12 of the Best Tools for Real-Time Team Collaboration

By Scott Kirsner |  March 23, 2020

What are you using to collaborate with your team, run brainstorming sessions, get feedback from partners, and move projects forward at this moment where all work is suddenly remote work?

We put out the call to our network in March 2020. Here are a dozen of the tools they recommended. We decided to focus on tools that support real-time interaction, as opposed to all of the great tools for project management or asynchronous communication. Thanks to everyone who participated!

  • Google Docs/Sheets. These are fantastic tools to share and edit documents and files. You can build out the same documents at the same time as colleagues.
  • GoToMeeting empowers meetings via audio or video, allows screen-sharing, real-time annotation, cloud recording, and even transcription. GoToMeeting has the ability to “call out” to meeting participants, rather than waiting for them to dial in. Also check out their GoToTraining and GoToWebinar products, which have different feature sets.
  • Kahoot. Who doesn’t need a little fun camaraderie right now? Create live trivia competitions or quizzes for your team, or even customers, and let them play simultaneously for bragging rights. (PollEverywhere offers similar features, called PollEverywhere Competitions. PollEverywhere is also great for running live surveys and seeing the results as part of video conferences or conference calls; it’s much better than the polling tools built into Zoom or GoToMeeting.)
  • Klaxoon is a very comprehensive software package for virtual collaboration. It brings together the entire workshop experience in a single interface. It does take a bit of training and work to get participants used to it. But it has everything you’d want for putting together an interactive and engaging workshop.
  • Miro. This online whiteboarding tool can be combined with Teams or Zoom for video chat. Miro also enables collaborative, structured, virtual sticky-notes.
  • Mural: a digital workspace that allows for very visual collaboration. Mural is great if you’re missing sticky notes and whiteboards right now.
  • Slack. Great for chatting with distributed teams, asking questions, sharing links to videos or work in progress, and having fun. You can also initiate Internet audio or video calls using Slack. Add the Giphy plug-in so your team can easily pull up animated GIFs. Explore polling plug-ins to conduct polls. And make sure you encourage people to update their status throughout the day. 
  • Remo. This startup offers virtual office workspaces (with rooms, laid out like actual offices), as well as conferences where people can sit at individual tables.
  • Teooh lets meeting participants design avatars and get together in virtual spaces. It accommodates up to 100 attendees. This company is still an early-stage startup.
  • Trello is a list-making software for collecting, prioritizing, and organizing ideas or projects. It’s also for brainstorming! (x2 This has been a go to platform for multiple streams and teams.)
  • WebEx: Group or 1:1 meetings with video, audio, and slides, as well as with a moderated event center and training modules. For advanced workshop design, you should explore using chat as an “idea burst” or fact-finding tool. Some of the lesser used features — such as hand-raising, joint annotating, and simply importing a pre-built PowerPoint template while editing in real-time — can enhance the value of WebEx or any other collaboration tool. 
  • Zoom allows for group meetings with video, audio, and slides. Participants can annotate things and be placed into breakout rooms to form smaller groups. Hosts can also conduct polls.