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Best Business Tools For Remote Communications

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Great communication tools are the single biggest factor in making remote working great. When your staff are working at home or in a coffee bar they need tools to keep them in the loop, informed and productive.

Here are some of the best communication tools to improve your team’s productivity. Increasingly though it’s not going to be about choosing one or another, but about deciding which tool works best for the work you need to get done and choosing that alongside the other tools.

Remote.co survey the market regularly and the percentages below refer to their survey data. The sample is very limited and biased by the firms that will actually talk to them. However, it does give some idea of how the market looks. You can see their survey here.

Phone

Remote working needs a robust voice communication method. If you just want to chat about the latest project with the team leader it needs to be easy and secure. It doesn’t need to wait until your computer finishes its daily update. Talking is just the simplest and most effective way of communication - we have spent millennia perfecting it. You just pick up your phone, hit a button or two and talk.

VoIP 37.2% of market

The market for VoIP is heavily fragmented with numerous players. Clearly, since this is a Birchills Telecom's blog piece we believe that our service is simply the best.


Birchills Telecom offers the simplest VoIP phone service on the planet with real phones on your desk – simple because we do all of the programming, so you don’t have to. It offers all of the power features and apps that anyone could expect plus legendary free support for ever. Features include free call recording, IVR and call queues. It offers you the perfect link in your GDPR compliance chain.

Hardware can be free and there are never any long term contracts. Best of all you can make unlimited calls from £14.00 per month per user. You can check it out here.

Skype 28.3% of market

Skype has the market dominance of Microsoft behind it. It offers collaboration tools for real time input. From within Office 365 you can record meetings, share your screen, and annotate PowerPoint, use whiteboard, polls, Q&A, and built-in IM. You buy calling plans and credits in advance. Support for real desk phones is available if you look hard. The levels of licencing are complex and just what version works with what can be hard to figure out. It often seems that Microsoft spend as long trying to work out how to charge as it does developing the product. You can see if you can understand and read a lot more by checking out this link to Microsoft


Mobile 25.7% of market

Just to be clear the 25.7% figure you see is the number of firms who report using mobile as their main remote working phone as researched by Remote.co

Mobiles are ubiquitous and offer great unlimited calling packages but:
  • Integration into business systems is nil
  • Sound quality is often poor
  • Call recording is very problematic
  • Conference calling requires external enablers

PSTN Landline 8.8% of market

Public switched network (PSTN), aka old fashioned landline phones is the technology that refuses to die. They have been associated with phone calls and reliability for years. It’s cheap, if you don’t spend too long talking but it is almost featureless. However, if you are a rich, technophobe it may just meet your requirements.


Instant Messaging
Email

The people at Remote.co didn’t include email in their instant messaging round up. I guess they would argue that it’s not really instant messaging. They would say that whilst email is OK for external discussions, when it is the de facto standard – the lack of management of messages into any kind of sensible order or structure makes it difficult to use internally. I would agree that the sheer weight of incoming mail makes it very difficult for even the most committed to keep their folders organised. However, it’s not going to die any time soon – so most businesses will choose email plus one or more of the following apps.

Slack 33% of market

The devotees of Slack are almost religious in their zeal. You organise your team’s conversations into separate private or public channels or send a direct message. It also makes it easy to share images and other files into the chat. It automatically indexes and archives any message, notification or file, and there’s no limit to how many users your business can add.

Skype 19.4% of market

Yes, Skype is back under instant messaging. It really does try to cover all the bases

Google Chat and Hangouts 23% of market

Google is fighting Microsoft Office with these components of G Suite and it’s take on collaborative working

Stride (previously called Hipchat 6.9% of market)

Stride is a Slack clone with some additions – although Stride claim that Slack was a Hipchat clone when it was first invented. Whatever those merits, it does the same, has more freeness and if you pay it is cheaper than Slack.

Yahoo IM 2.8% of market

Wow, I am amazed that companies are still using the granddaddy of all instant messaging. Simple, easy and I guess the best bit – completely free. If you want all of the tools, then this isn’t for you. If free floats your boat then maybe, but only just maybe

GoTo Meeting 1.4% of market

This is not what you would usually think about for instant messaging – but it makes it into the Remote.co list. It is the “go to” video conferencing tool – if you just want to do that. It is great that it doesn’t require you to have signed up with Microsoft or Google – so that means that anyone with the hardware can get involved.

Sococo 1.4% of market

Sococo is a real odd ball in the instant messaging field. It takes the analogy of a physical office and drops the people at their virtual desks. You can see who is where in a virtual world. Pricing information is hard to come by though.

Basecamp (previously was Campfire 1.4% of market)

Basecamp takes a project based model for instant messaging. Tasks and communications are all based around a project. If you are project based, then this is a great way to communicate.

Other Instant Messaging

Spark, Jabber and Adium

These are open 3 unique open source instant messaging apps. You get to deploy them on your own business server, free. So, if the Cloud is not for you this might be what you need.

WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business

If you want to communicate as simply as possible then WhatsApp makes it about as simple as it can be and it's free. The system is completely based around the mobile phone – but if you are using them all the time any way what could be better. The WhatsApp business app is all about instant chat between the small business and their customer. If there is a downside it's that it is owned by Facebook.

Workplace by Facebook

Speaking of Facebook, this relatively new team collaboration platform includes messaging, voice and video calling, and newsfeed features to help teams work together more efficiently. It was based on the tools that Facebook used internally. It’s more of a Slack competitor than taking on Gsuite.


Fuze

Fuze is a unified communication app and company that aims to unify voice. video and messaging into a single platform. It seems to aim at the larger, much larger enterprise.


Conclusion

Even in a world dominated by Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple there is room for choice and here we have given you some of those options. There are many, many more tools out there. Being mega large, as these firms are, doesn't always mean that the tools provided are the best or most fitting.



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