Top 5 Collaborative Work Tools to Use in 2021

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Without a doubt, 2020 was the year of change in the way we work. What seemed distant, in 2020 experienced a great acceleration and themes such as "digital transformation", "telework" and "virtuality" came to stay in such traditional industries as education, health services and government management. In 2020 we saw entire nations standing still for days or weeks, governments working from home and ministers, parliamentarians and mayors working remotely with their closest teams. That's why I dedicate this article to tools for collaborative work.

Transition away from the big city

For many of us who are fortunate enough to work in industries that allow virtualization of equipment, we saw colleagues move to other cities in search of larger spaces and lives away from the metropolis. The benefits of the big city disappeared when restaurants, bars and shopping malls closed. The advantages of the big city shortened or disappeared in the face of telecommuting. A beautiful, modular apartment seemed cramped in the face of confinement and a house away from the big city now seems like an excellent option. I invite you to read this interesting article on the migration out of the big cities.

The rise of collaborative work tools

Since most of my work happens in the software industry, I've been used for several years (more than a decade) to the use of collaborative tools, from a simple chat program, to more complex collaboration applications like Slack or Teams and, of course, advanced project management tools - I invite you to read my article on top 6 project management tools in 2021.

However, many individuals, teams and companies, jumped to virtuality - massively - in 2020 and will continue in 2021 using such tools that allow collaborative work of teams remotely.

Here are 5 best tools that took hold in 2020 and are shaping up to be the key tools of 2021. We start with the complete work systems - Suites as they are known in English.

1. Google G Suite

Without a doubt, the pioneer of collaborative tools is Google with its G Suite - formerly known as Google Docs. I've been using these products since early 2008 and it's amazing how simple and powerful they are.

Google Suite offers, in addition to the successful and powerful mail service, an office suite with document processor, spreadsheet, presentation system and dynamic forms - to name the most popular ones. The calendar management system is better than any other I've tried and its licensing scheme is simple.

Google Chat, Meet and...

Google offers basic collaboration systems - chat and videoconferencing - but it doesn't have a well developed collaborative workspace. Some years ago Google Sites already appeared as a kind of site manager in the style of Wikipedia or the famous - and unbearable - SharePoint from Microsoft. Today it is used in Google Classroom and can be adapted as a workspace - something that Microsoft Teams or Slack definitely do better.

Google G Suite is ideal for startups and virtual work teams. The persistence in Google G Suite tools will make you forget the old days of Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Office 365

Well, no introduction required, most large companies have had Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office on their systems since almost the beginning of personal computing. Talking about Microsoft is synonymous with "familiar ground" and therefore, Office 365 - a model equivalent to Google G Suite - is the decision to make.

Also an excellent solution, Microsoft Office 365 still can't quite make up its mind on being 100% Web or Cloud-based and has a mix of tools with "light" Web versions - something that in my opinion, has only sapped their energy and opened the door for products like Google G Suite or ZoHo One to gain ground.

For companies with existing infrastructure under Microsoft there is no better option than to use Office 365 systems and leverage their existing configurations in the MS cloud.

Microsoft Teams, Planner and everything in between

Microsoft Teams has evolved a lot since the beginning of 2020. It has never been my favorite application, but I must admit that it has improved a lot since the beginning of the pandemic and today it has simple options to join meetings, share files and do something that teachers and facilitators need all the time "breakout rooms" or independent sessions within a meeting.

Teams is a tool that consolidates many of Microsoft's products and puts them at the click of a button. Teams will undoubtedly be the primary collaborative work tool for many teams in 2021.

3. ZoHo One

This is a big player in other latitudes, although it has little presence in Latin America. ZoHo is an alternative to Google G Suite. However, ZoHo has gone further to differentiate itself and offers CRM, talent management systems (HR), accounting applications, project management, collaborative spaces and an endless number of other applications. end of tools.

If you don't suffer from compatibility problems or file sharing in different formats - MS Office being the most incompatible of them all - ZoHo One is the best choice for price and features.

All-in-One

In my company, Sperta ConsultingWe have been using ZoHo since the beginning because of the value for money. It has many tools and in some countries even allows invoicing. ZoHo has really gone out of its way to differentiate itself from the big competitors. It has a full office suite - word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, calendar and much more.

It differs in my opinion in mobile applications, it has really advanced mobile applications to support the Web experience, the messaging and video conferencing system, despite not being so popular, is excellent.

Hybrid tools or mixes

If you, like me, enjoy integrating multiple applications and services - and have no problem learning and memorizing usernames and passwords for each of those services, then the two tools below may get your attention.

4. Zoom

If you haven't used Zoom you probably don't know what in my opinion is by far the best video conferencing tool on the market. I know there were a lot of rumors and gossip about Zoom's mishandling of privacy, but I always thought it was more of a smear campaign by their competitors than anything else.

Zoom is not only the most flexible tool, it is also the easiest to use - and I have tried in my role as a lecturer and teacher to use many others.

Zoom is the ultimate solution for virtual meetings.

5. Slack

I don't quite know how to describe Slack, but we can say it's IRC on steroids - you don't know what IRC is, don't worry, in another Internet era it was used for chatting - some dinosaurs still use it.

Slack is an improved chat system that also integrates well with several tools. So it's like having a WhatsApp well organized and connected to different BOTS that notify you in your chat things like receiving an email, edit a document in some tool like Google Documents or even set up an alert system if a server in the cloud goes down or is offline.

Extra: Franz

Yes, I know. Franz doesn't classify as one of the collaborative work tools. Franz is more of a slimmed down version of the browser that allows you to integrate all your favorite messaging services and some online work systems. I am a total fan of Franz. If you suffer like me from having multiple messaging services and many collaborative work tools open at the same time for different contexts such as academia, consulting and projects, Franz does something simple and powerful: put everything inside a single window and unify notifications.

So you don't forget to log in to any service. It also reduces the "background noise" with so much "beep" that triggers the phone all the time with all these Apps. Franz is undoubtedly a great ally for those who suffer from "virtual deafness" and sometimes can't find their colleagues' messages.

You can even use Franz to access more comprehensive work systems such as Trello or Microsoft Teams or Teamwork

The chaos of collaboration

There are many collaborative work tools that can undoubtedly bring benefits to the management of remote or virtual teams, however, a common mistake is to fill up with tools, implement 50 services to share files, videoconferencing, edit documents online or make presentations.

In the end, people jump from one service to the other and waste time with the famous "I'm not a service".task switching". The less painful the process of collaborating and the more unified the scheme of work - as they occur in a physical office - the more productive we can be - as individuals and as team members.

What do you think of the list and would you like to mention any other tool?

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Alberto Dominguez
Leading teams from theory to real and sustainable delivery of innovative IT products and services.
Articles: 33

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