In today’s teams of remote employees and local workers, communicating over email isn’t enough. We’ve shown you the best video conferencing, cloud sharing, screen sharing, and online whiteboard software, but what about tools for simple collaboration? While communication software won’t entirely replace email, they’ll add another dimension that makes collaboration more simple and effective.
Useful for teams who share an office as well as for those that are spread out over the globe, communication software makes it easy to message co-workers, organize groups focused on a specific topic, comment on files, and more.
We’ll take a look at the most useful communication software to help you decide which works best for you.
Slack is one of the most known communication software options because of its versatile notification options, helpful Slack bot, and relaxed yet business-like atmosphere. It’s loved by developed corporations and startups alike but can take some time to get used to.
In Slack, teams set up specific channels for different conversations. When you’re just starting out, it can feel overwhelming or like you might miss something important because the discussions can go on without everyone being present.
This is where the need for notifications are essential, and with Slack, they’re very customizable both on your computer and their mobile applications. The mobile apps work both with Android and iOS, so you don’t ever need to worry about being disconnected, even when you’re away from your computer.
In addition to organized chats, Slack supports video chats and audio calls. Slack’s free option is open to an unlimited amount of people for messaging, but the audio and video meetings can only be one-on-one. The unpaid version also offers just 5GB of file storage for the entire team, along with the ability to search the last 10,000 messages.
Another limitation of Slack Free is that these accounts can integrate with a maximum of 10 other apps. Most small businesses will opt for the Standard account, which gives 10GB per person of storage, audio and video calls for up to 15 people, unlimited searches, screen sharing, two-factor authentication, and more. For more options, check out their pricing page.
Slack is great because you can organize virtual teams while keeping the atmosphere friendly. Notifications can be customized to alert you to specific words or phrases, particular channels, direct messages, or just be silenced. This means that even if your team is located throughout different time zones, they can all stay active in the conversations that are relevant to them.
On the surface level, Glip looks very similar to Slack. It bills itself as a complete communication suite where you can mix and match group chat with private messages with video calls, as needed. At the same time, it has a robust set of added features with the purpose of making communication go smoothly and productively.
The pleasant surprise is that both in its web and app incarnations, Glip results in a cleaner, less clunky experience that Slack. This leanness is especially noticeable when it comes to video chat, which in our experience has a lot of hiccups in Slack, and has led us to adopt Zoom as our go-to video tool.
Glip’s added functions, such as calendar sync, file access and commenting, and task lists, are there to facilitate communication, not to replace the rest of your virtual office toolbox. So when you’re planning a meeting, you can have a good idea of the team’s availability, and easily access any documents across a variety of platforms – Glip integrates effortlessly with mostly anything.
If you feel that Slack is bloated and overly confusing, but still like the focus on messaging, Glip is a reliable alternative.
Bitrix24 frames itself as a social network for businesses. It points out that the reason social media is so popular is because of its ease of communication, so they transformed this idea to work with instant messaging, task management, file sharing, and more.
Users are greeted with an Activity Stream similar to Facebook where you can schedule events, talk to colleagues, or attach files, with personalized notifications and updates catered to each user’s preference.
Like most good communication software, Bitrix24 gives you mobile apps for the Android and iOS platforms. It functions well as a mobile app because of how it’s framed after social media, meaning that you won’t have any trouble learning how to use the app on your phone or tablet.
This software considers itself a collaboration suite with a comprehensive free plan. Without having to pay anything, you can have up to 12 users and 5GB of storage. Some of the features of this plan include:
- Enterprise social network
- Instant messaging and group chat
- Video chat and screen sharing
- Numerous task and project management tools
- Online drive, document editing, and file sharing
- Unlimited search history
This free option offers more than Slack’s, and the plans are still cost efficient even if you need more users. Shared calendars, the ability to be notified when edits are being made, file storage and management, and the social media aspect of this app truly set it apart from the others.
Azendoo has a beautiful UI, integration with all major apps, over 80 external services via Zapier, and offers numerous features. Its tools are intuitive and reliable, which means companies such as Netflix, Evernote, Box, and MasterCard use it.
However, it’s also one of the pricier options, starting at $7.50/user/month. With this price, you’ll get their chat application, made to avoid the clutter that some users can feel with Slack. With Azendoo, discussions center around a particular topic where users can post documents, images, or, of course, text. Then, people comment on the subject.
These subjects can host multiple discussions with comments, so the software is arguably much more organized and clean. They also put a lot of attention in their task manager, explaining that talking about the details of a project rather than who has accomplished what is much more time-efficient.
This also functions on their iOS and Android mobile apps, where you can organize tasks, send direct messages, view the activity feed, and more. It’s simple to use and synchronizes any updates among all platforms.
Azendoo also comes with dashboards that help you keep track of everything that’s been completed, shared calendars, document sharing, 400+ app integrations, and 5GB storage per member. While it is on the higher end of the price range out of those included, the features make this app worth the money.
Skype is famous as a communication software, and with its recently released Skype for Business, it has even more to offer regarding collaboration. Of course, everyone knows you can audio or video chat with Skype, but it’s also possible to share your screen and use the messenger app to send and receive files or text.
One of the convenient things about Skype, if you need to communicate with someone outside of your company, is that almost everyone has it. However, it doesn’t integrate with other apps, you can’t create teams in the same way as the other services, and it’s certainly not as secure (although Skype for Business is encrypted).
Skype itself is free for up to 25 people, while Skype for Business comes with Microsoft 365, starting at $5/user/month for up to 250 people and includes other tools, namely Yammer. Skype is an excellent tool if you often need to have extensive online meetings with people from both inside and outside of your company, but its chat features leave something to be desired.
This is where Yammer comes into play: a team communications solution that integrates many great features with your Microsoft 365 account. When you first log in to Yammer, you can see any important announcements. Then, just go to your projects to chat with anyone else that’s involved.
You can share numerous different files throughout the app or your projects and add documents, photos, or videos to conversations. They have a powerful search if you get lost, and if your team has Office 365, they’ve also got excellent document editing and sharing features integrated.
If you want to use both Yammer and Skype, you’ll have to download two different mobile platforms. Both of these applications are built for iOS, Android, and Windows, which gives them a significant advantage to Windows mobile users (even though there aren’t many). With document markup, access to your inbox, and more, these apps will help you stay in touch no matter where you are.
And the winner is… Bitrix24
Slack is very popular, well-priced, and convenient, but the conversation can sometimes feel overwhelming, even with the customizable notifications.
Glip is a good alternative if you have specific annoyances with Slack, yet is not different enough to truly be worth the hassle of switching if you have no real complaints.
Azendoo is also a great option, featuring high reliability and numerous different integrations, but the price is higher than other equally-good alternatives.
Microsoft realized its shortcomings in Skype and created Yammer to compliment it, but the lack of defining characteristics make this an option that only makes the most sense if your remote team already has an Office 365 account.
Bitrix24, on the other hand, has a very comprehensive free option coupled with well-priced plans if you need more, is very intuitive to use because of its branding as a social network for business, and brings extra features to the table, such as a shared calendar and task manager.
Although, communication software is pointless if you don’t have the talented employees to help develop your project or company. Let us take care of finding the best remote coders around the world for you.