Instant communication apps for the workplace
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Since the smartphone has become an indispensable device, a lot of our communication is now happening in the text format on instant messenger (IM) apps. And it is only practical for a lot of the communication at work to shift to text-based chats. Apart from the immediacy and personalized communication, IM apps provide a compelling alternative to email—chat, stay connected, share files and work across multiple devices, all without wading through cluttered email inboxes, sifting through never-ending threaded conversations or getting distracted by the constant stream of junk mail. Communication apps designed for the office environment are extremely handy—and are improving constantly.
Android, iOS, Apple Watch, Web
Google Apps for Work
Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
This isn’t the standard Hangouts IM that you use to chat with friends. As part of the Apps for Work package (which also includes Gmail, Drive, a productivity suite and administrative controls), Hangouts for Business allows text and voice chats as well as videoconferencing. Chats also have a built-in screen-sharing feature, which is extremely useful if you are discussing a spreadsheet or a presentation with a colleague. It is integrated with the Google Calendar, which makes it easy to set up Hangouts meetings at work. The Google Apps for Work package costs Rs.150 per user per month, and is ideal for most workplaces, even small businesses.
Skype for Business
Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Windows, Mac, Xbox One
If your team already uses Microsoft’s Outlook email service and relies heavily on the Office suite for editing and managing documents, this makes communication easier. Skype for Business allows enterprises to add the chat functionality to the email client, and start conversations from within apps like Word and PowerPoint. This is perhaps the ideal solution if you prefer videoconference calls with colleagues in different locations. The Skype for Business subscription packages start at Rs.120 per month and go up to Rs.750 per month, depending on whether you also take subscription for the Office 365 suite of apps and cloud storage.
Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, Mac, Chrome
Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
HipChat has the standard features that one expects from IM apps meant for office use—individual and group chats, file sharing, screen sharing, search, and sync across devices. What stands out with HipChat, however, is the Integrations feature, which allows better monitoring of work by plugging into a variety of other platforms, such as Google Drive and Facebook. For example, if you add the Wunderlist list manager to HipChat, that will make it easier to create and manage team tasks.