How You Can Effectively Collaborate with a Remote Workforce

Nathaniel Kemberling


As COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated remote workforces, it is good to understand how to use business remote collaboration tools effectively to support your company and your teams no matter where they work from. Even when working remotely, you are still working as part of a larger team. This means communication remains an essential part of your daily activities. There are plenty of tools that easily allow for collaboration including messaging, video, voice and file sharing. But we want to focus on the best remote collaboration tools for business. So what business tools are out there, and which ones are the best?

Microsoft Teams

If you use Office 365 or Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams is most likely included in your application portfolio. That makes Microsoft Teams an easy and cost-effective remote collaboration tool. Also, the tool is easily used across multiple platforms including desktop, mobile, and online. Basic features of Microsoft Teams allow you to easily chat with individual co-workers or your entire team at once, as well as offering video conference call, voice call capability and collaboration from anywhere. Additionally, Microsoft Teams allows you to easily share links to files housed on SharePoint and OneDrive, allowing for greater productivity across your team. Given Microsoft remains the premier business platform today, Microsoft Teams is a simple, easily deployable remote collaboration tool that most companies are already paying for.

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Slack is one of the most widely used remote collaboration tools on the market today. Slack makes team communication and collaboration easy, especially for companies with big or remote teams. Slack, like others, allows for chat, messaging, group messaging, file sharing, video calls, archiving, and more. Slack also comes with a healthy use across some major corporations including Lyft, Oracle, Autodesk and TD Ameritrade. Additionally, Slack integrates with 900+ applications including Outlook, OneDrive, DropBox, SalesForce, and Zoom. One downside to Slack, it does not have a direct connection to SharePoint, but rather relies upon third-party connectors for this link. Additionally, Slack takes a little more integration. Finally, Slack can be an added cost depending on the features you want to deploy and the number of users.

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Zoom is an enterprise video communications company utilizing a cloud-based platform. Zoom allows users to hold video conference calls, online meetings, training sessions, and webinars. Zoom is best for online teams allowing for both members and non-members to participate in online meetings through its simple user interface. While Zoom is probably superior for video conferencing & desktop sharing today, it does not directly allow for file sharing. However, Zoom can be integrated into Microsoft Teams or Slack which does make it a viable bolt-on for larger video conferencing needs. Zoom costs between $0 and $19.99 per host per month depending on the features needed.

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Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a collaboration platform developed by Google to allow conversations between two or more people. The service can be accessed through the Google ecosystem or through multiple mobile apps. A limitation of Google Hangouts is it requires using Google’s platform. Therefore, all users will need a Gmail account and it is a bit more difficult to share documents from the Microsoft platform that many businesses use.

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Voice over IP (VoIP), allows for voice communications to occur over the internet. Most VoIP systems include not only a desk phone, but also, a computer softphone and mobile app. These tools allow you to stay connected to be your office phone wherever you go. Additionally, most VoIP systems have internal chat and messaging functionality, and some even allow for file sharing. Utilizing a VoIP system, allows you to stay connected to your clients just as if you were sitting in the office.

Closing Thoughts

Working remotely brings a new level of need for daily collaboration. Deploying one or several remote collaboration tools will allow you to effectively manage your team, stay on top of activities and goals, as well as allowing increasing productivity of your remote workforce. First look to use remote collaboration tools that are already in place, such as Microsoft Teams and VoIP. Then bolt-on additional remote collaboration tools as needed.

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