With the rise of the internet, computers and mobile technology, so much has changed in the business world over the decades. And of course, it’s critical to implement the right devices and applications into your everyday operations, not just to boost productivity, but to keep up with – or stay ahead of – the competition.
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that running a business isn’t what it used to be. The working economy is far more fragmented. There are still firms that make huge amounts of revenue annually and have a physical presence across the world, but better funding opportunities and new technologies have enabled more people to pursue their business dreams on their own terms.
Should you have a big idea, there’s nothing stopping you from turning it into a lucrative business. With the right tech and software, you can run your business from the comfort of your home or a co-working environment. And when you begin to grow and take on employees, they can also work wherever they want.
Better quality collaboration tools are increasingly making this type of business strategy likely to be a success. They let you communicate and work on tasks with your co-workers in real-time, regardless of where you happen to be. You don’t even have to own a business – perhaps you’re a freelancer. The premise still stands: how you work is up to you. But if you need the right apps for collaboration and communication, these are the best around…
A collaboration tool which needs no introduction
Platforms: Web, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone | Features: Drag-and-drop files, on-desktop notifications, group projects | Video calls: Yes | Integrations: Dropbox, Google Docs, Box | Free trial: Free version available
Impressive free version
Some might want more depth in security
Slack is without doubt a mighty collaboration tool, with millions of users around the globe. It’s an incredibly smart platform, and you can get it on mobile and desktop devices. It allows for the sending of direct messages (DMs) and files to a single person or a group of employees, and there’s the ability to organise conversations into different channels (perhaps for specific projects, one for technical support, general chat, and so forth).
The app also supports video calling. You can use the feature to talk to your colleagues about projects and work in-depth, without having to type everything into a DM. While this isn’t a replacement for cloud storage services, you are able to drag, drop and share files with your colleagues directly within Slack. It’s also compatible with services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.
To round things off, Slack even has a free version, although unsurprisingly it has limitations (in terms of the number of messages stored, overall storage space and so forth).
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android | Features: To-do lists, project templates, dashboards | Video calls: Yes | Integrations: Slack, Dropbox, Github | Free trial: Yes
Other apps have better comms features
Asana has been around since 2008, making it a veteran in the collaboration arena, and companies such as Salesforce, Uber and TED all use it as their core method of communication.
It’s been designed as an easy way for companies to track the work of employees and to get the best possible results. Using the platform, you can create to-do lists for ongoing projects, set reminders for upcoming deadlines and send requests to colleagues. Team members can also assign comments to posts within the app.
You can organise all your projects in a list or board format, and there’s a search function so you can locate past work quickly. In short, Asana is a very effective way to stay super-organised and facilitate conversations when it comes to updates on how work is progressing.
A mobile-friendly collaboration tool
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android | Features: File sharing, project tracking | Video calls: No | Integrations: Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Zendesk, Campaign Monitor | Free trial: No
Quality mobile apps
Wide range of integrations
Multiple subscription plans may confuse some
Podio describes itself as a flexible and customisable online platform for work and communication among teams. In other words, it gives you a way to organise large stacks of work and to delegate tasks between employees.
Just like many of the other business collaboration apps out there, Podio provides you with the tools to share files, view the status of ongoing projects and get feedback on the things you’re currently working on. These functionalities are combined into an easy-to-use interface.
Podio is also equipped with quality mobile apps for when you’re out and about, and need to use your smartphone or tablet, and it has an impressive amount of integration with third-party services and apps including Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote and Zendesk.
An easy-to-use collaboration freebie
Platforms: Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android | Features: Easy-to-use newsfeed, filters, file sharing | Video calls: No | Integrations: Dropbox, Gmail, Box, Basecamp, Yammer | Free trial: Free product
Free for unlimited users and no ads
Not overly well-featured
Ryver is similar to Slack, aiming to give your organisation a highly effective means of communication, and an easy way to talk over tasks, ensuring that deadlines are met.
What makes Ryver a compelling option is the fact that you can create as many teams as you want within the app, and easily categorise them to boot. As is the case with Slack, you can use the platform to set up chats with groups and individuals.
There are some interesting filters, too. You can control who sees the things you say and post in the app, and obviously enough, join the teams that are most relevant to you. All company posts are located within a Facebook-style newsfeed, and you can mark posts to come back to them later on.
There’s also a host of native clients across mobile and desktop, including Mac and Linux – and best of all, this is a free product. You can’t say fairer than that (an enterprise version will ship eventually, though, which will be a paid offering).
An app for organising all your projects
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android | Features: Create boards and lists, flexible project management | Video calls: No | Integrations: Evernote, GitHub, Google Drive, Slack | Free trial: Free version available
Clean, easy-to-use interface
Not many comms features
If you have ever looked into project management and online collaboration tools, then no doubt you’ve come across Trello. Available on the web and with mobile apps, it lets you easily organise projects and work on them with colleagues.
The platform allows you to work with boards or lists, which can be organised by teams and different tasks. And within these, you can set up to-do lists and delegate amongst colleagues. There’s also the option to assign comments to cards – a quick way to give feedback to others.
Furthermore, Trello boasts a number of integrations with apps such as Evernote, GitHub, Google Drive and Slack. You can download the app for free, but there are premium options available which give access to more features.