Communication tools are now part and parcel of the modern workplace, as they continually replace the need to communicate via long email threads and other traditional, ineffective formats. The McKinsey Global Institute reported that "productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees". Communication apps and tools are now expected in the modern workplace because they have shown to have a positive impact on employee engagement and communication in the workplace. According to the PwC 'millennials at work report', "78% of millennials said that access to technology they like to use makes them more effective at work". Organisations that are not providing the right communication tools for their employees are now falling behind as their workforce becomes more disengaged, unmotivated and less connected and informed.
Workforces are becoming more reliant on effective communication technology because of the increasing rate of remote employees and dispersed workforces around the globe. Staying connected in the workplace regardless of location is vital to maintaining team morale and integral to day-to-day business operations. Organisations of all sizes are realising that communication in the workplace needs to be a number one priority as Salesforce states in this infographic that "86% of corporate executives, employees and educators say that ineffective communications is a big reason for failures in the workplace".
Indeed, there are lots of communication tools out there in the market and lots of them help in different scenarios and have unique features. From video conferencing for remote broadcasts to file sharing, private discussion channels, team and project collaboration tools to audience engagement apps, there are many reasons why you might use multiple communication tools. Some tools work really well as standalone tools and others might compliment the current suite of tools that your organisation already use, but it's important to consider what you need the tool(s) to do to overcome the company challenges that you face and to figure out how you can use the tool effectively to ultimately benefit the organisation.
To help you on this process to figuring out what tools you might need, we've compiled a list of the most popular internal communications tools that are highly rated and used by thousand of organisations to help create more productive and engaged teams.
Slack is a internal communications app and collaboration tool that is designed to make everyday workplace discussions and conversations more efficient. Thus reducing the need to send endless email communications and to help make team conversations more productive. Slack allows organisations to create private channels for different teams to communicate within, to share files and to connect with each other. You can also send direct messages and files to individual contacts. The simplicity of the inline thread messaging helps to display the progress of conversations rather than being lost in an email discussion thread.
Feature list: Channel creator and discussion channels, direct messages inbox, file-sharing, in-line messaging, API and app integrations, screen sharing, video/audio calls, admin and project management, notification and activity tracker, customisable with company branding (please see the company website for the full feature list).
"Teams" is a chat application that allows you to message your colleagues instantly, share files or resources and call them directly via a video or audio call. As shown by the image above, we have been using Microsoft Teams internally for over 2 years now and we find the tool very easy to use to connect everyone through this shared workspace. What makes it appealing is that it is an application within the Office 365 store and integrates well with the systems we already use such as SharePoint, OneDrive and other apps in the 365 store. Personally, I do like the ease of use of the application to quickly start a call and create personalised private channels for starting group conversations. It's definitely helped us to save space on our email inboxes and to be more connected.
Zoom is a video conferencing system and meeting tool that allows you to host any kind of meeting over a video/audio call. The system can be used for virtual meetings, live webinars, online training and teaching, video demos and for many other purposes. Zoom is similar to other tools like GoToMeeting, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Zoom allows hosts to give live broadcasts and present to attendees across multiple regions. Tools like Zoom are really helpful to organisations that have employees that work remotely and in different locations, so they can easily communicate with anyone and help to keep everyone informed in the same way.
Pricing: You can sign up to a free plan to test Zoom and to access the basic feature set. Paid plans start at £11.99 per meeting host. You can find all the pricing plans here to see what each plan includes.
Vevox is a real-time audience engagement app for meetings and classes. Vevox brings out the best in presenters and audiences, giving everyone an equal chance to have their say and be heard. Honest uninhibited feedback is received through intuitive live polling, text Q&A and self-paced surveys on any mobile device.
The Vevox app can be used in any meeting type to engage your employees and to share ideas or feedback live in the moment. Real-time polling and Q&A helps senior management teams/presenters to understand what the audience is thinking in that moment in time. Polling, surveys and Q&A messaging can all be anonymous meaning that there are no barriers to employees leaving feedback or feeling judged. Vevox's Q&A can also be moderated should you want to have some more control over what appears in the display of the app and on screen in the meeting, giving you peace of mind when it matters most.
Office 365 is suite of Microsoft applications that can help your team to be productive, collaborative and to connect with each other on day to day tasks. Some of these tools listed in this article are part of the Office 365 package such as Microsoft Teams and Yammer, but there are many other tools that are well known that are useful for day-to-day tasks and work with ease due to the seamless integrations in the Office suite. These other tools include SharePoint which is a collaboration tool to store and send resources to different teams, create web pages for company or departmental information and to share notes or presentations through other office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There is also a announcement section to keep teams informed with the latest news.
Pricing: Poppulo's pricing is based on licenses for the application and the amount of employees that will use the tool. To find out more please go to the website and get in contact to find out their customised packages.
Interact is an intranet that allows organisations to inform and engage their employees through several features such as forums, team discussions, personalised content, live broadcasts and more. The intranet software can be the hub of your workplace and to bring all your tools, content, communication campaigns, engagement methods and reporting into one place.
Feature list: Mobile applications, widget builder, themes, rich content builder and manager, quizzes, recognition, gamification, onboarding homepages, organisation chart, media manager, notifications, live broadcast, integrations, calendars, events, blogger tool and much more (please see the company website for the full feature list).
Yammer is a collaborative tool that allows you to share news or resources, start conversations and to see relevant company messages through the discovery feed. Yammer is an Office 365 application that allows you to connect with people across your organization through this messaging platform, so you can discuss ideas and network with colleagues around the globe.
Pricing: The standard free account includes the communication features of the tool. The premium plan includes all productivity, enterprise and support features and costs $3 USD per active user/per month. For more user accounts (5000+) there are more customisable plans with different prices, see here for all pricing plan details.
Hopefully our list gives you some inspiration and help for exploring what internal communication tools might be useful to your workplace. There are of course many other communication tools to choose from that can help increase workforce collaboration, productivity and engagement. If you have any other suggestions to add to our list then please feel free to let us know.
The important thing to note is that not all internal communication tools should be seen as a "like for like" as some applications work really well in different scenarios and as standalone tools. We advise that you carefully consider your use case for these tools and think about what features you need the most for your workplace communications and meetings. Set a criteria that you need the tool to achieve and assess your options with your team.
If you want some further tips for evaluating and choosing business communication tools then read this article: "3 simple tips for choosing the best internal communications tool".
Ben Waugh is the Content Manager for Vevox and graduated from the University of Southampton. He is a fanatic of the Creative Arts, be that journalism, art or music and he even composes film music in his spare time.
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