Video Marketing

5 Top Online Collaboration Tools for Business

Eliza Talvola


As of 2022, there are three times more remote jobs than there were at the height of the pandemic in 2020. What was once started as a temporary fix has now become the new normal – and some might call it an even better normal. Not only are most employees happier while working remotely, but they’re more efficient too – and we have remote collaboration tools to thank for that.

What are online collaboration tools?

Online collaboration tools are apps, software programs, and platforms that help businesses (remote and otherwise) work together more effectively.

Online collaboration tools were not a product of the 2020 office mass-exodus. In fact, we’ve been using them for years to connect with clients over video, work on shared documents, and chat with each other. Your messaging apps, project management software, video conferencing platforms, and social media schedulers are all online collaboration tools.

Reasons for using collaboration tools in business

Collaboration tools help to eliminate gate-keeping by offering direct access to ideas, projects, and feedback from others in an instant. If your team adopts the right tools and uses them properly, they can help tackle many of today’s top challenges: productivity, engagement, and connection.

The benefit each collaboration tool brings to your organization depends on many factors including both the old way of doing things, its rate of adoption, and more. In general, the benefits of collaboration tools include:

  • Improved productivity: The goal of collaboration tools is to make it quicker and easier to improve a task. With the right software, you can improve productivity by streamlining processes and offering direct access to information any time, anywhere.
  • Streamlined communication: Even though workforces are more geographically separated than ever, communication can be much simpler. You can now send mass communications anywhere in the world in an instant, complete with links, gifs, images, and videos. This added contextcan help minimize repeated, one-off conversations.
  • Improves organization: Shared drives and collaborative online spaces help keep your teams organized and connected. These tools allow you to dictate who has access to certain resources and ensure that they’re shareable whenever needed.
  • Improves team relationships: While remote work culture comes with its own hurdles, certain tools can make it easier for teammates to collaborate and bond. Online communication can be more approachable for introverted individuals. It also makes it easier to set boundaries with one another.
  • Easier to work remotely: Imagine if the only way to connect with your remote team was a phone call. That would be a very long call. Online collaboration tools make it easier for teams to connect with one another whenever and however it’s best for them. A “good morning” message in the morning, brainstorm after lunch, feedback session in the afternoon, and even a 5PM happy hour are all possible with multiple collaboration tools.

Top 5 online collaboration tools for business

These five collaboration tools are must-haves, regardless of industry or team size. Each one covers a specific need of the remote team: messaging/communication, video conferencing, project management, and file sharing. While the needs of each team and company are different, these tools will help cover all the bases.

1. Slack

Slack is a staple for remote teams big and small. This messaging and collaboration tool can integrate with your other tools to keep you connected, organized, and on-time. Slack combines direct messaging, group messages, voice and video calls, and topic-specific channels all in one place.

Slack is a great way to stay connected with your remote teams. Join the channels that matter to you, and mute the ones you don’t need to stay streamlined. This is definitely a tool that you’ll use every day.

Key features of Slack:

  • Update status to let team members know when you’re available
  • Free and scalable paid plans available
  • Over 2000 integrations with other programs and tools
  • File and document sharing in channels
  • Web, desktop, and mobile apps

2. Google Drive

Google Drive is part of Google’s suite of online tools. Drive allows you to store, share, and collaborate on files and folders on any device. With public and private sharing options, your organization can use Google Drive to store information and important documents and share them at your discretion.

Key features of Google Drive:

  • Unlimited storage
  • Free and scalable paid plans available
  • Flexible sharing options
  • Unlimited folder creations
  • Integrates with the rest of the Google Workspace

3. Hive

Hive is a project management platform built for remote work. Without a project management tool, it’s nearly impossible to stay on track and have visibility to project timelines. With Hive, you can visualize and collaborate on projects each step of the way. Assign tasks, stay up to date on progress, and visualize your timelines across your organization.

Key features of Hive:

  • Multiple project views including Gantt, Kanban, calendar, and more
  • Free and scalable paid plans available
  • Comment and reply to others in the program
  • Over 1,000 integrations with other programs and tools
  • Automated analytics to track progress and plan future projects
  • Web, desktop, and mobile apps

4. Animoto

Animoto is an easy-to-use online video maker. It has everything you need to create professional videos in minutes, no experience required. Video helps to break through the noise and make your message stick. Viewers retain 95% of a message from video compared to just 10% when reading it. If you want to make your communications more efficient, make a video!

You can use Animoto to make training videos, event recaps, advertisements, tutorials, and more. With hundreds of video templates to choose from and user-friendly customization and feedback tools, you can easily streamline communications and engage your team with video.

Key features of Animoto:

  • Hundreds of pre-made templates for work and life
  • Drag-and-drop customization tools including licensed music and stock content
  • Free and scalable paid plans available
  • Integrated tool to collect video feedback
  • In-product screen recorder
  • Easy sharing to social, email, and more

5. Zoom

Zoom is perhaps the most popular and well-known video conferencing tool on the market. Just like band-aid has become synonymous with bandages as a whole, “zooming” is now synonymous with video calling. Zoom has held its ground as a reliable, multi-purpose video conferencing tool that has a robust set of features.

Key features of Zoom:

  • Unlimited meetings per month
  • Chat and messaging options
  • Breakout room capabilities
  • Free and scalable paid plans available
  • Screen sharing on desktop, tablet, and mobile

4 main types of collaboration tools for business

There is no shortage of remote collaboration tools, and you certainly don’t need them all. The five tools we outlined include the four main types of collaboration tools. Together, they can strengthen your remote collaboration and efficiency across the board! When building your own suite of collaboration tools, make sure to have at least one in each of the following categories.

1. Communication and messaging tools

Whether you want to communicate via email, direct messenger, voice call, or all of the above, you’ll need a communication tool. Tools with multiple communication methods in one are a plus, so you can reach your team when and where it matters.

2. Video conferencing tools

Video conferencing tools provide the face-to-face communication that’s often missing from remote workforces. Not only do you get quality facetime through video, but you can easily view your coworkers’ screens for efficient presentations and tutorials.

3. Task and project management tools

Your team can feel disjointed and ineffective without a way to plan and track their work. Thus, project management tools provide a collaborative, transparent space to hold the entire team accountable.

4. Cloud storage and file sharing tools

Last but not least, you need a shared space to store information. Cloud storage platforms empower employees with the information they need, when they need it. Otherwise, information can get lost in asynchronous file transfers and projects can be slowed to a halt.

Things to consider when choosing a collaboration tool

Collaboration tools are essential to remote teams. But striking the right balance of tools can be tricky. With too many tools, your team can feel confused, overwhelmed, or inefficient. So, here are some factors to consider to find the right tools for your team.

  • Specific collaboration needs: First and foremost, consider the bottlenecks your team is facing and how collaboration tools can help. Are you having a hard time collecting feedback? Has your team outgrown your current video-conferencing subscription? This should always be your focus moving forward.
  • Types of projects your team works on: Is your team working on a tight deadline? Is their job done primarily online or in-person? Do the tools they use talk to each other? Take into consideration what types of projects your team currently works on and will work on in the future.
  • Ease-of-use: Just because you bought a new tool doesn’t mean your team will use it – or use it correctly. To help ensure that your team adopts your newest collaboration tool, ease-of-use should be automatically baked into the product. Not only should your existing team be able to use and implement this tool with relative ease, but new hires should be able to pick it up too.
  • Features offered: Of course, the features of this tool will make or break your decision. When comparing similar tools, make sure to differentiate between features that are “needed” or just “nice-to-have.”
  • Privacy options: If you’ll be sharing confidential information, whether your clients’ or your own, make sure your information is protected. You can usually review a company’s privacy policy to see if/where your data is shared and stored.
  • Integrations and compatibility: Evaluate the tools you currently use against new tools. Will certain steps be repeated? Can you get information from one tool to the other? Tool integrations can save you time and keep your team organized.
  • Pricing and plans: Lastly, pay attention to the price tag. Some tools offer a free trial or allow you to pay month-to-month to try it out. Others are a one-and-done fee. Be sure to compare the monthly vs. annual prices to see how you can stack up savings without sacrificing on features.

Benefits of collaboration in the workplace

Collaboration has the ability to increase efficiency, productivity, and job satisfaction. It’s perhaps the most important factor in the workplace, whether remote or IRL. Investing in a tool that promotes collaboration is an investment in your success. The benefits of team collaboration include:

  • Stronger teams: Collaboration strengthens teams in every way. It promotes trust and confidence in one another and creates a safer space for feedback. This ultimately impacts productivity as well; when teammates feel safe to talk about risks, slow-downs, and mistakes, they are easier to overcome.
  • More innovation: With the “two heads are better than one” mentality, you can bring double the ideas to the table. Fresh perspectives and open collaboration can help you get to new, unexpected opportunities. Even contradictory viewpoints help to identify new opportunities and create stronger solutions.
  • More team engagement: Team engagement is key to retaining employees. When team members “fall through the cracks” and aren’t seen, heard, or appreciated, you can lose them. By collaborating and contributing to “the greater good” together, team members can feel more satisfied and proud of their work.
  • More knowledgeable and skilled employees: Great teams attract great team members. When you have an all-star lineup of collaborative, connective, productive employees, others want to get in on the action! Connected teams will learn from each other and motivate each other, thus supporting their continual development.

How to improve collaboration in the workplace

So, how can you promote collaboration in your workplace? There are many approaches. No matter which one (or ones) you lead with, transparency and vulnerability are a must.

Create a supportive work environment

Support starts with you! Enable and empower your team to raise concerns and connect with other team members. Celebrate your teams’ contributions and lead with empathy. Chances are, your team will start to follow.

Use online collaboration tools

Online collaboration tools are usually more approachable for introverted team members. Whereas they may feel shut out or nervous to engage in real life, online collaboration tools provide a buffer. Extroverted types can also use these tools to connect with their team and make sure their voices are heard. This is a great place to start as you build a more collaborative workplace.

Share knowledge, insight, and resources

Gatekeeping can be detrimental to a team. If you want teams to collaborate, information needs to be readily available. Even more than that, you need to foster collaboration by asking for feedback, welcoming constructive criticism, and sharing resources.

Promote frequent communication

Today, there are many ways to meet with your team. Maintain a regular schedule of group meetings, one-on-ones, and casual “catch-ups” to welcome open communication. Even sharing meeting recaps across your organization show that you value transparency and open communication, Over time, your team will learn what communications to expect and know their voices will be heard.

Encourage collaboration across departments

Collaboration shouldn’t be capped by department. Work with other department leads to create channels that welcome cross-team collaboration. Together, you can paint a bigger picture and come up with stronger solutions. You never know when someone’s expertise or feedback will come in handy to another team!

Start collaborating with your team using Animoto

Video is everywhere these days – not just on social media. As we’ve seen above, an important component of collaboration is frequent, consistent communication. Not only can you use video to communicate with your team (think company announcements, meeting recaps, etc.) but you can promote collaboration by asking for feedback on your videos!

You can use video to connect with your team for free with Animoto. Browse our hundreds of templates for work and life and strengthen your communication, no video experience required.

Online collaboration tools FAQ

Why is collaboration important?

Collaboration promotes information sharing, employee retention, productivity, and innovation. If you want to build a strong team, you need to create a collaborative environment for them to flourish in.

How can collaboration help a business grow?

Collaboration can underlie many of a company’s major goals like employee retention, innovation, and attracting new talent. Though it starts on a team-by-team basis, these collaborative, strong teams can become a building block for future growth.

How do businesses use collaboration tools?

Businesses use collaboration tools every day to track progress, share new information, and communicate with their teams. Video conferencing and project management tools alike can be considered online collaboration tools.