Updated November 2020
Communication is arguably the most important in-demand skill of business teams today.
And it’s especially true now that so many of us are working remotely. Effective workplace communication is key to happy workers and productivity, and part of having an effective workplace is having good communication—which is where communication apps come in.
Tools such as team chat not only make it easier to stay in touch with your coworkers but also increase productivity.
Rather than go back and forth endlessly via email, a good communication app allows us to handle more stuff with less effort, including everything from meeting requests to project updates and beyond.
But choosing the best team communication app for your team or business can be a challenge. There are tons of tools out there, and committing to an app requires both serious time and resources on behalf of your team.
Which means that if you can make the right choice from the onset, you’re saving yourself a ton of time down the road.
So, we’ve put together this guide to help you pick the best team communication app for your business, with a breakdown of the top 15 options out there. We chose both established tools and up-and-coming platforms to give you a good mix. Check out some tips for choosing the best app, or skip ahead to the breakdowns below:
- Google Workspace (formerly Google Workspace)
- Troop Messenger
But first, let’s look at what makes a “good” team communication app.
Shopping for a team messaging tool? (Or just curious about what to look for?) Grab the free checklist to help you choose the right one for your team or business.
What’s the best team communication app? 15 options to look at
Chances are you’re already aware of what most communication tools have to offer.
You know, basic features such as team chat and private chat channels.
However, there are key functions “under the hood” that separate the best team communication tools from the not-so-great ones. Below are some key features to keep an eye on while you’re shopping for tools.
They cover every communication channel (including messaging, video, and phone)
If you think of business “communication” as little more than email, it’s time to think bigger.
Not everything needs to be an email, after all. Want to save time and get more done? Then you’ll need to be able to communicate via a variety of channels.
For example, video calls allow you to experience a face-to-face interaction at a moment’s notice. Need a time-efficient alternative to email chains? Try off-the-cuff phone calls and voice chats. And don’t forget about mobile-friendly features to make sure that you can get in touch with your remote workers and folks on the go. For instance, RingCentral’s app (designed for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android) lets you flip a call from your computer to your phone (and vice versa) with just a tap:
After all, the endgame of adopting a team communication app is to reduce your team’s workload and become more efficient in real time, all the while building relationships with your colleagues. That means being able to talk to each other, regardless of where everyone’s working from.
They actually encourage your team to work together
You can choose the best communication app in the world, but it doesn’t mean much if your team doesn’t actually use it.
Some team chat apps claim that their goal is to eliminate email together. That’s a tall order.
And if we’re honest, there are times when email is your best option. No getting around it. Not everything needs to be a meeting, and not everything is urgent enough to warrant an instant message.
That being said, we still think that communication apps need to have features that encourage meaningful workplace collaboration, like:
- Meeting requests and scheduling
- File storage and document sharing
Oh, and a low learning curve is also a huge plus for making sure that your team adopts any given tool. If an app is too complex, it’s much more tempting to slide back into communicating the old-fashioned way (even if it’s slower).
They integrate with other apps and business tools
When the average team is juggling dozens of business tools, the idea of adding yet another to the mix can be daunting.
That’s why choosing the best team communication app boils down to finding something that integrates with and consolidates the tools that your company already relies on.
For example, any app worth its salt is going to integrate with the likes of Gmail or Outlook. Additional integrations with tools like your payment software or CRM allow your business to create workflow automations, which can transform your team into a productivity machine.
The takeaway here is that choosing the right integrations can help you build a leaner communication stack that doesn’t make you rely on so many tools. Rather than invest in a dedicated conferencing solution, and a video chat app, and a team messaging tool, find something that can do at least a few things well.
They allow you to communicate with clients and contractors, too
“Team” communication doesn’t only mean talking with your immediate coworkers.
Remember what we said about the importance of collaboration? Ideally, your communication app should let you call and chat with colleagues, customers, and other third parties (think: freelancers or contractors) as well.
Again, your goal is to keep your communication all in one place. Internal. External. All of it.
They keep track of your business’s interactions
One of the biggest benefits of simplifying your communication stack is that you can more easily track important past conversations.
This creates a much-needed sense of accountability (and can also eliminate needless questions and time-wasting conversations).
For example, let’s say you want to confirm that somebody sent out a meeting request or shared a file. Or perhaps you want to clarify details from a conversation that you had months ago.
With in-app search functionality, you can instantly find the answers without having to chase anyone down. Here’s how it looks in RingCentral’s app, as an example:
What’s the best team communication app? 15 options to look at
Now that we’ve highlighted what to look for, let’s break down the apps themselves.
All the apps below either are free, have a freemium plan, or offer demos so you can take a test drive for yourself.
We put ourselves on top of the list because okay, we might be a little biased, but also because we truly believe that RingCentral represents an all-in-one team solution with all the features necessary to keep your team on task.
Beyond traditional team chat, the platform offers built-in voice and video calling. Whether it’s a quick virtual check-in or a full-blown conference call, you can do all of the above—and then some in the app. Unlike team communication tools that require third-party integrations to use voice or video, both are built into our system by default.
Another neat feature is the face that you can create and assign tasks right in the app. Why pay for a separate tool when this comes with your team communication app?
Our platform also prioritizes productivity. For example, RingCentral’s instant messaging allows users to share documents and annotate them without leaving the platform. You can likewise quickly search between departments and channels to organize your coworkers’ conversations and find what you need in a snap.
RingCentral is a PCMag’s Editors’ Choice Award winner because of its reliable service and easy-to-use app (among other reasons)!
Another huge upside of RingCentral is our variety of integrations. RingCentral has a ton of built-in integrations with popular project management platforms, CRMs, and other tools like HubSpot and Salesforce. For example, you can call your prospects from Salesforce directly with the integration:
Sharing your RingCentral meeting ID with customers or third-party collaborators is just a matter of a quick copy and paste, by the way. Instead of emailing back and forth to set up the details, why not just send someone a meeting link? RingCentral integrates with both Google Calendar and Outlook to automatically add meeting links to your invite:
RingCentral’s platform is not only super versatile, but it’s also very easy to use. No matter how big or small your business might be, it’s one of the best all-around apps for team communication regardless.
🤯 Besides all these perks, you could save up to $400 an hour in IT costs.
Explore the RingCentral Advantage for small businesses:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other—and clients.
There’s a high chance that at least some of your teammates are already familiar with Google’s suite of tools.
From the free apps that come with Google Workspace (like Docs and Sheets) to the newly announced Google Workspace, intuitive tools are Google’s bread and butter.
Although the platform may not have the best unified communication app, the fact that their tools have a low barrier to entry and work seamlessly together is a point in Google’s favor. For example, consider the following:
- Gmail for managing emails, messages, and notifications
- Meet for video calls
- Voice for voice calls
- Docs and Sheets for collaborative documents
- Drive for file sharing
- Calendar for schedule management
Using Google’s tools does require a bit of juggling between platforms, although they all work together easily enough. Getting on board with Google Workspace makes sense if your team is familiar with the tools above and you manage all your organization already via Gmail. If nothing else, you can try an à la carte combination of Google’s communication solutions for free to test the waters.
Slack’s popularity and user-base have grown quite a bit in recent months, especially among the startup crowd. With the explicit goal of replacing email, Slack’s key features include private channels, file sharing, and a slew of integrations, which include everything from productivity bots to your helpdesk software and beyond.
Slack might be one of the most-mentioned names when it comes to team chat, but its built-in features and functionalities are pretty aligned with the price you pay. Plus, if you use other communication channels too, like video conferencing and phone calls, then you’ll probably need other tools in addition to Slack to handle them. (Remember what we mentioned earlier about versatile tools?)
Although Slack is indeed a powerful tool, it’s definitely not the be-all, end-all of chat solutions for business. But if you’re looking for a stripped-down team messenger with less of a learning curve, it’s a good option.
Workplace chat obviously needs to be secure, especially if you’re discussing sensitive customer information.
Tools like Wire were built with security in mind. Also noted in our breakdown of the most secure messaging apps, the platform is open-source and features end-to-end encryption. Additional features such as “self-destructing rooms” are also helpful for one-off meetings with people outside of your business. Likewise, you can make sure that conversations and files shared don’t stick around in your chat system if you don’t want them to.
Otherwise, Wire’s features such as video and text chat are fairly standard. If 007-level security is among your top priorities, however, give it a look.
If you’re eager for an alternative to Slack that’s simpler and cheaper without sacrificing much in terms of functionality, Chanty can do the trick.
Because hey, group chat apps don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, nor should they skimp on features.
Beyond standard chat, voice messaging, and video, Chanty also includes a project management board (similar to Trello) to let you monitor the progress of projects and tasks. You can likewise leave comments on individual messages and tasks as an alternative to email.
Trello is one of the web’s most popular project management tools that doubles as a communication app.
With Trello’s Kanban board, you can assign, monitor, and message teammates about projects in one place. This gives you a unified view of any given project, making it easier to collaborate and understand who’s accountable for what.
Let’s be clear, though: Trello is not a chat app. Trello is all about task management.
That said, it integrates with many of the tools on this list—like RingCentral! For example, you can pull Trello boards, notifications, and updates in RingCentral without having to switch to your inbox.
If you’re more interested in collaboration without expecting your colleagues to be “on” in a team chat all day, Trello is a solid alternative. The fact that Trello has a forever-free plan is also an added bonus.
Not all team chat apps center around texting.
In fact, tools like Discord shine because of their HD screen sharing and always-on voice chat. Although the platform was intended for gamers and livestreams, more and more businesses are using it as a sort of pseudo-Slack.
The app allows for invite-only channels and user permissions like most chat apps, and the quality of its video and voice are surprisingly good for a totally free tool.
But because Discord isn’t really meant for business, it’s not exactly the most secure app. It’s lacking in traditional business integrations, too. That said, it’s a worthwhile tool for hip teams that isn’t too suit-and-tie. If you’re the kind of time that speaks primarily in gifs and emojis, give Discord a try.
Flock is a team chat app with an emphasis on collaboration and organization.
For example, the platform includes features such as built-in to-do lists and team polling. You can actually assign due dates and deadlines for tasks, creating a much-needed sense of accountability for your teammates. Quick search and “pinned” items also make it pretty painless to organize your in-app conversations.
Twist markets itself as a distraction-free chat app. For teams looking to focus on their work without letting their communication app get in the way, the platform’s simplicity is its strength.
At a glance, Twist doesn’t look much different than some of the chat apps listed above. However, features such as notification controls and the option to push-off conversation threads for later makes Twist somewhat of a stress-free platform. The app also has in-depth message history search to make finding past messages a cinch.
And since the app has a forever-free option, it’s also friendly to teams stuck on a shoestring budget.
One of Troop Messenger’s most interesting features is the ability to temporarily add clients and vendors to conversations—and remove them when you’re finished. It allows for group chats with them, rather than extensive email threads. This means you can use it for everything, not just internal communication.
With a range of interesting features including “respond later” tags, “burnout” (an unstored, private chat), and audio messages, it’s easy to control how you have conversations. The main downside is the limited length of the trial, which is only seven days. After that, prices vary from $5 to $25 per user per month.
Troop Messenger also has the option of self-hosting, allowing you to store everything on your own servers. This is an especially helpful feature for teams handling confidential and secure information.
Rocket.Chat is an open source solution, meaning it’s constantly evolving. Every user has access to the source code, allowing you to customize it and add or remove functionality as you like.
The customization aspect has led to a whole range of features, including live chat and real-time translation. The translation feature is especially useful for global teams, as it supports over 50 languages. It has a lot of integrations and plugins available, and if you’re not sure about customizing it yourself, there is a marketplace.
Rocket.Chat prides itself on high security standards, and there are two possible ways to use it: SaaS (software as a service), or self-managed.
The SaaS solution includes cloud hosting, and prices start at $2 per user per month. The self-managed solution has a free option, or starts at $30 per user per year. Just remember: if you choose self-managed, you’ll need your own servers.
Convo has all the basic features you’d expect a team communication app to have, like file sharing and video calling. As well as the option for individual conversations and group chats, it also has a newsfeed.
This newsfeed can be both a pro and a con, depending on your team. It’s a great way to keep up to date on company business, respond to relevant posts and keep up with the latest updates. But, it can also act as a bit of a distraction. If it isn’t well managed, it can quickly become overwhelming.
If you have an excellent remote management team, Convo has the potential to be a real game changer for your company. The poll feature lets you quickly gather opinions while the ability to monitor staff performance can help you work out weak points quickly. Just be aware of how similar to a social media platform it is, and make sure you’re not treating it like one.
Unlike the others on this list, ProofHub doesn’t market itself as a “team communication app.” Instead, it describes itself as “all-in-one project planning software.” (Which means that for those of you who already have project management platforms that you’re happy with, you may be better suited looking elsewhere.) But for teams that want everything in one place, it’s a great solution.
As well as the standard conversational tools, you can assign tasks, divide them into workflow stages, and visualize your projects through Gantt charts. A dedicated calendar with automatic reminders is also included.
While it may not have as many unique features as some of the alternatives in this list, the combination of collaboration and productivity tools makes it a great solution for teams who don’t want to switch between solutions.
The pricing does mean it might not be great for smaller businesses. Instead of a per-user fee, it’s a flat rate starting from $45 a month. Teams of only two or three may be able to find cheaper options, but medium-sized businesses will find it a bargain.
Ryver is described as a team collaboration app, meaning it includes communication features and some project planning tools. Task management options like checklists, tags and assignments are a useful addition, though it’s not as comprehensive as a dedicated project management platform might be.
It has a huge range of integrations, and can work with your pre-existing log in options, allowing for SSO (single sign on). The emphasis on productivity means it’s simple to use, with custom channels. This includes forums (company-wide discussions), team messaging, and individual conversations.
Beyond this, there’s the option to divide chats by topic or task, great for having specific, targeted conversations away from the broader ones. Importantly, even the lowest tier plan includes unlimited chat and unlimited file sharing, so you won’t be hitting any limits mid-meeting.
TypeTalk has a particularly interesting feature for teams who want highly personalized experiences. The Open API and Webhooks allow developers to create their own bots and tools, as well as accessing data. This could be a bot that can automatically respond to keywords, or one that provides system alerts.
Beyond this, it has all the familiar features of great team communication tools: file sharing, topic groups, tagging, and so on. It integrates with nulab’s other programs (Cacoo and Backlog), as well as Github. This may initially seem limited, but the Open API means you can create more custom integrations tailored to you.
Pricing is based on the amount of users, with the lowest tier being five users at $10 per month. To really get the most out of TypeTalk, though, you need a strong development team, so make sure to factor that into your budget.
With so many chat apps available, most businesses could use a helping hand when it comes to narrowing their search. Here are some quick tips to make sure you pick a solution that makes sense for your team.
1. Start by defining your non-negotiable collaboration features
First thing’s first: picking and choosing what your team can (and can’t) live without feature-wise.
For example, do you need video conferencing or would it just be a nice added bonus? Does your team share files exclusively in Google Drive (which would make it a must-have integration)?
Make a checklist of these features and use them as a starting point when browsing between apps. Be sure to get input from your team members, too.
2. Pick a tool that makes implementation quick and painless
The process of implementing a new tool and onboarding employees should be seamless, not a slog.
When researching apps, take a look at what they offer in terms of customer support. For example, do they offer how-tos and video tutorials that walk you through onboarding? Heck, some companies will hold your hand through the entire process.
Choosing a cloud solution makes the process so much easier, especially among remote teams. Either way, you should be able to get started with any given tool ASAP.
3. Mind the price tag
Note that this says “mind the price tag” and not “Choose the cheapest option you can find.”
If you’re on a tight budget, we totally hear you. Small businesses especially would probably want to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to software—and communication apps should be no different.
But as you’re shopping for software, keep in mind that you can typically go down one of two paths:
- Look for only the cheapest tools and apps—which typically are hyper-specific and designed to do one thing
- Look for more versatile tools—which typically cost a bit more
Now, most people, especially if they’re on a budget, would choose the first option. Makes sense, but our tip here is to always do the math. If you’re using five or eight different apps and software, the monthly costs can add up—not to mention the amount of time you and your team would have to spend learning how to use those apps and managing them on a daily basis.
On the other hand, if you make a conscious decision to streamline your tools, it might pay off in the long run. Plus, even though a certain app might cost you a bit more, if it can replace multiple tools, then that might actually be worth it in the end. Again, you’d have to do the math.
4. Confirm that your chat solution is scalable
As a side note, keep in mind that your small business might not be small forever.
Most apps either allow for unlimited users or allow you to scale up your chat features when you upgrade.
Having to switch between tools is both annoying and a drain on productivity, especially once your team members get used to it. If possible, try to choose an app that can grow alongside your company.
5. Look into the app’s reputation and track record
Name recognition isn’t everything, but it definitely separates the best team communication apps from ones that might be buggy down the road.
When in doubt, dig into the app’s reviews and customer stories to better understand just how satisfied their customers really are. If most of what you see is positive and the customers in question resemble your own business, you’re probably in good company.
Ready to pick the best team communication app for your business?
When it comes to business software, you’re obviously spoiled for choice.
Choosing the best team communication app really depends on your business’s needs and budget.
That said, we’ve seen RingCentral totally transform teams both big and small. Whether you need a simple chat platform to check in on your colleagues or a more robust virtual meeting solution, we’ve got you covered on the road toward better teamwork.