We’ve all heard it a million times, from grade school on up to our weekly office meetings:
Teamwork makes the dreamwork.
As cliche as the saying is, there’s a ton of truth behind it.
In fact, nearly 75% of employees say teamwork and online collaboration are “very important” in their workplace. What’s more, teams that are more connected and that work more cohesively see 21% higher profitability than the average team in their industry.
Whether operating remotely or on-premise — or a hybrid of both — digital tools are the key to successful online collaboration for teams in 2021 and beyond.
- 70% of employees say online tools improve collaborative efforts
- Use of online tools for collaboration improves productivity by 30%
- 83% of today’s teams rely on online tools for collaborative purposes
The writing is on the wall:
To survive and thrive from here on out, you absolutely need to invest in online tools and technology for collaborative purposes.
Thankfully, there are a ton of these apps and tools to choose from.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best online apps for team collaboration available for small businesses today.
As “collaboration” is such a broad term, we’ll be breaking down the discussion into the following sections:
- Team Communication
- Team and Project Management
- Idea Management
- Creative Collaboration
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- Online Collaboration Tools for Team Communication
- Online Collaboration Tools for Team and Project Management
- Online Collaboration Tools for Idea Management
- Online Collaboration Tools for Creative Collaboration
- Choose The Right Online Collaboration Tools for Your Team
Online Collaboration Tools for Team Communication
Communication and collaboration go hand-in-hand.
With that in mind, let’s first check out some online collaboration tools that will help your team stay connected and in touch.
What Does Slack Do?
Slack is perhaps the most well-known communications tool around.
With Slack, teams can communicate individually, in specific groups, and as an entire company. Managers and other team members can create topic- or group-specific chat rooms to keep individual discussions focused at all times. Users can also tag each other when sending relevant messages and files.
Slack’s integrations keep communications in sync on all platforms, ensuring all team members always have access to the most current info needed.
Key Slack Features
- Threads keep conversations centered around individual tasks or topics
- File sharing ensures teams always have access to the most up-to-date version of a project or document
- Tagging and notifications keep the necessary team members in the loop and ensure important messages don’t slip through the cracks
Key Slack Integrations
- Google Suite
Take team collaboration to the next level integrating Slack with your work apps using Automate.io.
- Free for up to 10,000 messages and ten integrations
- Pro: $6.67/month per user for unlimited messages and apps, group video, and 20GB of storage
- Business+: $12.50/month per user for added security and privacy guarantees, data loss prevention, and guaranteed uptime. Business+ users also have access to a designated customer success team.
What Does Google Meet Do?
Google Meet is an online communications tool focused mainly on audio/video conferencing for teams.
Typically, Google Meet is used for quick, down-and-dirty video calls — but can also be used for scheduled meetings, as well. With Google Meet, team leads can facilitate discussion and engagement using features like hand-raising and screen-sharing. Team members can also take control of other participants’ screens when sharing, allowing for true collaboration for remote teams.
Google Meet integrates with all other tools in Google’s suite, and with other project management tools, as well. When a meeting is scheduled, the information will automatically be pushed to these tools — ensuring team members never miss an important conference or discussion.
Key Google Meet Features
- Multiple conferencing rooms for various purposes
- Message threads to keep in-meeting discussions on task
- Cloud storage and video recording
Key Google Meet Integrations
Check these go-to Google Meet integrations to simplify your daily workflows.
Google Meet Pricing
- Free: One-hour meetings for 3-100 people, 24-hour 1:1 meetings, and 15GB of cloud storage per user
- Workplace Essentials: $8/month per user for meetings up to 24 hours and 150 people, interactive meeting options, and 100GB of cloud storage per user
- Workplace Enterprise available at tailored pricing
What Does Zoom Do?
Zoom was the de facto tool for online video communication in 2020 — and continues to be useful in 2021 and beyond.
Like Google Meet, Zoom is used for both quick-and-easy communications, as well as for more structured video meetings, conferences, and presentations. Zoom offers a ton of features for interactivity — and also allows team leads to easily take control of meetings in real-time.
Zoom also integrates with a number of online collaboration and team management tools, ensuring all involved participants have the information they need to collaborate effectively throughout their meetings.
Key Zoom Features
- Administrative options keep teams focused and on-task — and keep non-essential attendees from disrupting meetings
- Scheduling and attendance monitoring ensures all involved team members attend their meetings as necessary
- Recording and cloud storage options allow for easy retrieval and playback of important meetings
Key Zoom Integrations
Advance your online team collaboration by integrating Zoom with your pool of apps.
- Free for unlimited meetings of up to 100 participants with a 40-minute maximum, and local recording capabilities
- Pro: $14.99/month per user for advanced administrative options, cloud recording, and social streaming
- Business for $19.99/month per user for 10+ host accounts, increased meeting limits and meeting transcription options
What Does Microsoft Teams Do?
Microsoft Teams is another online tool for communication which may be the best option for teams already using Microsoft’s 365 suite of tools.
Microsoft Teams focuses heavily on collaboration, allowing teams to work on Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files directly within the Teams app. From screen sharing to file sharing, organizations can use Microsoft Teams to update documents and files together in real-time, from anywhere.
Integrating your other online collaboration tools with Microsoft Teams will allow you to push and pull meeting info accordingly. Again, this ensures all team members stay on the same page, and are always prepared for the meetings ahead.
Key Microsoft Teams Features
- Real-time collaboration of Microsoft documents directly within the Teams app
- Nearly unlimited number of video meeting participants allowed
- Channels separate conversations and discussions by topic
Key Microsoft Teams Integrations
- Basecamp 3
Connect Microsoft Teams with your favorite apps and automate all your communications.
Microsoft Teams Pricing
- Free: 60 minutes, 100-person video meetings; unlimited chat; 10GB storage
- Business Basic: $5/month per user; 24-hour, 300 person meetings; 1TB storage and video recordings; security and compliance guarantees
- Business Standard: $12.50/month per user; Advanced administrative functions
Online Collaboration Tools for Team and Project Management
Whether your team operates remotely or on-premise, there are a number of digital tools available to keep tabs on their progress — and keep them on track as they accomplish their goals.
What Does Google Tasks Do?
Google Tasks is a basic project management tool for team collaboration that allows teams to stay focused on the most important tasks in front of them.
With Google Task, managers can create and edit projects to be completed, provide additional information to team members as needed, and track progress from beginning to end.
As part of the Google Suite, Task integrates with Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Calendar, and Gmail to keep project info in sync within each tool.
Key Google Tasks Features
- Create tasks and subtasks, then prioritize accordingly to focus your team’s attention on what’s most important
- Set due dates and automate reminder notifications to be sent via Google Calendar
- Google’s AI delivers in-depth insight into team productivity, allowing managers to make the appropriate adjustments moving forward
Key Google Tasks Integrations
- Google Suite
- Office 365
Take workflow management to the next level with Google Tasks integrations.
Google Tasks Pricing
Google Tasks is free to use.
What Does Trello Do?
Trello is a project management tool for online teams that utilize lists and cards to visualize team progress.
With Trello, managers and individual team members can easily keep track of who’s working on what, and who will also be needed in the near future. Teams can use Trello to share files, and also link out to additional resources. Trello’s automated workflows help minimize the amount of manual effort needed to manage tasks and keep projects moving in the right direction.
Trello integrates with a variety of tools via “Power-Ups”, syncing project-related data and information between platforms to ensure uniformity throughout your tech stack.
Key Trello Features
- Checklists, scheduling, and tagging ensure all involved team members always know what’s expected of them throughout the completion of a project
- Card labels and covers make for easy identification of relevant projects and tasks for all team members
- Drag-and-drop interface for simple and intuitive task progression
Key Trello Integrations
- Google Drive
The magic of Trello doesn’t end here! Integrate Trello with your suite of apps for easier project management.
- Free: Unlimited cards for unlimited team members; Up to 10 boards; Unlimited storage; Basic scheduling; 50 automated commands per month
- Business Class: $10/month per user up to 100 team members; Unlimited boards; Unlimited power-ups; Multiple views; 1,000+ automated commands per month; priority support
- Enterprise: Tailored pricing; unlimited automated commands; advanced administration and management
What Does Asana Do?
Asana allows managers and teams to visualize progress made on individual projects, long-term initiatives, and all in between.
With Asana, team members and key stakeholders will always know what’s been done, what’s being done, and what’s left to do with regard to a given project.
Asana integrates with Google Calendar and a number of scheduling apps to ensure team members always know what’s due, when.
Key Asana Features
- Task prioritization and visualization enables teams to focus on the most important jobs to be done
- Task and project templates allow managers to quickly assign tasks accordingly
- Automated workflows and recurring tasks help streamline operations and minimize administrative tasks
Key Asana Integrations
- Google Suite
- Microsoft 365 Suite
Asana is a complete tool in itself, but have you checked these Asana integrations to make your workflows effortless?
- Free for unlimited tasks, projects, and conversations for 15 team members; list, board, and calendar project overviews; task tagging and assigning
- Premium: $10.99/month per user for unlimited team members, custom fields and forms, task logic, and advanced navigational features
- Business: $24.99/month per user for project portfolios, guided onboarding and dedicated customer support
What Does Monday.com Do?
Monday.com allows teams to create customized workflows, templates, and tools for a variety of purposes — including online collaboration and project management tools.
The highly customizable nature of Monday.com means managers can develop the tool that best allows them to keep track of team and individual progress.
Monday.com integrates with a number of other online collaboration tools, such as Trello, Asana, and Toggl — allowing teams to further customize the presentation of tasks and workflows within these tools.
Key Monday.com Features
- Customizable templates and drag-and-drop interface makes for easy creation of tasks and projects
- Progress management and monitoring tools allow managers to set KPIs, prioritize tasks, and allocate resources to specific projects as necessary
- Messaging and file sharing features streamline communication and keep team members up to date on progress as it’s made
Key Monday.com Integrations
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Calendar
Take project management to the next level by integrating your favorite apps with Monday.com.
- Free for 1-2 users, unlimited projects and boards; over 200 templates; access to Monday.com’s iOS and Android apps
- Basic: $8/month per user for unlimited tasks and projects; unlimited read-only access; 5 GB file storage; prioritized customer support
- Standard: $10/month per user for timeline, calendar, and Gantt visualization; 250 integration actions per month; analytics dashboard for up to 5 boards
- Pro: $16/month per user for additional visualization options; time-tracking features; automation workflows; 25,000 integration actions per month
What Does Airtable Do?
Similar to Monday.com, Airtable is a flexible and customizable project management tool that allows online teams to create content calendars, schedule projects, and develop campaigns and initiatives to be completed over time.
Airtable integrates with many other scheduling tools and communication apps to keep team members on the same page and deliver alerts and reminders as progress is made.
Key Airtable Features
- Project templates and maps, along with a drag-and-drop interface, make for easy task creation
- Task prioritization and tagging ensures the right team members focus on the right tasks at all times
- Workflow automations minimize the need for hands-on task scheduling and administration
Key Airtable Integrations
- Google Suite
Connect your apps with Airtable for a smoother online team collaboration automation.
- Free for unlimited project bases; 1,200 records per base; grid, calendar, kanban, form, & gallery views; 2GB of attachments per project base
- Plus: $10/month per user; 5,000 records per base; 5GB of attachments per base; 1 synced table per base (with automatic data sync); 6-month project history visualization
- Pro: $20/month per user; unlimited apps; 50,000 records per base; 20GB of attachments per base; 12-month project history visualization
What Does Hirebook Do?
Hirebook is a people and online team management tool that focuses on helping teams achieve specific, intended outcomes.
With Hirebook, managers can create agendas for meetings, projects, and other actions — and set specific goals for each initiative planned. Managers can track progress and document findings during check-ins and meetings while staying focused on defined OKRs.
Hirebook integrates with Google Suite, Microsoft Teams, and Slack to sync team communication and overall collaborative efforts.
Key Hirebook Features
- Goal-setting for individuals, teams and the overall organization keeps everyone moving in the same direction
- Templated and customizable performance reviews allow managers to provide individualized feedback in real-time and at specific project milestones
- Dashboards visualize individual and team progress, providing managers with the information they need to deliver laser-focused feedback
Key Hirebook Integrations
- Google Suite
- Microsoft Teams
- Bamboo HR
- Business: $10/month for all modules/meeting types; unlimited data retention; unlimited integrations
- Enterprise: Tailored pricing per team needs; additional administrative options; dedicated customer support
Online Collaboration Tools for Idea Management
Whether formulating new ideas for future projects or documenting lessons learned from completed tasks, investing in the right online tools is crucial for your team’s ongoing success.
What Does Coda Do?
Coda is a customizable, purpose-driven document creator that helps facilitate brainstorming and ideation — and allows teams to document their collective knowledge over time.
With Coda, teams can create a Single Source of Truth for idea development and knowledge storage. This helps all team members stay on the same page as they work through individual tasks, and also ensures they continue growing as professionals moving forward.
Coda offers integrations in “Packs” — each of which performs certain features based on the tier of service being used. For example, Coda’s Typeform Pack syncs survey responses and other feedback within individual documents to help streamline ideation processes.
Key Coda Features
- Customizable idea campaigns, complete with digital surveys and suggestion box features, allow teams to control the ideation process from soup to nuts
- Customizable OKR definitions and progress monitoring ensure teams stay on the right track throughout the brainstorming and creative processes
- Reporting and analytics dashboards enable teams to document new knowledge with ease
Key Coda Integrations
- Google Drive
- Free for unlimited forms; 7-day document history; limited storage and integrations
- Pro: $10/month per administrator; unlimited documents with 30-day history; 5GB per document; 500 automation actions
- Team: $30/month per administrator; unlimited document size, attachments, and automation actions; priority support and knowledge base
- Enterprise provides additional support and security features
What Does Helpjuice Do?
Helpjuice is a knowledge base tool for online teams that can be used for internal or customer-facing purposes.
Internally, Helpjuice’s knowledge base tool enables teams to document essential information regarding workflows, operating procedures, and best practices — along with organizational policies and other such info. Teams can also create external knowledge bases to provide customer support via self-service.
Helpjuice integrates with apps like Olark, Salesforce, and Slack to help users find the exact information they’re looking for when working through a task or process.
Key Helpjuice Features
- Customizable templates and document structures allow teams to create cohesive, navigable knowledge bases and sub-sections
- Collaborative tools allow remote teams to create knowledge documentations together in real-time
- Reporting and analytics help teams measure the impact of their knowledge documents, in turn allowing for laser-focused optimization
Key Helpjuice Integrations
Helpjuice users receive the same features and services at all pricing tiers, with each tier allowing for more users and administrators.
- Starter: $120/month for up to 4 users
- Run-Up: $200/month for 16 users
- Premium Limited: $289/month for 60 users
- Premium Unlimited: $369/month for unlimited users
What Does Brightidea Do?
Brightidea actually offers a suite of online collaboration tools for the purpose of idea management.
From content management and document storage to task creation and process development, Brightidea’s suite provides an all-in-one solution for teams looking to supercharge their online collaborative efforts.
Key Brightidea Features
- Idea Box allows teams to collect and develop ideas into organizational knowledge
- Programs facilitate employee innovation, allowing them to create repeatable processes and operations
- Labs helps teams identify and prioritize the initiatives that have the most impact on their outcomes
- Ecosystem facilitates communication with stakeholders to develop new business opportunities
- Transformation helps teams develop a growth mindset, allowing managers to build learning and development into the organization’s daily processes
Key Brightidea Integrations
- Microsoft Teams
Brightidea offers tailored pricing based on individual needs and specific tools used.
Online Collaboration Tools for Creative Collaboration
In addition to keeping your team members in sync and enabling efficient communications, you’ll also want to invest in online tools that focus specifically on creative collaboration.
What Does Miro Do?
Miro is a whiteboard tool aimed at helping remote and cross-functional teams create collaboratively in real-time.
With Miro, teams can create visual representations of information and knowledge, allowing for strategic planning and the development of optimized workflows.
Miro integrates with over 70 tools for a variety of purposes, from task management and file storage to team-wide communications.
Key Miro Features
- Mind map templates, drag-and-drop creation, and freestyle drawing provide multiple ways for teams to collaborate for creative purposes
- Voting, commenting, and other in-document features allow teams to collaborate in real-time
- Task management ensures all involved team members know what’s expected of them at any given moment
Key Miro Integrations
- Google Drive
- Free for 3 boards; premade templates; attention management/administration features; core integrations
- Team: $8/month per user; unlimited boards; unlimited editors, viewers, and commenters; Kanban framework; remote meeting toolkit; advanced integrations
- Business: $16/month per user; Single Sign-On; Day passes for guest collaborators
- Enterprise: Additional administrative options; advanced security; dedicated onboarding and customer support
What Does MURAL Do?
MURAL is a digital workspace for visual collaboration.
MURAL supercharges your team’s creative efforts, from ideation, planning, and design, to implementation, customer engagement, and retrospective analysis. With a heavy focus on visual design, MURAL allows teams to bring their creative ideas to life with ease.
MURAL’s integrations allow teams to push creative artifacts into documents, spreadsheets, and project management cards for easy syncing of information and ideas.
Key MURAL Features
- Frameworks allow creative teams to focus on specific actions and outcomes during meetings and collaborative sessions
- Multiple creative features (e.g., drawings, shapes, sticky notes, etc.) allow for optimized visual representation of ideas and information
- Administrative options and in-app texting/calling allow for maximum productivity throughout collaborative sessions
Key MURAL Integrations
- Microsoft 365
- Google Suite
- Starter: $12/month per user; unlimited rooms and murals per user; unlimited visitors; remote meetings; security and compliance guarantees; 24-hour support
- Plus: $20/month per user; 10+ members allowed in single workspaces; Single Sign-On; Prioritized customer support
What Does Jive Do?
Jive “throws people-centric collaboration into hyperdrive”.
What sets Jive apart from the other online collaboration tools on this list is the use of AI to make suggestions for how teams can make the most of their collaborative efforts. Basically, Jive learns how your team works best, then creates automated workflows to ensure the right team members are involved at the right times throughout the collaborative process.
Jive integrates with Google Drive, Gmail, Outlook, and many other tools to gather a comprehensive understanding of the context your team is operating within. This, in turn, allows Jive to provide laser-focused suggestions for how to best proceed.
Key Jive Features
- Create comprehensive team member profiles, allowing Jive to connect the right people for specific creative purposes
- Employee quests and rewards gamify team progress and individual professional development efforts
- Employee engagement dashboard allows managers to visualize team productivity and make adjustments as needed
Key Jive Integrations
- Google Suite
- Microsoft 365
Jive provides tailored pricing plans based on a team’s unique needs
Choose The Right Online Collaboration Tools for Your Team
So, there you have it:
A list of 16 of the best tools for online team collaboration available today.
While many of the tools on this list offer features that overlap in different ways, each is unique in its own right.
Some are more focused on team management and administrative processes, while others are more about enhancing real-time collaborative efforts. And still, others offer a mixture of both, whether through a single app or a suite of tools.
Though the online tools we’ve focused on cater to small, growing businesses, this may mean different things to different teams.
Most of the tools we’ve discussed provide:
- Multiple tiers of service and customer support
- Varying combinations of features
- Multiple pricing plans and payment options schemes
There are no “best” team collaboration tools out there.
Instead of looking for “the best around”, look for the tools that are right for your team — both now and in the future. Once you’ve built a suite of online collaboration tools that’s right for your team, integrate them into your tech stack for maximum effect.