Best Collaboration Software In 2021

At a time when many people are working remotely, collaboration software is more essential than ever. Software that offers collaborative features means that you can continue to communicate and work together on everything from single documents to larger projects without sacrificing the kind of direct communication that most of us have taken for granted.

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What is Collaboration Software and Why It Matters?

There are plenty of reasons collaboration is so important when it comes to producing great work. Collaboration fosters good employee working relationships, makes all involved feel their voices are being valued, enhances productivity, optimizes the workflow processes, increases efficiency, and aligns multiple parties on broader, shared goals.

But which software will best help you achieve these ambitions? While much will depend on the line of work that you’re in (an architectural CAD program may not be so useful if you’re ad execs teaming up for a pitch), there are several software packages that will absolutely help in the majority of workplaces.

6 Best Collaboration Software

Here are six of the best collaboration software you definitely need to try in 2021.

1. Echo

When everyone’s physically in the same space, it’s easy to collaborate: just ask the person sitting opposite you a quick question across the desk and -- hey presto -- collaboration’s taking place. Things aren’t so straightforward when remote work is going on. Echo is a messaging app that’s built around voice communication: something that, in almost all cases, is faster and more intuitive than typing. You could describe it as Slack for voice: with built-in speech recognition that allows you to send instant audio messages to colleagues which you can listen to or read transcribed. It’s a great way of staying connected when teams are apart.

👍🏼   Pros:
  • Intuitive user interface that saves the constant demand for typed messages seen in other apps.
  • Boosts user productivity by ditching the unnecessary meetings with a voice-based chat format that still allows you time to research and consider your responses before answering.
  • Provides the feeling of live interaction even if you’re all working remotely, sometimes asynchronously.
👎🏼   Cons:
  • Currently available only on Mac. (Although that could change in the future.)

Platforms supported: Mac

Price: Free tier available. Standard version for teams of all sizes and with added functionality is $5 per month per person, paid annually.

With built-in speech recognition and history, Echo helps your team stay on the same page and allows everyone to catch up on their time whether you are working across the city or across the world.

2. Slack

If you’ve used a workplace chat system sometime since 2013, there’s a good chance that it was Slack. Slack lets you collaborate effectively with teams, with everything from one-on-one chat rooms to groups of people to themed channels. Online chat rooms have been around since at least the 1990s, but Slack gave the concept a collaborative, business-themed collaboration software polish.

👍🏼   Pros:
  • Highly searchable, based on files, conversations and people. In the full paid version, archives go back since you joined.
  • Simplifies workplace communication, replacing email in many cases.
  • Offers a large number of integrations from Google Drive to Trello to Dropbox to GitHub.
👎🏼   Cons:
  • While there is a free version, it only allows the most recent 10,000 messages to be searched.
  • Risk of notification overload!

Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

Cost: Free tier available. Paid options vary depending on business size and administrative needs.

3. Asana

Asana is a group collaboration software task board that lets users create different columns and then move tasks between them to show the workflow progression. Tasks can additionally be tagged with the name of different people, depending on who is working on them, and given additional information such as descriptions, subtasks, file attachments and more.

👍🏼   Pros:
  • Visualizes workflow in a way that makes it easy to understand how far a project has progressed and who is responsible for that phase.
  • Can be easily customized based on the requirements of the team and the unique workflow they employ.
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
  • Features like progress reports and status updates make it easy to see whether projects are on schedule for completion.
👎🏼   Cons:
  • Works best for smaller projects. Large boards with many cards and complex workflows may get unwieldy.

Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Cost: Free tier available. Paid options vary depending on business size and administrative needs. Starts at $10.99 per month when paid annually.

4. Trello

As far as freemium project management collaboration software goes, Trello is the big competitor to Asana. Functionality is similar, with a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to move cards, representing projects or pieces of work, between different columns. It’s a simpler tool than Asana, which will either appeal or not depending on the requirements you have in mind.

👍🏼   Pros:
  • Great software for visualizing project workflow for smaller teams.
  • Easy to use, drag-and-drop interface. Adding members to a story/task couldn’t be easier.
  • API allows you to extend Trello’s features.
👎🏼   Cons:
  • Like Asana, it can get hectic if you’ve got lots of cards in play.

Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Cost: Free tier available. Paid options vary depending on business size and administrative needs. Starts at $12.50 per month.

5. Google Docs

Google isn’t just about search. It also does some of the best collaboration software pretty darn well. The Google Docs suite of cloud-based tools allows teams to collaborate through shared files, commenting systems and tracked changes. It makes it easy for everyone to work on one document in real-time, and also for each team member’s contributions to be easily identified. A strong suite of tools that’s getting better all the time.

👍🏼   Pros:
  • Makes document creation and file sharing easy.
  • Offers team chat and commenting features.
  • Free to use.
  • Supports a range of file types for both importing and exporting.
👎🏼   Cons:
  • Lacks some of the advanced features found on rival tools like MS Word.
  • Requires an always-on internet connection to use.

Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Price: Free to use

6. Microsoft 365

Classically Microsoft software like MS Word and Excel required one person to create a draft of a document, then send it to a colleague to look at. This resulted in the dreaded collaboration problem before true collaborative software became a reality, whereby there would be dozens of revisions floating around and no-one was entirely sure they were working on the latest one. Today, Microsoft 365 is a world away from that nightmare scenario; having fully embraced some of the best collaboration software.

👍🏼   Pros:
  • Comprehensive range of tools on offers from Word to Excel to Outlook to PowerPoint. It’s a powerful range of apps that have been honed over many years.
  • Cloud-based, which allows you to access from anywhere.
  • Share files and collaborate easily with co-authoring tools.
👎🏼   Cons:
  • Depending on what you want to do, may not be the cheapest option available.

Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Price: 365 Personal and Family (up to six people) for $6.99 and $9.99 per month. Annual price is $69.99 or $99.99. Business options available.

Conclusion: It’s all about web-based collaboration software

Collaboration is more important than ever here in 2021. The workplace may be changing, but the value of being able to work closely with colleagues is not. Hopefully, this list will give you some good starting points.

Best Collaboration Software - FAQs

What is collaboration software?

Collaboration software lets you collaborate with colleagues by communicating directly and, in some cases, co-editing or co-authoring documents. It brings the environment of the physical office into remote working.

Which application is an example of collaboration software?

Google Docs, for example, allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously, making edits and adding comments.

What are the types of collaboration software?

There are many types of software, depending on what you need to do. However, many focus on communication tools or document co-authoring.

What are the best collaboration software tools for Mac?

Look no further than our list to find out. (Personally, we’re very fond of Echo!)

Team Echo

Updated on Mar 18, 2021

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