10 Best Apps for Remote Teams in 2021

December 14th, 2020

As we progress through the COVID global pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal. What used to be in-person meetings and watercooler conversations has now turned to digital interactions via laptops and devices. New age startups actually view remote-first setups as an advantage to hire the best talent globally and leverage lean cost models. But with this new digital setup comes new challenges for teams around the world to work together and drive progress.

So how can we best emulate how we interact, communicate, and collaborate in a remote-first setup?

We've looked at the best software out there that helps remote teams work effectively together (maybe even better than previous in-person setups).

Take a look at our short list and ensure that you are best prepared for your startup's remote setup going into 2021.

Best Communication Solutions for Remote Teams

Here, we take a look at two categories: video conferencing and instant communication platforms. Let's start with video conferencing applications.

Video Conferencing Solutions

In today’s environment, video conferencing applications have become an essential tool for startups across industries. These applications replace face-to-face meetings with seamless, easy to use high quality video calls that can cover multiple people be it clients, employees, and other stakeholders.

#1 Zoom

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $149.90 (Pro) / $199.90 (Business)/ $199.90 (Enterprise) per year per license
  • Host up to: 100-500 participants
  • Unlimited 1:1 Meetings: Yes
  • Group meetings: maximum of 40-minutes for free
  • Cloud Video Conferencing: Yes
  • Recording & transcription: Yes
  • Cloud Storage: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: Yes
  • File Sharing: Yes

Noteworthy Features: 

  • Connection with multiple calendars
  • Continuous security improvements
  • Known for its simple and easy to use interface
  • Easy sharing of Zoom links to join the video conference

Pros:

  • Great quality of video - HD Video and HD Voice with dynamic voice detection
  • Full screen and gallery view, dual stream for dual screen
  • Feature-rich mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • Collaborative features fo team meeting including Zoom Rooms and Zoom Video Webinar
  • Group Messaging
  • Seamless screen sharing
  • Annotation and whiteboarding capabilities

Cons:

  • Chat interface lags in comparison to video conferencing
  • Billing and customer service needs improvement

#2 Google Meet

  • Pricing: $0 (Free) / $8 (Google Workspace Essentials) per active user per month/ Contact sales for pricing (Google Workspace Enterprise) 
  • Host up to: 100-300 participants
  • Unlimited Meetings: No
  • Cloud Video Conferencing: Yes
  • Recording & transcription: Yes
  • Cloud Storage: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: Yes
  • File Sharing: Yes

Noteworthy Features:

  • Perfect for team meetings using video-conferencing 
  • Easy to use screen sharing
  • Provides option to connect with someone not at his/her computer through a phone call with assigned phone number

Pros:

  • Google Meet provides users an easy way to connect to a call, record a call, and share screen
  • Browser-based interface is easy to use with no learning curve
  • Good call quality

Cons:

  • Size of the video window cannot be changed
  • Does not forward reminders to the host
  • No "raise a hand" function
  • Participants may incur charges if connecting to the call using the assigned phone number

Instant Communication Solutions

Effective communication is essential in completing tasks and beating project deadlines. Video conferencing is great to replace in-person meetings but sometimes, teammates need a quicker and more organized way to interact. These instant communication tools help teammates connect quickly, pull up information effectively, while tagging and organizing information shared.

#3 Slack

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $10 (Plus) / $20 (Pro)/ Contact sales (Enterprise) per user per month
  • App Integrations: Yes
  • Voice Calls: Yes
  • Video Calls: Yes
  • Advanced Identity Management through SAML-based SSO: Yes
  • 24/7 Support: Yes
  • Video, Voice and Text Chat Enhancement: No

Noteworthy Features:

  • Internal communication platform curated for businesses
  • Ideal for collaborating and communicating between colleagues on common projects
  • Good at creating communities and establishing links with departments of any organization
  • Good searchability for messages and documents shared between teammates

Pros:

  • Easy to use UI and UX
  • Notifications available for group, channel, and individual messages
  • Easy to form groups to communicate and work on common projects
  • Enables effective and proactive communication between departments and managers in the organization

Cons:

  • There is some delay in the message notifications in Slack
  • Slower response times on technical support usual
  • Difficult to use to track action plans

#4 Discord

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $6.67 (Standard) / $12.50 (Plus) / Contact sales (Enterprise Grid) per month
  • App Integrations: No
  • Voice Calls: Yes
  • Video Calls: Yes
  • Advanced Identity Management through SAML-based SSO: No
  • 24/7 Support: No
  • Video, Voice and Text Chat Enhancement: Yes

Noteworthy Features:

  • Startups can use discord channels to communicate with a whole team or direct messaging for 1on1 interactions
  • All-in-one Discord voice, video, and text chat
  • Collect or make own custom and animated emojis
  • Use as animated avatar and claim a custom tag for customised personal profiles
  • Get 2 Server Boosts and 30% off extra Boosts
  • Large uploads with upto 100mb upload size for high-quality file sharing
  • HD hi-res video, screenshare, and Go Live streaming

Pros:

  • Discord is stable and ensures privacy
  • All in one platform provides voice, video and text chat

Cons:

  • Users complain of random call drops
  • Searchability is not as strong

Next, we move to exploring the best tools for collaborating with colleagues.

Best Collaboration Solutions for Remote Teams

Collaboration tools serve to improve coordination and productivity in teamwide projects. Their features go beyond those of communication tools and include capabilities like easy file sharing and access, shared workspaces, sorting of data, useful integrations with other software, and a platform for whiteboarding.

#5 Miro

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $8 (Team) / $16 (Business)/ Contact sales (Enterprise) per user per month
  • Editable Boards: Yes
  • Premade Templates: Yes
  • Single Sign On: Yes
  • Advanced Security: Yes
  • App Integrations: Yes
  • Revision and snapshot history: No

Noteworthy Features: 

  • Allows private board sharing
  • Offers Kanban Framework
  • Provides easy integrations with Jira, Confluence, and Asana

Pros:

  • Highly intuitive with flexibility for creativity
  • Large number of templates for a variety of different purposes

Cons:

  • Kanban boards may be a little cumbersome to work with if teams aren't used to it
  • Some user flow interruptions when moving between canvases

#6 Notion

  • Pricing: $0 (Personal)/ $4 (Personal Pro) / $8 (Team) per member per month/ Contact sales (Enterprise)
  • Editable Boards: Yes
  • Premade Templates: No
  • Single Sign On: Yes
  • Advanced Security: No
  • App Integrations: No
  • Revision and snapshot history: No

Noteworthy Features:

  • Provides simple, flexible and seamless writing experience that supports more than 30 media types
  • A great alternative to Evernote or Google Docs
  • Works well as a company-wide wiki
  • Easy to convert to web pages using Super.so

Pros:

  • Simple and intuitive UX/UI
  • Allows users to organize/display information and use intuitive shortcodes
  • Provides a seamless experience across web app, mobile, and even desktop app

Cons:

  • Using Notion offline is not recommended
  • Does not allow users to scan a note using a phone/tablet camera

#7 Airtable

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $10 (Plus) / $20 (Pro)/ Contact sales (Enterprise) per user per month
  • Editable Boards: Yes
  • Premade Templates: No
  • Single Sign On: No
  • Advanced Security: No
  • App Integrations: No
  • Revision and snapshot history: Yes

Noteworthy Features:

  • Data can be easily shared across teams and edited in real-time
  • The best solution where a spreadsheet is too limiting and where using a separate complex database tool would be overkill
  • Great for flexible tables and pivots for all kinds of data
  • Allows for database creation and visualization without technical implementation

Pros:

  • Affordable solution that offers a flexible, visually appealing alternative to MS Excel
  • Easy sorting and manipulation of data
  • Team friendly tool that allows seamless collaboration

Cons:

  • Using Airtable may require a learning curve to understand its capabilities
  • Limited integration options
  • Does not provide calendar views

This brings us to our last section - Project Management.

Best Project Management Solutions for Remote Teams

Project management tools assist managers in planning, executing and tracking progress on company initiatives. This includes defining the scope of activities and tracking progress, cost budgets, time, and milestones. Startups should choose the right project management tool based on the type of projects undertaken. Here are two solutions that are easy to use and offer flexibility.

#9 Trello

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $999 (Business Class) / $1750 (Enterprise) per user per month
  • Unlimited Personal Boards: Yes
  • Unlimited Cards: Yes
  • File Attachment: 10mb to 250 mb per file
  • Single Sign-On: Yes
  • Calendar & Map View: Yes
  • App Integrations: Yes

Noteworthy Features:

  • Well suited for teams with common tasks that aren't looking for calendar integration
  • Facilitates seamless collaboration with a team - with internal and external stakeholders
  • Great for agile project management systems
  • Easy to track status of projects with a visual view of open items, items in progress, and completed items
  • Offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to customizing the dashboard to fit the team's needs. All sorts of colors, shapes, icons, tags, labels, and different list types are available
  • Easy to label and tag items resulting in easy, quick, and flexible filtering

Pros:

  • 100% online solution with a user-friendly platform
  • Flexible and numerous colors, patterns, and labels to organize any type of workflow
  • Real-time actions / updates
  • Projects can be archived
  • Ability to set up to-do lists

Cons:

  • Lacks integration features with other software
  • Has low storage limit
  • Limited to Kanban Boards
  • No Gantt Charts

#10 Clickup

  • Pricing: $0 (Free)/ $5 (Unlimited) / $9 (Business)/ Contact sales (Enterprise) per user per month
  • Unlimited Personal Boards: Yes
  • File Attachment: 100MB to Unlimited Storage
  • Single Sign-On: Yes
  • Calendar & Map View: Yes
  • App Integrations: No

Noteworthy Features:

  • ClickUp is best suited for people who have used project management software before and need an upgrade to balance several projects and several teams at the same time
  • Well suited for startups that are dealing with a lot of clients or a lot of different situations

Pros:

  • Innovative improvements released weekly
  • Easy to use commenting features for users to udpate and keep tasks organized

Cons:

  • Users complain that it's slighly complicated to use
  • Email attachment feature needs to be improved - only the most recent message is attached leaving the email chain history out

Enable an Effective Remote Setup with the Right Set of Apps

An effective remote setup is a valuable asset for any startup in these times. It allows you to be cost effective, hire the best talent globally, and drive productivity round the clock if done right! What used to be tangible, in-person interactions have now been replaced with digital video and chat based interactions. Getting the right applications that enable effective communication, collaboration, and project management between remote teams will make or break how fast you grow and make progress.

Be wary though, there needs to be a balance between too few and too many tools. Having too few leaves room for bottlenecks, miscommuication, and slower progress while having too many can be distracting and lower productivty.

What apps do you use for an effective remote setup?

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