The ongoing pandemic has changed the way millions of people are working. Ironically, many meetings that “should have been an email” are now emails – but emails alone don’t cut it in today’s corporate environment. So, many companies, not to mention schools, are resorting to online collaboration tools that permit not only sending emails and instant messages among team members but cover many others, too, turning them into a vital tool today.
Cloud-based online collaboration services have been in use for quite some time now but the ongoing pandemic has pushed them into the spotlight. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular today.
The tool of choice for many – especially educators looking for a low-cost solution to holding online classes – is Zoom. The tool offers its users the possibility to host online video meetings with up to 100 participants in its free tier that can last for up to 40 minutes at a time, unlimited one-on-one meetings, group chat, screen sharing, and many others.
Zoom’s paid plans come with many supplementary features like user management, cloud storage for recordings, custom branding, and other goodies.
Although it went under scrutiny recently about some issues it allegedly has with privacy, Zoom has seen its user base explode with the advent of the epidemic.
Microsoft Teams offers its users everything they need for a collaborative environment – and then some. It is officially designated as a “business messaging app” but an inside look at the Teams platform will show you that it offers much more than simply messaging.
Aside from its video conferencing services, Teams also offers activity feeds, threaded conversations, scheduling, usage reports, a whiteboard, notes, and it also comes with the power of Microsoft’s Office 365 platform.
The free tier of the Teams platform includes chat and collaboration services with file attachments, collaborating on Office documents, audio and video calls, web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and all this with no strings attached. The cheapest paid tier – $5 a month for each user – comes with the Microsoft 365 Business Basic bundled, scheduling, recordings, and the hosting of online events with up to 10,000 participants.
Slack is currently the market leader in the online collaborative tools market with a massive user base and a very impressive feature set. For old school internet users, some of its features may seem familiar: it has IRC-style persistent channels organized by topic. But it goes way beyond that.
Slack allows the maintaining of communities, groups, and teams, instant messaging on public and private channels, and can work with hundreds of third-party services, covering everything from Gmail and Google Calendar to Dropbox and Zendesk. If you can think of it, Slack probably has integration for it.
Many of you have likely imagined working remotely even before the pandemic forced it to become a new reality for so many. These tools are here to help you make the most of your home office with a selection of useful tools all gathered in one place.