Our offices and workflows now live mostly in the cloud – that is to say that digital team collaboration platforms have become an essential part of many people’s everyday lives, whether for task management, video conferencing or just checking in at 9 am Monday morning. One of the major players for this is Microsoft Teams, but there are other options, so let’s take a look at some of the best MS Teams alternatives out there.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a business communication platform that provides a digital working environment for teams. It’s primarily based around videoconferencing and live chat but integrates other features, including document sharing and a calendar. As one might expect, Teams is highly integrated with the Microsoft ecosystem, allowing for add-ons such as Office apps, Outlook, Stream, and more. However, this also means that connecting with competitors can be troublesome—syncing a Teams and Google calendar, for example, is not an easy task. What’s more, it relies on the plugins and upgrades to offer some features that come as standard with alternative software.
It’s reasons such as these that many people are looking for alternatives to Microsoft Teams.
What’s the Best Alternative to Microsoft Teams?
The best MS Teams alternative for you is in large part dependent on what exactly you need from your platform. As outlined above, Microsoft Teams offers a handful of core features. Still, these may fall short of what your business needs, or alternately, be over-engineered for your daily operations. Below are some of the best Microsoft Teams alternatives.
Spike is a great Microsoft Teams alternative, offering collaborative functionality focused around email, which remains a powerful business tool. Spike provides voice and video conferencing, real-time chat, groups, notes, tasks, file sharing, and more. MS Teams has powerful tools but in a closed environment. Spike, on the other hand, is built around email and provides an inbox-interface that most will already be intimately familiar with.
What Are the Pros of Spike vs. Microsoft Teams
Email integration for internal/external communication
Simple multiple-calendar integration
Familiar user interface means that there is little to no onboarding
What Are the Cons of Spike vs. Microsoft Teams
No native Linux app currently available
Slack is a top-rated chat-based tool and a good alternative to Microsoft Teams for those looking for simpler chat-based communications. Like MS Teams, Slack offers voice and video calls from within the platform, but also offers integration with external apps such as Zoom, BlueJeans, and even Microsoft Teams Calls. Additionally, there is file sharing within Slack and the ability to work with companies and individuals outside of your organization.
What Are the Pros of Slack vs. Microsoft Teams?
Not tied to a specific ecosystem
Very simple, single-purpose
What Are the Cons of Slack vs. Microsoft Teams?
No built-in calendar
Third-party apps needed for things like creating tasks (that means more subscriptions!)
Cisco Webex Teams
This Microsoft Teams alternative from communications giant Cisco offers one-on-one as well as group messaging (with emojis, GIFs, and more). Additionally, it includes file sharing, video and voice calls, and a “two-way whiteboard” for some collaborative doodling.
What Are the Pros of Cisco Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams?
Some interesting video features such as mobile screen sharing
Company specializing in communications
What Are the Cons of Cisco Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams?
You need the extra Cisco Webex Hybrid Calendar Service and an external client to use the calendar
More expensive than other options
Google has consolidated many of their previous business products (hangouts, G Suite, etc.) into the single Google Workspace. This alternative to Microsoft Teams offers features such as videoconferencing, an in-built calendar, one-on-one and group chat, and much more. It is a business solution that utilizes Google’s suite of products that many people are already familiar with, which makes onboarding super quick and easy. However, many of the features that more robust MS Teams alternatives offer (such as meeting moderation) are lacking in even the more expensive plans.
What Are the Pros of Google Workspace vs. Microsoft Teams?
Complete integration with Gmail, which has about 1.8 billion users worldwide, representing 43% of the email service market share last year
Similar features to a more expensive alternative such as digital whiteboarding
What Are the Cons of Google Workspace vs. Microsoft Teams
The offered integrations aren’t as powerful (Docs doesn’t come close to Word, for example)
Basic package lacks features such as moderation, hand raising, or recording for video calls
Workplace from Facebook
While primarily a social platform, Facebook now offers Workplace, a business-first alternative to Microsoft Teams. It has attempted to use the news-stream format that so many people are familiar with and transfer this into the world of work, which means no learning new systems and no long onboarding times. Workplace offers chat, voice and video calls, a wiki-style section, comments and feedback, and, of course, a central news feed.
What Are the Pros of Workplace from Facebook vs. Microsoft Teams
Live video streaming comes as standard
Very robust groups functionality
What Are the Cons of Workplace from Facebook vs. Microsoft Teams
Employees may not like the similarity or blur between work and social platforms
Requires integrations for some features that come as standard on other platforms
Mattermost is an open-source Microsoft Teams alternative, which arguably offers greater security, reliability, and flexibility. This flexibility is seen in the option to use Mattermost as a self-hosted Microsoft Teams alternative in addition to their cloud offering. That said, it does lack some features that other platforms offer out of the box, such as video and voice conferencing or a calendar. Mattermost is primarily aimed at developers but is still a good MS Teams alternative for most sectors.
What Are the Pros of Mattermost vs. Microsoft Teams
Open source means more secure and reliable
Self-hosting available, meaning it can be deployed on private or in-house servers
Ability to integrate other open-source, self-hosted apps (such as Jitsi for videoconferencing)
What Are the Cons of Mattermost vs. Microsoft Teams
No video or voice chat as standard
No calendar as standard
To benefit from many of the “pros” a certain technical proficiency is needed
Bonus Functionality: ‘Walkie Talkie’
At the beginning of 2020, Microsoft made headlines for adding in a new ‘walkie talkie’ functionality into Teams. Now forgive us if we sound a little less than excited for another way someone can reach us, but we think that most people using Microsoft Teams will find little use for this feature. True, if you’re a frontline worker who desperately needs a synchronous connection to the back office or security personnel, it might be nice to have, but there are better ways to accomplish that use case. The majority of Team users don’t want or need another direct line to their contacts—they have smartphones after all. However, it does raise a question about push-to-talk functionality and its place in the office.
Voice Memos are already built into Spike. However, there are a few differences between the two, and in truth, our Microsoft Teams alternative is already leading the way in asynchronous communication. Something everyone needs a little more of in today’s fast paced world. Let’s compare the two features and break down the differences.
Spike Voice Memos
Teams Walkie Talkie
Push-to-talk functionality and voice memos
Push-to-talk functionality and walkie talkie feature
Asynchronous communication means users can pick up messages whenever they want
Synchronous communication requires users to be online at the same time
All exchanges are stored for later reference
Exchanges are real-time and not stored
Open Platform. Works through email so both Spike users and non-Spike users can access voice memos
Closed Platform. Only users of Microsoft Teams can access push-to-talk functionality
FAQs about the best Microsoft Teams Alternatives
MS Teams is short for Microsoft Teams and is a business communication platform that offers one-on-one and group chat, video and voice calls, chat channels, a calendar, file sharing, and more.
The best MS Teams alternative depends on what you and your team need to be as productive as possible. Is self-hosting important to you? Maybe go with Mattermost. Do you want to stay within the Google environment? Google Workspace might be the way to go. Looking for fast onboarding for powerful email-based tools? Check out Spike.
Yes! Along with many of the MS Teams alternatives listed here, a free version is available. However, it is limited.
Most of the Microsoft Teams alternatives listed here offer a limited free version. However, for SMEs and up, there is usually a per-seat cost.
Slack, Spike, Cisco Webex Teams, and Mattermost all offer native Mac OS apps. The Google and Facebook offerings don’t but are instead accessed through a browser.
First, consider if there is one—MS Teams is built for the Microsoft ecosystem. That said, Slack, Spike, Cisco Webex Teams, and Mattermost all offer native Windows apps.