What Are Some of the Best Cheap Workplace Communication Tools?

Contributor, Benzinga

Team communication is essential. And as the modern workplace changes and adapts to allow for more remote work and distributed teams, finding a cheap workplace communication tool is important for keeping everyone connected.

Workplace communication software helps with both instant messages for short and immediate questions and conferencing for longer, in-depth collaboration.

Benzinga explains the benefits of a team communication tool and what to look for in this type of software and offers a list of the most affordable options available.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Cheap Workplace Communication Tool?

While email is a powerful communication tool, it’s also become so prevalent that people can’t keep up. Email doesn’t offer the same level of collaboration and connection that a workplace communication tool does. Here’s a look at the top benefits these tools provide.

Real-time communication

Reach your team immediately with messaging. Email chains can become cumbersome and difficult to read as people respond and add to the conversation. Instant messaging apps provide real-time communication in a clear manner that makes it easier for teams to collaborate on projects.

Communication can be to one person or a group of people to bring remote teams together. And because apps can be on laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, people can read and respond when it’s convenient for them.

Reduction in meetings

Meetings certainly serve their purpose in the workplace. But your team could also spend all day in meetings instead of working on projects and being productive. Communication tools help reduce unnecessary meetings by keeping your team constantly connected.

Improved employee engagement

Set aside channels for employees to share exciting personal details and accomplishments. That way, you can keep these messages off email and allow coworkers to review and respond to these messages in their own time without taking away from productivity. 

Each person can set their notifications for different channels and chats to avoid interruptions from these personal messages. That way, everyone stays in touch and engaged without distracting from the real purpose of workplace communication tools.

What to Look for in the Best Cheap Workplace Communication Tool

Some online communication tools for business lack essential features that your team needs to truly collaborate. Look for these essential features when selecting your communication software.

Direct and group messaging

Allow your team to communicate one-on-one or in groups. Good software enables direct messaging between two people but also the ability to set up various groups to reach the individuals you need to.

The best tools provide each user the option to create their own groups at will. That way, when your team members need to collaborate and connect, they can with speed and ease.

Secured file sharing

File sharing is an essential element of collaborating on projects. Look for software that lets you send and receive files of all types. And if you can collaborate on a file, that’s even better.

But don’t forget to protect your valuable files. Before selecting a communication tool, review its security measures to protect your intellectual property.

User feedback and analytics

Collect valuable feedback from your team using polls, surveys, and analytics. Collaboration tools that offer insights through feedback and analytics will provide even greater benefits to your organization.

For example, run a quick poll about where to host the next office party or where to order from for a luncheon. Check to see how engaged each team member is by reviewing their analytics for response times and the number of messages they send each day.

You’ll get a better feel for how well your team is collaborating and engaging with one another.

Screen sharing

Sometimes you just need to show someone how to do something instead of telling them how. Screen sharing can be great for training or troubleshooting an issue. Show your team members exactly what you’re seeing or collaborate on a file in real-time through screen sharing.

While instant messaging and conferencing are great, screen sharing takes it one step further to help connect your workforce and enable them to be even more productive.

Conferencing

At times, you just need to talk things out as a team. Conferencing enables multiple callers to join in on the same conversation. It can help bring in team members who can’t be in the office for a meeting or connect a distributed team for your weekly digital team meeting.

Messaging and email are great for short, one-off questions, but nothing beats true conversations with others when working together. Hearing each other’s voices can also further build camaraderie to connect distributed teams. 

The Best Cheap Workplace Communication Tools

Start facilitating communication among your team with one of the best cheap workplace communication tools.

Skype

Skype provides a rich feature set for free. You can screen share, conference with multiple people, instant message, and share files all using a free Skype plan. The only time you’ll need to pay for Skype is to enable calls to phone numbers for users who are not on Skype.

Pros

  • Free video calling for groups or one-on-one
  • Place calls to phone numbers or Skype users
  • Collaborate with file sharing
  • Simple screen sharing options
  • Free and easy-to-use mobile app

Cons

  • No analytics available
  • Some privacy concerns as to what Microsoft can view

Best For: Free business communication tool

Pricing: Free unless you want to call phone numbers directly.

Zoho Cliq

Zoho offers high-quality, yet affordable, cloud-based software. Its communication and collaboration tools are outstanding and provide a much cheaper option compared to the big players like Slack and Microsoft Teams. One big benefit of using Zoho Cliq is the multi-stream layout that helps your users engage with and respond to multiple conversations simultaneously. 

Pros

  • View multiple chats at once
  • Free option for up to 100 users to help small businesses get started
  • Simple message searching options

Cons

  • Lacking in do-not-disturb or out-of-office modes
  • No Office 365 integration in the free option

Best For: Teams using Zoho software

Pricing: Free for up to 100 users. After that, it’s $1 per user per month. 

Glip by RingCentral

Glip offers a solid messaging and collaboration tool to help keep teams connected. The free tier is robust and provides everything small teams need for free. Although it lacks integration options, it does provide the necessary features to communicate with a distributed workforce.

Pros

  • Robust free plan
  • Some project management tools included
  • Up to 500 minutes of video conferencing and screen sharing per month free

Cons

  • Expensive paid plans
  • Extremely limited integration options

Best For: Small teams needing document collaboration tools

Pricing: Glip offers a robust free tier. To get access to premium options, plans start at $5 per user per month.

Google Hangouts Chat

Although you won’t find any flashy features or helpful integrations, Google Hangouts Chat is a good option for Google Workspace subscribers. You can’t get just the Hangouts Chat option without subscribing to the full suite of office products so as far as pricing goes, you have to be ready to go with all Google products. But if you’re already a Google Workspace subscriber, you should consider taking advantage of this tool.

Pros

  • Excellent integration with other Google Workspace products
  • Great price if considering Google Workspace for other uses
  • Simple user interface

Cons

  • Limited notification options
  • Doesn’t integrate well outside of Google products
  • Feature set not as robust as other competitors
  • Only available for Google Workspace subscribers

Best For: Google Workspace subscribers

Pricing: Google Hangouts Chat is only available for Google Workspace subscribers. Plans start at $6 per user per month for access to several valuable business apps.

Flock

Flock offers a good messaging app alternative to expensive options like Slack. However, you’ll be missing out on some important features like screen sharing and group video calls unless you subscribe to a paid plan. Paid plans are fairly pricey compared to competitors.

Pros

  • Good integration options
  • Free for up to 20 team members
  • Unlimited chat features
  • Free 30-day trial for paid plans

Cons

  • Expensive paid plans
  • No screen sharing or group video calls in the free plan

Best For: Getting started with business communication tools

Pricing: Use Flock for free for up to 20 users. After that, it’s $4.50 per user per month for up to 100 users. Enterprise plans require a price quote.

Ryver

Ryver lets you combine your communication tools and project management into one convenient app. If you have a large team, Ryver probably isn’t the software for you because voice and video calls are limited to 5 users at a time. But for small businesses, this software offers many great features starting at $49 per month. 

Pros

  • Messaging and project management software in one
  • Flat monthly fee instead of per-user pricing, ideal for budgeting as your team grows

Cons

  • Video calls and screen sharing limited to 5 users at a time
  • Limited feature set
  • No free plans

Best For: Small teams that need communication and project management software

Pricing: Get started with a 14-day free trial. After that, plans start at $49 per month for up to 12 users.

Team Communication Without the Large Price Tag

If you’ve looked at adding software options like Slack or Microsoft Teams and avoided purchasing due to the hefty price tag, know that you have better options. You can choose from plenty of great entry-level workplace communication tools available to help you collaborate on a budget.