- Some of the best productivity tools can help your team with communication, collaboration, project management, time tracking, workspace organization, engagement, and focus.
- With low upfront costs, productivity tools can easily boost employee engagement, efficiency, and performance so your teams can produce their best work without affecting the company’s bottom line.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s becoming harder and harder to improve employee productivity. Low productivity negatively impacts companies in terms of revenue, engagement, work quality, and more — making it essential to find ways to increase your team’s work performance.
The good news is that technology can improve productivity in the workplace, with more productivity software available than ever to influence and revamp businesses’ output. We’ve rounded up a shortlist of the best productivity tools on the market to help you streamline your workflows while maximizing the efficiency of your workforce.
If you’re looking for solutions outside of software, take a look at our 5 Ways To Have More Productive Employees for tactics to boost productivity in your business.
In this article...
What are the top productivity tools?
The top productivity tools range from application software, to artificial intelligence and plug-ins, which help to meet the productivity needs of businesses all around the world. Most productivity tools also fall in one of several categories, including:
- Communication and team collaboration.
- Project management.
- Time tracking.
- Workspace organization.
- Employee engagement.
- Focus management.
Communication and collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration is crucial for improved work performance and better results. At the same time, some companies are often on the fence about investing their time and efforts into software that improves team communication. That’s resulted in huge losses for business owners; Grammarly’s 2022 State of Business Communication Report estimates such miscommunication costs U.S. businesses up to $1.2 trillion every year.
Luckily, the market offers many advanced communication tools to accommodate in-person, remote, and hybrid work, such as team messengers and video conferencing apps. Similarly, team collaboration tools like Google Workspace and Microsoft Office make it easy for teams to cooperate asynchronously on projects.
Outside of platforms like Slack and Zoom tailored for large companies, multiple apps for communication and collaboration exist for small businesses. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites below.
Chanty is a simple team chat application focused on improving work performance for small and medium teams through artificial intelligence (AI). It helps your teammates become more productive through a variety of features.
Starting price: Forever free plan or $3 per user per month for Business tier (billed annually).
- Real-time messaging with an unlimited searchable history.
- AI that identifies and gathers important information and key takeaways from chats.
- Centralizes notifications from multiple software services in a single place.
Basecamp is a simplified team collaboration tool that assembles your meetings, calendars, projects, and to-do lists in one place. More importantly, you can easily interact with your teammates through Basecamp’s messaging or documents features without having to bounce from app to app.
Starting price: $89 per month for up to 10 users (billed annually).
- Unique card table feature for quick views of project workflows.
- Free client and guest access on Business and Unlimited plans.
- Group chat, message boards, and direct messages for quick, real-time communication.
A project management tool can increase workplace productivity as it allows teams to quickly view project workflows, schedule out project deadlines, and automate task management for more efficient processes. The best part is that leveraging the right project management platform means all of your projects, daily tasks, assets, and milestones are located in one place for easy access.
In other words, you and your team can finish projects faster and more completely. Below are some of the popular project management tools that can give your team a bold, competitive edge.
Asana is a favorite among companies for its ability to break down large projects into smaller pieces for teams to track at every stage of the process. Data is synced across multiple different views, including timelines, calendars, and boards, allowing you to spot gaps and make adjustments as needed. And with advanced features, like automating repetitive tasks, Asana increases efficiency so your team can be more productive.
Starting price: Forever free plan or $10.99 per user per month for Premium tier (billed annually).
- App integrations with popular platforms like Gmail, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.
- Customize or use form templates to simplify incoming work requests from internal teams or clients.
- iOS and Android mobile app versions available to accommodate on-the-go teams.
Asana is one of our favorite project management software solutions. Check what else made our list: Top 5 Project Management Software & Tools
For small teams daunted by the amount of features in robust project management suites, Todoist is a great alternative. As a simplified task management tool, list app, and planner, Todoist can help lean teams stay on track by breaking down projects into tasks and subtasks for more granularity. With the ability to prioritize, set reminders, and filter tasks, you and your team can remain organized without feeling overwhelmed.
Starting price: Free plan or $4 per month on Pro tier (billed annually).
- Access to iOS, Android, and desktop applications so teams can stay on track from any device.
- Set up recurring tasks to remember important duties on a daily, weekly, or monthly cadence.
- Delegate and move tasks in a kanban-style work board for a quick view of project progress.
To improve your productivity, you must first understand your work hours and employee performance patterns. Ask yourself:
- How much time do I waste during the workday and on what distractions?
- What are naturally my most productive hours?
- How substantial are my contribution to the company’s progress?
- Am I hitting my milestones and personal benchmarks when I should?
All these questions can be precisely answered with time-tracking tools, which help to identify poor performance issues. By using these tools for time management, you and your team will be able to make the most of your time and, as a result, become more efficient and productive.
Time tracking can solve issues of low employee productivity and procrastination. Toggl Track (formerly just called Toggl) is a user friendly tool that allows you to enter, start, and stop tracking tasks quickly. Every task can be tagged with a specific word that will help you sort by similar tasks and find time management information later.
Starting price: Free plan or $9 per user per month for Starter tier (billed annually).
- Start and stop time tracking right in your web browser, or use the Toggl Track app.
- Get started right away with a super simple interface that requires minimal training.
- See employee performance insights for the entire team.
Harvest is one of the most popular time management apps on the market, and with good reason: it combines time tracking, reporting and analysis, and invoicing and payments in one. It also integrates with dozens of the most popular business software tools to further improve the functionality of the app.
Starting price: Forever free plan or $10.80 per user per month for Pro tier (billed annually).
- Track time and tasks from a web browser, desktop apps, or mobile apps.
- Create custom automated reminders to encourage your team to stay on top of time tracking.
- Turn tracked time into invoices with the click of a button and collect integrated online payments.
Work environment directly impacts team and personal productivity. Chaos can significantly decrease the ability to focus on a job. Alternatively, a laptop screen, web browser, and work tool stack that are streamlined can help you feel organized and calm. If you can’t recall the last time when you felt that way, it’s time to put your digital environment in order with the following tools.
Many of us have dozens of website tabs open, some that have been sitting untouched for months. Digging through this mess to find the right information can be a difficult task, and even the most productive person may accidentally shut down a critical tab. Toby is designed to solve this problem by organizing your browser tabs into a single place that is easy to search.
Starting price: Free to use — contact sales for companies with multiple workspaces.
- Assign tags to collections to keep them organized by task or project.
- Share your tab collections with your teammates for convenient crowdsourcing and task management.
- Find what you need in seconds using the integrated search function.
If you find yourself wasting time by manually adjusting the size of your windows to make them all fit on your computer screen, then definitely consider downloading Magnet, a handy window manager for Mac computers. Magnet declutters your screen by automatically arranging windows into perfectly sized and organized tiles, making this annoying task a snap.
- Automatically arrange your windows into perfectly sized tiles that don’t overlap.
- Trigger commands with keyboard shortcuts or drag-and-drop functionality.
Do you ever celebrate employees outside of performance review sessions and professional development check-ins? If so, consider investing in employee engagement software, which gives you an outlet to recognize employees who go above and beyond.
And it’s not just limited to employee recognition from management or human resources: Coworkers can also use the software to thank their colleagues for helping them out with a project or facilitating their own jobs. This promotes a stronger culture of teamwork and motivates employees to give their best in order to reach milestones. Some employee engagement software even lets employees redeem their rewards for gift cards or other perks for even more incentives.
Although a performance management software at its core, 15Five includes several employee engagement elements to motivate employees to produce their best work. Through its Engage module, you can create engagement surveys to understand the impact of new initiatives, projects, and workloads on your team and develop action plans to address concerns. You can also layer on 15Five’s performance management features, including reviews, goal setting, and continuous feedback, to align your team with bigger company objectives and streamline productivity.
Starting price: $4 per use per month for Engage module, $8 per user per month for Perform or Focus modules, and quote-based for Transform module (all billed annually).
- Create engagement surveys and topic-based assessments to quickly pinpoint areas of employee concern.
- Give “High Fives” to publicly recognize employees for a job well done.
- Access to live and on-demand coaching and training to increase productivity without needing to integrate with a learning management system.
Recognizing employees for their achievements and fostering a culture of transparency, encouragement, collaboration, and support goes a long way toward motivating employees to produce quality work and support their teammates. With Assembly, teammates can celebrate each other for their achievements through fun-filled messages that support GIFs, images, and emoji reactions.
Starting price: Free plan or $2.80 per member per month for Lite tier (billed annually).
- Award team members trophies or nominate outstanding performers for company-wide recognition.
- Send company-wide or team-specific announcements to keep everyone informed.
- Generate team retrospective and standup meeting flows to quickly assess the team’s project status.
The more time teams have to focus and perform deep work, the more productive they can be. Beyond conducting a meeting audit, plenty of productivity apps exist to make staying on task and avoiding distraction achievable. Even better, most of these tools include elements of fun which can reduces stress and increase work productivity.
Can 10 minutes of listening to music make your team more productive? According to a 2021 study by auditory neuroscientists, it can. Brain.fm is the only music application that boosts attention, reduces mind-wandering, and empowers human minds to meet their goals faster.
Starting price: 14-day free trial, then $6.99 per month or $49.99 annually.
- Manage distractions while boosting concentration, so you can finish tasks faster.
- Choose from various playlists to suit your musical tastes.
Remaining focused on tasks and helping the planet simultaneously may seem far-fetched, but the Forest productivity app has found a way.
The concept is simple: through the Forest’s mobile app, plant a tree and set an amount of time you want to focus. As time passes, the tree grows. However, if you leave the app, the tree dies. The idea is to promote focus by removing phone distractions and instilling accountability for the tree’s (virtual) survival. The kicker? Forest partners with a tree-planting organization Trees for the Future so that your focus can actually help the environment.
Starting price: $3.99 plus in-app purchases.
- Available for both iOS and Android mobile devices.
- Collect virtual coins to spend on planting real trees with Forest’s partner, Trees for the Future.
Which productivity tool is best for you?
The best productivity tools allow you and your teams to seamlessly communicate and collaborate while remaining focused on producing a quality end result. These tools are a great way to set your team up for success while injecting a little fun in their daily tasks. And with a majority of these tools including free versions, you can test out the ones that work best for you before purchasing its full range of features.
Check out our guides to HR software, project management software, and employee engagement software to find workplace-changing solutions to integrate with the productivity tools you use every day.