The Best Brainstorming Software for Teams Working Remotely: Collaborate and Create a Virtual Thinktank with these Apps and Tools

2023-12-14

Brainstorming is a critical component of many business processes. It helps you surface diverse perspectives, allows team members to build on each other’s ideas and creativity, and can lead to breakthroughs that drive business growth and success.

Of course, brainstorming isn’t simple even at the best of times. Getting an entire team into a conference room and ensuring that they have uninterrupted time to brainstorm is a challenge in its own right. And when you’re dealing with remote teams, those challenges only multiply.

You’re dealing with team members in different areas of the nation or even the world, some of whom might not be awake enough to be at their creative best. Remote workers also deal with unique interruptions – delivery drivers, spouses accidentally stepping into their Zoom video, and children demanding attention are just some basic examples.

The good news is there’s an app for that. Well, several in fact. Brainstorming and remote work can go hand-in-hand when you’ve got the right technology acting as the foundation. We’ve rounded up the best brainstorming software for teams working remotely to fire up your collaboration capabilities and creative synergy.

Why focus on brainstorming?

Before we dive into our list of the best brainstorming software for remote teams, let’s touch on why brainstorming is important to your business in the first place. What is brainstorming, at its heart?

Ultimately, brainstorming is nothing more than getting a group of people (your team) together to collaborate to solve a problem, generate new ideas, or create strategies that drive business growth. Brainstorming can include things like marketing angles, strategy development, product or service development, and more.

Why should you focus on brainstorming? Here’s a quick rundown of the most important benefits you’ll reap when team members can collaborate and synergize:

  • Inform processes and strategies with diverse perspectives, views, and experiences.
  • Avoid unconscious bias toward particular topics, viewpoints, or subjects.
  • Iterate on ideas through collaborative discussion and ideation.
  • Collaborate and fuel creativity through synergy with others.
  • Deliver better results through collaboration, iteration, and innovation.

Tips to help improve your brainstorming sessions

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to brainstorming, although there are things you can do to help ensure that your team can do what they need to without unnecessary hurdles. These tips will help you create the ideal atmosphere for brainstorming and creativity.

  • Use a timer. This can add a sense of urgency that breaks through when team members are feeling blocked.
  • Focus on one problem or goal per session. Trying to cover too much ground will just deliver subpar results.
  • There are no wrong answers. Let your team explore and discuss things without fear of being wrong.
  • Everything should be open to discussion. This ensures that you eliminate underlying biases while allowing improved creativity.
  • Recognize your team for their input and reward them for creative thinking. This ensures that your people feel seen and valued, and also encourages them to continue participating.

So, with a better understanding of brainstorming and how to go about it, let’s get to the heart of the discussion: brainstorming software for teams working remotely.

The best brainstorming software for remote teams

Coggle

Coggle is one of the easiest free forever options for mind mapping and brainstorming. The user interface is among the friendliest that you’ll find and getting started is easy. You can log in and go right to work on the main dashboard, creating new ideas, starting new brainstorming sessions, and more. You can even choose where things go, rearrange the layouts, and integrate keyboard shortcuts for ease of use.

You can format the messages and items in every mind map, which means you can go basic or get creative, or even just designate a certain font or style for each concept or area of the storm. Coggle has all kinds of impressive features, including easy sharing and a presentation mode that offers advanced collaboration. Plus, it’s all available without a big investment in some heavy software platform.

The basic single-user plan that includes three diagrams is free forever, and Coggle offers unlimited diagrams and premium features for just $5 per month.

MindMeister

MindMeister is a tool that’s easy to use and it gives you the chance to collaborate in real-time. Plus, you can get mobile access on iOS and Android, and it’s a cloud-based platform that can be scaled to the needs of your business. It's not free, but the price is more than fair for what you get. The site makes it easy to create maps and share them with anyone, and you can sign up with Google or Facebook if you prefer.

This app lets you collaborate anywhere and share with everyone, and you can comment, vote, and discuss things via chat, as well. You can even create presentations and slideshows, broadcast to your website or in a live format, and more. This tool isn’t free, but its robust brainstorming and idea management tools make it worth the small price that it costs.

If you can get by with the limited features, there’s a free basic plan. Personal accounts are just $6 or $10 for a Pro account. Of course, if you want to maximize the tool, it’ll only cost $14.99 for a business account.

Google Workspace

Google offers plenty of tools designed to help your team communicate better and be more productive. Google Workspace integrates the tools you already use and makes them available to any team member, anywhere in the world. You’ll find plenty of apps that help your team brainstorm supported here, too, including Mind Maps, and others.

However, don’t neglect the value, utility, and sheer accessibility of Google Docs. Just create a new doc, share it with your team members, and authorize them to edit and you’ve got a free, no-frills collaboration and brainstorming tool that integrates with third-party apps and more.

And here’s something you’re sure to love: Google Docs is free. Of course, you can upgrade to the paid business version if you want, but even that only costs $6 per month (although you can upgrade to higher tiers for additional features).

Stormboard

Stormboard is one of the most robust tools for team brainstorming that constantly surprises first-time users. It’s gone beyond index cards and sticky notes to a whole new level of features and tools. You will be able to put notes anywhere on the screen and connect them at your leisure, which means brainstorming can happen organically and doesn’t have to be forced. It’s also uniquely designed for remote collaboration and sharing, and it’s doing great at delivering there, too.

You’ll be able to record and share comments, create tasks, vote on ideas, and ask for and give feedback. It makes it easy to manage all kinds of ideas and brainstorming sessions and keep them all organized in the same place. Plus, it’s easy to integrate with other tools that you use and there’s a free plan available, too.

With the free plan, you’ll get a personal account with five boards. When you upgrade to the Business Plan, you’ll get advanced tools and features for just $8.33 per month.

LucidChart

For teams that want a more linear approach, LucidChart has several different tools that provide great brainstorming support. There is even an integrated Google image search and a chat feature to allow teams to collaborate in real-time. It's a popular tool that takes flowcharts to the next level for teams that need to keep things a little more streamlined. This tool is designed to improve communication and speed up brainstorming sessions.

LucidChart makes it easy to create shared visions and keep everyone on the same page (quite literally). You can map data flows, create process maps, plan and organize ideas, scale infrastructure, and so much more. No matter what you need, this visualization tool will help you get it done.

While there is a free account with basic access, you’ll probably prefer the Team Accounts option at $9 per month. There’s also an Enterprise account available with custom pricing.

Scapple

Scapple has redefined the brainstorming game, giving remote teams a tool that allows more freedom and creativity in the process. Instead of starting from the middle, or a “main idea”, you can start from any point that you want and go from there. That will allow you to sketch out everything from whatever idea comes your way. You can start upside down, from the left, or even from an idea of feedback on the finished product and work from there.

It's great for unique team collaboration and has a simple user interface. Plus, it makes it flexible to create mind maps and brainstorms that everyone can follow. You can share and collaborate with ease and the 30-day trial is for 30 days of use, not just 30 consecutive days.

You can use it free if you don’t use it often, but the $20.99 fee isn’t much for a great tool that your whole team can use.

Miro

Miro is an online brainstorming tool that delivers plenty of capabilities. It’s designed as a whiteboard, allowing your team to easily share ideas, move notes around, and generate discussions. It also comes with quite a few nice-to-have features that will make a big difference in your team’s ability to brainstorm effectively.

Some of the features your people will love about Miro include the built-in templates as well as zoom and scroll capabilities. You can add shapes, place sticky notes on the board, and more. It is all about keeping your people on the same page even if they cannot be in the same room.

Best of all? There’s a free version of Miro that supports unlimited team members. You can also bump up to the Starter tier for $8 per member per month to get access to features not available with the free version.

Streamline your idea collaborations while Smith.ai streamlines your day-to-day workflows

As you can see, there’s a lot to love about modern brainstorming and mind-mapping apps. For remote teams, half the battle in figuring out how to brainstorm is finding the right tools for the job. And once those ideas are implemented and business is booming, you’ll need a trusted partner to help ensure cohesive communications capabilities. That’s where the team at Smith.ai comes in.

Our 24/7 answering service is an ideal solution for growing businesses. Our team of dedicated virtual receptionists can handle your communications day or night, ensuring you never miss a call and your customers never have to deal with long hold times. Of course, we can do a lot more than answer calls and take messages. We can help you qualify leads, follow up through SMS and email, book appointments, and even collect payments if necessary.

Schedule your consultation now to find out how our virtual receptionists can help you streamline your workflows and free up your time. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 709-2710.


Tags:
Apps and Software
Written by Sean Lund-Brown
Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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