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10 Best Communication Tools For More Effective Team Collaboration

By 12/11/2018 No Comments

There’s no shortage of communication tools on the market.

In fact, a 2017 market research report valued the collaboration software market at over 8 billion USD in 2017, with a projected CAGR of over 9% from 2018 to 2025.

In such a massive industry, how do you find the right communication software for you and your teams?

Look no further—in this post I evaluate tools designed specifically for online communication at work to help you choose the right tool to elevate your team’s communication to the next level.

Communication Tools Logo Soup

Let’s be real, leading (or being a part of) a successful team is a demanding task, it’s important to be able to quickly and easily have discussions to provide clarification and direction. Having the right info is crucial, of course, but having it at the right time is ideal, and these tools are here to help you get things done, through clear and timely team communication.

Today, so many communication apps are inexpensive (or free)—it’s a no-brainer for agencies, studios and startups who need to coordinate the efforts of fast-paced projects performed by distributed teams. In fact, many young companies rely heavily on work communication apps until they’re ready to scale and upgrade to more comprehensive project management software.

Communication tools are apps that act as a virtual, online meeting room for team members. They help your team have conversations, exchange vital project data, update others with progress, share files, and create work collaboratively.

7-benefits-of-communication-software

If you are in the project managing game even for just a day, you know the important role that good communication plays in a team. Some of the more robust project management software tools out there already includes functionality for team communication, but here, we’re exploring the best in class tools specialized in communication. Nowadays, being online and connected with every team member is not a luxury, but a standard—and a good one at that.

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The Best Communication Tools To Increase Your Team Efficiency

communication-tools-featured-image

There are many choices when it comes to the ideal communication software for your team, but these 10 communication tools stood out in our evaluation:

  1. Slack – www.slack.com
  2. monday.com – https://monday.com/
  3. Gmelius – https://gmelius.com/
  4. Ryver – https://ryver.com/
  5. Zoho Cliq – https://www.zoho.com/cliq/
  6. Fleep – https://fleep.io/
  7. Slenke – https://slenke.com
  8. Flock – https://flock.com/
  9. Rocket Chat – https://rocket.chat/
  10. Teamwork Chat – https://www.teamwork.com/chat

Overview Of The Best Communication Tools

Score:
  • 9.5

  • freemium version
  • free trial
  • $6.67/user/month

1. Slack

Within just a few years, Slack has ousted many of its rivals to become probably the most well-known and widely used communication tools. It’s pervasic, but is it necessarily the best?

This tool is built around messaging in channels and threads. It’s flexible and fairly intuitive to use but with little way to organize the conversation within a thread, it can be easy to miss important parts of a conversation within the message stream.

slack-screenshot-communication-tools

Slack is one the most popular communication tools for business. Among other features, it offers an advanced search engine to quickly find and access previously shared information.

Slack supports direct messaging, group messaging, as well as audio and video conferencing. One well-designed feature Slack offers is its advanced search engine. You can search everything within the message threads and documents to quickly access previously shared information in any form.

In terms of integrations, there’s nothing quite like Slack, with 1500+ integrations. If you’re using other project management tools, you’ll find there’s probably already an integration built for it – and this is probably the reason it’s become so popular as it can integrate with the other project management tools that people are already using. And for anything this tool lacks (such as a calendar module) you can easily integrate with the appropriate tool (Google Calendar). Slack supports iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and even Linux.

Slack costs from $6.67/user/month.

Summary of Slack:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private messaging: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9.5

Score:
  • 9.4

  • free 7-day trial
  • from $17/month for 2 users

2. monday.com

monday.com is an easy-to-learn tool for tracking and collaborating on virtually any type of project imaginable. They’ve done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical tools and focused on simple structures that help clarify the sequence of work that needs to be done.

Its communication features include the ability to upload and attach files to cards on task boards, make comments, and mention teammates. It doesn’t include any video calling or screen sharing, but it does provide a central place for teams to track time, build and share reports, send messages, and easily check tasks by upcoming due dates. You can also manage team documents—for example, you can create a virtual space where all of your employee onboarding or meeting notes live for everyone to access.

Monday.com screenshot - Communication Tools

The monday.com interface showing upcoming talks. monday.com is an easy-to-learn tool for collaborating on any type of project imaginable.

monday.com’s integrations include project management apps like Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform and many more, accessible via Zapier. One of the most useful integrations in terms of communication is with Slack, which lets you turn messages from team discussions in Slack into tasks in monday.com.

monday.com costs from $17/month for two users.

Summary of monday.com:

  1. Video call: Fail
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Fail
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9.4

Score:
  • 9

  • freemium version
  • free trial
  • from $9/user/month

3. Gmelius

Gmelius allows teams to communicate on clients and projects without leaving their inbox. Gmelius lives in Gmail, which means there is a near-zero learning curve. While most teams are using up to four tools to communicate and collaborate, Gmelius allows you to get rid of them. Its interface is designed to be user-friendly and intuitively feels like you are simply using a more powerful version of Gmail.

Gmelius screenshot - Communication Tools

Gmelius sits right inside your Gmail inbox to provide a range of communication, task management, and workflow automation features.

Gmelius empowers the Gmail inbox with a range of collaboration tools, and allows users to combine them together to automate workflows. Teams can manage group emails like [email protected] and [email protected] directly from Gmail in the Shared Inbox. Email and ticket assignment make delegation and accountability clear. Sequences automate workflows with “If this, then that” directions. Kanban boards integrated into Gmail inbox give teams visibility on the status of each project. The software’s shareable tools such as email templates, notes, sequences and boards allow teams to collaborate in real-time.

Gmelius syncs in real-time across all team members and all their devices, and it integrates with Slack via 2-way, real-time syncing. More than the standard integration, it also allows your team to sync shared label and shared inboxes.

Gmelius offers a support system for its users, including live support via online chat, a dedicated team, and 24/7 access to their knowledge base, which includes tutorials, guides, videos, and FAQs.

Gmelius is a freemium SaaS which is free to use with some limits. Pricing starts at $9/user/month and offer a free trial.

Summary of Gmelius:

  1. Video call: Fail
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Fail
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9

Score:
  • 9.0

  • freemium version
  • free 14-day trial
  • $5/user/month

4. Ryver

Next, we have a Slack alternative communication software that openly presents itself as Slack’s biggest competitor. Ryver is more of a hybrid tool, supplying both communication and task management features. On top of its communication arsenal, Ryver offers task management features like task boards, file sharing, task checklists, etc.

ryver-screenshot-communication-tools

Ryver helps you keep your conversations organized in different channels, with viewing options like chat, posts, files, people, and more.

Ryver supports video and audio conferencing, group, private and guest messaging systems, and screen-to-screen sharing. Ryver’s streamlined threading of communication data is top-notch, but the push notification system might require a third-party app to work flawlessly, depending on how you’ll be using it.

Ryver integrates with a whole bunch of popular apps, including Jira, Trello, Google Docs, SalesForce, GitHub, Asana, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.

Ryver costs from $5.00/user/month.

Summary of Ryver:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private messaging: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Fail
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9.0

Score:
  • 9.2

  • freemium version
  • free trial
  • $3/user/month

5. Zoho Cliq

Cliq, by Zoho, markets itself as an app for smaller enterprises, but their visually beautiful solution for streamlining team communication could be a fit for larger organizations as well. Going beyond the capabilities of employee communication tools, Cliq offers the ability to grant permissions to external guest users, who can easily access and navigate the easy-to-learn app in order to participate in discussions and conferences.

 

zoho cliq communication tools

One way to keep communication organized with Zoho Cliq is by using group message boards like the ones pictured here.

This team communication tool offers audio and video conferencing, private, group and board messages, and a good system for managing both internal and external contacts. Their discussion threading and search is up to standard, and their built-in calendar works well for simple scheduling, though users often like to integrate their own calendar system (such as Google Calendar). In terms of value for the price, Cliq is compelling—with unlimited storage and unlimited video calling, even the free version.

Cliq by Zoho also integrates with many of the mainstream apps: Appear.in, BitBucket, Box, Meetup, Stack Overflow, Trello, GitLab, Twitter, various email services, Dropbox and Google Drive.

Zoho Cliq costs from $3.00/user/month.

Summary of Zoho Cliq:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9.2

Score:
  • 9.1

  • freemium version
  • free 30-day trial
  • $6/user/month

6. Fleep

Fleep is a network (just like Skype or FB Messenger) that allows you to communicate with other Fleep users, or with any team on Fleep.  In addition to its communication featureset, Fleep offers a native task management feature, which is a rare find in most communication tools. Integration is Fleep’s answer to the question of busy digital workplace communication.

fleep screenshot - best online communication tools

Fleep provides a range of online communication features including channels and task lists, pictured above.

Fleep offers audio and video conferencing through a built-in integration with appear.in, as well as individual chat and group chat. It offers options to make discussion boards, along with some corresponding document management and file sharing tools. It also offers a good system of push notifications, built-in search, and a screen sharing module.

Fleep integrates with other project management tools like JIRA, Confluence, Trello, Slack, GitLab and Github. It can integrate with all the mainstream social networks, as well as work apps like Dropbox and the Google Suite. You can use the Fleep API to sync with other apps.

Fleep costs from $6.00/user/month.

Summary of Fleep:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Fail
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9.1

Score:
  • 8.8

  • freemium version
  • free trial
  • $50/month

7. Slenke

Slenke combines of task management, time management, and communication. This tool is fairly new to the game (the company was founded in 2012), and offers a modern, clean, and visually beautiful interface.

Rare among communication apps, Slenke does not offer a built-in video, audio conferencing, or screen sharing. It’s less of a stand-alone communications tool and more of a lightweight—but comprehensive—project management tool. In terms of communication, you can create messaging boards, and use both private and team chat. The notifications work as long as you are in the browser, and if you are using Windows OS, you can set them to be native to your PC.

slenke-screenshot-communication-tools

Slenke offers a fresh, modern interface that keeps team communication visually organized.

What this communication tool lacks in features, it makes up in integrations. Add video/audio conferencing by integrating with Zoom or Google Hangouts. Through Zapier, you can sync with 1000+ widely-used tools like GitHub, Slack, SalesForce, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Zoho, Trello, various email services, etc.

Slenke costs from $50.00/month for the basic package.

Summary of Slenke

  1. Video call: Fail
  2. Messaging: Fail
  3. Group/private messaging: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Fail
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 8.8

Score:
  • 9.0

  • freemium version
  • free 30-day trial
  • $4.5/user/month

8. Flock

Flock is one of the most robust communication apps, going far beyond a simple messaging system. This communication app stands out with its chat module which is designed to streamline and centralize communication from different groups and across different teams. Going a step beyond “back and forth” communication, Flock enables you to turn messages into useful resources with bookmarks, and convert discussions into tasks.

flock-screenshot-communication-tools

Flock’s full feature set and easy-to-learn UI make it one of the best communication tools around.

Flock’s features include video and audio calls, group and individual chats, and an intuitive screen sharing module. It also includes many nice-to-have communication tools, like the ability to create an anonymous poll, share it with your team, and download the results. You can also use tags in conversations to indicate high priority info. Another useful feature is the ability to automatically generate email lists of members in a particular discussion board, allowing you to quickly send out group emails to the right people.

Flock integrations include Trello, Airtable, Paperform, Slack, Asana,GitHub, Facebook Lead Ads, Twitter, Reddit, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Doc and Google Calendar, Office 365, and many more.

Flock costs from $4.50/user/month.

Summary of Flock:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 9.0

Score:
  • 8.9

  • freemium version
  • free, open-source version
  • $4/user/month

9. Rocket Chat

Rocket Chat is an open source Slack alternative communication software. This is a great tool for users with some degree of technical expertise. In addition to being open source, Rocket Chat also provides the option to host a chat room for your team on your own server. This provides extra security, of course, but requires a bit more setup.

rocket.chat-screenshot-communication-tools

Rocket Chat is a great open source communication software with the potential for tons of integrations, and anyone can use this communication tool for free.

Rocket Chat does what the name suggests. It has a video and audio-conferencing feature with screen sharing. Your team can use one-on-one and group chats, with the option to assign priorities to different conversation threads. The notifications system is simple and effective, where members use mentions to notify individual team members or group channels in their messages.

As an open source app, Rocket Chat allows users to modify and integrate it with a large number of applications and tools such asTrello, Jira, Github and GitLab, Gmail, Slack, Freshdesk, Google Docs, and Dropbox. They’ve got a REST API, LiveChat API, and Real time API for building your own integrations, as well as Plugins for integrating Rocket Chat features into your other platforms, themes for customizing the UI, and data importers for importing existing data from HipChat and Slack.

Rocket Chat costs from $4.00/user/month.

Summary of Rocket Chat:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 8.9

Score:
  • 8.7

  • free with Teamwork Desk
  • free 30-day trial
  • $7/user/month

10. Teamwork Chat

Teamwork Chat is designed as part of the Teamwork ecosystem. However, it has a lot to offer as a stand-alone communication app as well. Teamwork chat proves to be the best for teams that share a lot of external links and media, like videos and news articles, making itself very useful for marketing, creative, and advertising teams.

teamwork-chat-screenshot-communication-tools

Teamwork Chat is one of the best online communication tools for teams that share a lot of links and media among their members.

Teamwork Chat offers video and audio-conferencing, screen sharing, group and private messaging, and a visually beautiful interface with streamlined communication threading. A useful feature of this tool is that you can answer emails directly from within the app. Also helpful is the ability to tag team members on urgent messages.

Being native to the Teamwork ecosystem, this communication tool integrates with the same third party tools that Teamwork integrates with: Slack, Asana, SalesForce, Trello, Gravity Forms, Google Docs and Calendar, Gmail, Drive and Dropbox.

Teamwork Chat is free as a stand-alone apps, and costs from $7.00/user/month as part of the Teamwork Desk app.

Summary of Teamwork Chat:

  1. Video call: Pass
  2. Messaging: Pass
  3. Group/private chat: Pass
  4. Screen sharing: Pass
  5. Threading: Pass
  6. Notifications: Pass
  7. Integration: Pass
Score: 8.7

Communication Tools Summary Chart

SoftwareOverviewFree OptionPriceScoreSite
Slack
Slack logo
Read Slack features & functionalityFreemium version

Free trial

$6.67/user/month9.5Check out Slack
monday.commonday logo - communication toolsRead monday.com features & functionalityFree 7-day trialfrom $17/month for 2 users9.4Check out monday.com
GmeliusGmelius logo - Communication ToolsRead Gmelius features & functionalityFreemium version

Free  trial

from $9/user/month9Check out Gmelius
Ryverryver logoRead Ryver features & functionalityFreemium version

Free 14-day trial

$5/user/month9.0Check out Ryver
Zoho Cliqzogo cliq logoRead Zoho Cliq features & functionalityFreemium version

Free trial

$3/user/month9.2Check out Zoho Cliq
Fleepfleep logoRead Fleep features & functionalityFreemium version

Free 30-day trial

$6/user/month9.1Check out Fleep
Slenkeslenke-logoRead Slenke features & functionalityFreemium version

Free trial

$50/month8.8Check out Slenke
Flockflock logoRead Flock features & functionalityFreemium version

Free 30-day trial

$4.5/user/month9.0Check out Flock
Rocket Chatrocket chatRead Rocket Chat features & functionalityFreemium version

Free, open-source version

$4/user/month8.9Check out Rocket Chat
Teamwork Chatteamwork logoRead Teamwork Chat features & functionalityFree with Teamwork Desk

Free 30-day trial

$7/user/month8.7Check out Teamwork Chat

Other Communication Software You Might Find Useful

There are so many communication tools out there—here are are a few good options that we haven’t included in this review. Check them out!

  1. Workplace – https://www.facebook.com/workplace/
  2. Microsoft Teams – https://products.office.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/
  3. Troop Messenger – https://www.troopmessenger.com/
  4. Yeymo – https://yeymo.com/
  5. Gridle – https://gridle.io/
  6. Highside – https://highside.io/
  7. Mattermost – https://about.mattermost.com/
  8. Moxtra – https://moxtra.com/
  9. Blink – https://joinblink.com/
  10. Azendoo – https://www.azendoo.com/
  11. Jostle – https://jostle.me/
  12. Glip – https://glip.com/
  13. Samepage – https://www.samepage.io
  14. Stackfield – https://www.stackfield.com/
  15. Comindwork – https://www.comindwork.com/
  16. Pyrus – https://pyrus.com
  17. Chanty – https://www.chanty.com/

Communication Tools Selection Criteria

To be featured on this communication software list, I evaluated tools based on the following criteria:

  • User Interface (UI): Does it offer well-designed, clear displays and intuitive navigation?
  • Usability: Is this an effective business communication software in that it’s easy to learn and use? Company communication tools, to be truly effective communication tools, should come with supplementary tutorials and training to help employees make the most out of its features.
  • Features & Functionality: How many of the key business communications features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for:
    • Messaging – Text-based communication is the bread and butter of communication. The best communication tools offer multiple ways to message, including direct messaging, private chat, group chat, threaded discussions, open forums, and team- or group-based messaging. Team messaging apps should allow you to upload and share documents as well as the all-important cat GIF or latest meme.
    • Threading – A vital component of communication in business is knowing exactly where you are with a certain project. Communication tools should have threaded communication that provides an easily-searchable record.
    • Notifications – Whenever a message, call, thread change or any type of employee communication occurs, the right people need to be notified. The notifications feature should allow you to update your preferences so your notification feed includes all of the relevant updates without cluttering up your feed with unrelated updates.
    • Video calling – Video calling is a necessary feature for distributed teams, but it’s also a great tool for agencies who need to hold meetings with out-of-town clients. At the minimum, we look for high quality video calling. Additionally, some business communication solutions support live video feeds and video conferencing with easy guest access (a must-have if you plan to invite attendees from outside your organization).
    • Screen sharing – A picture is worth a thousand words, so being able to share exactly what you see on your screen with team members, and guide them through the details can save an enormous amount of time. This is especially important for business communication tools where you’ll be walking clients through your digital product or progress.
  • Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations with basic software for business like calendars, email, and CRMs?
  • Value for $: How appropriate is the price for its features, capabilities, and use case, compared to other business communication systems? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible?

 

How To Pick The Best Online Communication Tools For Your Team?

One thing is for sure: There’s no good team if there’s bad communication. Using the right communication tool is a way to set up your teams for success. Let’s talk about what to factor into the equation while in choosing between communication tools for your team.

What Do You Need Communication Software For?

Are you upgrading from an old communication system and need to import existing data, or are you starting fresh? Also, what are the needs of your team? If you communicate via video, then consider Slack, or popular Slack alternatives like Flock or Ryver. If your team has no need for video or audio calls, maybe Slenke or Rocket Chat are for you.

What’s The Size Of Your Team?

Getting everyone to use the same app can be hard to do, especially when your team is large and diverse in terms of technical literacy, location, project, etc. Robust tools with different levels of user permissions and guest access, like Microsoft Teams, are a good fit for large, distributed teams. If you have a closely-knit, tech-savvy team, Rocket Chat is a good choice because of it’s capabilities an an open source tool.

How Would It Fit Into Your Workflow?

This is often a matter of integration. Make a list of the tools you use to get the projects done. If you already of a collection of time tracking, invoicing (etc) apps, then consider Fleep or Zoho Cliq, with a large library of prebuilt integrations. On the other hand, if your toolkit is minimal now but you can see your operations scaling, try out a solution like Slenke, which offers project management and task management features to help out as you scale. Make a list of your integration requirements, and check it twice—and it doesn’t hurt to ask your team members what they use in terms of additional software and what they prefer.

How Long To Set It Up?

Most communication tools are intuitive to use and setup as an online app. However, if you prefer to host on your own servers, that takes a bit more time. Rocket Chat has a professional team to assist you, and Slack is a popular choice with good support. Either way, it depends on data sensitivity and the amount of data traffic your team expects.

What’s The Learning Curve?

Whether you are getting a new communication system, or upgrading from an old one, everyone involved needs to get accustomed to the changes. Change management is often made easier with simple-to-use interfaces. Teamwork Chat is an example of a visually simple, easy-to-learn tool. Keep in mind that your team isn’t the only one using it—you might have clients or people who are not part of your day-to-day processes needing access to video conferences; if this is the case, make sure there’s an intuitive client portal.

What’s The Cost?

What’s your budget for a communication tool? Investing in communication tools is a good idea, but remember that less is often more—the good news is that many communication tools have a “free forever” version with limited functionality. The free communication tools version may serve your team’s needs just fine, offering all the “must-haves” without being overly complicated with the “nice-to-haves”.

What Do You Think?

What are your experiences with team communication software? Are you a Slack fan, or do you prefer one of the alternatives? Comment below, or join our community of digital project managers on Slack to ask questions, get answers, and weigh in on the topics that you’re passionate about.

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedigitalprojectmanager.com. I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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