The internet has made collaboration easier than ever. With just a few mouse clicks, you can look at someone halfway around the world and work with them on anything you like.
Lots of online collaboration tools are costly, or meant for a specific field like visual design. However, you don’t have to pay anything to for awesome tools that make collaboration easy. Here are six services that cover all of your personal team needs.
1. Google Docs/Drive
Google Docs has become the definitive tool for making awesome documents together, but it works great for non-document purposes, too. With Google Docs, your team can work all at once on spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and more. Using comments, you can leave a note on someone else’s work to request a change or leave yourselves a note for later.
Part of Google Docs is Google Drive, which lets your team set up your own file storage system. With 15 GB of free space, you should have no problem keeping everything in one central location. This is a far better system than emailing documents back and forth or trying to use a flash drive. If the default set of features that Drive provides isn’t enough for you, a host of apps can fill in the voids, like annotation apps that boost collaboration potential.
With Google Docs, your team’s file storage and document creation needs are covered.
Evernote is a big name in the note-taking business, but after its price increase and privacy concerns OneNote has it beat. Totally free on every platform, OneNote gives your team a place to create notebooks and fill them with drawings, tables, links, and any other content you can think of. Creating a shared notebook is easy and lets everyone add their own sections and pages.
The possibilities abound: With OneNote you can create a team wiki, stay on top of project management, and keep track of notes and ideas whenever they arise. If you like, you can even use OneNote as a virtual white board, allowing everyone to draw and type together.
With OneNote, your team’s note-taking, idea management, and brainstorming needs are taken care of. Our complete guide to OneNote will help you master its use.
Chances are, your team can’t all be in the same place all the time. For those times when you need to discuss matters over a video call, it doesn’t get much easier than Appear.in. One of our favorite conference call apps, this tool lets you create a meeting room in your browser and host up to eight people.
It doesn’t require any downloads or plugins, and nobody has to create an account. Simply claim a meeting room as your own, and everyone can connect via audio, video, and a text chat. You can also share your screen, making it a perfect tool for meeting when everyone’s apart.
With Appear.in, your team can meet anytime, no matter where they are.
Trello is one of the best-known project management tools around, so it needs no introduction. Its card and board based system is perfect for to-do lists, goals, and any other sorts of tasks your team wants to accomplish. We’ve written all you need to know about using Trello, but don’t forget it has other great uses outside of project management like managing your team’s funds.
With Trello, your team can easily keep track of and track tasks, goals, and anything else that’s important to you.
While Trello is a big name in the project management space, Zenkit provides an awesome Trello alternative that’s worth a look if you need to manage more data than Trello offers. Zenkit provides a simple interface to start with, but you can quickly change it to a variety of different setups based on your needs. It’s free for personal use, providing 1 GB of attachment space, 2,000 items per collection, and collaboration with up to five others.
Whether you want to view your data in a simple list, work in a Kanban format, or even use the cool Mind Map layout, Zenkit has you covered. It features much better sorting and card control than Trello, going as far as having a complete database behind the scenes that you can manage. If you’re already using Trello, you can import its data to Zenkit in one click.
With Zenkit, your team gains a place to create, store, organize, and sort your data.
Slack is an all-in-one team communication tool that provides a place for friendly banter, important discussions, file sharing, and more. By dividing communication topics in channels, members of your team can get involved with information they need and ignore those that they don’t. You can directly message any team member or create private groups for side conversations. Slack allows you to share any file, and features all kinds of useful integrations to automate your workflow.
Using Slack for communication is superior to emailing back and forth all the time or using a group chat in WhatsApp. Both of those are hard to follow and don’t scale well with more team members. With threaded conversations, @mentions for different groups, the ability to place calls from within the app, and powerful search, Slack is the communication app the modern team needs.
It’s free for an unlimited amount of members, but limits you to 10 integrations and the most recent 10,000 messages, which is fine for small teams. Check out our top Slack tips to master it quickly.
With Slack, your team has a central hub for all forms of communication.
Bonus: Paid Tools with a Free Plan
As a little extra, here are a few services that didn’t make the essential six, but are still worth a look for your team collaboration.
GoToMeeting is more robust than Appear.in, and offers a free plan, that allows you to host up to three users per meeting. You can’t use the GoToMeeting desktop app, as the free service only supports meeting in Chrome. The free plan also doesn’t allow you to use any drawing tools during meetings, though you can screen share. Overall, Appear.in is a simpler option, but GoToMeeting is perhaps a bit more professional for meeting with clients.
If OneNote doesn’t quite suffice as a whiteboard for you, Realtime Board is worth a look. The free plan allows up to three people to collaborate, with three boards per account. Whether you want to brainstorm freely, create a workflow or agile board, or draft up drawings, you can do it here.
How Does Your Team Collaborate for Free?
With these six tools, any small team can manage their data, work together to create documents, and stay in constant communication. While free tools can’t match the features of enterprise software, these apps will certainly suffice for teams of just a few people. No matter how you work, your needs are covered!
If you manage a small team, we want to hear from you, now. What free tools does your team use to collaborate? Add your favorites to the list by leaving a comment!
Image Credit: nd3000 via Shutterstock.com