As a business, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your workflow. That’s why we’ve gathered together some of the best remote collaboration tools out there, so you can stay on top of your game and focus on what really matters: growing your business.
Remote collaboration is all about improving communication between different teams by breaking down geographic barriers and giving team members access to the right tools at the right times. By using these tools, you’ll be able to ensure that everyone has access to the same information, which will make it easier for them to keep track of who’s doing what and when.
The tools we have listed here are all free or inexpensive, so there’s no reason not to try them out!
Remote Collaboration Tools For Business
Many are calling 2022 the year of working from home. That being the case, it’s essential that you have the right remote collaboration tools. We’ve taken the liberty of listing out 15 of the best tools that you can use when collaborating remotely.
We would’ve made this a list of 30-50 tools but we know that you don’t have the time to read a 5,000-word long article. While the coverage may not be as wide as a 50-tool roundup, we’re confident that the solutions featured here will be of great use to our readers.
The tools on the list are a compilation of tools that we use personally as well as some suggestions from our readers. If you feel like we missed any, then be sure to tweet at us and share some of your favorite online tools with the hashtag #RemoteCollab.
Without further, let’s get right into it!
Monday.com is one of the top project management solutions currently on the market. Despite being newer than some legacy platforms, it has quickly become a favorite for those who work remotely due to its rich feature pool and overall versatility.
It’s worth noting that Monday isn’t the cheapest project management software, but what it lacks in affordability it makes up for in function. If your team isn’t too large then the pricing should still be within reach. A team of five will pay $49/month on the basic plan.
Despite the fact that Monday.com is arguably the best project management in terms of features, there are some businesses that are too large to afford such prices. This is where a solution like ProofHub would be ideal.
ProofHub charges a flat subscription fee for the whole team. Once you’ve paid it, you can add as many users as you want. The essential plan will cost you $50/month while the ultimate control plan will run you twice as much at $99/month.
Tip: you can get a 10% discount on the monthly price if you let ProofHub bill annually.
Not everyone needs a full-scale project management suite. In fact, feature overload can even make the learning curve steeper for more users. If you’re looking for a user-friendly Gantt chart solution then Instagantt is the software for you.It comes with essential features such as timelines, subtasks, and version tracking.
Instagantt even lets you add clients to the chart in a read-only fashion so that they can keep track of the progress without accidentally editing any important information.
Of course, no remote collaboration list would be complete without Trello — the king of Kanban boards. Trello is one of the simplest ways to collaborate and keep track of who’s doing what in a specific project. Teams that don’t need bells and whistles tend to favor its minimalistic style.
One reason why Trello is so popular is that it’s free to use and doesn’t put non-paying users under strict limitations. In fact, those on the free plan will be able to create as many boards as they want without committing to a paid subscription.
Chanty is a popular pick for those who want a team chat solution that’s both simple and intuitive. A neat feature that you’ll find when chatting is that you have the ability to turn any message into a task and assign it to an individual in the group.
Developers also tend to favor the platform since it supports code snippets. This saves a lot of time since devs who are using the tool will be able to share their latest scripts directly through the team chat without having to upload it to a third-party platform beforehand.
Todoist is another great tool that focuses on simplicity and user-friendliness. Our favorite thing about Todoist is the fact that you can use it on virtually any platform. Your account syncs automatically across devices, enabling worry-free usage regardless of what platform you’re on.
Personally, we use the Chrome extension and the Android widget. The fact that Todoist is never more than a couple of clicks or taps away makes it very convenient to use. The business plan only costs $5/month for each user and lets you add up to 50 people to a single project.
Ever since working from home became the new norm, Zoom has seen a giant spike in its user growth. That’s not to say that it wasn’t popular before the societal shift since it’s been an industry leader in the video conferencing space for years.
The free plan of Zoom is pretty forgiving of users who don’t want to upgrade — with the only main limitation being a 40-minute time limit on group meetings. One-on-one meetings have no such time limit though, regardless of which plan you’re on.
Tip: Zoom’s enterprise plan only costs $1/month for each host if you have 1,999 hosts or more.
Speaking of online communication, let’s take a detour over to the VoIP space. Collaborating really comes down to being able to stay in touch with coworkers — but this can be tricky when working remotely.
For only $22/month you can use the Nextiva mobile app to make unlimited calls to anyone in the US and Canada. You can also have audio conference calls that will help you run group projects from the comfort of your own home.
Collaboration is far easier when everything is on a single platform. That’s why we recommend HelpCrunch for remote teams who want to communicate with their customers on all platforms. This saves you from having to hop between half a dozen different apps just to reply to tickets.
Prices start at $15/month for each team member that you add. That being said, we’d recommend that you go for the premium plan at $25/month since it lets you add your own custom branding to the platform. Teams with 20 or more users can take the enterprise route.
10. G Suite
If we’re talking about raw functionality in the context of remote collaboration then nothing beats G Suite. Whether you’re using Docs, Sheets, or Forms, it will be significantly more convenient to collaborate with those on your team if G Suite is the center of operations.
You can even use G Suite to set up company email addresses that end with your web domain. This will boost your credibility when emailing prospects. At only $6/month for each user, G Suite is an absolute steal.
11. Better Proposals
Getting legally binding digital signatures is no easy task, and without it, clients could run out on you after the work is completed. Fortunately, Better Proposals offers a robust and affordable solution for companies of all sizes.
There are three plans but we’d recommend the premium tier since it only costs $49/month. Those on the premium plan can add up to three users and send 50 proposals per month to their clients. Those who send proposals en masse may want to consider the enterprise plan.
Tip: those on the premium plan can add project management integrations to Better Proposals.
Roadmaps can help you take your remote collaboration to the next level. Airfocus lets you create roadmaps in Kanban and timeline styles. It also makes sharing super easy and even lets you choose which areas of the board you want the recipient to see.
You can add an unlimited number of viewers to your roadmaps which is why this solution is so ideal for companies with a large client base. Prices start at $29/month but you can also get in touch with the Airfocus sales team if you want to explore their enterprise options.
Tip: install the Airfocus Chrome extension to add items in just a couple of clicks.
Time tracking tends to be trickier when you’re not physically in the office. Luckily, software like Toggl removes that obstacle so that you can seamlessly collaborate with your coworkers while still keeping track of your billable hours.
You can create a different timer for each project so that you know how much each client owes you and which projects you spent the most time on. We’d advise creating an extra timer to track how much time you spend working out since exercise can stave off heart and lung diseases.
Tip: getting the premium plan will make setup easier since Toggl will send you a consultant.
GitLab prides itself on being an all-in-one DevOps platform that provides essentially every feature that developers need. Those using a free subscription will get a monthly allowance of 2,000 CI pipeline minutes per group which is enough for most teams.
If all you’re looking for is a solid project issues board then you won’t really need to upgrade beyond the free plan. However, those looking for extended functionality such as roadmaps, merge approvals, pipeline graphs, and container scanning should consider an upgrade.
The last tool that we have on this list is Mailtrap. What exactly is Mailtrap, you ask? It’s a fake SMTP testing server that lets you put your emails through a trial run before sending it out to real customers.
It also uses its algorithm to rank your emails and give them a spam score. A lower spam score means your emails are less likely to get caught by spam filters. If your email has a high spam score then Mailtrap will advise you on how to improve it. Lastly, it has an eternal free plan.
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of remote collaboration tools that you can choose from. Working from home is easier than ever been before thanks to the valiant efforts of the software community. We hope that this list has benefited you in some capacity.
There are still countless collaboration tools out there that we’re yet to cover so be sure to let us know if you’d like to see a sequel article. If you ended up using one of the tools on this list then be sure to share the piece with a friend or two and pay the help forward.
Collaborating will be far more efficient for everyone once they have the right solutions for the job. That’s all for now but we hope you have a great experience while working remotely and use your newfound free time in productive — not to mention healthy — ways.
remote collaboration tools whiteboard
Office work is back, but it’s not back to how it was before. This means that tools like the whiteboard—a staple of classrooms and meeting spaces—have taken the digital leap. Fast, easy, and visual collaboration is too important not to have a virtual option.
Of course, a product sprint team, say, and a high school Calculus teacher use whiteboards entirely differently. I tested dozens of online whiteboards to find the best ones for a variety of needs. I’ve been working remotely for my entire tech writing career—almost a decade now—so I have a lot of experience with testing apps and actually using online collaborative tools. I’d be happy to work with a team using any of these picks.
The 5 best online whiteboards
Miro for turning ideas into tasks
Stormboard for creating multiple whiteboards in a single brainstorming session
MURAL for big remote team meetings
Limnu for teaching students remotely
InVision Freehand for annotating design files with a team
What makes a great online whiteboard?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
Almost any sketch or design app can technically be used as a digital whiteboard if you need to sketch out a few ideas for your team. If you’re sharing your screen over a conference call, you could even use MS Paint. But that doesn’t mean they’re the best tools for the job.
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Similarly, most online conferencing software and office suites have a whiteboard built in. Zoom has Zoom Whiteboard, Microsoft Teams has Microsoft Whiteboard (which is also a standalone app), and Webex has, you guessed it, a feature called Whiteboard. (Google was a little more creative and called its whiteboard product Jamboard.) But if you’re visiting this article, you either don’t want to use these built-in tools, or you need a dedicated online whiteboard tool that offers more advanced or specific features. To that end, I only considered dedicated digital whiteboards when putting together this list, not any app that could be used—or said it could be used—as one.
There are a few key features that I felt a great online whiteboard had to have:
Unlimited canvas. While physical whiteboards might have size restrictions, going digital shouldn’t come with limits. I was looking for whiteboarding tools that have an unlimited, ever-expanding canvas, so whatever way your visualizations go, they can accommodate them.
Collaboration features. Using a whiteboard—whether physical or digital—is often a collaborative act. I required all the apps on this list to allow multiple users to collaborate in real time. Some apps allow private collaboration between team members, while others allow you to share a link or code so that even non-users can comment or add notes.
Ability to attach files. Your digital whiteboard shouldn’t limit the kinds of things you can add to it. I felt you should be able to attach links, images, and other files to your web whiteboard as needed for easy reference.
Presentation options. Because whiteboards are so often used for both ideation and presentation, I looked for features that allowed you to present using your whiteboard. This could be sharing your whiteboard online, exporting it, or a dedicated presentation mode.
Accessible everywhere. Whether you’re working on your own ideas or collaborating on a shared whiteboard with a team, chances are high that you’d like to have access to the whiteboard even if you’re not seated at your desk. This meant it had to be accessible through the web and ideally on mobile devices.
To find the best online whiteboards, I started out with a list of every relevant app that I could find and then compared each one against the criteria above. If an app looked like it could meet them, I tested it to see how it was to use. The specifics of the testing depended on the app, but it generally involved signing up for an account and creating a few different whiteboards to see how everything worked, as well as testing any unique or headline features. Quite a few apps failed out at this step for just being unpleasant to use. The differences between a top-tier web app and one that’s badly coded are impossible not to notice.
I then went back and re-tested the top contenders. I also compared the apps to each other: where two (or more) apps offered a very similar feature set, I went with the one that had a better overall user experience or pricing options, or was the more mature product.
At the end of all the testing, I was left with my five favorite apps—and a few alternate picks that didn’t quite make the list for one reason or another. Here they are.
Best online whiteboard for turning ideas into tasks
Miro (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android)
Miro, our pick for the best online whiteboard for for turning ideas into tasks
Miro is available on any device—and on the web. To get started, choose from a long list of templates (e.g., UX design, customer mapping, and retrospective), or just start with a standard blank whiteboard. And you’re not limited to one template: you can add as many as you want to a board, zooming and scrolling with your mouse, trackpad, or touchscreen to navigate through the various templates on the board. Then add shapes, text, and sticky notes (drag-and-drop) as needed.
If you find yourself looking for more features, go to the Miro marketplace, which houses a list of apps you can integrate, allowing you to do things like update Miro cards within your Airtable base, or add a voting plugin that lets each user vote on designated objects.
Miro is built for more than just brainstorming. It also includes a set of features that supports managers who have to guide the process from ideation to implementation. With Miro, you can monitor what changes have been made, assign tasks, and carry on conversations with team members from within the interface. If you want to present the results of your ideation, you’ll love how easy it is to select and drag a portion of the board to create “frames,” so you can pan through the board in a more organized manner during presentations. (You can also just turn on the screen sharing mode so that all participants can see your screen while hearing your voice over the audio system.)
You can do even more with Miro by using Miro’s Zapier integrations. Automatically create a card on a board in Miro whenever you have a new task, entry in a spreadsheet, or form submission.
Create Miro widgets with new Trello cards
Miro + Trello
Create Miro cards when new Typeform entries are submitted
Miro + Typeform
Add Miro cards from new rows on Google Sheets
Google Sheets, Miro
Google Sheets + Miro
Miro pricing: Free for three editable boards; from $10/user/month for the Team plan that includes unlimited boards and integrations with Jira and Asana.
Best online whiteboard for creating multiple boards in a single brainstorming session
Stormboard (Web, iOS, Android)
Stormboard, our pick for the best online whiteboard for creating multiple boards in a single brainstorming session
Stormboard is a sticky-note-style ideation tool that handles the basics really well. It’s simple for anyone to drop notes or index cards with text, pictures, and even videos onto different sections of the board. The free version of Stormboard was one of our top mind mapping apps for this reason. But if you’re prepared to pay for a premium plan, each digital sticky note can house its own whiteboard, opening up a world of opportunity for big picture brainstorming and collaboration. As soon as you create a new Storm (brainstorming board), you can start adding your ideas. Any sticky note can then turn into a collaborative whiteboard that all collaborators can view and edit in real time.
Using Stormboard solves one of the major problems in any brainstorming or collaborative meeting: how to save each iteration so that it’s easy to review and revise moving forward. To organize, drag each whiteboard note around the board with your mouse. Board collaborators can then vote on each board, carry on a text chat conversation, and even assign tasks.
Because Stormboard integrates with Zapier, you can even automate your whiteboarding, creating new Storms or ideas based on activity in other apps. Or you can automatically send your ideas, comments, and tasks from Stormboard to other apps.
Create Stormboard ideas from new inbound emails
Email by Zapier, Stormboard
Email by Zapier + Stormboard
Create Stormboard ideas for new Trello cards
Stormboard + Trello
Stormboard pricing: Free for the Personal account that includes 5 open Storms and 5 collaborators per Storm; from $10/user/month for the Business plan that includes unlimited open Storms.
Best online whiteboard for big remote team meetings
MURAL (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)
MURAL, our pick for the best online whiteboard for remote, multi-member team meetings
The MURAL canvas can house multiple whiteboard areas, similar to Photoshop artboards, that you can rearrange and resize as needed. On each whiteboard, you can go with the standard blank white background, or choose from a variety of templates to add pre-built grids and content boxes for some additional structure. Many of the templates come with detailed instructions and facilitator guidelines, which makes getting started with MURAL really quick.
MURAL is particularly strong as a team tool, letting you create multiple “rooms” for your whiteboards, each with different permissions to limit access. You might have one room for your design team, one for your marketing team, and so on. You could also create rooms that correspond to various projects.
Remote teams who use MURAL for meetings (like Zapier) will love the digital version of some office staples, from timers (which you can use for focused ideation sprints) to chat boxes. It can be tough to share candid feedback in remote team meetings. That’s why I liked MURAL’s timed voting session, where you can allot a number of votes to each collaborator. To vote, click on an object on your whiteboard. Every vote is anonymous and tallied automatically.
MURAL also integrates with Zapier, letting you do things like automatically create new tasks in your project management tool based on your whiteboards or create new MURAL stickies based on form submissions.
Create Asana tasks from new MURAL stickies
Asana + MURAL
Create MURAL stickies from new Google Form entries
Google Forms, MURAL
Google Forms + MURAL
MURAL pricing: Free for 3 murals with unlimited members, from $12/user/month for the Team+ plan.
If you’re looking for a MURAL alternative, I also liked Lucidspark. It’s a little bit newer and lacks some of MURAL’s polish, but it’s a serious contender.
Best online whiteboard for teaching students remotely
If you’re used to having a physical whiteboard for your presentations and brainstorming sessions and are reluctant to go all-in on digital, you might lean toward Limnu. It feels so much like a real whiteboard that you can almost smell the markers. (Just make sure to practice writing with your mouse or trackpad!)
But Limnu does a lot more than give realistic marker drawings: it also includes collaboration features that make the jump to teaching online feel much easier. To invite others to view your board, click on the share icon and copy/paste the link. You can even limit their permissions to view-only, if you want. Since your virtual students don’t need to go through a lengthy signup process to join your whiteboard, you don’t have to worry as much about tech headaches blocking your teaching session.
Limnu pricing: Free plan available with 14-day access to whiteboards; from $5/month for the Pro plan; $8/user/month for the Team plan that includes team boards
Best online whiteboard for annotating design files with a team
InVision Freehand (Web, iOS)
InVision Freehand, our pick for the best online whiteboard for annotating design files with a team
InVision Freehand gives designers the opportunity to sync their Sketch and Photoshop files or create mockups using the built-in wireframes, and get real-time feedback from teammates and stakeholders. Each logged-in user appears as an icon on the top-right corner of the whiteboard, with a dot indicating the color of the “ink” for their markups. Adding text and uploading files is as simple as a click of the mouse on the top toolbar.
When the Present option is selected, all collaborators on the board can sit back and watch as the focus stays on your own cursor, or get walked through a series of pre-configured “Frames”. The downside: Freehand doesn’t include any group chat tools, though you can communicate through comments. You’ll have to have another app lined up for visual, audio, or text communication outside of the board drawing.
InVision Freehand pricing: Free plan available for unlimited freehands; from $4.95/user/month for the Pro plan.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.