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Best online collaboration tools and apps in 2020: Slack, Jira, Asana, and more

For many, working from home has gone from being a dream to a reality. But to stop that turning into a nightmare, teams will need tools to help them collaborate and stay productive while remotely working. (Updated April 2020)

The best online collaboration tools and apps

Over the past few weeks, a lot of people have found themselves working from home. For some, the idea of working from home is a dream come true (excluding the circumstances that conspired to make that a necessity). 

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But working from home raises a number of challenges, and those challenges become even more of an issue when those remote workers have to collaborate with other team members. To keep productivity and morale up, teams will need tools to come together online, to collaborate in real-time, and work as though they were still in the same building. This is vital. And these days trying to make do using email, the odd to-do list, and video conferencing alone just doesn't cut it.

Integration is key, and team members working remotely need the right online collaboration tools and project management tools that bring together features such as instant messaging, video calls, screen sharing, and time tracking to help them get the job done. Let's take a look at the best online collaboration tools currently on offer.

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.

Google G Suite

Google G Suite

G Suite includes remote collaboration tools including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and communication tools including Hangouts Meet and Chat. 

Additionally, Google announced free access to advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers, which means users can host up to 250 participants per call, as well as other enterprise features, through July 1, 2020. 

Pricing starts at $6 per month and user.

View Now at Google

Atlassian Jira

Atlassian Jira

Aimed specifically at software development, Atlassian Jira allows users to plan the software, track and prioritize the creation process, release, and get reports on all steps of the project. Choose the way you work, either using an out-of-the-box workflow, or create one to match the way your team works.

Jira integrates with over 3,000 different apps and third-party services. There's a free version for those with under 10 users, and pricing starts at $7 per month and user.

Note: Starting March 18, teams can get cloud-based editions of Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk, and Jira Core at no charge. They can be accessed at www.atlassian.com/free. You can learn more here.

View Now at Atlassian Jira

Slack

Slack

Slack's strong points are that it can integrate with a wide array of services and businesses are probably already using -- from Dropbox and Google Drive to Salesforce and Zoom. It's also popular, used across the world by a wide range of companies, including big names like Lyft and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

There's a free plan available for small teams, and prices start at 6.67 per month and active user. A 99.99% guaranteed uptime SLA is available for higher-priced plans.

View Now at Slack

Asana

Asana

Asana is perfect for groups that need to focus on getting projects done. It allows you to map your project out as z Gantt chart, then create portfolios of steps, and monitor the workload of each member. Asana also has a wide range of integration tools, connecting to a broad range of online services, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Slack, Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, and more.

There's a free plan available, and prices start at $10.99 per month and user. Paid plans come with priority support and Premium Academy trainings.

View Now at Asana

Podio

Podio

Podio has a simple remit: Whether you're completing a design project, or closing a sales lead, everything related to the job or project is on one page and in view, which instantly makes collaboration easier.

Podio connects to a broad platform of third-party services, such as Dropbox, GoToMeeting, Google Drive, and Evernote. On top of that Podio Extensions offer optional extras, built for specific use-cases by our developer community. From cloud backup to time-tracking, there are a lot of extensions to choose from to augment your Podio experience.

Podio has a free plan for five employees, with packages starting at $9 per month and user.

View Now at Podio

Ryver

Ryver

Ryver takes a myriad of apps that you'd otherwise be switching between -- group messaging, task management, voice, and video calls -- and puts them all in one app, and then it makes them available across all your devices. Broad integration with services such as Asana, Mailchimp, Google Mail, Evernote, Box, and Dropbox.

There's a free trial available, and prices start at $49 per month for 12 users, while a higher-priced plan can have unlimited users.

View Now at Ryver

Trello

Trello

Trello puts the fun -- or at least tries to put the fun -- into what is usually a tedious task. It uses boards, lists, and cards to allow you to organize and prioritize your projects in a flexible and easy-to-use way.

A limited free plan is available, and paid plans, which include larger file attachments, unlimited team boards, and app integrations, start at $9.99 per month and user.

View Now at Trello

Flock

Flock

Flock bring everything you need to collaborate -- instant messaging, video conferencing -- into a single package, and combines that with powerful search features. There's also support for a broad range of third-party services, including Asana, IFTTT, Google Analytics, Twitter, Googe Drive, and Todoist.

A free starter plan is available, with paid plans starting at $4.50 per month and user.

View Now at Flock

ZoHo Project Management

ZoHo Project Management

ZoHo offers so much more than collaboration. It is a powerful suite of software to run your entire business, with everything from CRM tools, remote working tools, email, and even a context-aware helpdesk system. On the project management side, there are tools for keeping updated about project status, planning and tracking, and even bug tracking. There's full G Suite business integration, too, and a vast array of extensions to choose from to solve problems.

A limited free plan is available, with plans starting at $150 per year for up to 10 users.

View Now at Zoho

LiquidPlanner

LiquidPlanner

A unique feature if LiquidPlanner is forecasting, which gives you the edge by allowing you to stay one step ahead of the curve by planning and prioritizing hundreds of projects and track how changes to one project will impact.

A free trial is available, and pricing is available on request.

View Now at Liquid Planner

LeanKit

LeanKit

LeanKit supports the implementation of Lean principles, practices, and work methodologies across all business functions to help organizations create an environment of continuous improvement and innovation to deliver customer value faster.

LeanKit connects to a wide array of third-party applications and services, from Jira Software, Bugzilla, and GitHub, to Visual Studio, Zendesk, and Salesforce.

Prices start at $19 per month and user

View Now at LeanKit

Basecamp

Basecamp

Basecamp is a complete project package -- it includes all the tools teams need to work together, such as message boards, to-dos, schedules, docs, file storage, real-time group chat, and automatic check-in questions. You can rename them, turn off the ones you don't need, or integrate with third-party tools like time trackers to tailor things to the project at hand. It's highly flexible.

Basecamp offers a free trial, after that, it is a $99 per month flat fee, with no per-user fees. Every feature is unlimited -- unlimited projects, unlimited users. This makes Basecamp a very competitive offering.

View Now at Basecamp

Microsoft SharePoint/Teams

Microsoft SharePoint/Teams

Microsoft has a lot to offer in the collaboration world. Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are two totally different platforms that offer different features. SharePoint is a collaboration platform that integrates well with other Office 365 apps. Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, is a hub that allows remote workers to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place.

Despite their differences, you can integrate the two platforms together. Microsoft Teams offers a free plan, while SharePoint starts at $5 per month and user.

View Now at Microsoft Teams Microsoft SharePoint

Dropbox Business

Dropbox Business

There more to Dropbox Business than just file storage -- it's also a smart workspace where teams, tools, and content come together. With Dropbox Business you can create, store, and share cloud content from Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and easily access your team's work from your computer, mobile device, or any web browser. There's also deep integration with tools such as Slack and Zoom.

There's a 30-day free trial. After that, prices start at $15 per month and user (minimum three users).

View Now at Dropbox Business

Online collaboration can work, and work well, but it needs some planning and preparation. Otherwise, productivity and efficiency take a big drop -- as does morale (don't underestimate that).

With a big upturn in working from home and remote working, it's fortunate that we no longer have to try to make do with ad-hoc systems of cobbled together services, with email in one app, video conferencing in another, file sharing in another, and projects and to-do lists somewhere else completely. Integration is key to not only efficiency and productivity, but also when it comes to providing support for remote workers.

Giving remote workers the tools they need to collaborate in real-time, and to do so using a platform that makes that as simple as possible allows team members to get on with their projects, rather than be fighting with the tools to get the job done.

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