Communication is essential to both relationships and to business success.
While face-to-face interactions and boardroom meetings will always have their place, digital landscapes are now deeply intertwined with our professional journeys.
A Harvard Business Review study found that employees in the modern workplace now spend around 80 percent of their time on activities that require collaboration with other workers. In today’s business world, the importance of collaboration and communication tools are key maximising these interactions.
The modern workplace is well on its way to a total digital transformation, especially as the need to effectively manage the growing number of remote employees becomes a priority. However, all too many businesses suffer from disparate, disjointed in-house applications.
Communication platforms and software can be indispensable in facilitating better collaboration and connection in-house as well as with clients and partners.
In this article, we’ll dive into why digital communication tools in the workplace are necessary, as well as the best workplace communication apps and platforms on the market today.
Why Do Digital Workplaces Rely on Communication Apps?
There are several reason that digital workplaces rely communication apps. This includes:
- The rise of remote work: Modern businesses are embracing the remote working model, which, in turn, necessitates the use of effective communication tools in the workplace. Apps that enable real-time interaction bridge the geographical divide, ensuring teams, regardless of their location, function as cohesive units.
- Unifying disparate systems: For businesses, one of the most challenging tasks can be to bring together various in-house applications into a unified communication ecosystem. Apps serve as integration points, tying together disparate tools and ensuring seamless information flow. Gone are the days when companies had to grapple with disjointed systems; today's best collaboration apps provide a unified interface, connecting intranets, portals, learning management systems, and even websites.
- Adapting to evolving communication needs: Not only are communication tools for workplace pivotal for standard exchanges, but they also support diverse formats like video conferencing, real-time document editing, and instant messaging. The most popular communication tools in the workplace come with a suite of features that adapt to varying communication needs, be it a quick team check-in, a client presentation, or an extensive brainstorming session.
Interested in learning more? Check out this blog on the Digital Workplace Framework and how it can help your organisation.
Picking the Right Tools: What Should Businesses Look For?
While the market is flooded with options, how does one zero in on the best workplace communication apps or the best workplace collaboration tools?
- Integration capabilities: The chosen app should seamlessly integrate with existing systems, ensuring a streamlined workflow. This integration is especially vital for businesses with existing infrastructures like intranets, portals, or learning management systems.
- User-friendly interface: A tool is only as good as its adoption rate. The popular communication tools in the workplace are those with intuitive interfaces, making it easy for employees of all tech proficiencies to get onboard.
- Security and compliance: Given the sensitive nature of business communications, prioritising tools that adhere to top-notch security protocols and compliance standards is imperative.
- Scalability: As businesses grow and evolve, their communication needs might shift. Opting for scalable solutions ensures that as you expand, the tool grows with you.
Which is best for your needs?
Your business relies heavily on certain systems, platforms and applications for effective communication and productivity. So where do you start?
It might be time to ask yourself these questions:
- Are you making the most of popular social media platforms?
- Do you need to increase workflow and productivity?
- Are you managing the onboarding of new hires well and keeping current staff in the loop?
- Is your business fully optimising its communication and internal connectivity?
- Is your website central to your online presence? Are the creation and automatic updating capabilities user-friendly?
By understanding and identifying gaps, you will be in a better position to choose the right technology for your organisation.
Need more information about bridging the communication gap within your organisation?
Check out our blog post on 'How to Choose the Best online Collaboration Tools for Your Needs'.
We also have a 30 minute webinar, where we share insights on how you can implement an integrated digital workplace and intranet solution to overcome key communication challenges.
Now you know why they’re important, let’s dive into the most popular communication tools in the workplace used to improve internal communications and integrate your most essential business components.
Effective communication tools in the workplace form the backbone of modern-day professional interactions. They provide real-time messaging capabilities, ensuring employees can quickly connect, discuss, and make decisions.
In a digital age where remote work and geographically dispersed teams are becoming the norm, these apps bridge the distance, promoting clarity and keeping everyone aligned.
Microsoft Teams (previously Skype for Business) now comes bundled with the Standard and Premium Business Packages. It allows you to collaborate with other people within a dedicated online workspace where you can have conversations and share documents. It offers messaging, voice and video calls between people or groups of people.
Channels - group chat rooms - can be set up around specific topics such as work projects and can be private or public. This is a cost effective communication platform to communicate with individuals located in a different country.
Slack is a group messaging communication software with real-time messaging, archiving and search for teams, helping to keep teams engaged and improves communications around projects and topics.
You can also create private spaces with fewer team members for more confidential information.
The best workplace collaboration tools are the linchpins of team synergy. They provide tools for joint document editing, brainstorming boards, and shared workspaces.
They replicate the dynamics of a physical team environment in a digital space. This is especially crucial for teams working across different time zones or locations, these apps ensure that ideas flow seamlessly and collective knowledge is harnessed.
Dropbox is one of the most efficient and user-friendly cloud sharing solutions. Teams can use Dropbox to better manage shared files, reducing the need for email and improving the collaboration between employees.
Integrate with your intranet solution so team members can easily insert their content into a team workspace with just one click. Content can then be uploaded into Dropbox and visually displayed. A content search function is also included.
Google Workspace's (formerly G Suite) secure collaboration and productivity apps for businesses.
It includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet and more. Because it’s web-based, G Suite works in most browsers on any operating system. You also have a centralised administration interface that makes setup and management of users fast and easy.
Microsoft is a productivity software for organisations and individuals. With Microsoft 365 you have one integrated solution including Teams, OneDrive cloud storage, and Office apps with advanced security options. Connect it with your content management platform to easily browse, edit and save stored documents directly from Microsoft Office.
For example, the OneDrive Connector allows you to easily access files and documents stored in OneDrive within your intranet or portal solution. Open, comment on, adjust and save documents within the browser using Office 365 integration. This platform facilitates much more effective collaboration.
SharePoint is another tool available with 365. It is a web-based collaborative platform or an on-premise software for your employees. Connect this with your intranet to map SharePoint content to folders to allow for manual or automatic synchronisation. You can also centrally publish documents and SharePoint pages as well as images to your intranet.
Think of Confluence as a corporate wiki. It's a great tool for capturing, storing and accessing company information such as documentation, standard procedures and so on.
Dynamic pages give your team a place to create, capture, and collaborate on any project or idea, including files, ideas, minutes, specs, mockups, diagrams and more.
Video Conferencing Apps
Video conferencing apps elevate remote interactions by adding a visual dimension. They simulate the experience of face-to-face meetings, allowing participants to pick up on non-verbal cues, which are crucial for comprehensive understanding.
As businesses expand globally and remote work trends grow, these apps become vital. They humanise digital interactions, foster deeper connections, and promote collaborative discussions, ensuring that distance doesn't dilute the quality of communication.
With COVID-19 forcing office based employees to work from home, Zoom exploded in popularity. Zoom Meetings is a video conferencing platform used to host meetings. With the premium version, your Zoom meetings can cater to up to 1,000 participants, call recording, unlimited phone calls and more.
One of the reasons why Zoom exploded in popularity was that it also offers webinar hosting services. With Zoom Webinars you can have up to a massive 50,000 people on your live video webinar, with custom virtual backgrounds. Leverage interactive and dynamic qualities including Q/A, polling, hand raising, reporting, MP4/M4A recording with transcripts, and registration options such as reminder and follow-up emails.
The alternative to Zoom, GoTo is a unified communication platform that includes video conferencing, webinar and phone system solutions.
Through GoTo, you can collaborate with up to 25 high-def video feeds per session, share application and desktop information, and more. There are drawing tools included for annotation purposes, virtual whiteboards, and even easy-to-use document sharing.
Looking for enterprise collaboration tools?
The enterprise focused alternative to Zoom and GoTo, Webex by Cisco is the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars.
With Webex, you can upload files as attachments so attendees in a live webinar or meeting can see and download them directly.
Project Management Apps
Project management apps are the unsung heroes of organisational efficiency. They provide a structured platform for planning, tracking, and executing projects, ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page. By setting clear milestones, assigning tasks, and monitoring progress, these apps reduce ambiguity and enhance productivity.
Their importance is underscored by the clarity they bring to complex projects, ensuring resources are optimally utilised and objectives are met in a timely manner.
Through monday.com, you can use building blocks – such as boards, views, charts, automations, and integrations - to create a workflow sequence to run processes, projects and daily tasks.
Users start with a board, or a visual super table in which everyone on a project or team can log the tasks they need to complete and updates them with status reports and other relevant information.
Asana is another well known project management platform with similar features, but presented in a different way.
Like Monday.com, it enables you to organise your tasks visually. You can view lists, timeline or boards for your initiatives, meetings and programs. Asana offers task management, collaboration, document, workflow and project portfolio management features.
Start with a Trello board, lists, and cards to manage projects or organise tasks. And within these, you can set up to-do lists and delegate amongst colleagues, check timelines, productivity metrics and more. There’s also the option to assign comments to cards to quickly provide comments to others.
Furthermore, Trello boasts a number of integrations with apps such as Evernote, GitHub, Google Drive and Slack. You can download the app for free, but there are premium options available which give access to more features.
Basecamp is a collaboration focused project management tool that makes it easy for people to work together and communicate with one another.
Within Basecamp, you break up work into projects. Each project lets you keep track of all the tasks, deadlines, files, conversations and announcements. There are message boards, to-dos, schedules, file storage, real-time group chat, and automatic check-in questions.
Podio is an online collaboration app that automates workflows and processes.
You can select apps for the Apps Market or build your own custom app. For example, the HR department can select an app to help with onboarding and recruitment. It includes various HR Tasks, job posting, calendars, conversations and other information to assist with the onboarding process.
Jira is an issue and project tracking tool. You can create user stories and issues, plan sprints, and distribute tasks across your software team, as well as prioritise and discuss your team’s work in full context with complete visibility.
The Jira scrum board is particularly helpful for teams as it visually displays the progress of projects during the development cycle.
Communication Tools are Driving Digital Workplaces
While communication is a foundational element of business operations, the quality of that communication is often determined by the tools in use.
Whether it's maintaining team camaraderie, executing projects, or driving company-wide initiatives, the communication tools in workplace are instrumental in shaping outcomes.
Bringing these platforms and software together
No single platform or software can meet all your needs. This is why it's so important to choose ones that integrate with the existing platforms and software in your organisation.
Consider using an intranet as the foundation for your improving communication and collaboration needs. There are two key benefits of using an intranet:
- It comes with built-in integrations to several third party platforms and software including many of the ones mentioned above. This means you can use your intranet to consolidate systems and reduce costs. It also comes with free API access, enabling either your developers or the vendor's developers to extend the intranet as needed, as well as to add new integrations specific to your needs.
- It comes with dozens and dozens of built-in features including social networking tools, team workspaces, content publishing, document management and email marketing. It has the ability to replace many of the functionality of standalone communication and collaboration platforms and software.
An intranet acts as a centralised digital workplace hub for your staff, integrating to your existing systems; making it easier for your admin staff to manage content and communication, and for the rest of your staff to find this information and connect with each other.
Is your current intranet driving internal communications as efficiently and effectively as it could be? Do you currently have to ‘make do’ with your legacy intranet and/or processes and systems even though you know it’s not meeting your employee’s needs?
Here are additional resources that can help: