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Maintaining business continuity in these unprecedented times of COVID – 19, aka the novel Coronavirus pandemic, can be quite a task. Our lives have suddenly changed, and our schedules messed. It has transformed our personal and professional lives, compelling us to reconsider and reshape it. Nevertheless, with the world being digitally interconnected, a lot of companies have considered work from home/remote working as the preferred means to keep their businesses running smoothly. 

In this post, we list down a few key tools that can help minimise the communication gap and help you collaborate with your clients, customers, and team members seamlessly. However, before that, let us see how online collaboration tools can help you run your business without hindrance.

How do online collaboration tools help maintain business continuity

Online collaboration tools help users connect remotely without impacting business performance. Here are 5 reasons how they aid businesses:

  1. Builds trust and rapport within the team and with clients
  2. Improves efficiency and helps everyone stay on the same page
  3. Promotes transparency 
  4. Helps reduce miscommunication and misunderstanding
  5. Gives everyone involved a sense of ownership 

Having seen the benefits of online tools for better work productivity, let us take you through the tools that you can use for sharing ideas and running processes smoothly. For your convenience, we have divided these tools into 7 key segments viz. customer support, communication, project management, documentation, visualisation, and designer-client.

  1. Customer Support Tools

Being connected to your customers on a one-on-one basis is extremely important. In fact, this holds true because irrespective of where you or your customers are they expect you to resolve their queries quickly. This can be tricky if you’re working remotely, however, not impossible. Here are two tools that can help you cater to your customers efficiently.

Your customers want to stay connected to you real-time. Hence, you must invest in a tool that keeps up with your customers demands, and live chat is the answer!LiveChat is a dedicated chat tool that allows you to connect with your customers on a  real-time basis to help them resolve their queries, as well as, improve your sales. It is easy to integrate and supports over 170+ platforms.

Key features:

  1. Helps you manage and monitor the performance of your customer service and sales team performance
  2. Free 14-day trial period
  3. Built-in ticketing and analytics
  4. AI suggestions to the agents when replying on chats

Acquire is a customer service platform that offers all-in-one customer service 24×7. It supports over 50+ tools for integration. Also, it allows you to track your customer interactions in a single place easily and even supports co-browsing

Key features:

  1. Easy to switch between live chat, chatbots and analytics
  2. It is a premium tool
  3. Transferring or escalating the chat to another agent is quick and simple
  4. Offers live chat, voice calls and video chat

2. Communication Tools

Communication between team members is extremely important and more so when working remotely. Using light-weight communication tools that support chat, audio, video, etc. is crucial. Here are two tools which we recommend.

Hangouts by Google is designed to help teams collaborate effectively. It allows users to create chat rooms, schedule audio and video calls, share files etc. 

Key features:

  1. Easy to install. It is available as a desktop app, mobile app, as well as, on the browser 
  2. Offers 14-day free trial service
  3. Supports screen sharing, audio, video and chat room messaging 
  4. Allows uploading files, sharing Google drive links, emoticons, maps, add bots, etc. 

Zoom is a web conferencing platform that allows you to conduct audio and video conferences, webinars, meetings, chats and more. All you need is to register and select the plan of your choice. 

Key features:

  1. Allows you to set up conference rooms and workspaces 
  2. Supports screen sharing
  3. Offers cloud storage, dedicated phone support, reporting, admin panel, etc based on the service plan you opt for
  4. Accessible from any device across the globe

3. Project Management 

Sharing to-do lists on a real-time basis with your clients, as well as, team members can help keep a track of the work being done. It also ensures that your projects are completed on time or flagged if something is not working. Here are two popular tools that you can use for better project management. 

Trello is an online to-do lists tool that helps you coordinate and collaborate with clients and team members easily. It allows you to create ‘cards’ and insert attachments, tag team members, update due-date, checklists, labels and more in these cards. 

Key features:

  1. It is a free service
  2. Compatible on any device and anywhere 
  3. Easy to navigate dashboard 
  4. Supports multiple features 

Asana is a web and mobile application that enables teams to organise, monitor and manage their work. Asana offers the flexibility of working from anywhere and anytime. Moreover, it allows you to create visual projects plans, set priorities and deadlines, share details, assign tasks, etc. to make the workflow easier.  

Key features:

  1. Supports basic free version up to 15 team members, as well as, premium plans
  2. Helps in visualising milestones
  3. Allows you to assign tasks to team members 
  4. Allows you to export your projects 

4. Documentation

Documenting work is important. However, when working remotely, your team members and clients too must have a clear understanding of what you are working on and your progress. Also, documentation helps you keep a track of what you are doing now and what to do next. 

G Suite allows you to collaborate with your team members and clients by sharing your documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more. For someone like me, who loves writing and documenting content, this is the best tool ever!

You can access G Suite from anywhere and on any devices viz. phone, tablet, computer, and laptop. 

Key features:

  1. Includes Hangouts, that allows you to work seamlessly even when working remotely 
  2. Offers cloud support to sync data easily
  3. Provides email and calendaring services
  4. Provides end-to-end security and compliance 

Some other documentation tools to look out for:

5. Visualisation  

If you’re a designer or brainstorming ideas be it with the team or client, having a whiteboard helps put across ideas efficiently. But this might seem like a tough task while working remotely. Several online whiteboard platforms allow teams to collaborate easily. One of them being ConceptBoard.

ConceptBoard is a visual collaboration tool that offers whiteboard functionalities to enhance teamwork irrespective of the time and place of the team members. 

Key features:

  1. Supports screen sharing, audio and video calls
  2. Free service, as well as, premium with a 30-day free trial
  3. Offers file storage 
  4. Includes unlimited projects and boards 

6. Designer-Client

If you’re a design agency, then sharing your work with your clients and getting feedback is a back and forth process. And working remotely should not hamper with your work. 

Online presentation tools make it easy for designers and clients to collaborate, share design and feedback. 

Prevue is one such tool! This is a great tool to organise images in presentations and share to the client for feedback. It is reliable and offers built-in Google Analytics for tracking your design.

Key features:

  1. Offers a free 7-day trial period
  2. Allows you to brand your designs with easy logo insertion
  3. Allows team members to work on a single project simultaneously
  4. Is client-friendly with easy image optimisation

Some other online collaboration tools:

Here are some more online tools for collaboration that you can check out based on your requirements:

Conclusion

We hope these online collaboration tools prove to be helpful to you, especially in these times when almost everyone is remotely working from home. 

Moreover, it is important to remember that these tools come in handy not only when you’re working from home but also if your team is scattered across the globe.

Remember that every business needs time management and prioritising of tasks! This holds more true when working remotely. Keep in mind to keep your team members updated all the time and take care of allocating your time effectively. Lastly, remember communication is the key to working together even when apart!

H. FatimaH. FatimaH. FatimaH. Fatima used to be an Engineer by profession and Writer by passion until she started pursuing full-time writing. She is presently a Content Marketeer at Endurance International Group (APAC). She mostly writes what she deeply perceives and analyses, it is her way of unwinding. Her interests include writing, reading (an avid reader), watching foreign-language movies and public speaking.View all posts by H. Fatima
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