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Collaboration

The best collaboration tools for remote teams

Learn about the best tools and technologies for remote and hybrid teams using Slack.

By the team at SlackMarch 22nd, 2024

Today’s collaboration solutions look very different from just a few years ago.

An issue you might have once resolved over a watercooler chat could now call for a spontaneous video call. A reminder you may have left as a sticky note on your coworker’s desk might now require a scheduled Slack message. The best collaboration tools can help your remote team plan meetings, edit files, send reminders, talk through challenges and manage workflows together—even when you’re not, you know, together.

Let’s explore some of the top solutions for remote and hybrid teams looking to collaborate seamlessly and intuitively.

Must-have features for remote team tools

As you research collaboration tools for remote teams, you might have trouble narrowing down the best options. It helps to know which qualities to look for.

Real-time collaboration

Even as teams transition to virtual spaces and asynchronous communication, real-time collaboration remains critical. Some discussions simply need face-to-face chats and other types of synchronous work, and your digital workplace solutions should support that.

As you build out your remote team’s toolkit, keep these forms of real-time collaboration in mind:

Customizations

Your remote collaboration solution should adapt to your team, not the other way around.

Make sure your tech lets you adjust notifications, personalize themes, and organize tasks, files and conversations in a way that makes sense.

Integration capabilities

Even within the same company, different teams often prefer different tools. A good remote collaboration platform integrates with your company’s existing tech stack to reduce context switching, streamline processes and keep everyone in sync.

For example, Slack offers more than 2,600 apps, enabling users to integrate Slack’s platform with their favorite remote collaboration technologies.

Trustworthy security

Where there’s an internet connection, there are security concerns. Your remote-friendly team needs tools with top-notch security and privacy.

Consider these security features as you assemble your team’s remote work toolkit:

  • Access management: Only the right people on the right devices can access, view or edit a file or platform
  • Data encryption: Protect your company’s data and your coworkers’ personal information
  • Two-factor authentication: Add a second layer of security in case a user’s password is stolen or compromised

Common remote work collaboration challenges

Remote work isn’t always smooth sailing. It can be tough to keep hybrid and fully remote teams on the same page and moving in the same cohesive direction.

To maximize productivity and ensure effective communication, your distributed workforce needs an A-list lineup of remote collaboration tools. Let’s explore some common challenges and solutions for remote teamwork.

Confusing tech

If your team’s tech stack is glitchy, limiting or difficult to learn, it can create frustration and barriers to productivity. When considering any collaboration tool for your remote team, ask the following questions:

  • Is the tool intuitive and simple to learn? And does it offer comprehensive resources for users learning the tool? For example, Slack’s Help Center guides employees to help them make the most of the AI-powered platform.
  • Does the tool offer accessibility features for users with disabilities? Consider keyboard shortcuts, screen reader compatibility, adjustable zoom level and customizable contrast settings to start.
  • Is the tool adaptable to your team’s unique needs and workflows? If your team already has a set of processes that works for them, will this tool support those processes? Or will you have to start from scratch?
  • Will the tool make it easier for your team to achieve its goals? Or will it potentially create hindrances?

Different time zones

Say you’re on an international team with members in both San Francisco and London. Without the right calendar management tools, it can be all too easy to schedule a 5 a.m. call for your colleague in San Francisco or a 9 p.m. catch-up for your London-based teammate.

The best remote work collaboration solutions help you choose appropriate meeting times and work asynchronously with teammates in different time zones. For example, Google Calendar shows potential meeting times that fall within all participants’ working hours, and Slack lets you set time zone preferences.

Disorganized communication channels

You know your manager set a deadline for a task, but you can’t remember where that conversation happened. Was it over email? In a direct message? Mentioned in passing during a one-on-one?

On a remote team, important ideas, reminders, notes and deadlines can fall through the cracks unless you know where to find them. Your business’s remote collaboration tool should let users search messages and organize conversations to make important information easy to find.

Slack allows users to organize discussions in threads, direct messages and channels, all of which are searchable. You can even save messages for later or pin messages to make them easier to find.

Multiple file drafts

If your team is sharing a new draft of a file every time someone edits it, you’re risking errors.

Document collaboration tools let multiple users edit the same doc at the same time, automatically saving the most recent version in the cloud. There’s no need to download a dozen slightly different versions of the same file and send them back and forth in a confusing web of emails. Leverage real-time, collaborative editing features to make everyone’s life easier.

Understanding roles and responsibilities

A new hire needs time to learn their teammates’ names and responsibilities, which can be especially challenging in a virtual environment.

The most robust remote collaboration platforms double as team org charts, making it easy to look up different employees and understand what they do. For example, Slack Atlas displays a customizable profile for each user detailing their name, location and local time, job title and other key details.

Top collaboration tools for remote teams

The best collaboration tools for remote teams are user-friendly and Slack-compatible.

Best remote project management tool: Asana

Asana is a project management tool that allows distributed teams to coordinate tasks and manage workflows from anywhere. Use Asana to delegate responsibilities, monitor the status of tasks, and communicate regarding project progress. Plus, Asana integrates with Slack, enabling teammates to turn Slack conversations into action items and projects in Asana.

Other project management tools that integrate with Slack include Trello, Jira Cloud and monday.com.

Best remote task-tracking tool: Wrike

Remote teams use Wrike to create, track, manage and collaborate on tasks. Wrike’s Slack app lets you create a Wrike task directly in Slack with a popup, where you input the task’s title, assignee, due date and description. From there, you can receive notifications on the task in Slack.

For simple task-tracking in Slack, you might also consider Flow, Todoist and Workast.

Best remote workflow automation tool: Workflow Builder

One of the best remote collaboration tools for automated workflows is baked right into Slack: Workflow Builder. With Workflow Builder, you can streamline and automate processes to reduce time spent on repetitive and tedious tasks. Think: automatic onboarding messages, automated custom forms, and live audience Q&As during remote meetings.

It’s easy to create, edit and share workflows in Slack, and, in a Salesforce survey, users report a 28% increase in time saved due to Workflow Builder’s automation features.

Best remote whiteboarding tool: Lucidspark

Sometimes, words alone don’t cut it. Remote whiteboards are exactly what they sound like: collaborative, virtual whiteboards that let users sketch and create visual aids like diagrams, flow charts and freehand drawings to use during meetings and discussions.

Lucidspark integrates into Slack to enable visual brainstorming with remote teammates. Slack lets you create, share, keep track of and provide feedback on Lucidspark boards. Other whiteboard apps for Slack include Miro and Sketchboard.

Best remote brainstorming tool: Slack canvas

Canvas is another built-in Slack feature that helps take remote collaboration to the next level. You’ll find a canvas available for any direct message or channel, and you can create dedicated canvases for brainstorming in specific Slack threads. Use a canvas to take notes, embed files and images, integrate workflows, write to-do lists and solidify meeting agendas.

You can also consider Slack apps like Stormboard and BrainstormBot for your remote team’s brainstorming needs.

Best remote video collaboration tool: Slack huddles

Huddles gives your team that working-side-by-side feel. Use huddles to instantly connect with teammates over a video or audio call so you can float ideas and talk through snags just as you would in the office. You can even share your screen in a huddle.

Slack also supports popular video collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams Calls.

Collaborate better than ever

The shift to remote and hybrid work is creating new opportunities for teams to cooperate and collaborate on a deeper level. With the right AI-powered communication platform and remote collaboration tools, your team’s best work is yet to come.

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