Even when businesses experiment with combining remote, hybrid, and in-office work models, collaboration remains the basis for team productivity. Discover the benefits of a collaborative workspace, compare pros and cons of physical and online workspaces, and choose between the most recommended software solutions.
By collaborative workspace, we understand an environment where people complete individual tasks to achieve a common goal.
Think of it as a soccer match. Each player in a team has a limited scope of responsibilities — to defend, to tackle, to score. When combined and properly done, these efforts help squads become winners. Similarly, lack of understanding between players lead to vain attempts and even failures.
There can be a physical and virtual workspace.
While remote work is convenient for some employees, others have to deal with massive hardware and equipment they can’t locate at home. This is one of the common disadvantages of online workspaces stopping some teams from going fully remote.
When properly applied though, a virtual workspace boosts productivity by reducing time for completing everyday tasks, eliminates routine, paperwork, and human error. Some popular remote-friendly companies are Amazon, Upwork, Shopify.
Ironically, many people go to their physical workplace and spend the most time of the day working in an online workspace. They also rarely talk to each other without messengers. In fact, many teams come to do the job they could manage from home, without wasting time in traffic jams in the morning.
Requirements for specific functionalities in collaboration workspace software are different in each industry. However, there are three absolute must-haves for any team: file management, communication, and project management.
Each category includes a number of tasks where standalone apps may work. Spoiler alert: No need to purchase each app separately — see the best all-in-one solutions.
When using this generic term, we typically mean document editing, collaboration on files, storing and exchanging resources on a shared online workspace.
Document workflow exists in any company to a different extent. Some teams only send invoices and contracts, whereas for copywriters and journalists a text file is a product.
Many dedicated solutions provide you with editing text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
ONLYOFFICE Docs. Fully compatible with all popular document formats, ONLYOFFICE online editors facilitate work with text, worksheets, slides, and fillable forms.
Apart from cloud deployment, ONLYOFFICE Docs can be installed within your local corporate network.
Google Docs. The office suite by Google is widely used over the Internet and preferred by larger remote teams.
On-premise deployment is unavailable to date.
Microsoft 365. Well-known Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as a part of the business suite.
Best when coupled with other Microsoft services.
Whether office documents or other file types, your team should be able to work together in real-time. Collaborative online workspace solutions make it possible for any sector, including:
Any files must be securely stored somewhere and transferred, if needed. The options here are your own storage or cloud service provider, such as:
Such services usually enable a range of access rights to a file whenever you share it. For example, you can share a sensitive document and recipients will be unable to edit it.
In each team, employees exchange messages, make calls, send emails. Each modern collaborative workspace is constantly extending communication capabilities.
All-in-one online office solutions provide native corporate chats or even internal social networks.
Alternatively, you can use secure instant messaging services like Telegram:
Another option for quick chatting is Signal:
Threema is a paid open-source messenger with end-to-end encryption:
In most cases, messengers operate on desktop, mobile, and in your browser. They can also be integrated with your collaborative virtual workspace. Watch a video about Telegram integration in ONLYOFFICE Docs.
Chatting can be insufficient and time-consuming for long-lasting group discussions. Video meeting software improves productivity and can even reduce travel costs.
Zoom is currently the most popular video conferencing solution worldwide.
Jitsi provides a robust alternative with similar functionalities for open-source advocates.
Microsoft Teams is an example of native software video calls within the Microsoft collaborative suite.
In most cases, video conferencing apps can be integrated to your online team workspace. For example, Jitsi operates right from ONLYOFFICE Docs.
Emails are suitable for external business discussions and interaction with customers. Email management system is here in almost every digital collaborative workspace.
Watch an overview of email in ONLYOFFICE Workspace:
When it comes to managing a complex project engaging multiple teams, you need a clear understanding of milestones, progress of each task, budget and scheduling.
Proper task management boosts productivity and prevents a burnout. Project management apps usually provide you with a virtual whiteboard to assign tasks and set deadlines.
Here’s how it works in ONLYOFFICE Workspace:
Other project management solutions include Asana, Wrike, Trello etc.
Calendars still do their job in planning events. But they must be group calendars available for everyone engaged.
Here’s an example:
Report making features are vital when you need to submit progress status to the top management.
Such functionalities are particularly useful for predicting future workload and making informed decisions.
Now you know the fundamental features of an online workspace. But purchasing a separate app for each task is pretty expensive.
Let’s look at comprehensive solutions that offer most of the above-mentioned functionalities within one suite.
These all-in-one software provides necessary features without need to own numerous standalone apps.
ONLYOFFICE Workspace is an online office that comes with collaborative editors for text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, project management, CRM, email, and calendar.
Available for on-premise deployment on Windows and Linux, open-source ONLYOFFICE Workspace is a self-hosted solution for companies that need a collaborative workspace within a local network.
You can communicate in Telegram and Jitsi, manage all emails from multiple inboxes, create team calendars, generate reports, assign tasks, and more.
Free online collaborative workspace for teams with up to 5 users. From $4 per user/month for other companies. Compare plans>>
Capterra — 4.5 (309 reviews)
Software Advice — 4.5 (308 reviews)
Discover the benefits of ONLYOFFICE Workspace for your team today! Try it free in the cloud or host it on your server.
For the cloud version, 30 free days of the Business plan are included — later you can choose to stay or switch to the free Startup plan.
Zoho provides a comprehensive solution with more than 40 applications for any department in larger teams. They include project tracking, CRM, email automation, video conferencing, internal social network, file storage and sharing, document editing.
Additional apps help boost social media marketing, HR management, accounting, optimize conversion rates on a web page, gather customer feedback in surveys, and more.
Zoho One is completely cloud-based and suitable for teams without the own IT infrastructure.
No free plan provided, but Zoho offers 30 days of trial period. You can buy a license for each employee for $37 per employee/month. Another option is a license for any number of users for $90 per user/month.
Capterra — 4.4 (73 reviews)
Software Advice — 4.3 (73 reviews)
Formerly known as G Suite, Google Workspace provides business users with editing text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, calendar, Gmail, extended cloud file storage. Project management features are not included, though.
The communication tools are chat and video meetings via Google Meet. 30 GB of file storage is provided in the basic plan.
Google Workspace is entirely cloud-based, on-premise installation is beyond Google’s priorities.
No free plan, but Google offers 14 days of trial period. The basic plan costs $6 per user/month and comprises all features. More expensive plans extend the number of participants and storage space volume.
Capterra — 4.7 (11130 reviews)
Software Advice — 4.6 (11130 reviews)
The office suite by Microsoft offers native document editors, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as 1 TB storage. The email management app is the popular Outlook.
However, not all plans include video conferencing and task scheduling via MS Teams. Project management is also unavailable but can be additionally purchased as a cloud-based solution from $10 per user/month. On-premise deployment of Microsoft Projects costs from $679.99.
No free plan, but Microsoft offers a 1-month trial period. The basic plan costs $5 per user/month, but doesn’t include some important features. Most of the plans seem to lack threat protection features.
Capterra — 4.6 (12362 reviews)
Software Advice — 4.6 (12360 reviews)
Bitrix24 is powerful in collaboration and offers chat, video calls, feed, company workspace, and knowledge base.
You can manage projects, delegate and set tasks, navigate between tasks and projects using different views: Deadline, Planner, Kanban board, Gantt chart, or Calendar. Each account has file storage of up to 1 TB.
However, most of the awesome features in Bitrix24 are only available in the expensive plans.
A free online collaborative workspace provided. All features start from $79 per month — the number of users is unlimited.
Capterra — 4.0 (497 reviews)
Software Advice — 4.0 (497 reviews)
We learned what a collaborative workspace is, overviewed its necessary components and some top recommended solutions to organize remote work. They all have advantages and disadvantages, offer different collaborative features. A good way to choose the right software is to brainstorm and write down functionalities, dividing them into three categories:
Pay attention to the pricing plans, too — expensive is not always better. Also, don’t forget to start a free trial and gather feedback from a team before purchasing any collaborative workspace.