Workplace collaboration concept with marketers sitting together discussing which collaboration tool to invest in
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Collaboration brings teamwork to a higher level as it allows for a more productive way of getting tasks and goals completed. Michael Graham, CEO of Epilogue Systems, said that while enabling collaboration is a key priority for company managers, too much technology is holding teams back at a macro level. To enable collaboration, enterprises need to invest in the right tools. When we asked what tools enterprise leaders were using, we found that most are using a lot of the same tools. We also found that a large number of them were looking specifically for tools that would enable long-distance/remote collaboration.

For Marcin Nieweglowski, marketing manager of Little Big Make where day-to-day work is possible only through remote cooperation, there’s no one solution that fulfills all the company’s needs regarding the digital workplace. This appears to be a typical scenario. Nieweglowski told us that when the company needs to set up a quick (video) call, they use Skype, and to manage a communication workflow with co-workers Slack is the best thing. “Throughout my career, I’ve used a few task management tools such as Basecamp, Wunderlist and Asana. However, nowadays Sifter is my number 1 in terms of this kind of solution. Sifter convinced me with its neat form and function, [which is uncomplicated],” he said.  He uses Claro as a digital assistant — a simple and intuitive do-to tool designed for Google or Apple-powered users. “Honestly, I can’t imagine my daily work without these tools. Without them, I would be like a baby in the woods,” he said.

You get the picture, collaboration in the digital workplace is a complex affair that requires many different kinds of tools. Microsoft Teams did not make this list, but as part of the Office 365 suite and a relative newcomer to the enterprise collaboration space, it is likely that it is not seen in organizations as a standalone collaboration app, but rather as something that enables collaboration across Office 365.

Here are the most notable collaboration tools being used in the enterprise today.

Related Article: 7 Ways to Measure Workplace Collaboration and Productivity Tool Efficacy

1. Slack

Matt Bentley, founder and CEO of SEO developer CanIRank, said that the two primary tools they use for collaboration are Trello and Slack. Slack is the digital equivalent of an "office water-cooler" as it facilitates communication among team members, he said. Important ideas can also get communicated quickly, as if you were making a quick in-office announcement or chatting with a neighbor.

2. Trello

Trello is another way of communicating ideas to team members, but is more of a tool for organizing and monitoring team tasks and progress. It is a collaboration tool that gives users a visual overview of what is being worked on, who is working on it, and how much progress has been made. In the world of task management apps it is the digital equivalent of Post-It Notes and bulletin boards. 

Bentley also suggests Bonusly, a platform that enables employees to give other employees micro-bonuses. These micro-bonuses can be redeemed for gift cards, given to charities. "I have never experienced a bigger motivator for team collaboration quite like the ability to fuel each other’s impulse buys in honor of a job well done,” he said.

Related Article: 4 Best Practices for Real-Time Collaboration and Communication

3. Google Suite

For Sumit Bansel, founder of Trump Excel, an online platform that trains people to use Excel spreadsheets efficiently. For small and mid-sized firms, collaboration is the key to efficient functioning. There are a number of tools that offer this.

When it comes to small businesses (and even midsized ones), Google Suite is a great collaboration product, he said. It has many tools such as spreadsheets and a word processor, as well as data storage (G Drive) that makes it a complete package. The best part of it is that people are already familiar with using Gmail and most of the G-suite tools. It is also low priced and very efficient.

4. Skype

Since most small and mid-sized firms use Windows, Bansel said Skype is a good tool to connect, collaborate and communicate via video. Skype has improved a great deal and now has superior performance. It's easy to connect and share the screen with people who are anywhere in the world. In addition, he believes Slack is a great instant messaging platform that is built for scalability. With it, users can easily create channels based on topics, teams and locations. It also has a useful feature that allows users to search previous chats and integrates with many tools such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Asana.

5. Google Docs

Nina Krol is an outreach specialist at Zety. She said that the trust towards digital collaboration is increasing as quality and accessibility to technology continues to improve. For Krol, along with Slack, Google Docs is a key app/tool.

"Google Docs is a powerful tool that holds most of our docs and because we are all about transparency and communication, we can share our files with team members and all employees within seconds. All the documents are stored in a safe space and can be accessed from wherever," she said.

6. Google Hangouts

Hangouts is a very handy and easy to use video conference tool. Users can click-and-connect to most collaboration tools these days and you are rarely asked for a desktop app to be installed. Google hangouts also found a way to make this super accessible by letting people connect even in tight security environments.

7. JIRA from Atlassian

Although it is a software development tool, Zety adapted Jira for teams to use. Jira helps organize workflow without endless email chains. It allows teams to create multiple projects, boards and issues within those, assign tasks and split whole projects into stages. This way our workflow is always organized and reports from completed projects can be ready within minutes.

Cloud-Enabled Connected Workplace

Tim Christensen, chief technology officer at SocialChorus, pointed out that in the past, creating a connected workforce was not always possible because the technology and infrastructure necessary to support it was not economical. Cloud computing was not generally acceptable for the enterprise. Mobile was not the standard communication medium. Wireless access was not readily available across the globe. Workers did not demand it. “Today, none of these conditions hold true and employees demand and expect to be able to easily connect and collaborate,” he said.

The modern enterprise must embrace this new reality to meet the needs of every worker. The most effective tools for collaboration in the digital workplace are those that allow employees to communicate quickly and seamlessly, whether they are behind a desk, in the field or on a factory floor.