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Your office is where you want it to be. Throw out location constraints with these collaboration tools

Running a business where you don’t have a traditional office or your winning team is geographically spread, is easier than ever before thanks to a number of tools. Staying in touch, sharing materials, and collaborating on your business can be done very efficiently and nearly free. Try out our remote business toolkit and if you have suggestions of your own, post away!

  • Skype: Skype is an easy choice for this list. With free IM, video chat, and really cheap options for dialing international and landlines, you can save a ton of money in the communication department. An easy interface and great support make Skype a must for any business looking to communicate with their team or clients for various purposes.
  • gChat/GMail: Gmail and it’s little built in IM client can be a great, lightweight tool for quick communication. Gmail offers a large storage space, generous upload limits, and connection with other great Google tools like Calendar and Documents. Gchat also offers video chat and really convenient apps for mobile devices so you can stay in contact with employees on the go without burning up your text plan. Also, send as any of your business email aliases from one account!
  • Google Calendar: Another great Google tool here. You can set up calendar sets to manage your business life and share those you wish with team members. You can also create events and invite your team members to them via email. Apps keep you constantly aware of you and your team’s upcoming schedules and commitments.
  • DropBox: The file sharing wiz. Use DropBox to share files and folders between your teammates and employees. A simple install and all sharing things are as easy as dragging and dropping, DropBox does the rest and keep all your files in sync across multiple computers and devices  of your own or your teammates. It’s free up to 2GB of space.
  • AMMYY: If there were ever a case where you really needed to dig and help someone out with a task on their computer or do an interactive walk-through, a little free tool from AMMYY might be just the thing for you. It is an easy tool for remotely accessing another person’s computer, the uses are endless; tech support, demos, etc. Webex is probably a better tool, but I chose AMMYY for it’s free price tag.
  • Hootsuite: If you’re working in social media at all and you want to manage a set of accounts with multiple users, Hootsuite is where it’s at. A calendar view makes it easy to see which of your team members has what scheduled. You can track what has been scheduled on which of your social accounts and by who. You can also assign tasks to team members right from the Hootsuite interface.
  • Basecamp: Basecamp does a ton of different things, it may be the most complete option on this list as far as how many types of things it can do. Check out this page for a complete look at Basecamp, it’s a great team tool and project management tool.
  • Free Conference Call: You may want to set up a weekly or daily conference call with a client or your team. We use freeconferencecall.com to talk everyday! Dial in, put in your code, and talk to a bunch of people that easy. If you can’t always be on Skype or just want a more traditional option for communicating every day, this might be the service for you.
  • Doodle: Easy scheduling! Need to find a time when everyone is available? Lay out some days and times and Doodle sets up a poll to ask your team mates when they are available. Doodle automatically returns the options that line up for everyone, and boom, you have your meeting.
  • Facebook Groups: A tool you may not have thought about when productivity is concerned is Facebook Groups. You can create a group right in Facebook to communicate with a group of people. You can even share documents, pictures, and other files. Utilize the face that your employees are probably on Facebook all the time anyway to stay in closer touch. It allows you to set up a group email too and the interface is familiar and simple for most people that are used to communicating on Facebook already.
  • Google Documents: Sharing documents isn’t what it used to be. No more saving a document and sending it back and forth with minor updates. Create live documents of all kinds and even edit and collaborate together live. You can chat right in the document and make comments and mark-ups right there. Share with anyone and have documents that are truly living.