🎉We are really happy to host this interesting guest post about the best team communication apps to use in 2020, written by Olga Mykhoparkina Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty.
There are various conditions to make work work in 2019. Besides having a comfy office (or work table in your home), we have a range of needs to be able to perform at our best. One of them is communication. Since we tend to work away from our offices much more than before, email became our go-to tool for getting work done. Then we realized that email is clunky, slow and impractical and in came team chat apps.
From novelty to necessity, team chat apps have gone a long way in the past decade. Nowadays, they’re an essential part of work, no matter the industry, location or position. Here’s what makes for a great team communication app, as well as some of my top picks to get you started in your search for the ideal way to communicate at work.
What makes a team communication app great?
Ever since Slack made it big, there have been tons of clones out there attempting to do the same or add their own twist to it to become the next king of the communication app throne. However, there’s a reason why Slack has succeeded and why many of its competitors failed. When compiling this list, I took several factors into consideration.
It has to be easy to use. Amazing features mean nothing if using the app feels like doing calculus. The ideal communication app should be just as easy to use for a CTO and a virtual assistant. It needs an excellent user experience and interface.
It needs to include different modes of communication. Using just text to communicate is old school. Today’s users require the options of audio and video calling, screen sharing, the ability to work on files together and much more. In other words, it needs to encompass many forms of communication and collaboration.
It has support for multiple devices. Many of us work from our laptops, tablets, phones and a variety of different devices. The ideal team communication app needs to seamlessly function across different devices.
There is an abundance of integrations. Once again, just communicating doesn’t cut it anymore. The best communication apps integrate with other apps to help you work more efficiently and quickly. Whether it’s through Zapier or natively, integrations are one of the main selling points of a modern communication app.
With this in mind, it’s important to note that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one communication tool from this list.
Slack (Android, iOS, web)
Let’s not go any further without mentioning the elephant in the room. One of the most successful SaaS companies of today, Slack has over 10 million daily active users, 85,000 of which are paying. Launched in 2013, it is the go-to communication app for many companies around the world, from startups to Fortune 500 corporations.
There are many reasons for Slack’s success, but primarily it has to be the ease of use. No matter how technically literate your team is, they can get started within minutes. And given how widespread Slack is, many employees will come to you with previous knowledge of the app.
As mentioned before, it’s much more than just communication. Slack has become popular because of its wide range of integrations with just about every popular app out there. This allows you incredibly powerful automation which you can set up within minutes. For example, every time a new subscriber joins your mailing list, you’ll get a Slack message to a specific channel.
Moreover, Slack has a variety of different “bots”, native apps that help you get more out of Slack. From reminders to productivity apps, to those apps that just ask you how your day is going, there are plenty of ways to customize Slack to your own liking and according to your workspace.
Pricing: Starts at $6.67 per user per month
Chanty (Android, iOS, web)
Remember how Slack has over 10 million users and only 85k of them who are paying? The big problem with this fact is that the minority that is paying has to cover the hosting and related expenses for the free users. As a result, Slack can be quite slow and that’s one of the main issues that Chanty is trying to solve.
Moreover, Slack has 10 million users that they need to make happy, which means lots of feature bloat. Chanty is aimed specifically at small and medium-sized businesses and it is extremely easy to use, regardless of your background.
Describing itself as a tool for communication and collaboration, Chanty aims to take some of Slack’s market by offering an app that is faster and easier to use. Stacking the two against each other, one major upside to Chanty is the message history which is unlimited, even in the free plan. The majority of Slack’s users (free plan) only have access to 10,000 messages, so this is a big selling point.
Moreover, Chanty’s search feature is very intuitive and great to use, which does come in handy when you have 50k messages stored. The conversations aren’t listed alphabetically like in Slack. Instead, they are sorted by the most recent date, which is much more convenient for everyday use. All the other information (conversations, contacts, tasks) is stored in the Teambook, which you can access with one click.
Chanty comes with audio and video calls, as well as screen sharing. While these may not be as polished as Slack’s, the good news is that they work and they come in the free version of the app. When it comes to integrations, there’s only a handful at the moment, so Slack is the clear winner here, but new ones seem to be added regularly. Overall, it’s a great performer that has the potential to take a large slice of Slack’s user base.
Pricing: $3 per user per month
Microsoft Teams (Android, iOS, web)
If there’s a company out there with enough bandwidth to take on Slack, it has to be Microsoft. However, Microsoft Teams in itself is not a dedicated app – it’s an extension of Microsoft 365.
This is both good and bad news. If you’re already using MS 365, you already have access to Teams. If not, you have to purchase a plan for MS 365. Even though it’s not expensive, it does force you into buying a product you may not need.
Since it’s owned by Microsoft, Teams is more geared towards enterprise users. This means the possibility for multiple internal teams, great threading features and much more. Once again, if you use MS 365, you’ll be happy to find out that it integrates flawlessly with all of its individual apps.
You can see much of this enterprise logic in the way that communication is set up in the app. You can create teams within your organization that can communicate independently using thread-based communication. In essence, you can create teams within larger teams to keep your communication more streamlined. That way, you can have independent channels for your marketing team, development team, the managers, etc.
Overall, Teams is an excellent solution if you already use Microsoft 365 and you need a way to communicate with your team. Otherwise, you’re much better off getting a standalone app from this list.
Pricing: $6 per user per month
Glip (Android, iOS, desktop)
Launched in 2013 by RingCentral, Glip is one of the oldest apps in the game. Whereas Slack is like building your own Subway sandwich with bots and integrations, Glip wants to offer you a full course meal of their choice. The app features chat, audio and video calls, team calendars and task management. In other words, it’s a full collaboration hub that gives you access to all tools you need in one place.
While there is an upside to this, the app suffers from the classic symptom of Jack of all trades. It does everything fairly well, but it doesn’t excel in any individual feature. The messaging is fairly simple to use and has a great interface. The project management part of the app is straightforward while integrating another PM tool can be quite a drag because of the lengthy setup process.
One major downside to Glip is that it forces you to download its proprietary app called RingCentral Meetings, if you want to use video meetings in Glip. Moreover, Glip doesn’t integrate with third-party video meeting software like Slack does.
Overall, it’s an excellent app if you’re trying to save some cash by getting a team chat app and project management tool at once. However, if you rely heavily on video calls and you need robust project management features, you might want to go with some other option from this list.
Pricing: $5 per user per month
Fleep (Android, iOS, web, Linux)
If you’ve ever felt like Slack is the ideal tool for you but you need a little bit more liberty, we have some great news. Fleep is a team communication tool that lets you chat with any other Fleep user out there. Similar in nature to Skype, all it requires from you is an account and you can connect to anyone else who has this app and an active account. No more switching workspaces, just a single dashboard.
It also adds another interesting feature – task management. You can assign and track tasks in Fleep, which is a neat thing to have but nowhere near the level of a dedicated project management tool. There are audio and video calls, both of which are pretty easy to use.
The main downside to Fleep is the freedom you get. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to connect with people outside of your workspace. At the same time, to be an admin of your own space, you are forced to buy their business plan. You really have to figure out whether this is something worth buying a plan for. Otherwise, you get much more from competitors’ free versions.
Pricing: 5EUR per user per month
Jostle (Android, iOS, desktop)
While other apps on this list talk about themselves as “team chat apps” or “team collaboration apps”, Jostle uses a more rigid term – cloud-based intranet software. Don’t be fooled by the nomenclature – Jostle has a lot to offer. Founded in 2008, Jostle aims to kill many birds with one stone, offering communication, company culture building, internal bulletin board and much more.
Besides having the standard chat features, Jostle has a variety of ways to keep your team informed. You can create bulletin boards to notify your employees about important information in the company, as well as give shoutouts for a job well done. You can create news articles, calendar entries, announcements for important dates and much more. Simply put, it’s like Slack with several bots installed.
If you’re looking for a single tool to streamline your team communication and inform your team about workplace updates, Jostle is just the tool for you. However, the market for all of these features in one tool isn’t as broad as it is for a tool that does just communication. Given the price, Jostle is a good solution if you need a comprehensive intranet app. You can give it a spin for 14 days in the free trial before committing to a paid plan.
Pricing: depends on the number of users; starts at $7 per user per month
Flock (Android, iOS, web)
Launched just one year after Slack, this app has a long history of competing with Slack. The way they attract new users is twofold: ease of use and cost. Indeed, when you first set up Flock, you’ll see a user interface with five columns instead of three in Slack. For some people, this may make the screen look too busy. Others (myself included) quite like the change of interface.
The app is also pretty quick in all situations, from search to loading times. The design and user interface are excellent and make for a pleasant experience, regardless of the device. For some more good news, you also get unlimited message history in the free plan, as well as an unlimited number of integrations, completely free.
One of the main selling points of Flock is that it’s more affordable at $4.50 per user per month. However, you need a significant number of users for this amount to make a major effect on your budget. Since the major differences from Slack include different user experience and unlimited message history, you’ll have a hard time making your boss switch from Slack to Flock. On its own, it’s an excellent, versatile tool.
Pricing: $4.50 per user per month
There seem to be as many communication tools as there are ways to communicate. Even though there is one top choice for workplace communication and collaboration, there are also hundreds of alternatives nowadays that do the same job differently, if not better. Whether you’re looking to use Slack for the first time or you want a worthy alternative, these apps are worth your time and money.