Many teams will attest to the power of collaboration when driving innovation and teamwork, especially when it comes to creative tasks.
When collaborating, teams work together to socialize, share ideas, gain inspiration, and find solutions that they may otherwise not have done as efficiently as working alone.
While 2021 saw many employees feeling disconnected from each other, in 2022, we’re adapting and finding smart ways to stay engaged and collaborate in a hybrid work environment.
More and more organizations are working towards a hybrid model, with employees working part of the week from home and the rest from the office.
So how can teams adapt their tools so everyone feels connected and can collaborate effectively?
We looked to our own hybrid teams at Terminalfour to draw on their wealth of experience and get their views on the best collaboration tools out there that higher education teams working in a hybrid environment can use to stay connected.
Software for creative brainstorming and problem solving
#1 - InVision
With a suite of tools, InVision lets you upload visuals, pdfs, and documents to share ideas and to receive feedback on everything from high-level concepts through to defined designs and pictures.
It also provides an infinite whiteboard tool called Freehand, which is perfect for online collaboration and brainstorming exercises.
InVision’s been popular with teams across a diverse range of brands and businesses. When IBM needed to find innovative ways to work differently and deliver products to market rapidly, for instance, they used InVision software to help bring cross-functional teams closer together online, fostering a greater sense of collaboration and innovation in a single, connected workflow.
InVision offers a number of free design and collaboration tools as well as paid-for options.
#2 - Miro
Another collaborative whiteboard platform, Miro brings teams together, anytime, anywhere online.
Favored by many for collaborative thinking, it provides dozens of templates and layouts to quickly get you up and running. With a professional Offering three boards and unlimited team members for free, this is a great tool for people working together on smaller projects.
The Miro website also offers a range of resources and fact sheets giving support and advice on remote working productivity, which institutions and students alike might find valuable.
#3 - Mural
Much like Miro, MURAL is a digital workspace for visual collaboration and enables teams to think and collaborate visually to solve problems.
Users benefit from MURAL’s speed and ease of use in creating diagrams, which are popular in design thinking and agile methodologies, as well as tools to facilitate more impactful meetings and workshops.
#4 - Ideaflip
A fun and very simple app, Ideaflip is an online sticky note board that is great for enabling brainstorming for teams working remotely.
The beauty of the Ideaflip app is in its simplicity, as this allows ideas to flow freely and easily, even when people aren’t in the same place.
With flexible pricing plans and free use for up to 3 boards and 2 guest collaborators, Ideaflip is a great option for institutions and students wanting to think creatively without having to spend huge amounts of budget.
Trello is visual tool with Kanban-style boards and moveable cards for ultimate lists, project planning, collaboration, and more.
From developers to families, Trello is highly flexible and very intuitive for users. Use it to create lists, track time, plan a website, run a campaign, organize projects, or manage a team and collaborators.
You can add deadlines, assign cards, and add power-ups like a Calendar view, Drive synching, and more.
It comes with pre-made layouts, or you can create a board from scratch. Edits happen in real-time, and it has very useful notifications and automation features.
With the free option, teams can have up to 10 boards with unlimited cards, and unlimited storage. Additional options are available with the paid plan.
Software for group communication and collaboration
#6 - Slack
Slack is one of the most prominent tools in the world for real-time communication and is gaining traction in the education sector.
With easy-to-use interfaces, options for use across devices and apps, and features that enable one-to-one and one-to-many communications, it’s a perfect tool for teams to use to work together.
#7 - talkspirit
talkspirit is a great alternative to email when working with large numbers of people who aren’t all in the same building (or region!) and can be particularly useful for educators managing multiple groups, organizing diaries, and communicating deadlines.
This online platform allows users to chat with each other or in groups from a desktop or mobile phone and interact very easily on a daily basis, without the need for meetings or emails.
talkspirit combines chat and video conferencing, audio conferencing, emojis and GIFs, and mobile applications all in one place. It can bring higher ed teams together on a secure platform that's easy to use and work with.
Essential features of talkspirit are available for free, and upgraded services are available for a relatively low monthly cost, making this a great option for a range of budgets and requirements.
#8 - Telegram Messenger
For those worried about the security and privacy of data sharing, the free Telegram messenger app can be a great option and alternative to apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Available across mobile and desktop, it works very much the same way as other instant chat services. Telegram is intuitive to use, fast, customizable, and allows for teams, students or groups of people to chat together.
The platform also allows users to send audio, video, and picture messages and can be synced across multiple devices.
More than 100 million new users joined Telegram at the start of 2021, seeking more privacy and freedom following WhatsApp’s changes to its terms of service.
It’s now also possible for users to download chat history from other messenger apps so that conversations, videos, and images aren’t lost.
Software for storing and sharing documents
#9 - Dropbox
Ideal for cloud storage, Dropbox offers location-free access from smart devices and desktops and makes it easy to share files—especially large ones.
Teams can use it to work and edit files directly in Dropbox, and can keep working offline, and the files will sync automatically when back online.
You can create groups and assign team members based on job roles, or create folders for classes that are shared with groups of students. You can also share files publicly to anyone with the link.
Individual free accounts automatically have 2GB, and the paid option offers an additional 8GB of storage.
#10 - Google Drive
Part of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Google Drive provides storage space online that can be accessed on any device, all with Google’s powerful search that can locate files in seconds.
By signing up, you also get the added bonus of editing tools like Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides, among others, as well as chat, video meetings, email, and more with the entire Workspace suite of apps.
A lesser-known feature is that you can sign up with your work email and use that rather than a Gmail.
The free version gives you 15GB of storage, and paid plans are in line with other cloud storage options.
The collaboration needs of university teams and students converge
We’re living in a digital age where students (and often institution teams) shuffle seamlessly between learning and collaboration platforms and social and communication channels.
If you’re looking for better ways for your team to collaborate creatively online together or with students, you’ll find great features and benefits in these digital tools we’ve highlighted today.
Many offer free account options, so give them a try.
P.S. Do you have a recipe for successful creative collaboration or have you been inspired to use new tools for creative working online? We’d love to hear about it.
Use the comments below or on our social media channels or DM us directly.