8 Types of Collaboration Tools

Dmitry Dragilev
Last Updated: Mar. 24, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of 2024, where remote and hybrid work models have become the norm rather than the exception, effective collaboration is critical for success in the modern workplace.

As we adapt to these changes, it’s clear that the effectiveness of remote work hinges on the strategic use of cutting-edge tools. The right technological arsenal can exponentially enhance team productivity and liberate your focus for the most critical tasks at hand.

This guide covers the eight main categories of collaboration tools, provides more than thirty top-rated examples, and teaches you how to choose the right tools for a successful collaboration. 

Our Favorite Collaboration Tools Shortlist

  • Microsoft Whiteboard and Google Jamboard – Tied for best online whiteboard collaboration tool (your winning vote will be based on the system you use)
  • Monday – Best project management tool
  • Calendly – Best shared calendar, picked for its integration and scheduling capabilities
  • Slack – Best instant messaging tool, allowing different groups, channels, and conversation types
  • Google Drive – Best cloud storage/file-sharing tool, offering effortless real-time collaboration
  • Zoom – Best (and probably most popular) video conferencing tool
  • Confluence – Best wiki tool for enabling knowledge-sharing
  • Chatter – Best Enterprise Collaboration Social Network (ESN)

What Are Online Collaboration Tools?

Technically, a whiteboard is a collaboration tool. So is a phone, or even a round table. For this article, we’re going to be discussing online collaboration tools, which are (mostly) cloud-based tools that help distributed teams organize, manage, automate, and execute collaborative work.  These tools allow you to communicate, manage projects and tasks, and share/store files no matter where you or your team members are located.

8 Types of Collaboration Tools

Let’s review the eight most common types of collaboration tools. Feel free to jump to the section you’re most interested in:

  • Online whiteboard collaboration tools
  • Project management tools
  • Shared calendars
  • Instant messaging tools
  • Cloud storage and file-sharing tools
  • Video conferencing tools
  • Wiki tools
  • Enterprise collaboration social networks (ESN)

Online Whiteboard Collaboration Tools

We mentioned that actual whiteboards are a type of team collaboration tool. You could say they’re the original collaboration tool. As brainstorming technology goes, it’s hard to beat a big blank space you can fill with possibilities. Online whiteboards allow you to do the same thing remotely in real time. Remote collaboration can be a lifesaver for visual learners and those who think best by mapping things out (a mind map is a great example of this). 

One of the most effective ways to use a whiteboard is with video conferencing. This allows you to chat, brainstorm, make live annotations, and bounce ideas around while you mark up the whiteboard. 

Image Credit: The Office

Best Collaborative Whiteboard Tools 

Microsoft Whiteboard

Microsoft Whiteboard is an intuitively designed, cloud-based canvas for collaboration that’s part of the Office suite of products. 

Price: Free with Microsoft Office


  • A popular choice for presentations.
  • Designed to work well with Microsoft Surface products.
  • Good for teams already working with Microsoft Office.


  • Fewer features than some standalone alternatives.

Google Jamboard

The Google Jamboard is Google’s whiteboard that integrates with the rest of the Google Workspace ecosystem. 

Price: The physical Jamboard starts at USD $4,999 (includes 1 Jamboard display, 2 styluses, 1 eraser, and 1 wall mount) plus a USD $600 annual management and support fee for the software. 


  • Google native. You can start a “jam” from a Google Hangouts call.
  • Easy to use.
  • Built for collaboration.


  • Some users report glitches.
  • Some features need improvement (which may or may not be a priority for Google’s developers).


Mural is a dedicated whiteboard tool with several other collaboration features included. 

Price: Free trial. $12-$18/user per month for the teams and business plans.


  • A one-stop collaboration tool–more than just whiteboarding. 
  • The base price is enough for most small businesses. 


  • Many of the same features are available from free alternatives. 



Like Mural, Miro is a project management tool built around a whiteboard.  

Price: Free – $16/member per month. Miro also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams with 30+ users.


  • Built for small/medium businesses.
  • Design and workflows replicate in-person collaboration. 


  • Some reviews say that advanced features get in the way. 

Project Management Tools

Project management tools are mission control for collaborative work. They’re designed for project collaboration, task assignment, progress tracking, and information sharing, so everyone knows what they need to be doing and has access to the resources they need. Reporting features allow you to track your team’s progress and keep tabs on individual team members. 

Most good project collaboration software includes a calendar function, messaging, task automation, and a file-sharing tool. Depending on your needs, a project management tool could be your one-and-done solution for collaborative work. Basecamp, a popular project management platform, bills itself as “the only tool you need to run your entire business.” 

If you’re already coming from a specific project management methodology–like Agile or Waterfall–look for project management tools with these features built-in. For example, Jira is a project management tool that was built specifically with the agile project methodology in mind. You’ll also find tools that include Gantt chart timelines and Kanban boards, which you may already be familiar with in their offline versions. 

Best Project Management Tools


Monday is an award-winning customer favorite that provides an impressive array of tools at a reasonable price. Many small business owners compare Monday vs. Notion when looking for a project management tool.

Price: Free – $19/user per month. Monday also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • CRM integration.
  • Kanban boards.


  • More features than most small businesses need. 


Monday screenshot: Event planning table.


Basecamp is a deliberately simple project management tool with calendars, to-do lists, and file-sharing. 

Price: Basecamp offers a free trial for all users. Then $15/user per month for freelancers, startups, and small teams. Larger teams can also choose the Basecamp Pro unlimited plan that offers unlimited users for $299/month, billed annually.


  • Basecamp is a thought leader in the WFH/remote work movement. As they say on their website, “Basecamp literally wrote the book on working from home.” Basecamp’s design and functionality reflect this expertise.
  • Fixed price.


  • Fixed price (could be a downside for light users).


Trello is a visually oriented collaboration hub that’s popular with tech companies and startups for its agile framework. 

Price: Free – $17.50/user per month.


  • Tech-savvy users and developers will feel right at home.


  • Limited free version.


Asana is a cloud-based project and task management tool that is popular with businesses that need tracking features to monitor task completion and keep HR in the loop. 

Price:  Free – $25+


  • Tasks can be subdivided into folders, allowing you to keep track of many projects at once. 


  • Big gap in functionality between the entry-level and pro tiers. 
  • Lists can cause tasks to pile up, making overwhelm worse rather than simplifying it. 

Shared Calendars

Keep everyone up-to-date with synchronized calendars.  Every operating system comes with some sort of user-friendly calendar, and so do many business collaboration software bundles (like Office 365). You can integrate these with your project management tools to schedule tasks and deadlines, although most project management platforms include their own calendars.

Which calendar you end up using usually comes down to your operations system or collaborative software suite of choice. For example, if you’re already using Google Workspace for everything, using Google Calendar will make more sense and be more intuitive for your team than shopping for a stand-alone collaboration solution. 

Calendars tend to be free or included, but there are some great calendar plugins out there that can make scheduling meetings and collaborative work a lot easier. 

Image: Google

Best Shared Calendar Tools


iCal is Apple’s default calendar. You either have this one or Google’s mobile app in your pocket

Price: Free with Apple products and iCloud.


  • Syncs across your Apple devices.



Outlook is Microsoft’s default calendar. 

Price: Free with Microsoft products and/or Office.


  • Office and Outlook email integration. 


  • Like iCal, this is a default solution few users would seek out if given a choice.

Google Calendar

Google’s masterpiece of an online calendar. Google Calendar’s endless integration options make it a natural for collaboration.

Price: Free.


  • Everyone with a Gmail account or an Android device has it already. 
  • The iOS version is better than iCal.
  • Clean, user-friendly interface.


  • Online only.
  • As with all Google products, you get convenience, but it may come at the expense of data privacy. 


Todoist is a project management plugin that turns to-do-list items into scheduled events, so they actually get done.

Price: Free – $6/user per month.


  • Great for people and teams who struggle with procrastination. 


  • Limited free version.


Calendly is a collaboration app that takes the back-and-forth out of scheduling. Just send a link with your availability, and the recipient can pick a time that works for them.  Check out our detailed Calendly alternatives article for a table comparison of all the top calendar apps.

Price: Free – $20/user per month. Calendly also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • Pays for itself in time-savings. 
  • One less “busy work” task to worry about. 


  • Lacks a feature for overlapping schedules. 

Image: Google

Instant Messaging Tools

IM tools are another type of collaboration tool that allows you to stay on the same page even if you’re not in the same room with real-time communication. Some instant messaging platforms allow you to designate different channels for different teams, and directories help employees find and message each other directly for more efficient collaboration. Many instant messaging tools also give their users control over which channels they want to receive notifications for, ensuring they can work without being interrupted by constant messages throughout the day.

Best Instant Messaging Tools

*Note: most of the project management tools we’ve covered include chat features.


Slack has become synonymous with business instant messaging in recent years – and for good reason. Slack is easy to set up and features great customization and integration options. 

Price: $7.25 per user/month for small to medium businesses. $12.50 per person/month unlocks a wide range of advanced features. Slack also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • Slack channels are great for organizing teams within teams. 


  • Slack is an interruption monster for teams without clear boundaries. Some users say Slack’s best feature is the “away” button!

Google Chat

Google’s prototype messaging app. Google Chat was originally developed to work inside Gmail.

Price: Included with Gmail and Google Workspace.


  • You already have it. 
  • Great for chatting while you’re sending emails. 


  • A big step down from something like Slack. 
  • No substitute for a project management platform, unlike Slack, which could be all the organization you need.

Cloud Storage and File Sharing Tools

Cloud computing is the backbone of most business collaboration software today. It’s what makes it possible for small businesses to run powerful tools without buying servers or storing anything onsite. When it comes to types of collaboration tools, cloud storage and the ability to share files let you do so much: from simply keeping files securely backed up and stored remotely via the cloud to editing and collaborating on documents in real time. These tools are must-haves.

Like shared calendars, cloud storage is increasingly becoming a standard feature of other collaboration software. For example, cloud storage tools, like Box, allow users to store and manage their company’s content, including everything from marketing materials to product roadmaps and sales contracts.

Best Cloud Storage and File Sharing Tools


Dropbox is not only one of the original file storage solutions but one of the original SaaS companies. It remains a good choice for many users and businesses today.

Price: $10 – $26/user per month.


  • Reliable, secure, and easy to sync across multiple users and devices.


  • Best-in-class file sharing, but collab features are sorely lacking. 

Google Drive 

Google Drive is Google’s version of cloud storage. Included with Gmail and Google Workspace accounts. 

Price: 15GB free for individual users. After that, prices range from $6 – $18/user per month. Google Drive also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • Includes word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet tools, all of which have real-time collaboration built-in. 


  • Limited offline functionality compared to other options. 

Image: Google


iCloud is Apple’s version of cloud-based storage. 

Price: Same as Google Drive.


  • Ideal for personal users looking to sync their work and data across multiple Apple devices.


  • Not optimized for business. 
  • Not ideal for collaboration.


Box is a cloud content management and file sharing service that enables users to securely access, manage, and share files, folders, and documents from any device.

Price: Free trial for new users. Then $15 – $35/user per month. Box also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • Ideal for medium-sized businesses that need to manage large volumes of content and digital assets in one place.


  • Lacks native document editing capabilities seen in Google Drive or Office 365. 
  • Users must integrate third-party apps for robust editing.


OneDrive is Microsoft’s version of cloud-based storage. 

Price: One-month free trial. Then $6 – $22/ user per month as part of Microsoft 365’s Business plan.


  • Microsoft native.


  • Saves local copies of files. This can fill your hard drive. 

Video Conferencing Tools

Video conferencing platforms make meetings and seminars possible from anywhere. You can use video conferencing as a stand-in for all kinds of face-to-face team communication tools, from a one-on-one chat to a conference with hundreds of participants. 

Recent demand for video conferencing tools has driven rapid improvements and innovations to the point where many companies will stay at least partially remote post-pandemic. Screen sharing makes real-time communication more efficient, intuitive, and closer to an in-person experience. Breakout rooms in a larger video conference or webinar can replicate the smaller group discussions found at an in-person event. 

Prices vary considerably depending on features. If you’re a remote team of one or two mostly making one-on-one video calls, you can expect to pay zero to double digits monthly, whereas webinar features can cost hundreds depending on the number of participants. 

Best Video Conferencing Tools


The app that got us through the first year of “the new normal.” Like Google, Zoom has become what intellectual property experts and linguists call a “generic trademark,” meaning we now call all video conferencing a “Zoom call” regardless of what app you’re using.

Price: Zoom is free for meetings that only last 40 minutes long. Business plans range from $150 – $270/year per user.


  • Lots of integrations.
  • Optional webinar hosting.


  • Zoombombing
  • Popular because it’s popular, not because it’s noticeably better than the alternatives.

Google Meet

When you schedule a Google Calendar event with more than one attendee, it automatically includes a Google Meet link for your meeting. 

Price: Free with Gmail or Google Workspace.


  • Included with Google Calendar. No signup or setup is required. 


  • Less popular than Zoom. 
  • People might not notice the link because they’re not used to using Google Meet. 

Image: Androidcentral

Microsoft Teams

Group chat team collaboration software from Microsoft Team with a more modern feel than Zoom.

Price: Included with Office 365 Business. There’s a limited free version that doesn’t require Office. 


  • Microsoft native.


  • Not worth it if you’re not using the rest of Microsoft’s business products. 

Wiki Tools 

A study from McKinsey found that knowledge workers spend about 19% of their time at work gathering information they need to do their jobs. A team Wiki addresses this by providing a customizable knowledge base of mission-critical info. (If you’re unfamiliar, a Wiki is a website that allows visitors to make changes, contributions, or corrections.) Your team Wiki info can be edited and updated by team members, so it improves over time., a Wiki tool, found that having such a database can improve productivity by 35%.

Wikis pair well with communication channels and project management collaboration software. For example, a Slack channel for your product team could have a pinned post with a link to your product Wikis, keeping everyone informed and current on all things product-related. In short, Wiki tools help streamline the time it takes for your employees to go from ideation to execution.

Best Wiki Tools


Confluence is a well-thought-out tool that turns knowledge management into project management, helping ideas become results. 

Price: Free for the first 10 users. Then $6 – $12/user per month. Confluence also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • Simultaneous editing features are terrific. 
  • Managers have a lot of control over the platform. 



Notion allows you to build a knowledge base with your notes, and collaborate from wherever you are.

Price: Free – $15/user per month. Notion also offers custom pricing for enterprise teams.


  • Functions well offline or online. 
  • More than just a wiki. Has note-taking and project management functions as well. 


  • Too complex for some users. Steep learning curve. 


Slab helps you turn your knowledge base into digestible resources, like articles and handbooks. 

Price: Free – $12.50/user per month.


  • Makes your knowledge base highly searchable. 


  • Some design issues. is an integration-rich home for both client-facing and internal documents. 

Price: Free – $15/user per month


  • Integrations are the main selling point. 


  • Strictly could-based.

Enterprise Collaboration Social Networks (ESN) 

ESN tools are in the category of enterprise collaboration software and are just like social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, but are designed specifically for business. An ESN enables crowdsourcing, synchronous and asynchronous communication, and integration with other business tools (like file-sharing apps). This is especially helpful in larger, siloed organizations. People can stay in the loop on issues across remote teams, in the same way they may use social media to keep in touch with distant relatives. An article in the Harvard Business Review points out that social networks can improve speed and efficiency,

“(Social networks) can help employees make faster decisions, develop more innovative ideas for products and services, and become more engaged in their work and their companies. A social network also helps to reduce email volume by giving teams group channels to discuss their work.”

-HBR, “What Managers Need to Know About Social Tools,” Nov.- Dec. 2017

The article goes on to describe one study of an internal social tool which found that those who used the platform were 31% more likely to find a coworker who could help them meet a job goal and 85% more likely to identify a coworker on the network who could connect them with an expert who could help them. 

Networking is a cornerstone of collaboration, but you don’t need an ESN to network. Many of these tools have been rendered obsolete by project management and instant messaging collaboration software, which serve the same functions.

Best ESNs


Chatter is SalesForce’s social network feature. 

Price: Contact SalesForce.


  • An obvious choice for SalesForce users. 


  • Overkill for a small operation (as are most ESNs).


Tibbr is a collaboration platform dedicated to breaking down silos.

Price: Contact their sales department.


  • A comprehensive platform for businesses that need more than a shared calendar and chat channels.


  • Breaking down siloes isn’t a priority if your workplace isn’t siloed to begin with. 

Keys to Collaboration

There are many ways to work together and many best practices for virtual team communication.  Now let’s talk about what “good collaboration” actually means and how to select the right collaboration tools that will help you achieve it.

Teamwork is more important than your tech stack

Good online team collaboration starts offline. Teamwork is a way of operating, a set of values, and a standard you and your organization strive to maintain. Online collaboration software doesn’t teach you how to work as a team, but they do make it possible to work online and work collaboratively no matter where your team members are located. For best results, keep the fundamentals of teamwork in mind and look for tools to improve those fundamentals. 

Focus on enablement

We buy collaboration tools to enable collaboration. The best online collaboration tool is the one that helps your team do their best work. Every team will have a slightly different feature wishlist and different needs, but the desired result, efficient team collaboration, looks the same in every team. To get there, you want tools that enable the following: 

  • Clear, effective communication. 
  • Motivated and empowered team members. 
  • Clear roles and expectations.
  • Idea brainstorming.
  • An organizational structure and management style that fosters great work. 
  • Achieving defined goals together.

How to Choose the Right Collaboration Tools

Start with your needs, then audit the tools you already have.

If you’re reading this article on a device you or your company owns, you already have some of these tools. You may also be paying for additional platforms that include collaborative software features you need. There’s a decent chance you have costly overlaps and redundancies in your toolkit.

Once you know what capabilities you need, take a look at the tools you already have and see how well those needs are being met, where you might require a new collaborative solution, and where you can downsize. Sometimes this is pretty straightforward; if you’re already paying for additional storage in Google Drive, it probably makes sense to use other Google Workspace tools as well.

Other times, you may end up going a la carte with features. For example, you may use a project management app for handling logistics and tasking and go with a different, more specialized app for instant messaging, even though the project management software includes instant messaging. 

Choosing the right software is not an exact science. It’s a balancing act requiring team leaders to weigh costs, must-haves, and nice-to-haves. You may find that you’re better off with a good enough feature in a system you’re already heavily invested in than a perfect feature in a new system (learning curves can be costly too). Or it could be the reverse, and a single function justifies the cost of a standalone solution.

When you’re selecting your online collaboration tool, focus on the results you’re going for. Ask if your tools enable these key elements. Start with your idea of success, then work backward and determine the tools that would make getting there easier.