We may live in the information age, but today, communicating with your coworkers often isn’t as simple as just walking over to their desk. Often we’re working with people across the globe, and the internet is the main way we can stay in touch. To work efficiently in this new age, we need better ways to stay in touch.
The good thing is, there’s more ways to communicate now than ever before. You don’t have to wonder if you can stay in touch, but you do need to find the best way to stay in touch. Last week, we asked you what communications tools you use. We’ve rounded up the best and most popular communication tools, including old standbys and new tools you may have never heard of. Keep reading to find new ways to stay in touch with your team, wherever they are.
1. EmailLove it or hate it, email’s still most of our primary online communication tool. Whether you’re using Gmail, Exchange, or any other email system, it’d be strange not to have a company email account. And a personal email. And a school email. And likely an email address for your dog.
So what’s so great about email? The same thing that was great about paper letters, minus the dead trees and $0.42 stamps. Email is great because its universal; everyone’s using it. You can send an email from Gmail to someone using MobileMe, and it just works. That’s not the case with most other communication tools. Then, you can use it whenever. Unlike chat and phone calls, you don’t have to be there right then. Finally, you can add images, attachments, rich text, and more, making it a passable system for sending anything you need to communicate. It may have problems, but we’re not leaving email behind any time soon.
2. SkypeSkype may be primarily marketed as a personal communications tool, but it’s entrenched in businesses as well. Best known for cheap voice calls over the internet to traditional phones and other Skype users, Skype is also great for video chats. You can even do group video chats with up to 10 others at once. Surprisingly, though, I find I use Skype for traditional text chat the most, and have come to rely on it to ask colleagues quick questions no matter where they are. One great feature of Skype text chats is that you can send messages when someone’s offline, and they’ll get them the next time they login. That brings the convenience of email to IM.
Team on the Run offers a way for businesses of all sizes to engage in secure, private, and immediate communications. With security at the very center of the app, users are able to exchange confidential information through mobile messaging. Designed to helps businesses save office space, time and money, key features include: secure messaging, Walkie-Talkie capabilities, corporate directories and cloud-storage access. The app is currently available in English, Spanish and French.
4. eXo Platform
eXo Platform is much more that a communication tool in a traditional sense. It’s an enterprise social networking solution. eXo Platform gives you the opportunity to connect with colleagues, partners and customers leading to better teamwork, productivity and employee engagement. It’s a great tool to reduce email dependence and, whilst being open source and having full integration options, it has tons of features ready to go on initial deployment. eXo Platform’s core features include social networking, video calls and chat, collaboration and content and document management.
5. YammerIf you like Twitter, but don’t want all of your communications to be public, Yammer might be the perfect tool for your team. It’s a private group communication tool that only lets people with company email addresses sign into the network. Once it’s setup, it’s a simple microblogging service where you can update the status of your projects, send messages to others, and form groups for private team communications inside the company.
Onstream Meetings is an easy-to-use, accessible, cost effective, multilingual cloud-based service. Built to enhance your interactions with customers, prospects and colleagues, Onstream Meetings is accessible via voice/web anytime and anywhere. With no hardware or software pre-installation, training or configuration required, Onstream Meetings is simple and intuitive to use.
An all-in-one solution for business, SendHub helps teams to communicate smoothly and consistently across all devices. With features like SMS, voice calls conference calling and file transferring, the SendHub App offers a an array of communication methods with zero investment in new hardware. SendHub’s beautiful and simple user interface makes it incredibly easy to use. It’s perfect for dynamic SMBs looking to eliminate their existing, cumbersome landline systems, save money, and gain efficiencies.
The team at 37signals has a knack for making powerful business apps that are still incredibly fast and simple to use. Their original product, Basecamp, is one of the most popular online project management tools. It can help your team communicate without email, by sending messages inside Basecamp about your ongoing projects. Campfire, the online group chat app from 37signals, lets you setup chat rooms for your team that keep records of everything said so you can go back and find specific conversations, anytime. Then Backpack, one of their lesser-known products, lets you create pages easily to share information and store important data and files for your team. All together, the 37signals Suite can keep your business communicating and collaborating with your clients with less hassle than you’d have with email and other tools.
9. ChatterSalesforce is one of the biggest names in enterprise webapps, and they’ve taken online communications seriously as well. Rather than lose out to Twitter, Campfire, and more, they built Chatter and released it for free. It looks similar to Google Buzz or Facebook, with status messages, images, and in-line comments. However, it’s designed to keep your company’s communications private, and only employees can join your network. With apps for mobile devices and desktops, as well as a powerful webapp that integrates with Salesforce’s other apps, it’s a strong contender for enterprise or smaller business communications.
10. HipChatHipChat is one of the newest chat apps that’s designed to make team communications simple. At first glance, it’s very similar to 37signals Campfire, with an ongoing chat that’s easy to search and lets everyone join in. However, HipChat takes it further, with strong support for restricted groups. Additionally, you can start a direct private chat with any other person in your HipChat account. This lets you use HipChat for team and direct communications. It also includes support for video and voice chats, so it could easily be the one communications app for all of your team’s needs.
Other Great Choices
Even with all of these great options, there are still many other apps teams around the world use to communicate and stay in touch. Many readers said they use Google Hangouts, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, or even Apple’s new FaceTime video chat to communicate with their team. Even Facebook chat and SMS text messages count today. Plus, you can’t forget the venerable telephone; after all, our fancy smartphones are still supposed to be telephones for traditional voice calls. The best communications tool for any team is the one they find easiest to use, even if it doesn’t have the latest features. At it’s core, communication is all about exchanging thoughts. With the internet, there’s more ways to do that than ever before.
Did we miss your favorite app? What’s your favorite way to communicate with your team?
Update: Post updated on 28th May 2015. It was originally posted on May 5th 2011.