Today, we’ve gathered a list of popular communication tools that have taken over email and are widely used by businesses as email alternatives and by teams to collaborate on goals and objectives.
It’s difficult to recall a time when email wasn’t a principle tool of communication for businesses. Even in today’s age of high connectivity, whenever someone enters their workplace, the first thing they probably do is to check their emails and then move forward for the day. This is a ritual for many of the employees around the world.
Although the popularity of social networks is on the rise, even today professionals spend around 6.3 hours sending and receiving around 123 emails a day, A DAY! Sounds surprising, right?
As teams are becoming more global, one prediction says that by 2020, more than half of the employees will work remotely. Another stat says that over a third of the American population does some contract work, either as a full-time job or as a part of a contract.
Therefore, to manage such diverse teams, businesses require a tool that essentially makes things easy for them and is an effective communication tool.
Another interesting phenomenon that is now being observed at workplaces is the Generation Z (people who were born after 1995) joining the workplaces. These are a group of most educated and tech-savvy people to join the workforce.
So, basically, the workplaces are now filled with Millennials and Generation Z, both of whom are highly dependent upon technology and social networks for instant communication.
With that being said, communication among teams has gone through a paradigm shift with the advent of countless collaborative tools in the market. These work collaboration tools are flourishing and have started to gradually take place of email channels, facilitating a highly collaborative work environment.
Read on to find out about some of these tools:
Primarily a project management software, nTask is your best bet if you’re searching for email alternatives online. It’s a simple to use software that is packed with all the essentials needed for effective team management.
Here’s how you can improve your team communication by nTask:
- Projects divided into smaller tasks and subtasks for a clutter-free workspace.
- For Agile teams, a diverse range of features for over-all coverage to all the communication needs.
- Meetings board facilitating customized meetings to take updates from the team.
- Advanced features like discussion points, attendees, and follow-up for easy monitoring.
- For proactive planning and time management, Issues and Risks associated with tasks.
- Get an overall view of a specific issue by assigning a priority level, due date, and assignees.
- Auto-generating Gantt charts to quickly gain insights regarding timelines and progress of projects.
- Free version: unlimited tasks and meetings. Up to 5 free workspaces and other basic features.
- Pro: $2.99 per user/month. Unlimited workspaces and other advanced features
- Meetings Management to systematically categorize and execute meetings.
- Issues and Risks tracking to tackle their likelihood associated with tasks.
- Built-in Gantt charts for timely monitoring of projects’ progress.
- High affordability which doesn’t put a dent in your current budget.
- User-friendly interface with carefully developed UX and UI design to enhance user convenience.
- Kanban boards for workflow visualization is currently not available (underworks).
- Integration with multiple apps to avoid constant switching between apps (underworks).
- Limited functionality of auto-generating Gantt charts for particular tasks.
- Feature of chat within tasks not available, however, comments can be made.
The second tool in our list of email alternatives is ‘Skype for Business’. Skype has been around for quite a long time now, and it’s considered to be a pioneer in peer-to-peer communication which facilitated video calls and messages during the slower internet days, back in the mid-2000s.
Let’s have a look at some of its core features and pros and cons associated with it:
- Instant messages during meetings to communicate with the team.
- Microsoft office applications; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
- Online Meetings and Meeting recording with up to 250 people.
- Personalized Meeting URL for adding or removing participants.
- Screen sharing options for convenient and safe sharing of files.
- HD video and audio calls from anywhere, from any device, to improve connectivity.
- PowerPoint presentation with multiple interactive features like highlighting etc.
- Broadcast meetings for a large audience through video conferencing feature.
- Office 365 Business Essentials: $5.00 user/ month. Includes only business emails and other business services.
- Office 365 Business: $8.25 user/ month. Includes office applications and cloud file sharing.
- Office 365 Business Premium: $12.50 user/ month. Includes business email, office applications, and other business services.
- Easy integration with Microsoft Office applications.
- A quick chat feature for teams and individuals for instant updates.
- Online audio and video meetings with teams and for the general audience.
- Easy connectivity and accessibility from any device, from anywhere.
- HD video conferencing with additional features to improve aesthetics.
- Limited functions for managing teams at a large scale.
- Can crash if the internet is slow or there is a small glitch in the system.
- No Free version available for small teams or start-ups.
- Call quality can alter if Skype recommended equipment is not used.
- Clutter in groups because of disorganized file sharing among group members.
For the past few years, Slack has gained substantial popularity as a software to use for communication across organizations. Company statistics show that Slack has more than six million daily active users and nine million weekly users.
Let’s explore some of its features and find out the reason behind its popularity:
- Distinct channels for team/s collaboration with safe file transfers.
- Channels can be made according to teams, projects, or tasks, pertaining to needs.
- Shared channels for multiple businesses to streamline the information flow.
- Voice and video calls directly from Slack to the team members for sharing information.
- Drag-and-drop options for PDFs, images, videos and other files for quick transmission.
- Integrate with other applications through Slack App Directory to connect with 1500 +apps.
- Free: Up to 10k messages, with 10 app integrations, and 1-to-1 video calls.
- Standard: $6.67 per active user/month. Advanced features of unlimited users and unlimited integrations.
- Plus: $12.50 per active user/month. Designed for big corporations with upgraded features.
- High utilitarian value for remote teams or teams working from different places.
- Instant updates on tasks through quick messages with the team members.
- Easy and safe file sharing through security measures mitigating third-party intrusion.
- Distinct channels for multiple teams to keep track of all the on-going activities.
- Shared channels for more than one business or more than one organization.
- Ineffective for teams from different time-zones.
- Disorder in channels because of the absence of sub-tasks.
- Limited storage space availability in the Free version.
- No complete picture or over-all view of tasks.
Google Hangouts is one of the most popular email alternatives used for team communication and collaboration. A communication tool developed by Google consists of multiple platforms which help individuals and teams to engage in communication through chat, video calls, and voice calls.
Some of the basic features of Google Hangouts are:
- ‘Hangouts Meet’ and ‘Hangouts Chat’ specifically designed for businesses and teams.
- High-definition audio and video calls for one-on-one and group communication.
- HD group conference calls available for up to 25 people to manage meetings.
- Easy and quick compatibility and integration with multiple applications.
- Built-in screen sharing feature for seamless collaboration and safe file sharing.
- Synchronization of chats from device to device to stay connected anywhere.
- Google Vault for safe archiving, storing and retaining organizational data.
- Free Trial: 14 days free trial with functions like sending emails and conducting video calls.
- Basic: $5 USD per user/month. Professional suite with 30GB cloud storage.
- Business: $10 USD per user/month. Enhanced office suite with unlimited storage.
- Enterprise: $25 USD per user/month. Premium account with advanced features and controls.
- A simple and easy user interface that makes things simple to understand for anyone.
- Integration with other Google apps for a unified communication process across platforms.
- Google Vault which helps in safe holding, archiving, and searching for organizational data.
- ‘Hangouts on Air’ for conducting online seminars and talk shows with multiple teams.
- Shareable Calendars to collaborate on schedules and meetings with team members.
- Video conferencing limits the participants to 10 in the Free account and 25 in paid ones.
- Disorganized files and no distinction of tasks and sub-tasks leading to confusion.
- For managing teams, it comes with a complete package of other Google apps. Cannot be operated independently.
- Very limited functions available in the free version of the application.
Created in 2011, Convo has built an impressive list of clients it serves, with Ogilvy, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat to name a few. Essentially build to improve cross-functional teams’ collaboration, Convo is an interesting alternative to email.
Here’s how convo has made to our list of popular email alternatives:
- Customizable groups for team communication, facilitating access options to specific people or teams only.
- Instant chat feature for individual chats and groups to instantly take updates and plan accordingly.
- Data encryption ensuring that data is secure. It also makes sure that data is safely stored in Cloud as well.
- Annotation feature guiding the user to highlight a certain part of a file shared for clarity in the discussion.
- An updated ‘newsfeed’ where you can view all the latest updates from the groups you’re a part of.
- Integration with numerous applications helps in coherent communication. Updates from other apps appear in the newsfeed.
- Customizable notifications for all the on-going activities on the web, desktop, or mobile application.
- Free: for smaller teams with limited communication needs.
- Pro: $9 per user/month for medium to large teams.
- Enterprise: custom details pertaining to organizational needs.
- Structured groups for individual teams to keep track of group activities.
- Group chats for quick information flow assisting in faster decision making.
- Group tagging to assign tasks easily and to take follow-ups of tasks.
- Focused feedback through annotations that helps in highlighting the discussion point.
- Quick updates and progress of the groups through the updated newsfeed.
- Activity tracking feature not available which makes monitoring difficult.
- Calendars are not there to observe timelines and pending tasks.
- No user and content management controls in the free version.
WhatsApp Business was built by keeping in mind a small business owner. The application is meant for business owners to develop a more open communication relationship with their customers and build a reliable tool for customer services.
Let’s review WhatsApp Business and see how it is one of the better email alternatives available today:
- Business profile feature that helps businesses to officially represent themselves on WhatsApp.
- Quick replies for common customer queries to reduce the time taken for individually tackling them.
- Messages statistics to help analyze the accurate percentage of messages sent, delivered, and read.
- End-to-end messages encryption that ensures data security and mitigates third person involvement.
- Greetings messages to introduce customers to the business and act like icebreakers.
- WhatsApp groups feature for team collaboration and activities coordination.
Free for everyone
- A simple application to operate small-scale businesses
- A one-on-one communication platform to connect with customers.
- Prompt customer feedback through direct chats with the customers.
- Quick response to frequently asked questions saving time.
- No third-party applications to communicate with the relevant customer.
- No enterprise-level data security measures to maintain the confidentiality of business data.
- No application integrations with other applications to enhance connectivity.
- Unavailability of defined features to tackle any ambiguity, like issues or risks associated with tasks.
- Activity tracking or progress reports are unavailable to monitor updates.
Workplace by Facebook is a social networking platform offered by Facebook for teams to collaborate on team goals and stay connected with other members.
The application uses similar features as that of Facebook, along with some advanced characteristics to promote team collaboration. We loved using Workplace by Facebook and think it can definitely serve value if you’re looking for free email alternatives.
Currently, Workplace has the following features:
- Private and public project groups to communicate goals and objectives.
- Instant messages and video call for individual or group conversations.
- Newsfeed showing updates from the people and groups that matter to you.
- Integrations with other team collaboration tools to make sharing of files easy.
- Assign tasks to team members and take follow-ups by tagging them in respective groups.
- Instant polls to gain perspective by the team members on different matters.
- Standard: Free with all the features of a standard Facebook account, along with multiple other features.
- Premium: $3 per active user/month. Advanced productivity and Enterprise features.
- User-friendly interface with easy functionality.
- Newsfeed customized according to priorities.
- Unlimited file sharing between group/s.
- Chats within the group among group members.
- Regular status updates for monitoring progress.
- Company events creation to share information with the team.
- Tracking of all the on-going activities can become difficult.
- A great number of groups can result in cluttered workspaces.
- Limited application integrations are available for the users.
- No proper timesheets or Calendar views to make tracking easy.
The last alternative to email in our list is Podio. Acquired in 2012 by Citrix, Podio offers a collaboration platform for teams to facilitate daily project management needs
Let’s review Podio and see how it is one of the better email alternatives available today:
- Physical Kanban boards for organizing tasks into respective progress category.
- Customizable Projects that make visibility transparent through multiple sub-categories.
- A definite deliverables board accommodating categories by owner and by progress.
- Integrations with various applications to keep all the teamwork on one page.
- Activity log depicting a general view of all the projects and tasks with relevant clients.
- Clients’ portal for accessing all projects and keeping an eye on the progress of tasks.
- Expense calculation and tracking linked with respective projects and tasks.
- Free: for up to 5 employees. Task management, apps integration, and workspaces.
- Basic: $9 per user/month. Unlimited external users with task management and workspaces.
- Plus: $14 per user/month. Automated workflows and all features of free and basic version.
- Premium: $24 per user/month. Advanced suite with maximum control and access.
- Convenient activity tracking with activity logs.
- Transparent data visualization through Kanban Boards.
- Customization options for projects and tasks, promoting user-ease.
- Mobile application to stay connected with the team anywhere.
- Multiple Workspaces for more than one team for teams’ management.
- Reminder notifications for tasks that are due in workflows.
- No time tracking functionality for tasks.
- Can get confusing because of high customization.
- Advanced functions related to workflows require either extensions or upgrade toa premium account.
- Can be difficult to understand for new users as the features are all cluttered.
The bottom-line? There is no quintessential collaboration tool that can be utilized as an all-rounder for your team communication needs. If one tool works for an organization, it may not work for the other. It all comes down to your business model and the essential needs required for your team management.
Is there a collaboration tool that you would like us to include in this list? We’re all ears! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.