COVID-19 has played a big role in changing many things about our daily lives. One of the main changes being our work routine. Many of us have gone from working 100% in the office to 100% at home, and now are transitioning to a 50/50 hybrid routine. With that being said, working from home has both its positives and negatives.
People have learned that working from home they enjoy a healthy work life balance, but sometimes being at home doesn’t give you the same communication with colleagues as the office. That’s why companies should have the right tools to keep team communication and collaboration as efficient remotely as from the office.
One of the most critical tools that companies with a remote workforce need is proper instant messaging. When deployed and used correctly, an instant messaging tool for business can be a vital piece of your ability to stay in touch with your employees and colleagues while also fostering productivity.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best solutions for instant messaging in the workplace and lay out their pros, cons. As new solutions come to the market, we will continually update it, so bookmark this page and check it often. Technology software moves at a fast pace, so the best solution for today might not be the best solution for tomorrow.
Our Top 3 Picks for Instant Messaging Apps for Business
At the current time, there are three popular instant messaging apps for business on the market. We’ve looked in-depth at all three of them and compiled some criteria to look at in each of them if you’re doing your research.
How well does the tool handle communication between the company?
Does it allow you to chat with people externally?
Some tools focus on internal communication, while other apps enable you to talk internally and externally.
It’s important to consider what kind of needs you require for your organization before choosing a solution and deploying it to your organization.
Instant messaging software for business isn’t just about talking with people about the latest news. It can also provide a platform for collaboration among your team to work on a project, share files, and more.
Ease of use
Complex instant messaging tools for business will slow down deployment and acceptance of the tool by your team.
A tool that’s easy to use and learn will become a tool to help your company become more efficient, while a complex tool will become a hindrance to your organization as your team spends more time trying to learn it’s intricacies instead of using it to do their job.
Even in the workplace, the design of software matters. Users are used to well-designed tools in their personal lives, and they expect the same in their professional lives.
A preferred instant messaging tool in business will have a modern UI that is fun to use.
Instant messaging software for business will, of course, be secure. As an organization uses it to chat about its plans and products, the corporate IT department must ensure that all communications are kept confidential and away from prying eyes.
The best instant messaging software for business will be cross-platform, so regardless if your team is using Mac, PC, Chrome OS, Android, or iOS, they’ll be able to chat and stay in contact, share files, and collaborate on all company plans.
While most business solutions cost money and use a recurring subscription model, having a fair pricing plan will be critical in choosing the right instant messaging software for your business because it will be complicated to change in the future if you pick one you can’t afford over time.
Spike is an all-in-one productivity platform that delivers business chat for teams as part of a wider suite of work tools. It excels at serving as an instant messaging software in business because it’s built on top of something every business already uses: email.
The Simplicity Of Chat, The Power Of Email
Spike turns your average inbox into a supercharged instant messaging tool that’s easy to use because it looks and feels like a messenger application. The simplicity of email, a tool that practically every employee is already comfortable with, has been brought into the 21st century by stripping away all the unwanted clutter like headers and signatures.
What’s more, because Spike is based on email, it can work internally and externally with all stakeholders – no closed-silo communications here. This means whether you’re talking with colleagues about the latest project or doing customer support for your most important client, Spike’s got you covered.
Collaboration Goes Beyond Communication for Effective Businesses
Spike includes collaborative online notes with synchronized real-time editing available to both Spike users and anyone outside of your company who needs to be part of the project. Spike users can edit their Notes inside the Spike app, while non-Spike users can edit right inside of a web browser.
Spike also offers Groups, which allows your business to divide contacts by team, project, or anything else. These groups are then able to collaborate through chat, file sharing, pictures, videos, GIFs, and more, and have the option to send voice messages or jump on a call at the tap of a button.
Align With Team Members for more Streamlined Collaboration
In the modern workplace, there are often things pulling us in a thousand different directions, which is in addition to our personal lives. Spike enables users to align all their calendars in a single place to save swapping back and forth between different apps. All your team can then easily align their calendars from within their Inbox, where they’re already chatting!
Business Chat using Voice Messages
Instant messaging is a fantastic tool for businesses of any size, but nothing holds a candle to actually speaking when it comes to more complex communication. However, in the modern world of work, teams can be distributed across different cities, states, and time zones, so finding a time to talk can be impossible.
This problem is where Voice Messages shine! There is a reason there has been a steady growth in audio-only services in recent years, and business communication is no exception. Spike offers Voice Messages for when you need to be more expressive, all from within the same chat platform.
Business Chat with Video Meetings
Video meetings and business chat are used for two very different things. One is simple and fast – a quick and clean way to communicate something with a few lines of text. The other is useful when a topic needs further explanation, or a lot of back-and-forth discussion is inevitable.
They are different tools for different jobs. That’s why with Spike, you can seamlessly switch between the two. In the middle of a chat with a colleague? Simply hit the Video Meeting button if you need to hash out some details quickly.
Intuitive Design for Better Business Communication
Spike offers a simple modern design that creates a digital workspace with all of the tools needed for any business, including email, chat, group chat, file sharing, online Notes with collaboration, and more.
Through the use of a clean interface with all tools readily available, all employees can quickly and easily get to grips with Spike. Having everything in a single place, nobody gets lost in the web of apps other digital workspaces are based upon.
Business Chat – Where You Need It When You Need It
Spike is also cross-platform, meaning it works seamlessly on Mac, PC, Android, iOS, and even a web version so those on Chromebooks can use this instant messaging tool in the workplace. Spike has a free version for personal use and offers plenty of flexibility with pricing for business users.
Simple and Secure Business Chat with Spike
Spike is fast to deploy because a user only has to sign in with their existing Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 login to get signed up. A company IT department can easily deploy the Spike app to company devices to have everyone chatting in no time.
What’s more, once deployed, this business chat is always secure. Spike is ad-free and doesn’t rent, sell, distribute or monetize your data. Furthermore, message data is encrypted using AES-256 encryption, and the whole platform has passed a security audit by an independent security evaluator.
How Good is Spike as a Business Chat App?
Let’s use our criteria to have a quick overview of how Spike stacks up as a business chat solution.
- Communication – internal and external communication through chat as well as video calls, voice calls, and voice messages.
- Collaboration – Online Notes and Groups allow for quick collaboration between team members and people outside your organization.
- Ease of use – sign in with any email and use it as an instant messaging service for ultimate ease of use.
- Design – clean, straightforward design makes Spike easy to use and a pleasure to work in.
- Security – Spike offers a host of security features, including chat message encryption.
- Supporting platforms – Mac, PC, Android, iOS, and the web.
- Pricing – Spike offers a completely free version as well as business account options.
Slack has become a popular choice for teams and groups looking to use instant messaging software for business. It’s a responsive solution for fast-paced working environments, but it has some significant limitations, mainly because it is only a chat app.
Third-Party Integrations to Boost Features
Slack does an exceptional job of third-party integrations, so you can create automations to send an alert to a Slack channel when a crash is observed in software or when an e-commerce store completes a sale, for example. This is in addition to other integrations that boost features such as Google Drive for file sharing.
Multiple Communication Channels
As with other business chat platforms, Slack has realized the power of incorporating other communications channels into its offering. In this case, Slack now provides video and voice calls between employees at a company from within the platform, making it simpler to jump on a call when a topic requires more discussion.
Unfortunately, for more robust video conferencing tools, Slack still requires third-party integrations from the likes of Zoom, Cisco Webex Meetings, or other providers. This means more subscriptions, more costs, and more hassle when navigating and remembering the various single-tool apps.
Staying Secure Under Salesforce?
Slack includes robust security features, but many Slack customers are concerned about how the platform might evolve now that a large company, Salesforce, has taken ownership. Pricing is usually a concern for existing customers when a larger corporation purchases a smaller one.
The Simplicity of Operations
From a simplicity perspective, Slack can be more complicated for teams to learn. It can be confusing what a direct message is and what is in a channel, and the privacy implications around that reality. If something is said in a channel on one day, a person could be added to the channel the next day and then see all that was said previously.
Does Slack Let You Communicate with Customers?
Slack is mainly aimed at internal communications, but it did recently build a solution to chat externally. However, it was panned for the lack of control for receiving messages from unwanted people.
That said, for internal use, Slack does work cross-platform, so it is available to your whole team regardless of whether they’re working on Mac, PC, Android, iOS, or through a web browser.
Slack as a Business Chat App
- Communication – Slack is very focused on text chat but now offers video and voice calls as well. However, they are all for internal communication.
- Collaboration – Slack users can collaborate on work through the use of third-party integrations.
- Ease of use – there can be some difficulty in using Slack if your employees don’t have experience in a channel vs. DM platform.
- Design – the design is clear but can be a little busy, especially as things expand
- Security – Slack offers very robust security
- Supporting platforms – Mac, PC, Android, iOS, and the web
- Pricing – Slack offers free accounts, with Pro users paying from $6.67 per account/month and Businesses from $12.50 per account/month.
Microsoft Teams is one of the newest solutions on the market as an instant messaging tool in the business world. It was developed as a response to Slack becoming so popular in the workplace. Since Microsoft already has Microsoft Outlook, they now have multiple products aimed at communication, with Outlook focused on external communication, and Teams focused on internal communication.
Part of a Whole Ecosystem, but Somehow Still Separate
Microsoft Teams is part of an organization’s Microsoft 365 subscriptions, so it’s not nearly as easy to purchase if you are already using Google Workspace or other productivity tools since it is part of a larger solution.
What’s more, since Microsoft Teams is part of a multi-app suite, deployment becomes slightly more cumbersome. Employees have to learn and understand different products and check multiple apps throughout the day. Having too many places to check slows down other work as employees just spend their time keeping their inboxes from overflowing.
The other major component of Microsoft Teams, apart from chat, is video conferencing, and it does this very well. In addition, it offers powerful internal and external communication tools, including integrations with the other office apps for presenting work.
That said, it is one of the more confusing video meeting platforms out there with a relatively steep learning curve. In addition, users must have other Microsoft services integrated for some of the more advanced features, which can quickly become very challenging.
A Calendar in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams also offers an integrated calendar, which can be used to organize employees’ time, specifically by planning video meetings on the platform. While different calendars can be combined, it is a challenging process for even the most tech-savvy members of your team.
Microsoft Teams is available cross-platform, so regardless of the types of devices your workplace uses, Teams is available as a native app or Microsoft 365 web edition.
How is Microsoft Teams for Business Chat?
- Communication – Microsoft Teams offers chat channels as well as video and voice calls. While chat is internal, video conferencing can be used with anybody.
- Collaboration – the most powerful collaboration tools come if your business integrates Office applications such as Microsoft Word.
- Ease of use – Teams is considerably harder to use and deploy than other chat apps
- Design – The design of Teams, when considered as a standalone platform, is clean and modern.
- Security – Microsoft Teams is considered a very secure chat platform
- Supporting platforms – Mac, PC, Android, iOS, and the web
- Pricing – while Teams is technically free for Outlook users, most will get it as part of an Office 365 package which varies massively in price.
Pros and Cons of Instant Messaging for Business
Before your business dive into the world of chat apps, consider closely the key features outlined as well as some of the overall pros and cons:
Faster response time which means faster problem solving
Smoother communication for teams even when working remotely
Easier file sharing and storage
All around quicker than traditional email
If not built into email, it requires an entirely new software solution
Additional training and onboarding requirements
It can be overwhelming because it’s another inbox to manage and check
Having the right instant messaging app for your business can differentiate between a productive remote workforce and a non-productive one. The right balance to find for your team is a solution that allows for seamless collaboration without becoming a burden.
Some of the effective use of instant messaging software for business will come down to culture. An essential tip for all teams to remember is that instant messaging in business should be viewed as asynchronous. If a teammate is focused on a project, they can’t be expected to respond to every instant message as it comes in.
Chat apps allow for fast and fluid communication internally and externally. This allows remote teams to talk more naturally and make fast, productive decisions. However, a dedicated app might not be the best choice for your company since some integrated solutions offer other tools in addition to chat.
Business chat apps can offer fast communication for remote teams as well as other features to help productivity. That said, every business is different, so before committing to any platform, consider carefully what you need from an app, then look for those features.
There are a few things always worth considering before getting a new chat app, the most important of which are:
- Communication options
- Collaboration tools
- Ease of use
- Overall design of the platform
- Supporting OS (Mac, Windows, etc.)
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