22 Communication Tools for Remote Teams 

September 22, 2015

11:00 am

Skype or Google Hangouts? Basecamp or Asana? Remote.co interviewed 60 remote companies to find out which tools they use to communicate, and the results are in.

Remote.co launched in July as a resource for the remote work community. The new site is a blend of articles about remote work, a listing of remote jobs, and Q&As with remote employees.

The companies they interviewed included startups like GitHub, Automattic, Balsamiq, and Trello. Remote.co aggregated all their answers to come up with the top tools for instant messaging, project management, team collaboration, phone calls, video calls, and screen sharing – all staples of the remote work experience. Read on to find out what they are:

Instant messaging

1. Slack (used by 36.2% of respondents) 

Slack is a real-time messaging app for teams that lets you create “channels” around different topics, like marketing or tech. Although transparency is encouraged, you can also send direct messages or create small groups for private communications.

2. Skype (19%) 

Skype, the classic video calling app, also offers business support with Skype for Business. In addition to phone calls and videos, this affordable service allows up to 250 people to have online meetings and message each other.

3. Google Chat (19%)

The free Google Chat lets Google users have private and group conversations that are searchable later.

4. HipChat (5.2%)

Similar to Slack, HipChat allows teams to have private and group conversations in different “rooms,” from sales to dev. It integrates with more than 80 other online tools your team might be using, such as Mailchimp, GitHub, and Google Drive.

5. Yahoo IM (3.4%) 

An upgraded version of the instant messengers of the ‘90s, Yahoo Messenger can now coordinate your business conversations. The service also lets you share files and have voice and video calls.

Project management

1. Pivotal Tracker (14.3%) 

Pivotal Tracker is a project management tool specifically designed for software teams doing agile development, so they can prioritize tasks, have conversations around features, and predict launch dates.

2. Basecamp (14.3%) 

Basecamp is a project management tool that helps teams track to-do’s, have discussions, and share files. The calendar feature is particularly useful for scheduling releases, launches, or publications.

3. Trello (12.7%) 

Trello’s project management software distinguishes itself by being very visual: tasks are organized into Ideas, To Do, Doing, and Done, and you can easily drag them from one bucket to another. Around this framework, team members can also have discussions and share files.

4. JIRA (6.3%)

Created by Atlassian, JIRA helps software teams track issues and visually see the status and priority of different tasks. The goal is to make sure projects get released on time and with the fewest bugs.

5. Asana (6.3%) 

Asana helps teams manage their projects across different departments and work groups. Within Asana, it’s easy for team members to see which tasks are due soon and for managers to keep track of what their team’s working on.

Team collaboration

1. Slack (44.6%) 

2. Yammer (8.9%) 

Under the Microsoft umbrella, Yammer is a social network for businesses that allows teams to communicate in a Facebook-like interface. Within that familiar framework, teams can also form groups, have private conversations, and share files.

3. Google Drive (5.4%) 

Google Drive is Google’s cloud file-sharing service, allowing users to share documents, spreadsheets, images, and other files. Everyone starts out with 15 GB of storage for free. For Gmail users, Drive is an alternate way to share files that might be too big to send over email.

4. HipChat (3.6%) 

5. iDoneThis (1.8%) 

iDoneThis increases visibility around a team’s progress by having team members share what they accomplished at the end of each day and sending out a summary to everyone the next morning. This boosts transparency and helps managers identify areas for improvement.

Phone calls

1. Skype (28.1%) 

2. RingCentral (4.5%) 

RingCentral replaces the traditional office phone infrastructure and places it in the cloud, so employees can make phone calls, have meetings, and communicate between different office locations.

3. Grasshopper (4.5%) 

Under the Citrix umbrella, Grasshopper helps entrepreneurs sound professional. When customers call in, they select the department or person they want to speak to, and their call is forwarded to the appropriate person’s phone – even if it’s just a cell phone or Google Voice number.

4. Google Hangouts (3.4%)

Google Hangouts are the voice and video counterpart to Google Chat. On the voice side, users can call US numbers (and other Google Hangouts users) for free, or pay to call international numbers. On the video side, up to 15 people can gather on a video call and share their screens or their files.

5. UberConference (3.4%) 

UberConference offers free conference calls with upgraded features, including the ability to dial in without a pin number and see who’s talking.

Video calls

1. Skype (35.1%) 

2. Google Hangouts (33.8%) 

3. Zoom.us (6.8%) 

Zoom offers web and video conferencing software that’s also compatible with Polycom, Cisco, and Lifesize, so you can use it right in the literal conference room.

4. GoToMeeting (2.7%) 

GoToMeeting lets you hold an audio or video meeting and easily see who’s on the call – particularly useful for webinars and presentations. You can also share your screen and record meetings to watch later.

5. Sqwiggle (now Speak) (2.7%) 

Sqwiggle’s focus is on keeping your remote team connected, so it actually sends out photo snapshots of team members throughout the day and allows you to start talking with someone in just one click. (Some teams even mount it on the wall!)

Screen sharing

1. GoToMeeting (20%) 

2. Join.me (18.7%)

Join.me is a simple service for online audio and video meetings with screen sharing. Paid accounts can invite up to 250 participants.

3. Skype (14.7%) 

4. Google Hangouts (12%) 

5. Screenhero (5.3%) 

Now part of Slack, Screenhero upgrades traditional screen sharing by allowing multiple participants to collaborate on the same screen, so viewers can explore your screen with their cursor instead of simply watching.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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