5 Best Team Communication Apps To Stay Connected
If you say you have a team, but you don’t communicate well, is it really a team?
Few things drive your team’s success or failure than how well you communicate. If you have multiple employees, multiple locations, multiple shifts—it’s difficult. Get it wrong, and somebody, somewhere, at some point, is going to miss out on important information.
Fortunately, there are LOTS of great communication apps out there.
Unfortunately, there are LOTS of great communication apps out there.
How do you even know which app to choose? Which broad-featured app will work for your specific situation? As a manager, you have very unique communication needs, and any app you use has to meet every single one without being confusing.
To help you find the signal in all of the communication app noise, we’re going to show you some of the best team communication apps available, and give you the information you need to know so you can decide which one is team communication app is best for you.
1. When I Work
At first glance, When I Work is an employee scheduling app. So why is it in a list of team communication apps?
Well, what does your team talk about the most?
Time-off requests. Questions about hours. Shift changes. Swapping shifts. Overtime.
Your team talks a lot about their work schedule, because that’s what impacts their life the most. So, it makes sense to pair scheduling with communication.
When I Work is ideal for small to enterprise businesses, with features and options that can be added to fit what you need, no matter how large your team and no matter how many locations.
Price: Start with a free trial, and then choose from three different plans ranging from $4/user to $8/user.
Features: Again, When I Work is a scheduling app so it comes with features that are geared towards making employee scheduling easy and automated. Everything from scheduling templates, flexible self scheduling, on-demand pay, and time clocks are part of it. From a team messaging perspective, there’s easy messaging between employees and managers. Managers can also communicate with the entire team with a single message, or create group chats so people aren’t looped in on conversations they don’t need to be a part of. Instant notifications make sure everyone on your team sees communication in a timely manner.
Pros & Cons:
- Pros: Work communication should happen within the realm of work, and that includes in the app they use. Using text or gmail, where communication is alongside personal messaging, leads to confusion or missed messages. Because When I Work is a mobile platform, your team can communicate any time and any place, directly with each other or with you, about work-related concerns. There’s also the privacy aspect, a huge concern today. When I Work hides employee phone numbers, keeping messaging about work within the work app.
- Cons: If you are only looking for a basic communications app, this may have more features than you need.
We might be a little biased, but we really do think our team communication app is the best. We’re the only app that weaves team communication with resulting team action. Scheduling, breaks, time off, swapping shifts, concerns, company-wide announcements, location- or group-based communication—they’re all connected to what the app is built to handle, so why not put the communication about those things in the place they’ll be dealt with?
Consider starting a free 14-day trial today and see for yourself.
2. Google Meet
Google has been working on perfecting communication apps for consumers and businesses for decades. That means they’ve created great solutions, but it also means there’s been a lot of confusion. From Google Talk to Google Buzz to Google+ to Google Chat to Google Hangouts to Google Duo to Google Messages to Google Spaces to Google Voice to…Google Meet.
Google knows people need to communicate, but they’re still trying to hammer out how that should look for each setting. Google is integrating their Gmail, Chat, Meet, and Spaces together into Google Workspace for an all-encompassing comms and productivity package, which may make this ideal for any size company, especially those using Google tools already. Google Meet is their frontrunner for team video comms, especially in light of the popularity of Zoom meetings during the pandemic.
Price: Free, with limitations. Premium versions, of which there are eight different levels, are part of Google Workspace and have more features. There is also an education version.
Features: Google Meet is primarily a business video calling service. It comes with some baked-in language translation, collaboration features, and the capability of handling large groups. Depending on what you are paying, you can livestream, record calls, have “breakout rooms” to divide your full group into smaller groups, and have multiple meeting hosts.
Pros & Cons:
- Pros: Because it’s a Google App, it works well with other Google products. If you’re already using Google Workspace and need to hold virtual meetings, it’s an ideal tool. It also integrates with other popular tools, like Outlook.
- Cons: Meet is the video portion of a larger suite of tools. Confusion with all of the messaging apps could be a con. Employees who have Android mobile devices, and use other Google apps, could be especially susceptible to app confusion because Google continues to merge their apps into an all-encompassing communications platform. Communication from work may mix with communication from friends and family.
If you’re looking for team chat software, pure and simple, Slack is often the go-to choice.
Its interface is easy to use, and it takes a familiar approach to instant message and chat. It comes in a mobile version, a desktop app, and a browser-based option. It works well for medium to enterprise businesses. It’s often used by employees who work at computers but could be used in any setting due to its mobile capabilities. Slack has options for businesses from small to enterprise.
Price: Free, with limited numbers of users. Starting at about $7/ month for pro, all the way up to enterprise pricing upon request.
Features: Slack offers great controls for managers, and the ability to set up channels with specific team members. Sharing files, audio, video, and links is possible, as well as message archiving, and both video and audio calls for groups. Slack also integrates with a lot of other popular apps (e.g. Trello) that businesses use for project management or productivity.
Pros & Cons:
- Pros: As chat messaging services go, Slack is powerful. It was built to be the best chat messaging around, and all improvements have been communication-centric.
- Cons: Employees will need a work email address in some cases. Managing who has access to the system, particularly if you have turnover, is manual since it isn’t built into your employee records and scheduling system. Depending on the number of people in a channel, messaging can be chaotic and it’s possible to miss a message directed at you if an @ sign isn’t used or if you’ve been away from the system for a while. Threads can be easy to miss in a busy chat system.
4. Microsoft Teams
With the new Windows 11 upgrade, in which Microsoft Chat is locked to the taskbar, Microsoft is making it clear they are building their own team communication suite, much like Google.
This suite is a continued mix of chat, team video calls, calendar, and email; your experience depends on whether you’re using business-centric apps/software, or those geared for personal accounts. Microsoft Teams can be used in any size business.
Price: Free, if you have a Microsoft subscription plan. Otherwise there’s a free trial, and then it starts at $5/user each month.
Features: Teams makes it possible to hold online meetings with both individuals and as a team through video conferencing. Chat and collaboration is also built in, including through sharing your screen with others in the meeting. The Teams app can be used both on a computer as well as mobile device.
Pros & Cons:
- Pros: The video quality is high, and because so many businesses rely on Microsoft everything, Teams is highly popular. While similar to Google’s merging of comms and productivity apps, Microsoft has always had a strong desktop component. While there are mobile versions of Teams, it is also baked into Windows desktop making it easy for teams to communicate in the office or on the road.
- Cons: Again, as with Google, there have been many permutations of the communication and productivity apps Microsoft has put out, and reworking and blending them together may cause some confusion for employees who have personal Microsoft accounts, those who use Apple computers or devices, and others who rely on Google apps. To use Teams, employees will need a Microsoft account; depending on how it’s set up, they may end up with two (one for work, one for personal).
From Meta (formerly Facebook), Workplace fills the team communication market by seemingly blending Slack and Facebook.
With impressive integrations, including Google Drive and Office 365, it’s easy to share documents and files with your team. It also has administrative controls (as do most chat apps) that allow you to control who has access to what, and make sure that no abusive communication is happening.
Workplace places diversity and inclusion front and center, and is built to help managers maintain that ideal. Team members can report posts they don’t like, and create profiles with the information they want others to know. It also has built-in features, like polls and surveys, to help you keep a finger on the pulse of your workplace culture.
Price: Free with limited features, or $3/user per month for more features
Features: Depending on which version you use, teams can stream live video, and share unlimited files, photos, and videos. There are collaboration features that are secure. APIs allow for custom integrations that your company may need. Workplace touts itself as ideal for workplaces of any type, whether in person, hybrid, or remote.
Pros & Cons:
- Pros: Because it looks and feels like Facebook, most of your employees won’t have any difficulty using it. The interface and way it works will be familiar to those who use Facebook and Messenger. It was built with mobile in mind, so while you can use a desktop version, it’s optimized for a mobile workforce.
- Cons: You’ll notice there are only two options: free or paid. There are no additional enterprise options, so for very large businesses, you may struggle to adapt this communications tool for the size of your team.
Which app should you choose?
These are only a few of the many communication options out there. Some are so similar that choosing between them seems impossible.
So let’s boil it down to a few questions to ask yourself as you make this decision:
- What team members should I involve in helping me decide on the right communication app?
- What budget do I have to work with? How will I convince others that the app is necessary and worth the expense?
- How do I get buy in for this app, both from employees and from those higher up?
- Would we have to change how we work, or adjust any systems, to make the app work?
- What communication problems are we struggling with, and what does this app offer that would solve the problem?
- What employee demographics am I working with? Will everyone be able to adapt to the platform?
- What employee frustrations can I solve with the app? Would it make their life easier?
These are the questions that will differentiate between two apparently similar apps. Because all of these tools are good apps; you just need to find the one that’s right for you.