April 2021 - Netlines

The Top 21 Best Team Communication Apps of 2021

In the new world of remote working and international teams, a communications system is vital to any company’s operations. We’ve investigated the team communication apps available in 2021 and narrowed it down to the top 21.

Each business has unique needs and each app offers a different combination of features, strengths, weaknesses, and costs. Discover the pros and cons of our top picks and which is the best solution for your team.

What is a Team Communication App?

A team communication app is software that keeps team members in contact with each other by using messaging systems, audio calling, and video conferencing tools. They also include the new “hubs” you can set up on your company VoIP phone app.

Before the pandemic, more people were starting to work remotely and communicate with each other via the internet. COVID-19 created a sudden need for team communications software as working from home became the new normal. The quiet communications revolution surged ahead.

Along with the need to work remotely came the adoption of project management software. Those project tracker boards on the office wall slowly became replaced with app-based project management tools.

Most of the team communication apps started life as either a project management tool or a messenger type tool. Most have slowly evolved into something that does both. The project management apps now normally include a chat section for team communications, while the messenger type apps normally have some way to help you manage projects. Some apps are clearly heavily biased towards communication features and others are project management apps with a communications section bolted on.

In a post-COVID world, businesses require the facility to do both. They need to be able to communicate efficiently between remote workers. They also need to be able to track project progress and ensure things are delivered on time. Team communications apps of the future will include both excellent communications features and comprehensive project management tools.

Benefits of Team Chat Apps

Improved Communication

A team communication app enables seamless communication between all work team members. It allows us to instantly share concepts, ideas, and workflows; plus, we can use it to assign tasks, track progress, and share documents. It links all of our remote working team members to the main office and each other.

Streamlined Workflow

Gone are the days of moving a job cards along a project board. New team communication tools can act as a project tracker. As one person finishes their part of a project, the next person in the process can be notified. The progress of the task is easily tracked as it passes through each stage from person to person. There is no longer a need for a team leader to take the task from one person and pass it to the next because it can be programmed to automatically pass the tasks through the team.

Better Employee Engagement

A by-product of team integration is increased employee engagement. It is easy to chat with other members. This helps to build team identity, a feeling of belonging, and being “part of the gang,” which is increasingly missing in times of remote working. It can lift morale and enable a social aspect to work life.

Increased Accountability

It is easy to see the progress of a project with a team communication app. Any bottleneck or obstacle in the process is easy to identify. Team members do not want to let the next person in the process down and they adopt more ownership of their tasks. It is more obvious when someone is late or early in completing their allotted tasks. No one wants to appear as the weakest link!

Enhanced Project Management

Certain team communication apps are useful for managing projects. Having a central place that records progress, communications, and process flows helps everyone in the team manage their tasks and time better. People can see priorities and future workload to plan accordingly. Good communication between team members is vital for good project management.

Stay Organized

Most team chat apps either have an integral calendar or can integrate with a calendar app. This gives a powerful combination of communications and planning resources. You can organize the workflow, allocate team members to tasks, schedule deadlines, and task durations and communicate it all quickly and effectively throughout the team.

Saves Time

With all your team using the same app, you can quickly broadcast news and updates to the whole team. Sending a message to a subgroup within the team is as simple as clicking a group icon and sending the message. With everything in one place it is easy to assess a project and delegate tasks instantly. There is no need to chop and change screens and applications.

Strengthen Team Relationships

The camaraderie amongst team members is difficult to build in today’s remote working culture. A team communication app can help this by giving the team an easy way to communicate with each other directly. It allows achievements to be shared with the team, which strengthens the team’s bond.  

What Makes a Great Team Chat App?

What makes a great team communication app is subjective because every business has different needs. What is an essential feature for one business could be irrelevant to another. There are numerous different apps, all with different features. Finding the right one can be a slow process of searching through the app store and reading the descriptions of each one to try to match your needs to the features each provides.

There are, however, a few features that are deemed essential. These are generic, and each app will address the requirement in its own way. These features include:

Communications

Obviously, the app must enable a conversation between people. It must have features that allow the users to communicate freely, organize the conversations, and let the team members add other members as required. Tagging people or groups of people is a common way to do this. People must also be able to choose to join or to leave a conversation at will.

Search and Filtering

Being able to search for words or phrases in conversations is also a must. Team members need to be able to quickly filter the search results to find the information they need.

Video Conferencing

Sometimes it is quicker to just have a face-to-face chat about something instead of an extended text message or email conversation. In a post-COVID world, video communications are the new normal. Any app without video chat ability is already out of date.

Great User Interface

It must be easy to use. Team members need to be able to intuitively use the app from day one. The interface needs to be easy to navigate. Additional user experience features such as keyboard shortcuts and mobile gesture navigation can help people be more efficient in using the app.

Collaboration Features

The app needs to facilitate collaboration. Collectively working on a single file simultaneously is becoming more and more common. Features such as file sharing and integration with other apps (Microsoft Office, Google Docs, etc.) enable this level of collaboration.

Project Tracking

Businesses need to be able to track project progress. The manager needs to be able to monitor the team’s performance. The newer project management software can alert team members when they are assigned a new task when the previous person in the workflow has completed their part and when the task deadline is approaching.

Integration with Other Software

Being able to integrate the team communication app with standard software is incredibly useful. For example, many businesses use Microsoft Office or Google Workspace. Linking these industry-standard suites with the app enable team members to easily share files and information using tools they are already familiar with, like cloud storage options such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

 

The Top 21 Best Team Communication Apps

1. NetLines Hubs

Hubs is a NetLines exclusive group communication app feature that enable one-click team communications. NetLines provides an app for your smart phone that allows you make phone calls over the internet using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). One of the many features of the app is “Hubs”. You can set up hubs of two to 200 people. You can easily then send a text, voice message, or even hold a hub conference call at a simple push of a button. Everybody in the hub is included, no one is forgotten or left out.

Top Five Features

  • Uses the newest VoIP technology
  • Integrated with a smartphone app
  • User-friendly
  • Included for free in the NetLines suite of features
  • One-touch group video calling

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Hubs is free as part of the NetLines virtual phone package (* $9 per month + $5 per additional person per month)
  • Monthly: free* (full package starting at $10/mn)
  • Yearly: free* (full package starting at $109/year)

2. Proofhub

Proofhub started life as a project management tool. It is a powerful project tracker that is ideal for managing team members workflows and logging project times.  It includes a straightforward chat-style feature for one-to-one chat, group chat and file sharing. The chat feature is somewhat lacking and has no video capability. Proofhub’s real strength is its project management potential.

Top Five Features

  • Group chat
  • Quick discussions on projects
  • Workflows
  • Boards
  • Project reports

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: 14 days – no credit card required.
  • Monthly: $50
  • Yearly: $500 ($45/month)

3. Chanty

Chanty is a communications tool that includes group audio and video chat and allows screen sharing in conversations. It works well in the office and remotely on smartphones. It has limited project management utility by changing messages into Kanban board tasks. The project manager can manage team members and users can link various other apps and cloud storage.

Top Five Features

  • You can communicate through chat, audio and video.
  • Team book to access all of your content in one place
  • Unlimited message history in the free plan
  • You can use threaded messaging.
  • Easy to use the search option.

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Yes – indefinitely for the limited feature version
  • Monthly: $4 per user
  • Yearly: $36 per user ($3 per user per month)

4. Troop Messenger

Troop Messenger is solely a communications app. It is primarily a group video and audio calling platform. It has little to no integrated project management features, not even a calendar. Troop Messenger integrates well with Google Drive and Dropbox. As the name suggests, Troop Messenger is suitable for military and defense communications. You can self-host the app allowing you to manage app security. It has several security features including live team member location tracking and a burn-out feature. This secures messages by not storing them anywhere.

Top Five Features

  • Security
  • Group video calling
  • Suitable for military
  • Excellent message management
  • Remote screen sharing

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: 1 month free
  • Monthly: $2.50 per user
  • Yearly: $30 per user

5. Connecteam

Connecteam is more of an employee management tool. It allows you to delegate tasks, assign jobs and monitor employee hours and locations. It has a rudimentary chat system that allows file sharing and leaving voice messages but has no group video conferencing features. Connecteam could be useful for large workforces such as courier companies or utility meter monitoring.

Top Five Features

  • Employee time management
  • Managing daily operations and tasks
  • Internal communications
  • Inter-employee communication
  • Useful for training and onboarding

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Free for life – limited features. 14-day free trial of other packages
  • Monthly: $47
  • Yearly: $39 x 12 monthly payments = $468

6. Brosix

Brosix is simply a team communications app. It has no half-hearted bolt-on project management features, it is just a no-nonsense chat app. It has almost every chat app feature you can think of and several that you didn’t know about but now need. Brosix recognizes security is important and includes integrated antivirus.

Top Five Features

  • Group video chat
  • Good security
  • Great administration and control
  • The app is brandable with your logo
  • Collaboration via file and screen share

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Free for life – limited users
  • Monthly: $5 per user
  • Yearly: $4 x 12 months per user

7. Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is a high-tech communications app. It offers a multitude of options and features. It is ideal for the IT industry and at times seems a little “geeky”. Rocket.Chat gives you the source code for free so you can modify the app to include any feature you design.

Top Five Features

  • Group audio and video calls
  • Real-time or asynchronous team chat
  • Screen sharing
  • File sharing
  • Secure encryption

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: The basic version is free if you self-host.
  • Monthly: $2.40 per user (minimum of 10 users)
  • Yearly: $24 per user (minimum of 10 users)

8. Google Meet

Google Meet started as Google Hangouts years ago. It was ideal for personal communications but lacked the functions of the newer team communications apps. Google added Google Chat to its Google Workplace in 2018 but updated it due to stiff competition from organizations like Zoom. It integrates with all the Google Workspace apps to form a formidable business tool.

Top Five Features

  • Messaging, Voice and Video Calls
  • Google Chrome desktop extension
  • Screen sharing
  • Part of Google G Suite
  • Uses your Google account

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: 14 days
  • Monthly: It is part of the Google Workplace Suite. $6 per user
  • Yearly: $72 per user

9. Slack

Slack is a powerful team chat tool originally released in 2013. It was already ahead of the game and has since been at the forefront of team communications apps. Slack includes excellent group video calls, and the messenger system is designed to replace your email system. It integrates messenger, email and group voice and video calls into one handy package and also integrates with over 1000 other apps and programs.

Top Five Features

  • Currently the industry leader in team chat apps
  • Massive integration ability
  • Intuitive, user-friendly interface
  • Easy file sharing
  • Searchable message history

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: free for life – small team with limited features
  • Monthly: $7.50 per user
  • Yearly: $6.25 per user paid annually

10. Facebook Workplace

Facebook Workplace is primarily a group chat and video calling app. It provides a familiar environment to share information and manage your team’s communications. Workplace has no project management features but does integrate well with your other apps and software. It’s a good way for your remote workers to feel connected.

Top Five Features

  • Easy administrative controls
  • APIs for custom integration and bots
  • Better conversations and knowledge sharing
  • Effective employee engagement and cultural change
  • Familiar environment for employees

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Monthly: $4 per user
  • Yearly: $48 per user

11. Ryver

Ryver combines project management with team communications. It allows you to organize and assign tasks to communicate with between all members. It is keeping up with the competition by now offering a beta version of its new group video conferencing call feature. Unlike the competition, it charges per team and not per user.

Top Five Features

  • New video conferencing features
  • Good project management
  • Integrates well with other apps
  • Group charges not user charges
  • Works well on all device types

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: 14 days
  • Monthly: $49 for up to twelve users, $79 for unlimited users
  • Yearly: no yearly payment option

12. Flowdock

Flowdock is primarily a team communication app. It has no integral project management system but is designed to integrate with your existing management app, and can be used with almost any other project tool your organization utilizes.

Top Five Features

  • File sharing
  • Discussion threads
  • Real-time Chat
  • Search
  • Video-conferencing (via integration with Appear.in)

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Monthly: $3 per user
  • Yearly: no option

13. Glip

Glip is purely for video conferencing large teams. The Pro version hosts up to 200 team members making it useful for big companies, group training, and holding conferences. It has no project management features but does integrate with various calendar apps.

Top Five Features

  • Extra-large meetings (up to 100 people)
  • Recordable and saves to the cloud
  • High-quality video
  • Turn meetings into group chats
  • Share screens, files, and integrate calendars

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: the basic package is free forever.
  • Monthly: Pro package is $14.99 per user
  • Yearly: Pro package is $11.99 per user per month for twelve months

14. Flock

Flock is another team communications app that focuses on team chat and video conferencing. It offers little in the way of project management but users can set reminders for team members to complete actions. Flock also lets you share files and screens whilst on video calls.

Top Five Features

  • Video conferencing
  • Team chat
  • Works across multiple device types
  • File sharing
  • Designed to replace email and messaging

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: free for life for teams up to 20 members
  • Monthly: $6 per user
  • Yearly: $4.50 per user per month

15.Twist

Twist is yet another app designed to replace your email and messaging apps to bring all your team communications together in one place. It offers a search facility to find a particular thread, and you can also create channels for specific subjects. 

Top Five Features

  • Allows team members to concentrate on work
  • Combines email and messaging
  • Integrates with other apps for project management and video conferencing
  • Threads keep discussions organized and accessible to everyone
  • Quickly find the information you need with a powerful search

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: the basic package is free for life
  • Monthly: Unlimited is $5 per user
  • Yearly: no option

16. Trello

Trello is a Kanban-style project management tool. It is not designed as a team communications app but can integrate well with other apps like Google Meet. Once integrated it becomes a formidable team management tool. You can create tasks and group them, move them between groups and assign team members to the tasks.

Top Five Features

  • Kanban-style task manager
  • Works well for small teams
  • Easy to use
  • Integrates with other apps
  • Built-in bots automate some actions

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: the basic package is free for life.
  • Monthly: Business Class is $12.50 per user
  • Yearly: $120 per user

17. Zoom

Zoom became a household name just after COVID-19 shutdowns. The sudden need for personal and business video chat catapulted Zoom into the headlines. Today Zoom is famed for its easy-to-use video conferencing, but it also offers businesses a multitude of facilities and features. It doesn’t include any project management tools but integrates with other platforms like Microsoft and Google.

Top Five Features

  • High-quality video conferencing
  • Easy to use
  • Integrates with cloud storage apps
  • Good for large meetings
  • High-quality sound

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Basic package is free for life.
  • Monthly: Pro package is $14.99
  • Yearly: Pro package is $149.00

18. Basecamp 3

Basecamp is a project management app that manages tasks and allows your team to communicate with each other. As it lacks some of the admin features of other project management apps, it is more aimed at collectives of people all collaborating on the same idea. It has no video conferencing features but does integrate with other apps.

Top Five Features

  • Extremely easy to set up and flexible
  • Flat monthly price for unlimited users
  • Supports integration with a wide variety of apps and services
  • Ideal for collaborators and remote workers
  • A good balance of project management and communications

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Personal package is limited but free for life. The business package is free for 30 days
  • Monthly:  Business Package $99 flat rate
  • Yearly:  15% discount when you pay one year in advance

19. Whatsapp

WhatsApp is purely a team chat app that is mostly used socially by families and friends. It offers free text, audio, and video chat. WhatsApp also allows file sharing and integrates with various other apps and software. Primarily designed for cell phone users, there is a web-based app for desk and laptops. WhatsApp also offers a business version of the domestic app, but it is best designed for external communications like with customers and clients, rather than internal communications for your team. It has no project management facilities.

Top Five Features

  • Great video chat for small groups
  • Free to use
  • File sharing
  • Integrates with other tools and apps
  • Familiar to most people with a cell phone

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: its free (phone data charges may apply)
  • Monthly: free
  • Yearly: still free!

20. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams offers video conference calling for teams of all sizes. It is an integral part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. It seamlessly integrates with all the different Microsoft Office apps. Combined with these Office features, it becomes a formidably powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. The downfall is your team needs to have Microsoft Office 365.

Top Five Features

  • Deep integration with Microsoft Office 365
  • Individual and team audio calls
  • Video conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • File sharing

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Free with a Microsoft account or free 30-day trial
  • Monthly: $5 per user
  • Yearly: $60 per user

21. HiBox

HiBox is a true hybrid. It combines project management tools with large group video conferencing. You can upload documents, assign functions, make virtual meetings, and chat with your team. It also has a virtual assistant that reminds you of what you have pending. Many users also rave about the lightning-fast search function. Keep an eye on this name, it has great potential!

Top Five Features

  • Combines group chat, video, and project management
  • Has AI assistance
  • Works across multiple platforms
  • Cost-effective compared to some bigger names
  • Integrates well with other apps

Cost of Basic Package*

  • Free trial: Free forever up to 10 users with limited features
  • Monthly: $4 per user
  • Yearly: $48 per user

Which One Is the Best?

Best for Big Business and Enterprises

If you already pay a premium for Google or Microsoft services, then your best option is to use either Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. This way, you do not have to pay extra for a communications app. Both offerings integrate fully with the respective office suites to create a powerful tool to manage your projects and team.

If you do not pay for Google or Microsoft, then consider an app that charges a flat rate and not per member. Examples are WhatsApp, Basecamp 3 and Ryver.

If you are video conferencing large numbers, then Glip’s basic package is capable of hosting up to 100 members in a conference video call for free.

Best for Medium Size Businesses

If you are a medium-sized business that already supplies the Microsoft or Google office suites to your team then use the Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. Otherwise, try something like HiBox that offers project management tools along with great team video conferencing and chat.

Best Value for Small Businesses

If you already pay for Google or Microsoft office then your first consideration should be Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. If you do not have either of these then you can get some quite powerful tools for free! Consider HiBox, Flock or Ryver.

Best All-in-One for Scaling Business & The Future

For many, the future is video conferencing combined with a simple to use project management tool. The physical HQ is being replaced with a virtual “hub” where not only staff, but suppliers and clients all interact with each other.

The very latest VoIP technology like NetLines is also leading things in a slightly different direction. VoIP apps are revolutionizing team communications by bundling together different chat and business features all in one place.

If you need features such as additional phone lines and extensions, an auto attendant, video conferencing and business texting, NetLines is the solution for you. It happens to be the most affordable business phone system on the market, too! NetLines can scale with your business from an entrepreneur phone system to a vital tool for your national sales team. See how our phone app compares to similar solutions.

The group video conference call is drifting away from the laptop screen and moving to the smartphone. Pocket sized group video communications using VoIP technology means you can hold the conference call from almost anywhere. Imagine this combined with satellite internet. What opportunities could open up for your business?

Draw Your Own Conclusions: What’s Best for You?

The above list of apps is by no means all there are. The apps in this list are the more highly rated, commonly used, highly praised, and offer value for money, but only you can decide which app is best for you, your team, and your clients.

You first need to decide what features you need and then find the app that most closely meets your needs. Consider the future and how your needs might change in time. Think about the costs if you expand your staff. Above all, don’t get left behind in this quiet communications revolution!

*Prices correct as of March 18, 2021. Price may vary or be subject to special offers or seasonal discounts.

Categories: Small Business

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