In our previous article, we considered the most popular video conferencing software available and discussed how they can be beneficial for remote team leaders to foster face-to-face communication. Building on these ideas, it is also important to consider other methods of interaction that can be used instead of physical meetings. Text conversations are one example of a viable alternative to in-person communication and can be beneficial in certain circumstances.
Chat software is invaluable when it comes to conversations between parties who may not all be online at the same time. This enables both real-time and asynchronous messaging, providing a great deal of convenience. One of the main advantages of this form of communication is that it can be ignored, allowing the recipient to continue their work uninterrupted if they receive a message when they are “in the zone”. They can then return to the conversation at their leisure.
Holding virtual meetings is an excellent way to gain a variety of perspectives on a particular issue. Although it is not recommended to have multiple participants speaking in one meeting, it is very beneficial to receive responses from all participants through chat. This allows for a broader range of ideas and opinions to be shared, which can be invaluable when looking to find a solution to a challenge.
Furthermore, the use of chat software can create a virtual ‘water cooler’, a place for teams to come together, exchange ideas, discuss topics of interest and lighten the mood. Therefore, without further delay, let’s explore the most popular team communication tools for distributed organisations.
When to Use Chat and Instant Message
When considering text-based chat applications as an alternative to leaving a message on someone’s answering machine, it is important to bear in mind that they can be a convenient and rapid means of communication. If the recipient is available at the moment, they may even respond straight away. However, it is also possible that there may be a delay in receiving a reply if they are occupied with other matters.
Text-based chat applications provide a great opportunity for teams to hold asynchronous meetings, meaning that colleagues from all around the world can take part in a conversation at any time. This is especially useful when a daily meeting via video conference is not feasible. Therefore, if you are looking for an alternative solution, this could be the perfect choice.
Instant messaging is not only restricted to virtual teams; in fact, once you have begun to utilise it for communication with your remote colleagues, you may find yourself desiring to do the same with your colleagues in your local area. By using instant messaging, an individual can receive an answer to their query far more promptly than if they were to travel to the person’s office and wait for a response in person.
At Works, we have found that this app is invaluable for our team communication and collaboration. The ability to create channels and invite selected team members to take part is a major benefit to us. This makes it easier to find a specific comment among many, as conversations can be kept organised and relevant to particular projects.
Any member of your team can join in on any channel at any given time, so if you wish to receive some sales advice, simply ask a few individuals to join. However, it is likely that they may leave the channel as soon as the technical information becomes too complicated for them to comprehend.
Slack is a comprehensive tool for remote teams, allowing easy integration with popular tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, Asana, Salesforce and more, making it a great platform to store and access files. Furthermore, it is compatible with more than 1,500 applications, and can be easily accessed on both Apple and Google mobile devices. These features, amongst many others, make Slack a highly appealing choice for organisations with distributed workforces.
As well as providing video conferencing capabilities, Skype also has an Instant Messaging (IM) feature which we have previously discussed. Skype allows up to 25 people to join in a Group Chat. One advantage of using Skype is that it is a widely used platform, so it should be easy to contact people both within and outside of your organisation. However, one downside of Skype is that it does not have some of the more advanced features offered by other software packages, such as persistent channels and grouping. Whilst Skype is effective for its intended purpose, there are better alternatives available.
Jostle is far more than just a chatting application; it is a website which can be customised to meet the requirements of your company and encourages better cooperation between staff. Team-mates can easily keep up to date with posts containing news and updates, and teams can be assembled using straightforward communication systems.
Jostle stands out for the priority it places on its users, making it perfect for organisations with teams that are spread across different locations. The “people” tab allows users to see a photo collage of the entire team, which helps to put names to faces. Furthermore, the powerful search capabilities in the system mean that users can quickly and accurately find the person they are looking for, making it incredibly easy to get in touch with colleagues.
Jostle is a messaging software similar to Slack which allows users to share files and collaborate together. It is accessible on both iOS and Android operating systems, and includes a helpful introductory video that showcases the numerous features available. This video is a great way to get acquainted with the platform and discover all that it has to offer.
Chat may be useful for managers since it can be accessed quickly and conveniently when they are on the go.
This programme offers a comprehensive suite of remote-access features, all at no cost to the user. The primary form of communication is an instant messenger, with the option to supplement this with video chat for face-to-face conversations. It also features a built-in task manager and a file-sharing service, making collaboration with distributed teams easy. The meeting planner helps streamline coordination across time zones, making Glip the perfect solution for remote teams.
5. We Have Bitrix24.
In a recent blog post, we highlighted Bitrix as our top choice for an intranet solution. Bitrix has features that are comparable to those of Jostle, but with the added benefit of an ‘Activity Stream’ that keeps team members up to date on the activities of their colleagues. Furthermore, it can be integrated with popular social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, allowing users to tag posts with #b24 to have them appear in all related feeds.
Bitrix24 is an excellent solution to look into if you are looking for something to use within your network. It offers ‘badges’ which can be used to incentivise users to continue their progress and these small gestures can make remote staff feel appreciated and more visible when compared to their in-office colleagues. This can be a great way to increase engagement and morale among your employees.
A Little Bit of Everything
No matter your size and budget, there is a chat application out there to meet everyone’s needs. The choice between a more basic service such as Skype and a more sophisticated platform such as Bitrix24 depends on personal preferences and the other digital tools already in place. If the primary focus is on Trello, then the task management feature may not be of great significance.
No matter what course of action you take, it is essential that everyone on your team understands when and how they should communicate. Without someone to turn to when you need help, it can feel like the most difficult day imaginable.
And, as always, if you need assistance recruiting top-tier programmers for a distributed team? Please contact us via phone.