To edge out competition, employers agree that innovation and efficiency are a must. In fact, according to a recent Forrester study, 71% of business leaders believe they need to bring new offerings to the market faster than originally planned to maintain their position.So how do you innovate faster? By empowering your employees to collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve better than ever. That's where collaboration tools can help. Keep reading to learn what collaboration tools for business are, why they matter and how to choose them. As a bonus, we’ll also cover which kinds of tools you should consider based on your business needs. We’ll cover:
What are collaboration tools for business?
Business collaboration tools encompass all the tools that help employees work together—whether that’s in person in the workplace, remotely, or both. These tools enable employees to work more efficiently and creatively together, while also helping to streamline project management.
3 benefits of business collaboration tools
While there’s such a thing as tool overload, the right collaboration tools can have a positive impact on your business. Below, we’ll cover three key benefits of equipping your employees with collaboration tools (besides the obvious).
- They enable communication: Collaboration tools allow employees to discuss project updates, deadlines, milestones, and other important topics that help move work forward. With a constant and reliable stream of communication, employees are more likely to remain engaged and productive at work, and less likely to feel frustrated or siloed from teammates.
- They support creativity: Collaboration tools also help employees brainstorm and ideate more effectively. This unlocks the potential for businesses to be more innovative and solve complex problems with creative solutions. A win-win.
- They empower connection: Last, but not least, collaboration tools can help employees and teams build connections if they’re located in different places or working in a hybrid model. While nothing beats working together onsite, technology helps bridge some of the gap between remote and onsite employees by enabling them to communicate and work together better.
The best collaboration tools for businesses
Searching for the best business collaboration tools can be time-consuming. And let’s face it: You’ve got a lot going on already. To cut down on your research, we’ve curated a list of collaboration tools for office workers and flexible work organizations.
Envoy is an all-in-one workplace platform that allows employees to search and find available space onsite. They can also see when their teammates plan to work onsite, reserve a desk near folks they plan to work with, and book space to collaborate. Plus, Envoy is built to help employees collaborate within flexible working models. It empowers folks to make same-day reservations to save their spot in the workplace and book space together onsite on the fly. Employees can use their computer or phone to easily book a hot desk next to teammates and reserve meeting rooms.Pros:
- All-in-one workplace app (not a collection of point solutions)
- Easy to use
- Empowers employees and workplace teams
- Integrates with more than 100 other apps, including many we list in this section
- Free plan doesn't include workplace occupancy analytics
- May not be necessary for tiny organizations (<5 people)
Google Drive is a file sharing platform that allows employees to upload and share documents. Teammates can upload work to shared folders to ensure the right folks can easily find the files they need to keep their work moving forward. Pros:
- Access files from anywhere, mobile or desktop
- User-friendly search functionality
- File size limits
- Daily upload limit
Asana is a project management solution that helps folks track and manage their work progress. Teammates can share status updates, important milestones, blockers, and see what work is complete, overdue, and upcoming.Pros:
- Easy-to-use (and delightful) interface
- 100+ integrations
- Advanced customization options
- Steep learning curve for new users
- Limited export and import functionality
- No two-factor authentication
Alternatives: Trello and Monday.com
Zapier is a collaboration tool that allows employees to automate their individual and team workflows. With Zapier, folks can work together more efficiently by cutting out unnecessary steps in their work processes. Pros:
- Saves teams time by optimizing workflows
- User friendly
- The possibilities for integrations are endless
- Steep learning curve for new users
- Doesn’t provide explanation for errors
Slack is a communication app that allows employees to send direct messages to coworkers, teams, and groups. With Slack, folks can instantly connect with their coworkers no matter where they’re located. Employees can also share files and screen recordings, as well as call one another to collaborate on work.Pros:
- Real-time notifications
- Easy-to-use interface
- Call quality can be hit or miss
- Context shifting can interrupt workflows
Alternative: Microsoft Teams
Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows employees to connect with one another from any location. Using Zoom, employees can collaborate in one-on-one, team, and company-wide meetings. It can also support hybrid work collaboration by bringing folks working onsite and remote together.Pros:
- Supports small and large meeting
- Extensive list of integrations
- Lack of comment control
- Requires users to download the app
Alternative: Google Meet
Miro is a collaborative tool that helps hybrid teams work effectively together. With Miro, folks can brainstorm using digital sticky notes, plan and manage their workflows in a visual way, and organize meetings.Pros:
- Full set of collaboration capabilities
- Intuitive and easy to use once onboarded
- Steep learning curve for new users
- Limited export options
Haiilo is an intranet solution that brings employees together under a single platform. With Haiilo, you can help drive employee collaboration, manage internal communications, send engagement surveys, and oversee employee advocacy efforts within a private and secure online network.Pros:
- Very customizable
- Offers a single, secure space for employees to collaborate and engage
- It can be difficult to drive employee adoption of intranets
- Intranets often require lots of oversight
How to choose the right collaboration tools for your business
There are many kinds of collaboration tools for business. Finding the “best” ones comes down to finding the right ones. So, how do you go about doing that? Below, we break down the steps to take to ensure you choose the right tools for your organization.
Step 1: Understand your team and business needs
To start off, create a list of criteria new collaboration tools should meet. Chat with employees and team leads to understand the collaboration problems and pain points they face. This will help you spot gaps in your technology and understand which gaps are most important and urgent to fill. Talking with employees is also a great way to learn what collaboration tools folks prefer, which will come in handy in the next step.
Step 2: Research the market
Now that you’re clear on your team and business needs, it’s time to do some research. In the last section, we covered some of the best collaboration tools for office workers and flexible work. Use that list as a launching point for your research, and don’t forget to include the tools that employees mentioned in your conversations.We recommend creating a simple scorecard to keep your research findings organized. No need to overcomplicate this part. Simply rate each category on a scale of 1-5 (five being the best) and tally up the score for each tool to see which ones rank the highest according to your criteria.In addition to the criteria you established in Step 1, consider including:
- Ease of use
- Features and capabilities
- Vendor reputation
- Service and support
Example scorecard:Tool: AsanaNotes:Ease of use3/5Features and capabilities 5/5Integrates with current tech stackReliability 4/5Vendor reputation5/5High rating on G2 + employee tool of choiceScalability 4/5Follow up with IT Security5/5Service and support4/5Not the best, but meets our needsPricing3/5$299 per location / mo Score33/40
Top tip: Check out user reviews on third-party sites, such as G2 and Capterra. These reviews will help you gather insights from others in your industry and allow you to compare your top choices side by side.
Step 3: Narrow down your options
Finally, it’s time to narrow down your choices. Filter your spreadsheet by the top-ranking tools according to your scoring. Once you have a short list of tools, bring in your stakeholders to discuss the pros and cons of each. Be sure to also work closely with your IT, finance, and legal teams, who’ll have a point of view on which business collaboration tools will work best for your organization.—The market for collaboration tools is red-hot right now, and for good reason. When employees collaborate effectively, they can be more efficient, productive, and innovative. But not all technology is created equal, so use this post as a starting point for your research and you’ll find the best business collaboration tools in no time.