It may seem counterintuitive, but being unable to share the same physical workspace with your colleagues doesn’t need to hinder communication, collaboration, or productivity. There are a number of remote tools that foster collaboration among team members no matter where in the world they’re located, making communication just as simple as it would be in a physical office.
But which remote communication and collaboration tool is best for your organization? A team can’t function without consistent and reliable communication, so choosing the right tool is critical to the success of your business.
The importance of remote collaboration tools
If your team works remotely — either by choice or not — a reliable remote collaboration tool is the lifeblood of your business. Having a remote team that can’t freely and frequently communicate and collaborate with one another is a non-starter. It’s equivalent to your entire workforce calling in sick on the same day.
When considering platforms, it’s important to choose just one or as few as possible. Using multiple remote tools across your business can lead to missed communication, lost files, and lower productivity. If one of your teams or departments is on Slack and another is on Skype, it’s going to lead to disorganization.
How to choose the best collaboration tool for your business
Price shouldn’t be a major consideration when choosing the best collaboration tool for your business. The cost of choosing the wrong tool, or not having one at all, will ultimately cost you much more. Low productivity or wasted time on technical issues kills motivation and your bottom line.
When choosing a collaboration tool for your remote team, consider the size of your business, your communication needs, and how it will integrate with your existing tools.
What are the advantages of Zoom?
Zoom allows remote workers and teams to connect with HD video and audio from anywhere using any device. Their cloud platform streamlines meetings, conference calls, chat rooms, webinars, and training sessions.
Zoom has a free version that can host up to 100 participants for 40 minutes at a time and features unlimited 1:1 meetings. More advanced options range from $14.99 to $19.99 a month, allowing users to host up to 1,000 participants at once for larger organizations.
- HD audio and video calls
- Video web conferencing
- Searchable, automatically generated transcripts
- End-to-end encryption
- File sharing
- Host up to 1,000 participants
- Virtual video backgrounds for privacy
Zoom offers quality video collaboration for teams of all sizes. It’s often paired as an integration with chat-based platforms, such as Slack, to meet the communication needs of remote teams.
What are the advantages of Slack?
Slack is a chat-based workspace where management and team members can communicate 1:1 or in groups of any size, make audio calls, share files, and connect with other apps. Users can create a variety of channels dedicated to a specific project, department, or theme, or communicate with the entire workforce at once.
Slack comes with different pricing options, including a free version. The free version of Slack is recommended for small teams; it saves the 10,000 most recent messages, deleting any beyond that threshold, and only allows for 1:1 calls. For larger businesses, there’s Slack’s Standard package, available for $6.67 per user per month, and Slack’s Plus package, available for $12.50 per user per month. Both of the paid packages include a maximum of 15 participants in calls.
- Multiple customizable communication channels, including one-on-one channels, group channels, and shared channels for external clients
- Voice calls
- Searchable history
- Over 2,000 integrated apps and tools
Smaller businesses and startups tend to prefer Slack since it provides a decent free option. Larger businesses will find Slack’s conferencing capabilities do not meet the needs of a team larger than 15 people.
What are the advantages of Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is an all-encompassing, cohesive, cloud-based communication workspace that comes included with Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Business Standard. It’s a platform designed for collaboration, combining workplace chat with video meetings, calls, file storage and sharing, as well as seamless application integration within Microsoft 365 and with third parties.
Microsoft Teams is ideal for working remotely, as it enables collaboration in Microsoft’s secure cloud ecosystem. Several team members can edit the same file at once in real time, regardless of how large your team is or where in the world they’re located, all protected by Microsoft’s elaborate cloud security.
Since Teams comes built-in to a Microsoft 365 Business Basic or Standard subscription, you’ll also have access to and integration with Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as SharePoint, OneDrive, OneNote, Exchange, and Outlook business email.
With a Microsoft 365 subscription, there’s a free version of Teams that includes video calling, chat rooms, file sharing and storage, and more. All three of the Microsoft 365 packages require an annual commitment from $5 to $20 per user per month.
- Online meetings
- Video conferencing for up to 10,000 people at a time
- File sharing
- Screen sharing
- Instant messaging
- Searchable conversation channels
- Live collaboration
- Seamless app integration (Word, Excel, SharePoint, OneNote, and many more)
- End-to-end security
Organizations already using Microsoft Office often choose Teams since it integrates so well with the complete Microsoft 365 productivity stack. In addition, the 2020 opening of Teams to third-party developers is producing a huge number of new integrations and functionalities to meet the needs of remote workforces around the world.
What about other options?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is the generic term for any service that routes telephone calls over an internet connection instead of a telephone company’s wiring. VoIP service costs far less than legacy landline phones, and delivers better sound quality and many additional features. VoIP has been offered by countless providers since the 1990s; the most well-known of these is Skype.
Skype is a telecommunications application offering voice calls and, more recently, video chat between computers, tablets, mobile phones, and even smartwatches. It comes with features such as screen sharing, call recording, and live subtitles. In 2011, Skype was acquired by Microsoft, which developed an enterprise communication version called Skype for Business. While the consumer version of Skype still exists, Skype for Business is being phased out and replaced by Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft’s answer to Facebook, Yammer is an enterprise social networking platform included with your Microsoft 365 subscription, which means it integrates with other Microsoft offerings. If Microsoft Teams is your company’s conference room, Yammer is the lunch or breakroom, where company-wide announcements or updates are made. Yammer allows conversations with up to 80,000 members at a time, making it ideal for large organizations.
Why we chose Microsoft Teams
If you’re already using Microsoft Office tools, using Microsoft Teams is a bit of a no-brainer. It perfectly integrates with Microsoft 365’s productivity stack, meaning you never need to switch between tools or platforms, and never need to leave the security of the Microsoft cloud.
It’s an all-in-one solution that helps teams of all sizes collaborate efficiently and effectively. It has the functionality needed by smaller departments as well as any organization as a whole.
Learn more about the six tools we use at Leverage IT for keeping our physically separated team connected and productive.
How Leverage IT can help
Think Microsoft 365 might be the right fit for your organization? Leverage IT can help you set up Microsoft Teams with a plan tailored to the needs of your organization. We’re experts in facilitating Microsoft 365 for our clients with a fast, stress-free, and seamless migration.
It’s time to begin leveraging your IT. Contact us to learn more about our Microsoft 365 Migration package, including Microsoft Teams setup.