As a manager of a tech startup in North America I’ve enjoyed the benefit of finding the best talent from far and wide. To break it down; I run a team of 18 individuals and more than half are in different time zones. Out of the 6 developers, 2 are in different states in the US, 1 in Africa, 1 in Asia and the remaining 1 is constantly on the move—enjoying the digital nomad life.
I have an administrative assistant and a vibrant team of 6 marketers working from the same city. Basically, we used to work from our office building until the pandemic happened and everybody moved to work from home.
Now, considering the geographical dynamics involved, I can only succeed in synchronizing the team through clear communication while keeping a minimum of organizational culture. It’s been a struggle sending emails back and forth, organizing conference calls only to encounter glitches with different products, and even making direct calls which has proven to be costly.
Working remotely is one of the best things to happen in the job market. On one hand, workers enjoy the convenience of working from anywhere in the world while employers benefit from the wide and rich pool of skilled and experienced workforce across the globe.
So, to try and save myself the hassle of running my team, I went on the best communication tool. I took my time to test different products and even involved my team in the trials. Below is a breakdown of my findings. Hopefully, it helps you identify a product that matches your team communication needs. The tools I reviewed are:
Here’s a full review of the best team communication software in 2023:
Topping my list of the best team collaboration tools for businesses is GoBrunch. The first thing I noticed about the platform is its simple and user-friendly interface. It’s web-based, so I didn’t have to download anything. The sign-up is straightforward and only takes a few minutes.
The setup is even better as it mimics virtual rooms for different meetings, which is very immersive. I enjoy the customization and branding of the rooms to give them a personal touch. This gives me control of the look and feel from the onset, which initially took me some time to decorate the way I wanted.
After creating the room, I got the link and sent it to my team. Everybody joined remotely using different devices. They didn’t have to create additional GoBrunch accounts. We’re a team of 18 individuals, so I opted for the 32 people room capacity. There’re many options for different numbers of people, going as high as 400+ people. We could all do video conferencing and share our screens at the same time.
Now I can reuse rooms and I have 24/7 access which works to my advantage considering the team members are in different time zones. Currently, I’ve held 3 team meetings to discuss different issues, and everyone is happy with the experience.
This was the only platform that my team said “wow”, because it’s very visual (like a virtual office), and each one of them enjoyed hopping to different environments such as the coffee area and the beach terrace.
The best features include simultaneous screen sharing (very useful for certain meetings), having control of every attendee’s camera and microphone, broadcasting to different rooms, and customization. Plus, there’re no time limits, and my team can remain in the rooms as long as they want.
I enjoy the fact that I get instant feedback, members can collaborate on any shared documents, and the session continues even when I go offline.
The video and sound quality are exceptional, thus making it possible to communicate clearly. Not to mention, it takes up very low bandwidth. I plan to create more rooms for teaching and training interns, and hosting client and board meetings.
I must commend GoBrunch’s support team because they were fast and responsive to all my inquiries when I was trying to figure my way around. The only downsides to the platform is the lack of a better notification system, but they said they are already working on it.
- Easy to navigate.
- No time limits for meetings.
- 24/7 access to the rooms.
- Super immersive, you feel that you’re inside a physical office.
- Excellent video and sound quality.
- Multiple screen sharing by members at the same time.
- High level of customization.
- A remarkable support team.
- There’s space for improving the messaging system.
- No integrations available.
- Free Plan: Costs $0.00
- Gourmet: Costs $9.99 per month, billed annually.
- Prime chef: Costs 29.99 monthly, billed annually.
- Enterprise: Custom pricing, so you must contact the team.
Slack offers a wide range of features for team communication and collaboration. I like how it seamlessly brings together remote teams and clients. It’s highly used by both small businesses and large organizations. How and why is it special? Let me give you a breakdown of my discoveries.
First, signing up is easy since you only need a valid email address. I started by using the web browser version before downloading the desktop app for my PC and the mobile app on my phone. I found the browser too slow to use on a daily basis. Next, I sent invites through the platform to team members’ emails. Then, as everyone joined, I managed to create my workspace, followed by different channels for various teams and subject matters. I made some of the channels public and others private.
Direct messaging made it convenient to contact team members directly and I love the ability to drag files, but I wish there was some kind of repository to see the full library. Now, in addition to texting the information in the channels, I can make audio and video calls and share project files and folders, links, and audio and video files. As a result, it’s useful to monitor progress, get feedback, and give directions to the teams. What people love about Slack is the integrated file sharing feature. Just drop your file and and Slack will take care to display the rich rich media, including video, graphics and third-party apps.
Another thing I like about slack is its intuitive and responsive user interface. it doesn’t take much to figure things out and utilize all the features. Not to mention, you can integrate up to 1,500 apps.
- Easy, simple and straight-foward.
- Seamless integration with different apps.
- You can have different workgroups for different teams.
- You can use it conveniently on different devices.
- The browser version is slow and consumes a lot of resources.
- The video and audio calls can be unstable sometimes.
The pricing packages include:
- Freemium: Offers a maximum of 10k message history, 2 members in a video call, 5 GB storage, and 10 integrations.
- Pro plan: Costs $6.67 per user per month when billed annually and $8 per user per month when billed monthly. This package offers a maximum of 10 GB storage per user and 15 members in a video conference call.
- Business Plus: Costs $12.5 per user monthly when billed yearly and $15 per user monthly when billed each month. The package provides a maximum of 20GB storage per user and 15 members in a video conference call.
Asana is a cloud-based service that’s available as a web and mobile app. To get started, I created an account and added my team members. Later, I set up the projects and assigned the team members accordingly.
The tool allows me to set deadlines and leave specific instructions and comments for the members. On the other hand, members can ask questions and give updates on their progress. Overall, it’s a very fluid system.
If you have projects on other platforms, you can easily transfer them to Asana. Also, the tool offers more than 100 free integrations with other productivity apps, time-tracking tools, and communication tools, including google drive.
With the basic version, I can collaborate with a maximum of 15 team members, create infinite projects and tasks, and send unlimited messages without worrying about file storage or activity logs. In addition to collaboration, you can use it for project management.
The help center provides detailed how-to guides and even has a community forum and an academy to provide information and train users. That’s really important, because for you to master it, it requires a learning curve. Also, there’s a chatbot for answering basic questions. Complex issues are usually directed to their customer support promptly.
- Easy to set up.
- Customizable dashboard views.
- Third-party app and software integrations.
- A reliable customer support team.
- Feature-rich basic plan.
- Offers seamless collaboration among different teams.
- The features can be overwhelming and take time to get used to.
- It’s expensive compared to other tools.
- The premium offers everything on the basic plan and more. But it’ll cost you $10.99 per user monthly when billed annually and $13.49 when billed every month.
- The business plan comes with everything on the premium and more. It costs $24.99 per user monthly when charged annually and $30.49 if you pay monthly.
It took me some time to get around to using ClickUp. But, once I did, it was nothing short of a great experience. At first, the platform’s web and mobile aesthetics and user interface got me interested. I took advantage of their tutorials to set things up and learn about the platform’s exciting features. Also, customer service was on hand whenever I ran into any issues. Just as Asana, ClickUp is not only a communication tool, but can be used as a project management tool.
Thanks to its versatility, I was able to customize the web and mobile layouts to fit my preference. Fortunately, my team loved it. The tool offered a seamless communication and collaboration channel. Notifications are sent instantly on ClickUp, and through email, so it’s hard to miss any information and you can sync your tasks with Google Calendar.
Users can leave comments/notes on projects to know where they stopped, @mention another user to talk to, and set priority levels, due dates and tags on projects. They can also alter how they view their dashboard.
I was excited to add external workers for special projects collaborations and not worry about intrusion because I could limit their access. Additionally, integration with other tools is straightforward. Hence, it was a relief to get all my favorite tools onboard. Excel, Gmail, GitHub, One drive, zoom, you name it.
ClickUp is a hoard of many great features, and they keep adding others often. It provides an interesting space for team members to collaborate and communicate effectively.
- Offers many useful team management features.
- Allows task tracking and provides status updates.
- Customizable dashboards.
- Timely notifications and email updates on all tasks.
- Easy integration with other useful apps.
- It can be overwhelming for new users.
- Whiteboards load slowly sometimes.
- Free: Costs $0.00 forever.
- Unlimited: Costs $5.00
- Business: Costs $12.00
- Business Plus: Costs $19.00
- Enterprise: Custom pricing, so you must contact sales.
Microsoft hit the target by making Teams popular at the beginning of the pandemic. I must say they were at the right time and the right place. The old and buggy Skype couldn’t compete with the emerging video conferencing tools, but the robust Teams became the standard for middle and large size organizations.
It’s easy to set up audio, video, or web conference calls to 10 – 10,000 team members. Also, I can join or initiate group chats with all or some of the members. The performance of the audio, video, and even messaging features is commendable.
For collaborations, users share files through Sharepoint, which is pretty decent. The platform supports various file formats, thus making it easy to edit online. I tried its screen-sharing feature for collaboration projects, and I have to say it’s one of the best. Also, I managed to record some sessions and send them to members who missed the meeting.
Team’s cherry cake is the integration with Outlook and Microsoft Office 365, which really makes the difference, but at the same time makes you more dependent on using the Microsoft framework. Talking of missing meetings, members can integrate calendars into their MS Teams and schedule the meetings to ensure they join on time with a single click.
Unfortunately, the desktop version consumes a lot of resources and slows down the system. Also, you can’t delete messages. So, you must always crosscheck your message before pressing send.
While Teams has a superb marketplace of apps, I’ve never seen anybody using it and I can’t point this out as a valuable benefit.
- Integration with Outlook
- Simple interface that’s easy to navigate.
- Secure way of sharing files and documents.
- Supports many file formats.
- Schedule and join meetings on time.
- Takes up a lot of resources, causing the system to slow down.
- You can’t delete messages.
- Free package: Costs $0 forever.
- Microsoft Teams Essentials: Costs $4.00 per user monthly for the annual subscription.
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic: It Costs $6.00 per user monthly for the annual subscription.
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard: It Costs $12.50 per user monthly for the annual subscription.
To wrap up my list to help teams to succeed, let’s explore monday.com. A task management and internal communication platform that’s available as a web service and mobile application. Just like the other products, it’s easy to set up.
My first action was to create boards and label them depending on the project(s) to assign and the status. The tool features a simple user interface, designed in a way that allows me to customize the dashboard to my liking. There are several templates to pick from, and I must say it was a pleasant experience to try them out.
I sent out invites to a team we were working on a project with, but kept communicating back and forth through email. I decided to bring all of them together in a space where we could all track the progress of the project, provide status reports, and interact freely. It was my way of cutting out the back-and-forth emails. Also, integrating 40+ platforms helped to create an all-in-one collaboration and management tool.
Within the short period of using the free trial, I noticed a significant improvement in productivity. It would’ve been great if the trial period was a little longer. Or, better still, if some of the best features were available in the basic plan.
- Offers different project views.
- Customizable templates.
- Supports integration of many apps and software.
- Offers in-app automation.
- Features an intuitive modern user interface.
- Limited mobile app functions
- The many features can be overwhelming for some users.
- Many of the best features are limited to pro users.
- The Free forever package: It costs $0 forever and includes 3 boards, activity logs for a week, and a kanban view.
- The Basic package: It costs $8.00 per seat monthly, totalling $24.00 per month (billed annually). It includes unlimited boards, unlimited free viewers, 5GB storage, and 24/7 support.
- The Standard package: It costs $10.00 per seat monthly, totalling $30.00 per month (billed annually). It includes everything in Basic. Plus map views, activity logs for up to 6 months, automation and integration, calendar, and timeline. The storage gets a boost to 50GB.
- The Pro package: It costs $16.00 per seat monthly, totalling $48.00 per month (billed annually). It includes unlimited storage, time tracking, chart view, formula column, and everything found in the other packages.
The Enterprise package: Offers customized pricing. So, you must contact the vendor.
What to Look For While Testing Popular Team Communication Tools
Selecting the best tool can be challenging and time-consuming (it was for me). There are many different factors to take into account. For instance, team dynamics are different, communication needs are diverse, and projects also vary. However, the following tips really helped me pick the right products for my team.
- Ease of Use
The faster you and your team figure out how to use the communication tool, the better. You need to get going and continue with the projects at hand immediately. Therefore, it’s imperative you look for a communication tool with an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
- Privacy and Security of Your Team Communication
If everything aligns with your company’s or the project’s privacy requirements, you can proceed and use the tool.
- Speed Is Important
Fast communication leads to prompt decision-making and expedites the group’s productivity. You don’t want to wait for ages for feedback from one of the team members or vice versa because that will slow things down. However, before you put all the blame on the communication tool, ensure your internet connection is okay.
- Go For Exclusivity
A team communication tool should be exclusive to the team to avoid distractions from personal chats. A case in point is when you use a messaging app like WhatsApp for team communication. Chances are you’ll be triggered by every notification, thinking it’s work-related when it’s your friends sending random memes.
- It Should Have a Powerful Team Chat
Whether you’re into text messaging or not, a powerful chat is invaluable in a team communication tool. It enables you to attach and share files, pin important conversations, forward messages, and search for specific information.
- High-Quality Audio and Video
If most of your team communication will be conference calls, test the quality of the communication tool’s audio and video during the free trial. Again, ensure there’s a stable internet connection on both ends of the call.
- Cloud-Based Is Best
Cloud storage allows you to sync your communication tool on various devices and access all your messages and files remotely. This provides a lot of convenience for all employees. You’ll hardly miss any information. Especially when you consider some tools that even have smartwatch versions. So, you’ll always get the message even while on a morning run or evening walk.
- Integration With Other Tools
The more integrations a tool can accommodate, the better. More so if they’re tools that you use daily to communicate and manage teams. They provide an all-in-one platform, thus saving you the hassle of moving back and forth between tabs checking for a message, file, and several other things.
- Customer Care
You need to test the responsiveness of their customer support. It’ll be reassuring to know that there’ll always be help when something goes wrong with the tool. Reach out to their support team and engage them on different aspects of their product. If you’re satisfied with the interaction, feel free to use their communication tool.
I couldn’t find a better word to describe it, but if you’re working 100% remotely like me, it’s important to find a tool that makes your team feel that they are working in a physical office. Instead of spending the day exchanging text messages and doing short video calls, think about how you can extend your culture in an environment that they find comfortable enough to work every single day without getting tired or stressed out.
How collaboration tools improve team communication?
Collaboration tools are essential for teams to communicate effectively and efficiently. They allow users to collaborate in real-time, across different locations, and without having to physically meet. These tools provide an organized platform where employees can share documents, ideas, and tasks with each other. They also enable users to have virtual meetings and brainstorming sessions. Connecting constantly with your team helps to create a culture of open communication by breaking down silos between departments and allowing for more transparency. Additionally, these tools save time by eliminating the need for long email chains or phone calls, as information is quickly and easily accessible. Ultimately, with the rise of remote working, collaboration software can help to make the virtual environment more productive and at the same time unleash the creativity of the collaborators.
Communication will always be at the heart of our everyday life—personal and professional. For the latter, effective communication determines the organization’s management style. Why? Because managers make plans and decisions based on different information communicated to them.
Therefore, remote teams have no option but to invest in a good communication tool from the beginning. It’s the one thing that helps you work in sync, build a rapport for better collaboration, keep you updated, and ultimately lead to the project’s success.
Dennis Peter is a technology enthusiast and blogger.
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