Finding the Top 5 Communication Apps to Improve Workplace Productivity & Communication


Workplace culture has seen extreme changes in our modern technological times. Entire companies and networks can now easily connect with coworkers and customers anytime, anyplace.

Despite some obvious conveniences, whether emerging technologies have actually increased productivity levels is hotly debated. Some argue that new technology-based capabilities haven’t done anything to improve workplace communication and that such tools have merely resulted in a higher expectation of work products and productivity. 

Award Emblem: Top 5 Communication Apps

However, regardless of one’s viewpoint, the fact remains that a workplace culture embracing modern communication methods is here to stay. And even if productivity expectations have skyrocketed, employees embedded in corporate culture are looking for ways to keep up and figure out how to improve communication at work.

Although technology may not make up for traditional good communication skills in the workplace, many of these apps will help businesses maximize effective workplace communication.

AdvisoryHQ has compiled this list of top productivity apps and highlighted some of the features and limitations of these top quality products. This breakdown of chat platforms and their features may help you determine which communication app can offer the most for your business and its day-to-day operations.



AdvisoryHQ’s List of Top 5 Best Communication Apps

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that app):


Features to Consider When Choosing a Workplace Communication App

Before choosing a communication app, it’s important to understand the various features that different apps offer.

Free Trials

Some of the communication apps on this list offer free trials for their paid tier levels. If you are not sure which program to choose, try out the ones that offer free trials and see what you think.

You can also download free versions from some of the programs – for the platforms that offer a free tier – and try out the free service to see if you like the interface. This can help you determine if you like the ease of use and features of the particular app.

Free Services

Maybe you don’t need the features of the paid tiers that are offered by these communication apps. If additional features are unnecessary, don’t bother with paying for them. Check out the platforms that offer free software and choose from those options.

Image Source: Pixabay

Integrations

Some of these chat programs offer integrations with other programs; for example, a few support Microsoft Office app integrations. If your business would benefit from the collective and collaborative use of Office programs, perhaps consider using one of the programs that support them.

Some of the chat programs offer other document integrations as well as integrations with social media networks such as Facebook. With more and more employees working remotely, such document share functions can help solve workplace communication issues and save time.

Searchable Message History

Another great feature that most chat services offer is a searchable message function. In the workplace, this can be an invaluable feature that saves employees time and adds day-to-day convenience. However, not all programs offer the searchable message function, and for those that do, the features vary.

If this is an important feature for you, be sure to research thoroughly. Some programs only offer the function through the higher tier paid subscriptions while others offer a reduced version of the search feature for free tiers. Make sure you’re aware of the exact offerings before signing on with a program.



Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ's Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated firms, products, and services.


Detailed Review – Top Ranking Communication Apps

Below, please find the detailed review of each firm on our list of best communication apps. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these communication workplace apps to  score so high in our selection ranking



HipChat Review


HipChat is a program created by the company Atlassian. The program offers free and paid tiers and, unlike some other communication platform subscriptions, does not require a year-long commitment. HipChat runs on Mac, Windows, Linux, iPhone/iPad, and Android.

Key Factors That Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Communication App

Below are primary reasons we selected HipChat to be rated as one of the best communication apps.

HipChat Basic

HipChat offers two service tiers. HipChat basic is free and offers the following features:

  • Group chat
  • Instant messaging
  • Drag and drop file sharing
  • Unlimited users and integrations
  • Guest access
  • 5 GB of file storage
  • 25,000 searchable message history
  • Unlimited chat rooms

HipChat is currently available only in English.

HipChat Plus

HipChat Plus is $2 per user, per month, and payments may be made monthly or annually. A 30-day trial is available for those who would like to test out the service.

HipChat Plus offers the services of HipChat Basic as well as the following features:

  • 1-1 voice and video calling
  • 1-1 screen sharing
  • Control over history retention
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Unlimited searchable message history

HipChat Plus accounts may be canceled at any time, and users don’t need to sign up for a year-long account.

Fun Features

Users can also take advantage of fun features, like custom emoticons as well as HipBots, which offers interesting features and services.

Also, conversations will by synced between desktop and mobile devices so that business can be done at home, in the office or anywhere on the go.

Integrations

HipChat also allows integrations to upgrade user experience. Over 150 programs may be integrated into the platform.

Security Features

HipChat also provides security measures to protect user files and information. Conversations on HipChat are transferred in a 256-bit SSL encryption.

You can also bring in third parties to a chat room and control what they see. Users can control what information or messages the third party may view. 

Be sure to check out the website and review all of the pricing and plans yourself before signing up



Skype Review


Skype was founded in 2003 and has now become a division of Microsoft Corp. This popular chat service is very well known and commonly used by individuals and businesses.

Key Factors That Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Communication App

Below are primary reasons we selected Skype to be rated as one of the best communication apps.

Skype Calls

A free download from Skype’s website will give users access to free worldwide unlimited calls to other Skype users. A free account allows users to participate in one-to-one calls and audio calls with up to 25 people.

One-to-one and group video calls are also supported.

Unlimited World

In addition, there are subscription paid options to make both domestic and international calls to landlines and mobile phones. Users may choose a subscription to call particular countries and may make calls from a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or equipped TV.

Skype is currently offering a 30-day free trial of the “Unlimited World” program for those who would like to try the service before purchasing it. Rates vary and can be calculated here.

Screen Share

Users may also turn on the screen share feature which allows one user’s computer screen to be visible on another’s computer. This is also available for use during group calls, although only one person can share their screen at a time. The screen share feature is very useful for group projects, trainings or various collaborations. Screen share is available for free with a regular Skype account.

Skype for Business

Skype for business offers the features from a regular account as well as the following features:

  • Supports online meetings, messaging, and video with up to 250 people
  • Find company team members and schedule meetings in Outlook
  • Enterprise-grade security and management of employee accounts

A Skype for business account costs $2 per user, per month. It is also integrated with Microsoft Office apps. For a full list of the available Office 365 apps that can be integrated with Skype for business, check out its page here. 

Be sure to review the website and all of the pricing and plans yourself before signing up.



Slack Review


Slack is a communication platform that offers varied tiers of features. The service does offer one free tier, and all levels allow users to search conversations and even content within inserted files. These features can help foster better communication at work by saving valuable employee time.

Key Factors That Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Communication App

Below are primary reasons we selected Slack to be rated as one of the best communication apps.

Features

Messages

Slack allows users to create “channels” for certain topics, teams or any desired category. Everyone in a particular team would be able to view what’s going on in particular channels. For sensitive information, users can create private channels and invite only a few team members. Users can also send traditional direct messages to individual users.

Share Files

Slack allows users to drag and drop files, images, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets into conversations and share with other users. You can also add comments or star the files for convenience. All of the files will be searchable for later.

Users can also paste links to storage services, like Google Drive and Dropbox, and the file will immediately sync and will also become searchable though Slack.

Searchable

Slack Review Searchable-min

Image Source: Slack

All conversations, files, and notifications are archived and become searchable for later use. Even the content from inserted files is indexed and searchable as well. This helps users quickly locate conversations or relevant files without having to scroll through days or weeks of information.

Free Plans and Upgraded Pay Plans

The Free Slack options offers:

  • Searchable archives from the most recent 10,000 messages
  • 10 apps or service integrations
  • Mobile app
  • Two-person calls
  • 5 GB in collective storage for the team

The Standard Slack plan is currently $6.67 per active user, per month and is billed annually or $8 per active user, per month if billed monthly. In addition to the free plan features, some of the standard plan features include:

  • Unlimited searchable archives
  • Unlimited aps and service integrations
  • Custom retention policies for messages and files
  • Guest access
  • Priority support
  • OAuth via Google
  • Mandatory two-factor authentication
  • Custom user groups
  • Group calls
  • 10 GB of storage per team member

The Plus Slack Plan is currently $12.50 per active user, per month and is billed annually or $15 per active user, per month if billed monthly. In addition to the Standard plan features, some of the Plus Slack plan features include:

  • SAML-based single sign-on (SSO)
  • Compliance exports of all messages
  • Support for external archiving services
  • 99.99% guaranteed uptime SLA
  • 24/7 support with 4-hour response time
  • User provisioning and deprovisioning
  • Real-time active directory sync with OneLogin, Okta, and Ping
  • 20 GB file storage per team member

Slack is also working on an enterprise plan option which will offer more features than the Plus option for a higher rate. 

Be sure to check out the website and review all of the pricing and plans yourself before signing up



Voxer Review


Voxer is a communication platform that supports chat and live or recorded message exchanging. Voxer is available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 8 or on desktops and offers several program tiers.

Key Factors That Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Communication App

Below are primary reasons we selected Voxer to be rated as one of the best communication apps.

Features

Live and Recorded Audio

Voxer allows users to listen to live audio or to save messages to listen to later. This is a nice feature for those who prefer to speak messages rather than typing them out. With voice messages, users can also send text, photos, and share locations.

In addition, users can attach Bluetooth headsets to respond back hands-free.

Group Chats

Voxer allows you to send messages to up to 500 individuals or team contacts.

Walkie Talkie

User may also chat using walkie-talkie mode.  In this way, a user may interact with others without actually being in the app. Walkie-talkie mode is available only on the Voxer Pro tier.

Security

Voxer claims that security is prioritized and that data is sent via encrypted connections stored securely in the cloud.

Voxer Plans and Pricing

Voxer Personal

This tier of Voxer is free and offers more basic features. Voxer Personal includes:

  • Live and recorded voice
  • Text, photos, and location sharing
  • One-on-one chats
  • Group chats with up to 500 people
  • SSL encryption
  • Message forwarding
  • Dropbox integration
  • Message storage (limited)
  • Desktop and mobile access

Voxer Pro includes all of the features of Voxer Personal and also offers:

  • Indefinite message storage
  • Admin controlled apps
  • Message recalling
  • Broadcast chats
  • Walkie-talkie mode
  • Extreme notifications (extra loud)

If users upgrade from Voxer Personal to Voxer Pro, all data and messages will transfer and won’t be lost due to the upgrade.

Voxer Business

Also available is Voxer Business, a tier available for companies of 1,000 or more. Information regarding Voxer Business is not currently available on its website, so if you’d like to learn more about it, you’ll need to contact Voxer individually. 

Be sure to look over the website and review all of the pricing and plans yourself before signing up



Yammer Review


Yammer is a communication app with a wide array of pricing plans and features. The communication platform integrates Microsoft Office programs with most plans and is used by over 200,000 companies worldwide.

Key Factors That Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Communication App

Below are primary reasons we selected Yammer to be rated as one of the best communication apps.

Features

Group Conversations

Yammer allows users to create centralized group conversations within a company for specific projects or teams. The platform also allows users to add external users to conversations for specific purposes.

Conversations between chats on desktop are synced with the mobile app so that you can pick up where you left off on the go.

Searchable

Users can also search conversations and files to save valuable workplace time. Yammer uses Office Graph for individualized search returns based on interests and company communications.

Customizable Inbox

Users have access to a message inbox that is customizable based on individual needs. Notifications and priority settings allow users to manage communications in time-saving and personalized ways.

Discovery Feed and Office Integration

The discovery feed feature creates a news feed of people, information, and teams that may be useful to individual users. Yammer also features Office integration, which allows users to:

  • Preview documents
  • Edit and co-author documents
  • Auto-save work

Yammer Versions and Pricing Plans

The Yammer pricing plans page will direct you to the Microsoft Office 365 products webpage.

Office 365 has specialized platforms for individuals, households, small businesses, governments, nonprofits, and schools.

The small business offerings include:

Office 365 Business Essentials

This plan is available for $5.00 a month per user with an annual commitment. Features include:

  • 50 GB email inbox
  • 1 TB file storage and sharing
  • HD video conferencing
  • Office online
  • Office services available on desktop, not apps

Office 365 Business

This plan is available for $8.25 per user per month with an annual commitment. Features include:

  • Office programs available on mobile and tablets
  • Email not included
  • 1 TB file storage and sharing
  • Fully installed Office on PC and Mac

Office 365 Business Premium

This plan is available for $12.50 per user per month with an annual commitment. Features include:

  • Email with 50 GB mailbox
  • 1 TB file storage and sharing
  • HD video conferencing
  • Office on PC and Mac
  • Office apps on tablets and mobile

Yammer offers many, many pricing plans that integrate with Office 365. Numerous other plans are available in addition to the plans outlined above. Check out its website to compare all of the plans.

Be sure to check out the website and review all of the pricing and plans yourself before signing up.



Conclusion – 6 Best Communication Apps

In this modern world, technology plays a major role in the day-to-day operations of a small or large business. It can serve a business owner very well to stay on top of apps that can slice time off an employee’s work day or allow for a quicker connection with customers. Learning about what the different chat programs have to offer can also teach valuable workplace communication tips that may be useful for a business to take advantage of.

The apps selected for this list can offer such time-saving functions. The importance of workplace communication should not be forgotten as small, everyday interactions add up and have an effect on a company’s bottom line. This is especially true in our modern world where many employees work remotely and never meet face to face.

This list was compiled with the intent to assist readers in targeting some of the features and qualities that different communication app programs have to offer. Of course, the best program for you depends on your particular needs and goals.

Further, many of the free options from any of these companies offer a wide array of services that are more than enough for typical business needs. For the services that offer a free download, try them out yourself and see which one you like the most.

Be sure to check out the websites and do your own research before settling with an app. Prices and offerings may change over time so keep a look out for that as well.



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Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

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