11 communication tools every remote team needs in 2020
Updated September 24, 2020
Hello? Is it better team communication you’re looking for?
All jokes aside, with so many companies working remotely, making sure your whole team is on the same page when it comes to deadlines and deliverables can get a little tricky.
And the bigger and more distributed your team, the harder it can be for everybody to sync up. In fact, according to a report from Buffer, collaboration and communication are two of the biggest struggles for remote workers, right after loneliness and unplugging after work.
But not all is lost! There are several tools available that are specifically designed to help teams communicate and collaborate. But with so many options available, it can be tough to figure out which solution makes the most sense for your team.
That’s where we come in. In this post, we’ll look at:
- What is a communication tool?
- Why is it important to have one?
- The 11 best business communication tools out there
Kiss your days of email overload good-bye. With the right digital communication tools, you’ll be able to quickly, efficiently, and affordably connect with your team and customers and get everybody on the same (virtual) page.
What are communication tools anyway?
In a nutshell, communication tools are digital solutions that help teams collaborate and perform more productively. There are many different ways to communicate in the workplace, so naturally, there are many different tools on the market that serve different key purposes.
From team messaging to video calling, project management to task management, you pretty much have your pick of the litter. The one thing that all these tools have in common is that they help you and your team connect in real-time, even if you’re not physically in the same space.
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Why are they important?
Have you ever gotten lost in a never-ending reply-all email chain? Or had a day so full of back-to-back meetings you weren’t able to get any work done?
You’re not alone. How many hours do we lose every day digging through our inboxes and wasting time in unnecessary meetings that could’ve been a quick message or email?
While online communications tools won’t necessarily eliminate all emails or meetings, they can help you work with other people more efficiently.
For example, group messaging and chat tools let you fire off quick messages, while project management tools help employers monitor projects and quickly prioritize tasks.
With these facts in mind, it’s understandable why there are so many apps out there designed to help us communicate faster, collaborate better, and ultimately get more work done in less time.
Still, it can be tough to know which tool is right for your business. That’s why we’ve compiled the following list of communication tools. Whether you’re a two-person startup or running a Fortune 500 company, there’s a solution on this list that’ll fit your needs.
The 11 best business communication tools
Best for: teams that need an all-in-one communications solution at an affordable price point.
Instant messaging. Video conferencing. Phone calls. Task management. File sharing. You get all of that and more with RingCentral, the collaboration and communication software for business that combines all these helpful features into one unified team workspace.
With RingCentral, you can chat in real time—from any device or location. You can share links and files, create team group chats based on projects, themes, or departments, and dial into video calls and meetings with just a click.
If you’re tired of having all your emails, discussions, and resources scattered across various platforms, you’ll love how RingCentral streamlines all of your team’s communication into shared conversations, files, tasks, and calendars.
It also integrates with many popular business tools like Google Drive and Box, and it gets a lot of love from its users for how easy it is to use and how simple it is to turn conversations into actionable tasks:
“Easy to use, incredibly feature rich, and improving all the time. It needs to be experienced by more people!” – Greg A.
RingCentral Office comes in four tiers, ranging from $19.99/month to $49.99/month. You can take it for a test drive with the free trial.
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a demo:
Best for: design-forward teams that need a visually intuitive collaboration tool.
A whiteboard is a great tool for brainstorming and collaboration, but it comes up short when you’re working with remote team members. Fortunately, Miro has digitized the experience by creating a visual collaboration platform that has all the fun aspects of a physical whiteboard (sticky notes! freeform drawing!) with some extra bells and whistles. For instance, you can use pre-built templates to get started quickly, share your screen, and integrate Miro with over 20 other apps like Slack, Jira, Google Drive, and more.
Miro’s mouseover collaboration is a stand-out feature, as it allows you to see where your team members are on the board and collaborate directly with them there. Many people also like how they can access the app on multiple platforms, making it easy to use on the go. Last but not least is its infinite canvas feature, which allows you to keep related ideation projects like mind maps and customer journeys all together in one space.
“I like the large viewing area. The sticky notes and the templates that are provided are also very helpful. Being able to see where the other members of the team are pointing to is a huge plus as well.” – Ilija V.
Best for: growing teams that need a comprehensive collaboration and project management tool.
If you haven’t heard of them, Basecamp is one of the major players in the project management software market. It lets you break up your work into separate projects while acting as an encyclopedia that contains all the information you need to get your work done—all the people involved, every discussion, document, file, task, important dates, and more.
Basecamp also offers additional features to help teams collaborate like message boards, to-dos, schedules, file storage, real-time group chat, and automatic check-in questions. It’s also highly customizable and can integrate with third-party tools like time trackers.
Basecamp is pretty easy to get up and running since creating tasks is as easy as choosing a place to put them, naming them, and assigning them. It also gives you the ability to export tasks to Google Calendar or use Basecamp’s built-in calendar. Perfect for teams that need a little help staying on track. Lastly, with its flat-rate pricing for unlimited users and projects, it’s very scalable for budget-conscious growing teams or larger companies.
“Very clean minimal interface that gets out of your way and lets you get work done. Very fast and reliable. The mobile app is fantastic as well.” – Clayton C.
Best for: teams that need to send out frequent notifications, alerts, or confirmations to their staff or clients.
For companies with customers, staff, or partners that are not always online, text messaging can be one of the most effective ways to reach them. However, sending out individual messages can be time consuming. TextMagic is a business text-messaging service that allows you to send mass texts online. From appointment reminders to marketing campaigns, this app can do it all. You can use the app to convert emails into text messages, conduct two-way SMS chats, and send out bulk SMS messages to over 200+ countries.
TextMagic’s mail merge feature allows you to easily personalize thousands of text messages in a matter of seconds. You can also schedule messages in advance to be sent out at a later date and time. Lastly, their customer service team has gotten rave reviews for their quick response times.
“The workflow designer was super easy to set up, especially with the samples available. I made it work in 5 minutes!” – Aram K.
Best for: teams that are highly visual and like to see all of their projects at a glance.
Monday.com is a project management communication tool that gives teams a 360-degree view of their everyday work. You can share files, feedback, and ideas, @mention teammates, assign owners, give real-time progress updates, and see who’s doing what and when. It’s easy to hit the ground running thanks to monday.com’s ready-made templates, drag-and-drop building blocks, and no-coding-needed task automations.
One of the biggest benefits of monday.com is that it allows you to plan out your work in a visual way with its cheerful, color-coded boards. Once you’ve created a workflow or “board,” you can attach supporting files or materials, add participants, track the project’s progress, and tag specific users. Its customized templates allow teams to set up projects quickly, and once they’re set up, you can check out your projects in different formats, like a list view, calendar, or kanban board.
“It’s incredibly easy to create a workflow or “Board”, add participants and follow the progress of many tasks with ease.” – Ralph V.
Best for: hospitality or retail employers managing shift workers.
If you have a team made up of both frontline and in-house workers, then you know firsthand how tricky it can be to get everybody on the same page. Fortunately, Crew was designed specifically for these types of businesses. The app enables employers to immediately message all of their team members, manage shift schedules, and recognize and engage top performers, all in one simple platform.
Crew allows you to message your team without the need for emails or phone numbers, which can help employees keep their personal and work lives separate. It also helps employers better manage their team’s communication, as they won’t need to keep adding and deleting people from an ever-changing group chat. Lastly, its simple task management feature helps employees stay on top of urgent issues like following up with clients.
“Scheduling and communicating with everyone is a breeze. Also the reminders are great because everyone knows when they are scheduled.” – Sebastien P.
Best for: organizations with more than 20 employees that need a top-notch intranet system.
Jostle gives the traditional company intranet system a much-needed update by eliminating hard-to-navigate individual pages and replacing them with self-contained “views” that look like a personalized social media feed. The result? Employees can find what they need easily, and your intranet system is always up to date. From private messages to group discussions to company-wide announcements, Jostle is a platform that can scale with your company and adapt to your communications needs.
You can use Jostle to broadcast targeted content to large-screen TVs set up around a workplace. This can help keep your employees connected whether they’re on the floor, in the warehouse, or in the lunchroom. It also has a nifty search function that helps you find exactly what you need, fast.
“We loved how easy it was to set up, how intuitive it is to use and how fun it can be. I describe the news page as if ‘Facebook and Twitter had a baby.’” – Jennifer A.
8. Zoho Desk
Best for: customer-focused companies that handle a large volume of frequent customer interactions.
Zoho Desk is a communication and collaboration platform designed specifically for customer service teams. It offers features like ticket management, AI assistance, self-service capabilities, workflow automations and more to help teams serve their customers while also taking repetitive tasks off their plate. If you need help identifying the right trends and patterns in your team’s efforts, making improvements, and boosting performance, Zoho Desk is for you.
One of the biggest benefits of Zoho Desk is how well it integrates with other Zoho apps. (If you’re using Zoho CRM, for example, this would be a natural choice to add to your communication tools.) Still, the app stands on its own.
Many people have praised Zoho Desk’s ease-of-use, straightforward user interface, and powerful automation capabilities. Its customer portal and knowledge base are other standout features if you’re mindful of using a tool that has different channels of customer support.
“It’s so simple to set up and gives our Sales and Customer Service teams complete transparency into what the other is doing.” – Peter F.
Best for: forward-thinking companies with distributed teams.
As podcasts become increasingly popular, many businesses have adopted the medium as a marketing platform. However, they’re not just an effective external communications tool. Podcasting can also be used to deliver information to your staff. That’s how Storyboard works. The platform allows users to create private episodes for specific audiences, who can then stream, download, and listen to your podcast on their computer or mobile device, just like a regular podcast.
With Storyboard, users can invite select users to listen to a show, so you can control who has access to your content. Hosting is included in the Storyboard subscriptions, so there’s no need to spring for extra cloud storage. Lastly, because Storyboard functions like a regular podcast app, your staff can listen to your content on the go.
“We have been using Storyboard for the past six months, and they’re excellent. Their mobile apps make it as easy to listen to shows as any normal podcast app, and they offer a great solution for any company that has security requirements.” – Barbara D.
Best for: teams that love spreadsheets but need a little more power and flexibility.
Part spreadsheet, part database, and part project management app, Airtable isn’t your average collaboration tool. It offers multiple ways to view projects, such as in a calendar, list, or kanban board format. Its native mobile and desktop apps make it easy for teams to edit, comment, and collaborate in real time. Lastly, its robust file storage capabilities mean it can store pretty much any kind of content, from long text notes to barcodes.
Not only is Airtable a beautiful app to work with, it also packs a punch. It’s powerful filtering, sorting, and grouping functions give users the freedom to arrange their work in any way they like. It also has hundreds of integrations with many popular apps like Zapier, Dropbox, GitHub and more. It’s also super easy to use. If you’ve used a spreadsheet, then you’ll be able to find your way around Airtable quite easily.
“There’s a lot you can achieve with Airtable. Templates make it easy to customize for different needs. It’s a good tool for simple scheduling and task management.” – Muneeb K.
Best for: remote teams that want to make sure employees are engaged and in the loop about what’s going on in the company
Blink is an employee engagement and communications tool designed for employees on the go. With Blink, workers can access a personalized Facebook-esque feed with internal communications, videos, training, documents, and notifications through a handy mobile app. Employees can also create teams and channels to organize all of their conversations, questions, and files.
Many users like how easily they can set up and start using Blink in their organization. One big reason for this is that Blink has a desktop, web, iOS and Android app, so you can access feeds from any device. This is a big plus for field workers or employees who are in and out of the office and aren’t always working from a desktop computer. It also has a super-fast search function, so your team can quickly find what they need without interrupting their workflow.
“Blink provides me with an excellent way of communicating with colleagues and getting company updates out to the wider business.” – Helen W.
What are the best communication tools?
There are so many factors you need to consider when choosing an effective communication tool for your workplace.
For instance, depending on the size of your team, you may want to consider a free tool or a more robust one with a flat rate or a low cost per user.
If you can find a communication tool that does multiple things—for example, one that lets you create and manage tasks in addition to video chatting and team messaging—that’ll help your budget go further.
Lastly, make sure that whatever app you choose, it gives you multiple communication options. Instant messaging might be fun, but video and voice calling will truly help your team stay connected, get that face time, and feel like they are part of the team, no matter where they happen to be.
With the right app for your needs, you’ll be amazed at how much more productive and organized it’ll make your team.
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