Productivity / Performance

Three online collaboration tools to use for better remote team collaboration

When working with remote colleagues or staff it’s critical to utilise online collaboration tools that best allow for collaboration and open communication. Here are three faves.


As a soloist, you’ll inevitably find yourself working or collaborating with a team of people who don’t share the same office as you at some stage. There are several online collaboration tools our team of 20 remote workers use to work together effectively, and increase efficiency and productivity. Of the three favourites I share below, there are two you’re likely familiar with … but might be surprised at just how much they can do for you!


By now, Skype is a household name and the majority of people are already using within their remote teams. The reason Skype needs to be mentioned is because the importance of over-communication in a remote workplace cannot be overstated; not to mention there are a lot of cool features most people aren’t currently using! Here are the three best ways to use Skype:

1. Voice and Video Calls

As previously mentioned, over-communication is highly recommended when working with remote colleagues/staff. I believe you should have voice communication with your staff at least once a week. It’s a great way build your relationship and grow trust with your remote team. Skype to Skype calls are free and Skype to mobile or landlines is extremely cheap. You can find information on rates here.

TIP: If you’re utilising an offshore Virtual Assistant (VA) for customer service, account management or sales purposes, I recommend you get them a hard-phone. The international call clarity will be a lot better and you can set them up with a local number to make and receive calls from (something Skype can’t do).

"The screen share function of Skype allows one or multiple VAs to view your screen while on a call. This is great for training and orienting staff. "

2. Skype Messenger

Our team uses the instant messaging function of Skype religiously! I’m constantly on it as it’s a great way to communicate non-urgent matters throughout the day.

TIP: Get your VA to message you every day when their shift starts. This builds camaraderie, accountability and makes it so you’re always aware when your staff are online.

3. Screen Share

This function of Skype is so useful yet most people don’t even know it exists! The screen share function of Skype allows one or multiple VAs to view your screen while on a call. This is great for training and orienting staff. It’s also very useful for showing your team new functions of a website, or going over material before it’s live.

TIP: To access screen share, get on a call with your Virtual Assistant, click the conversations tab, and scroll down to the middle where it says “Share Screen”.

Google Drive

Google Drive is one application that has truly transformed virtual teams. There are other programs you can use to store, edit and share documents in the cloud, however, I find the simplicity and various functions of Google Drive make it the best choice.

Our team uses Google Drive for two main functions:

1. Documents

The “Docs” function is where you go to create MS word like documents. It’s amazing because you can share them with staff or colleagues who can then view or edit the document simultaneously. As the document owner, you’re able to fully control what other people can or cannot do. For example, staff A can view and edit the document while staff B can only view the document.

You’re also able to share docs with people outside your company. For example: whenever I need changes made to our website, or a new blog posted, I share it with my web developer and he can instantly view that particularly document (but cannot see any other docs on my drive).

2. Spreadsheets

Google spreadsheets can be used for so many different functions within a company. All of our recruitment, sales campaigns, and key performance indicators are created and stored using the spreadsheet function. It has all the necessary functions that Excel has and is completely in the cloud.

As you can do with Google Docs, your whole team can access and edit (if allowed) the spreadsheet document at one time. For us, having recruiters in all different locations, this is a must-have feature that keeps communication and passing on of information a seamless process.


Trello is a free and very easy to use online project management application. Projects are presented in a bulletin board format, with corresponding lists that keep track of your projects stages (ie to do, doing, done, etc.).

Once each step is done, you or someone on your team then moves that task to the next stage. The great thing about Trello is you can assign different steps and due-dates to various people within your team. It helps create transparency within a bigger project and holds the individual team member assigned to the task accountable.

Do you and your team have any favourite online collaboration tools? Comments and suggestions are much appreciated!

Kevin Mallen

is the Sales & Marketing Director for Virtual Coworker. He connects qualified Virtual Assistants and Web Developers from the Philippines with Australian Businesses.


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