free office tools
Connect your offices with these 5 free tools

As Internet bandwidth has grown, it has become easier for workers in far-flung offices to communicate with one another. Even smaller businesses can have a presence across the ocean.

Effective interoffice communication is essential and when you can achieve this at no cost, it is particularly appealing. We’re going to look at five free tools that will help you connect your offices in a variety of creative ways.

1. Skype
It’s not just for families with kids studying in Europe anymore! Many of us are familiar with the old speaker phone that sat in the middle of the conference room table. How much better would it be to turn that meeting into a video conference? This is easily accomplished with Skype. Plus, you can have instant messaging and screen sharing going as well. For virtually every business application, the free version is all you need.

2. Google Docs
Document handling and control are always critical in business and when coworkers in various offices are collaborating on a project, it becomes an especially pesky issue. Google Docs allows a team to share documents online. Team members can add to and edit documents at the same time so everyone knows they are working with the latest revisions. Controlling access to your shared documents is easy and virtually all the file types that are critical to business operations are supported.

3. Evernote
Remember that time you had a brilliant idea you knew you’d never forget, and you did? Evernote is an incredibly versatile database that lets you capture and organize ideas, data, and inspirations in a wide variety of formats. You can plug all kinds information into Evernote—audio clips, meeting notes, screenshots, photos—and it automatically syncs across all kinds of platforms so you can access it all from anywhere.

4. Dropbox
You can go only so far using email attachments. When you need to distribute or share bigger files and/or multiple files, Dropbox is ideal. With this free online service you can upload files and then send links to those files to your coworkers. When you download the application to your computer is creates a Dropbox folder that you can use just like a folder on your local hard drive. Also, by invitation several users can share the same Dropbox.

5. Stixy
It’s hard to imagine a modern office without a computer network and Post-It Notes. In many ways Stixy combines the two. Consider this online service to be your bulletin board in the sky, or better yet, the cloud. You can type in notes, add media and upload documents. The next step is to send out invitations and start sharing your bulletin board. You can have multiple separate boards assigned to different groups of coworkers.

Carve out some time to test drive these services. Do you have any others you would add to the list? Finally, how about sharing some creative ways you’ve been able to use these these applications?

About the author: David Ching is a marketing strategist for EQA Office furniture, a San Francisco based office furniture retailer. EQA provides company with office furniture needs office chairs, cubicle, conference tables, workstations, receptionist desks and more. Package pricing and free 3D virtual walk-throughs are available on their website. Find EQA on Facebook.