If your entire company is now working from home, you’re going to need a good team communication app. You’ll likely want something that allows you to share messages, create channels, and integrates with other apps. These are our top recommendations.
Slack is the 800-pound gorilla in the chat room. It’s the app that started it all, back in 2013. The pitch was simple: Use Slack instead of email to communicate with your team.
Slack ditched email in favor of constant, real-time connection with the entire team. It’s easy and fun to use, which is why it became so popular. Slack has dedicated channels in which you can discuss specific projects, send direct messages, or chat as a group.
The addition of emojis made it even more fun, but when Slack introduced integrations and a dedicated Slack bot, the world opened up. You could use integrations to convert Slack into a home base for all your team operations, including GitHub commits, Trello cards, Google Sheet approvals, and so on.
Much of that is still valid. If you want a simple and free (with limitations) team communication app you can start using in minutes, you should go for Slack.
It’s not without its problems, though. First, it’s pricey. The free plan only allows you to view the most recent 10,000 messages. The Standard plan, which includes an unlimited message archive, unlimited apps, group calls, and other special organization features, costs $6.67 per month, per person when billed annually.
Secondly, Slack fatigue is starting to set in. Its chat-based philosophy is informal and might not be the best fit for all organizations. Slack notifications can also get a bit tedious.
If any of these points disqualifies Slack for your company, take a look at the other team communication apps we’ve highlighted below. Some attempt to improve upon Slack’s issues, and a few even go way beyond.
Rather than focusing on chat rooms, Twist takes a different approach. You can still have channels for various projects, but you first create a thread instead of sending a message on the channel.
Similar to an email, the app asks you to first create a subject, and then body text. From there, your team members can reply to the thread. Instead of receiving notifications about every message, you can just take a look at any unread threads to see what’s relevant to you, and then reply accordingly. It’s also very easy to turn off notifications when you’re not working.
Twist also has direct messaging, integrations, and file storage. On the free plan, you get access to one month of messages, five integrations, and 5 GB of storage. To remove all restrictions, it costs $5 per month, per person.
Teams is Microsoft’s Slack competitor, created explicitly for existing Office customers. If you already pay for an Office 365 Business ($5 per month) or Enterprise subscription, Teams is included with both of those.
You can add up to 300 members to a team, but everyone must have a Microsoft account to sign up.
Teams offers the familiar Slack interface with a Microsoft spin. The sidebars with workspaces, channels, and main chat interfaces in both apps are similar. However, in typical Microsoft fashion, Teams is more than just a communication app. For example, Skype for Business is integrated directly into the Teams app, and serves as an excellent Zoom alternative.
You can also create Office documents in Teams, manage files, create and record video meetings, take notes, and more, all from the same chat interface. With all of these options, however, the user interface can sometimes feel a bit clunky and challenging to navigate.
Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s smooth sailing. If your business already pays for an Office 365 account for every staff member, it just makes sense to use Microsoft Teams. It will easily allow you to merge everything and access SharePoint integration for even more business features.
The free account option does give Teams an edge over Slack since it supports unlimited chat messages and search. However, if you’re not already using a Microsoft service, you should probably consider one of the other options because they’re all easier to use.
If you already pay for Office 365, though, consider Microsoft Teams first. Not only would it be the most cost-effective option, but it will also help you create a better workflow.
Think of Flock as a cheaper version of Slack with a mix of project management features. Flock’s interface, like Slack’s, follows the chat-room model.
It has everything you need to communicate with your team, including private and public channels, direct messages, audio and video calls, and a robust search engine.
Flock also has project management features, like to-do lists, notes, reminders, and an integrated polls feature. You can also incorporate many popular third-party apps in Flock.
Flock’s 10,000-message archive limit on free accounts is similar to Slack’s. The Pro version of Flock, though, costs just $4.50 per month, per person, compared to Slack’s $6.67 per month.
Rocket Chat is a self-hosted, open-source, free team communication app for companies that prefer to do the heavy lifting when it comes to implementing their own solution. If you have the technical know-how, you can install Rocket Chat on a server and run it on your own.
If you don’t want to host Rocket Chat, you can still use the company’s SasS version, which is supported by Rocket Chat’s cloud service.
The free version of Rocket Chat is highly scalable. You can have up to 1,000 people, unlimited message history and integrations, and a custom domain. Additionally, Rocket Chat has apps for all major desktop and mobile platforms.
Plus, even if you use Rocket Chat’s centralized cloud version, you only have to pay $2 per person, per month.
After you choose a team communication app, it’s time to find the best video-conferencing service.