or business. It provides great editing facilities and advanced permissions and sharing.
What we like about Google Docs:
- Google Docs is free!
- There is more than enough cloud storage for ordinary users
- The excellent editing tools are logical and easy to master
What we don’t like about Google Docs:
- There are ongoing privacy issues with Google
The Importance of High-Speed Broadband
When you’re using online collaboration tools - especially video conferencing platforms like Zoom - a reliable broadband connection is essential. Although you can work offline with Google Docs, you really need to be connected whenever you work.
The last thing you want when you’re working from home, or with colleagues in other offices, is to be the one who crashes out of the Zoom meeting or who can’t transfer files. If you’re working from a home office or running a small business, you ideally need fiber internet. If your area isn’t connected to the growing Israeli fiber optic infrastructure, you need a reliable high-speed broadband package.
TCS will take care of all your personal and business telecom needs with a range of tailored deals. You can opt for a home or business bundles that include internet, mobile & landline, and even TV packages. Once you’ve covered all your telecom bases, you're free to focus on the things that interest you - work, online learning, streaming, and online gaming!