3 Cloud-Based Collaboration Tools with Capable Free Tiers

Working remotely was a growing phenomenon in the last few years but today, it has become a reality for a never-before-seen number of people. The jokes about how certain meetings should’ve been emails now sound like “the meetings have become emails”… but to work efficiently from home, one needs more than email. Luckily, we have several great toolkits at hand that can help us transpose the usual office experience into the home office – through the internet.


The market leader in the online collaboration market, Slack blasted into the spotlight in 2016 as Microsoft’s next acquisition target. Ultimately, the Redmond Giant decided to build its own – this is how Teams was born, see below. Slack, in turn, stayed in the spotlight, ultimately becoming a tool used by millions – everyone from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, even non-commercial communities.

Slack is cross-platform, available on desktop and mobile devices, and has hundreds of useful integrations with a vast variety of services – everything from Dropbox and Google Drive to GFYCAT and HootSuite. It has a free tier that’s filled with great features and paid tiers that come with goodies like unlimited message history, cloud storage, group video calls, and many others.

Microsoft Teams

As we said before, Teams is Microsoft’s response to Slack. It is a solution clearly aimed at businesses – small and big alike. Its free tier comes with unlimited chat and search, file attachments of up to 2GB, access to the web versions of the basic Office document editors (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint), and video calls with screen sharing and custom backgrounds. It’s the paid tier that makes it interesting – it comes with all of the above plus the possibility to hold video conferences with up to 250 users plus online events with up to 10,000 participants and Microsoft 365 Business Basic, a package that includes email hosting, cloud storage, and many others.

Actually, Teams is more integrated with Office 365 than you may think: it is bundled with all Microsoft 365 Business packages and vice versa – the $12.50 Teams subscription also comes with Microsoft 365 Business Standard.

Google’s tools

While it doesn’t have a dedicated tool that offers everything of the above in the same place, Google has a variety of free tools that, when used together, make up a suite. 

Gmail offers a free 15GB mailbox with its storage shared with Drive. Google Sheets and Docs save their files in the same drive, also allowing collaborative editing. Keep is a basic project management tool, Slides handles presentations, and Hangouts is a free messaging and (video) calling platform.

These free Google tools are perfect for personal use and small businesses – and when things get serious, there’s G Suite. It has all of the above, only better: Gmail with custom domains, Currents for company-wide discussions, Google Chat for secure messaging, and Meet for video calls and conferencing, not to mention all the Office-type apps you can use. All this for as little as $6 per user per month.

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