The top 3 real-time collaboration tools to keep your team in syncThe Flow TeamLast Updated: August 27, 2022
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, causing 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 Workspace (formerly GSuite)
The Google Workspace includes tools for team communication and productivity, along with offering video meetings, and cloud storage services among others. Legacy users were able to get these features in a free package, but in 2022 new firms may need to pay for it. There are four different plans:
- Business Starter: $6/month per user
- Business Standard: $12/month per user
- Business Plus: $25/month per user
- Enterprise: One would need to contact sales for pricing
Pros of Google Workspace
- 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 of Google Workspace
- Cannot directly assign projects to team members
- Cannot assign due dates to projects
- Difficult to track projects via email threads or Google Drive folders
The main difference between Business Starter and Business Standard plans is the storage capacity and Cloud search (both desktop and mobile apps). 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 Workspace, the Standard is optimal for most small businesses. Choose the Starter tier if you’re a solopreneur or have a very small team, and will be using Drive only to back up or collaborate on important files.
Google Workspace is helpful if you’re looking for a bundled solution. The Plus plan offers more storage capacity than the basic one and offers a good amount of capacity for most small businesses. You can also 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 Workspace 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 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 for coordinating with the team, dubbed channels. 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.
While Slack offers a Freemium plan, you would need to shell out for more features. The Pro tier will cost $7.25 / user / month, whereas the Business+ plan is priced at $12.50 / user / month.
Pros of Slack
- Real-time chat tools
- Project or team-specific chat channels
- Allows shared channels with external companies
- Video and voice calling capabilities
Cons of Slack
- Difficult to separate tasks from channels
- Not meant for managing projects, which means one can’t view project timelines
One of the nice things about Slack is that it’s user-friendly and makes collaboration and socializing easy. Chat channels 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:
(Available June 2020)
|• 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
• Public/private projects
• Project notes and attachments
• Project filters
• Task comments
• Recurring tasks
• Project sections
• Integration with Google Workspace
• Easy to add documents or spreadsheets to internal tasks
These features give you the power to manage your workflow with ease. The best part is that Flow not only lets you coordinate via chatting, but also gives you 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 to keep everyone on the same page.
As a leading project management software, it 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 the 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!
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