Building a productive team is a process that stands on the pillar of successful communication.
Everything starts with people and corporate cultures that encourage transparency, honest feedback, and open dialogue will always be ahead of those who are not moving in this direction.
No platform or software can replace personal communication and trustworthy relationships for better or worse, but useful team communication tools strive to achieve that.
Tracking tasks and deadlines
On the other hand, the right tools can link people and processes to ensure that all the nuances are covered. Before moving to strictly communication tools, it’s critical to set up the workflows and processes.
When you open any course on project management, for sure, there will be a separate lecture dedicated to collaboration and project management software, as without it, proper communication is not possible. It helps to bring project documentation, track the tasks and deadlines, and see the team dependencies in one place.
While covering the same basic functionality, the additional features differ a lot, starting from laconic Microsoft Project and Jira to multifunctional Trello, so you need to try several options before making the final decision.
Another core process that needs to be covered is your talent acquisition management.
If you are looking for the right tool, look at Recruitee to help you save time selecting candidates, scheduling interviews, and extending the talent pool with some promising candidates you may need to fill future vacancies.
When recruitment and project management are covered, your team will need to have an effective channel of communication for everyday work, and that’s what we will be focusing on in this article.
So here are the five most popular tools to handle team communication that can be used together or standalone options to cover the needs of your team:
Slack is on top of the most popular team messengers. It allows you to organize work bringing all the extra tools in one place, so you don't need to monitor other software distracting from your work because if an update happens, Slack will notify you about it. The simple and intuitive interface is easy to manage, even for a complete beginner. There are personal and group channels. The latter may be private, public, or multi-workspace.
Image source: tidbits.com
Pros: There is availability of free plans, third-party app support to keep everything in one place like G-suite, Zapier, and thousand of other integrations, availability to create threads when replying to messages to bring more clarity into the team communication.
Cons: No possibility to check whether a recipient read your message, no option to turn a private channel into a public one, video screen sharing option is raw, no native voice message support, and many essential options like remote control may be difficult to handle.
If Slack is the most popular software for messaging, the same can be said about Zoom when it comes to video and video calls. It supports both 1:1, group calls, and mass video conferencing, using all the virtual call essentials like screen sharing, and hiding your background with some funny images. No surprise that the daily visits exceed 300 million users.
Image source: support.zoom.us
Pros: Virtual brainstorming through an inbuilt whiteboard, conducting polls, call recording, message sharings, availability to host webinars, possibility to hold big conferences (up to 100 participants in free plans and up to 500 participants in the Enterprise plan).
Cons: Cost (additional features can be provided only with paid plans), recent security issues with hijacking zoom conversations, default low video quality, may be difficult for non-tech savvy people to use the advanced options.
Originally, Discord's main target audience was the gamers community that offered an easy way of voice communication not tied to any gaming platform. There's no need to call as you join the channel — just turn on sound and mic, and you can speak and share the screen right away.
This functionality is used by IT companies, education, and local communities as it makes Discord a great team communication tool. It's especially useful for teams requiring a multi-voice channel, as software developers or marketing teams. Also, it can be a great option for virtual team building and coffee breaks.
Image source: discord.com
Pros: It can handle several voice channels within one organization simultaneously, can act both as messenger and audio chat, supports up to 25 users that can view a stream at a time. During the pandemic, Discord increased this limit to 50.
Cons: It will not be suitable for bigger conferences. The search option may not always be convenient to navigate, cannot be hosted on your private server.
GoToMeeting is a video conferencing tool from GoTo company specializing in meeting software, and apart from GoToMeeting, it offers other specific products designed explicitly for webinars and training. GoToMeeting's great features include fully online availability, meaning that you don't need to download any applications to join the meeting.
Image source: free.gotomeeting.com
Pros: Supports cloud recording and video transcribing, allows multiple meeting organizers to manage a meeting.
Cons: Sounds and video quality is not the best on the market. Sometimes there may be connection delays.
5. Rocket Chat
Often introduced as a Slack alternative, Rocket Chat is a great collaborative open-sourced application that can be hosted locally or purchased as a SaaS.
It offers the core messenger functionality as private messages, channels, and calls. It also allows customizing application skin to match your company branding and flexibility for admin users as they can decide what options will be available for all other users.
Image source: Rocket Chat Youtube
Pros: Possibility to set user permissions and integrate the accesses into active directory, message templates in chat,
Cons: Synchronizing mobile applications with the desktop for unread messages may not always work, a limited amount of integrations, absence of alerts for calls.
As you might have guessed, it's impossible to name the best software for communication as all of them have their pros and cons. And it's completely ok that a video conference software may not have rich text editing features due to the different main focus and vice versa. So here's what you can do to choose the best option for your team:
- Answer the question: what are your main goals of adopting a new tool?
- Decide what features inside the tool you will need daily (i.e., message exchange, sharing docs, 1:1 calls only, group calls, etc.).
- Define your team size (it may happen that small startups may not take advantage of tools designed for big teams)
- Conduct market research and, based on your needs, choose several alternatives for a closer look.
- Request a live demo or trial version for the paid applications to get acquainted with all the functions.
- Organize user acceptance testing and ask your employees to provide feedback for all the options. It may appear that the existing functionality is not working as expected, or what is convenient for only one person does not suit the team at all.
- Calculate the risks: what if your team increases in size, are there suitable upgrade options? Do you have future integrations in mind? Research whether a tool will support them as well. Finally, it can happen that eventually, you may need to move to another application. Is there an easy way to organize fast data migration, or all the previous history is lost?
- Make the data-informed decision based on a thorough analysis of all the above factors.
The process of choosing the perfect team communication tools following these steps may take a while. Still, you will receive a powerful tool to boost communication in the team and achieve higher engagement rates.