With the increasing global epidemic threat, working from home has become more important than ever to protect communities from spreading illnesses and keep everyone safe while continuing to maintain business initiatives.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has advised businesses to avoid large scale gathering and take advantage of collaboration and communication tools to reduce exposure to COVID-19. According to Nancy Messonnier, vaccine expert for the CDC, “businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options.”
We’ve put together 17 of the best free or low-cost collaboration and communication tools to help companies stay on top of their performance and continue working through the outbreak.
FreeConferenceCall.com, one of the most recognized conferencing and collaboration brands in the world, is a free conferencing services offering many of the same features as top-branded competitors but at no cost to users. Its freemium model allows up to 1,000 participants on audio and video conferences with features that include screen sharing, recording, and call reporting, all for free.
Users can upgrade their FreeConferenceCall.com account to leverage features like custom hold music and one number to customize the caller experience and remove troublesome access codes.
StartMeeting, FreeConferenceCall.com’s enterprise-grade conferencing service, includes all the features you’ll find with FreeConferenceCall.com with one number and customization already available to users at no additional cost. StartMeeting also gives users powerful team management and reporting tools to help businesses keep track of conferencing usage and stay organized.
StartMeeting is extending its free trial indefinitely for as long as the global epidemic remains an issue.
Google Hangouts is Google’s conferencing platform, offering free audio and video conferencing services with up to 150 participants on a single call. Additionally, Google Hangouts includes features like screensharing, instant messaging, and intelligent muting. Like FreeConferenceCall.com and StartMeeting, Google Hangouts is available on a desktop and through mobile apps on iOS and Android.
Dropbox is a cloud storage platform that allows businesses to share files seamlessly over the web, enhancing collaboration and making it easy for teams to keep all relevant documents in one place. The basic service starts free with expandable options for businesses starting at $15 per month for 5 TB of data storage for up to three users.
OneDrive is similar to Dropbox in its ability to store files and share seamlessly with other team members. Its main difference is its integration with the Microsoft Suite. If your team uses all the tools available from Microsoft, including Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, OneDrive becomes an invaluable tool for storage and sharing. OneDrive offers expandable data at 50 GB for $1.99 per month.
Likewise with OneDrive, Google Drive can be especially help for users embedded in the Google suite toolkit. Not only is Google Drive available on most devices, including iOS, Android and Desktop, it’s easy to use and function seamlessly when sharing and storing data.
Similar to other cloud storage platforms, WeTransfer offers many of the same features you’ll find on services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. WeTransfer’s major difference occurs in its ability to send files up to 2 GB from one person to another without having to sign up for an account.
Box is a cloud storage platform offering unlimited storage data and integrations unlike any other service. What it lacks in its document editing functionality it makes up for in its ability to synchronize easily with other services and its limitless storage capacity. Starting with plan at $15 a month, Box makes for a great options for secure data-storage platform that’s easy to use and operates seamlessly with your company’s current workflow.
Instant Messaging and Voice Chat
Skype is Microsoft’s instant messaging solution for businesses all around the world. Easily one of the most popular platforms for calling and chat, Skype is one of the most reliable services offering free communication solutions for any size business.
Slack is a premier choice for many businesses and enterprise teams everywhere. The platform organizes conversations using tags and chat rooms, claiming to serve as a primary solution to email threads and eliminate the need for relying on an inbox to keep up with long strings of conversations. Slack offers a free option that stores up to 10,000 messages at a time, with expandable options starting at $6.67 per month.
Originally made for gamers, Discord has quickly grown into a community favorite, able to offer instant messaging solutions for businesses and communities. The platform offers individual and group chatting that’s easy and simple. Discord allows group text and voice chat made simple with its intuitive chatrooms and natural workflow. Discord is completely free.
Content Management Tool
Asana is quickly becoming a business favorite for its accessibility over the web and its powerful work management tools. Asana allows users to create tasks and delegate assignments easily within teams. Features include list creation, calendar views and due date application. Its free option opens its services to up to 15 users with premium options starting at $10.99 per month.
Trello is another work management solution with a unique design that’s both intuitive and beautifully designed. The platform uses a system that organizes tasks within cards and boards, allow for easy flexibility and delegation. “Powerups” allow users to customize their Trello experience with integrations and expansions. Trello starts with free options that offer unlimited boards for personal use, with expandable options for teams starting at $9.99 per month.
Notion is one of the newer content management platforms that’s completely customizable and flexible enough to work with almost anyone’s workflow. It’s designed to allow users to use Notion any way they see fit, creating task lists, product roadmaps, and design repositories effortlessly. Its free option for personal use allows up to 1,000 data blocks for free, with expandable team options starting at $8 per month for unlimited usage.
Google Docs is easily one of the most used tools on the market today for document collaboration. Its innovative design that allows multiple users to view and edit the same document in real time set the gold-standard for teams working together over the web to develop presentations, text files and grids. Google Docs is available free.
Like Google Docs, Dropbox paper is an online platform that allows multiple team members to draft, edit and comment on the same piece of content. Dropbox differs in its inherent function, giving users the ability to create notes, develop timelines and brainstorm ideas rather than edit and manipulate traditional documents and presentation slides. Think of Dropbox paper as a blank sheet of paper with a handful of use cases. Dropbox paper is free for Dropbox users.
The Microsoft Office Suite is an easy-to-use document collaboration tool that allows users to manipulate files over the web, through the desktop app, or through mobile apps. If your teams already integrated within the Microsoft Office workspace, this option is an easy no-brainer and already integrated within OneDrive.