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The Top 3 Real-Time Collaboration Tools to Keep Your Team in Sync

The Flow TeamLast Updated: April 24, 2020

As the workforce evolves, more and more people are making the shift to working from home. It’s been reported that 52% of employees around the world work from home at least once per week. And, in the era of social distancing, that number has drastically increased

Working from home can be a dream come true for those of us who loathe long commutes and set schedules. If your business already supports remote work, you’ve likely seen how this way of working can yield greater productivity, increase job satisfaction, and lower the overhead needed to run an office. But if your team has faced or is currently facing collaboration challenges, they aren’t alone.

Remote teams must be able to communicate, manage projects, and share information as the need arises. They need real-time collaboration tools to bridge the distance, enabling team members scattered across the globe to work together closely—as if they were in a traditional office. To help you find the right tools, we’ve taken a close look at the features of three popular options below. 

Real-Time Collaboration Tools Overcome Communication Challenges

Working remotely is not without its drawbacks. Individuals can start to feel siloed when they can’t tap their coworker on the shoulder to chat about a project or ask a question. This can lead to a lack of coordination, leaving some people out of the loop and, oftentimes, cause people to feel disconnected. For managers, it can be a challenge to keep track of what their team is working on, which can cause them to add either too little or too much to someone’s plate.

So how do the most popular real-time collaboration tools combat these problems? Slack, Google Suite, and Flow all take different approaches. Let’s take a look: 

Google Suite

The Google Suite (G Suite) includes team communication and productivity, cloud computing, and storage services. Legacy users were able to get G Suite in a free package, but in 2020 new firms may pay for it. There are three different plans:

  • Basic: $6/month per user
  • Business: $12/month per user
  • Enterprise: $25/month per user

Pros:

  • Effective email, storage, word processing, spreadsheet, and calendar abilities
  • Allows remote collaboration—multiple team members can work on the same document at once
  • Tracks revision history

Cons

  • Cannot directly assign projects to team members
  • Cannot assign due dates to projects
  • Difficult to track projects via email threads or drive folders

The main difference between G Suite Basic vs. G Suite Business is the storage capacity and Cloud search across all of G Suite (both desktop and mobile app). If you work in an industry like finance, sales, marketing, PR, or e-commerce and have considerable amounts of data and several team members using G Suite, the Business plan is optimal for most small businesses. Choose Basic if you’re a solopreneur or very small team and will be using Drive only to back up or collaborate on important files. 

G Suite is helpful if you’re looking for a bundled solution. The business plan offers more storage capacity than the basic one and offers a good amount of capacity for most small businesses. G Suite allows you to control access to all of your data in the Google cloud, which adds additional security. 

But, you’ll need to know how often your team will use G Suite and exactly what features they’ll need, as it’s priced per user. Some of its basic features are hard to find, creating a steep learning curve for less experienced users. Finally, it doesn’t have an easy way for management and teams to track the entire workflow, from start to finish. 

Slack

Slack is an instant messaging platform that enables teams to share a “workspace” using an invitation or URL created by an admin. It features IRC-style private messaging and chat rooms sorted by topic. With Slack, you can have private conversations between smaller sub-groups, or public channels that enable entire teams to have conversations without the use of email or texting. Conversations, users, and files are all searchable, allowing for some degree of content sharing. 

Slack offers a standard plan that costs a maximum of $8 per month, and a plus plan up to $15 per month.

Pros:

  • Real-time chat tools
  • Project or team-specific chat channels
  • Allows shared channels with external companies
  • Video and voice calling capabilities

Cons:

  • Difficult to separate tasks from channels
  • Difficult to view project timelines 

One of the nice things about Slack is that it’s user-friendly and makes collaboration and socializing easy. Chat channel workspaces can be private or shared, and it’s a great tool when people must respond to each other quickly. It has strong security that will protect your data well and comes in desktop and mobile versions. 

But it has its drawbacks. File storage is minimal and must be purchased, so you’ll still need to send longer messages or larger files via email. And, the excessive notifications can get distracting, especially since it does not include any tools for workflow management. 

Work From Home, But Not Alone. 

The best real-time collaboration tools enable complete and total workflow management. They make it simple to work at home but not alone, as tasks are shared by team members and leaders, who can prioritize work and manage time together. 

Flow does all of those things, and more. It’s an all-in-one productivity platform that enables you to collaborate with your team, organize projects, and monitor tasks with a single, easy-to-use solution. It has every feature your team needs to collaborate remotely.

Flow’s chat and collaboration features include:

Chat
(Available June 2020)
Collaboration
• Live chat features, including typing notifications (ex: “[team member] is typing”)
• Chat history
• Chats in shared channels that indicate different projects, departments, and team members 
• Create tasks directly from chats 
• Other chat members can see a task created immediately
• Project schedules
• Notifications
• Public/private projects
• Project notes and attachments
• Project filters
• Task comments
• Recurring tasks
• Project sections
• Integration with Google Suite
• Easy to add documents or spreadsheets to internal tasks

These features give you the power to manage your workflow with ease. Flow’s chat features available in the new June 2020 release will be intuitive and have the ability to integrate with a broad collection of collaboration and organizational tools. 

Flow enables conversations to happen in real-time and keeps a record of that data so you can refer back to it any time in the future. Its functionality allows users to communicate in both direct messages and shared channels helping to unify departments, teams, and leaders. It’s a simple and effective way to get your whole organization talking.

Flow also helps managers stay on top of the projects their teams are working on through multiple projects and task views. They’ll have visibility into all their team’s work, enabling them to plan ahead.

Using Flow, you’ll never overlook critical details. Having all of your team’s work, projects, and tasks within a single workspace means you can see who’s busy and who has bandwidth, enabling you to balance workloads and manage resources. And by keeping discussions focused on tasks, you can increase productivity and accountability.

Stay Connected With Flow 

Even though the world of work is changing daily, Flow is a cost-effective all-in-one productivity platform that offers the flexibility and features you need to adapt at a moment’s notice. With its short learning curve and scalable pricing, your whole organization can get started immediately. 

No matter where your team members are working from, Flow enables them to collaborate closely—as if sharing a traditional office space. To learn how to make task and project management simple for your entire team, start your free trial today!