Collaboration is key to the success of your business if you want to learn from mistakes, share best practices, and ensure alignment toward common goals. But it can be tricky to achieve when you don’t usually share the same office.
What you need is an easy-to-use solution that can help you foster a collaborative culture without breaking the bank. A team communication app could be exactly what you need, not only giving you in-app messaging, but integrations with tools like shift reminders to increase efficiency.
With so many to choose from, we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide to the best team communication apps to try in 2023. Here’s our top ten.
What are team communication apps?
Team communication apps are software that let you interact with your colleagues online through private or group messaging. But depending on the app, these could do so much more. You can use team communication tools to conduct live and asynchronous video chats, manage pending tasks, and share documents for real-time editing.
Why are team communication apps important for small businesses?
Team communication apps are important for small businesses not only because they promote collaboration and fast response, but also because they:
- Help employees be more proactive. Instead of having your employees wait until you get to the shop to solve an issue — like telling you they’re out of paper for the invoice printer — they can proactively message you through a team communication app.
- Promote collaboration. Employees can chat privately or in group chats, so they can announce if they’re running late or need help covering a shift without management intervention.
- Encourage transparent communication. Simplifying the way you make announcements to the team despite the shifts they do, allows you to have and promote open and transparent communication.
- Foster engagement. Use your team communication app to ask your team questions and run ideas by them easily. Ask about scheduling preferences and try your best to fit their requests.
- Make quick announcements. Create groups to share information with the people who’re working on a particular shift. For example, letting them know the milk supplier will be there earlier or delivering a smaller order.
- Add reminders. Send weekly reminders about who’s working that week and on which shifts to avoid schedule misunderstandings.
Key features you need to look for in team communication apps
Your team communication app needs to be functional and have a zero learning curve. It should also come with most of these features:
- Schedule-based groups. Apps like Homebase let you create automatic groups with the people that are working that day so you don’t need to add them by hand or tag everyone on a company-wide channel.
- Connections with a whole suite of tools. You want your team communication app to integrate with other tools to simplify task creation, scheduling, and time tracking. Homebase time communication app is part of a bigger all-in-one solution that connects with its scheduling, time clock, payroll, HR & compliance, and hiring & onboarding platforms.
- Granular settings. Set personal preferences for your chats and send messages to individuals, custom groups, or the entire team. Choose to make them public or private.
- Mobile app. Your team probably already communicates through their mobile phones. Pick a tool that comes with a mobile app so they can chat about work during business hours and turn off notifications when they leave.
- Reminders and alerts. Your team communication platform can also work as your reminders app. Look for one that lets you automate notifications related to shifts, schedules, ins and outs, or company announcements.
- Cost. Many team communications apps are free forever for small businesses. That’s a great way to start using it, test it out, and upgrade your plan as your business grows. Homebase lets you message your team in individual or group conversations and use the mobile app as part of the free plan.
Our top team communication app pick in 2023 (+ the rest ranked)
Use this list as a starting point and deep dive into the companies that pique your interest. These are our top ten:
- Best all-in-one solution for small businesses: Homebase
- Best for project-based businesses: Flock
- Best text and video collaboration app for medium-sized businesses: Chanty
- Best for hourly employees at desk-based jobs: Connecteam
- Best for organized and topic-based conversations: Slack
- Best for big corporations: Microsoft Teams
- Best self-hosted chat app: Troop Messenger
- Best for Google Workspace users: Google Chat
- Best team communication app for tech-savvy users: Rocket.Chat
- Best team communication app with scheduling features: When I Work
Comparison chart: Top 10 team communication apps for 2023
|Software||One-on-one chat||Group messaging||Time tracking (for an additional price)||Scheduling or time off requests (for an additional price)||Mobile app||Notifications and reminders||Pricing|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free forever plan. Then, $20-80 per location per month (plans contain other tools)|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free version. Then, starting at $4.50 per user per month|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free forever for up to 10 people. Then, starting at $3 per user per month|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free up to 10 users. Then, prices go from $29 to $99 per month + costs per additional user.|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free forever with limitations. Then, pricing starts at $7.25 per user per month.|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free version with user limitations. Paid plans start at $4 per user per month.|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||7-day free trial. Prices range from $2.5-$9 per user per month.|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free to everyone with a Gmail account. Then, Google Workspace plans range from $6-18 per user per month.|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free as it’s open-source. Enterprise plan is available at $7 per user per month (max 25), and $35 per agent per month (max 5).|
|✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||Free trial. Then, prices start at $2.5 per user per month.|
A breakdown of the 10 best team communication apps
There are hundreds of team communication apps in the market. Most of them are high-performing and easy-to-use platforms, but not all are necessarily suitable for your type of business. These are the 10 we recommend you try in 2023:
1. Best all-in-one solution for small businesses: Homebase
Caption: Use Homebase’s team messaging app to chat with your team and update them on changes or specific requests.
Homebase is an HR and team management platform that simplifies your life and daily work with a suite of solutions crafted specifically for small businesses. These tools include team communications, time clock, scheduling, payroll, and hiring and onboarding solutions.
Homebase team communications app is packed with features that bridge the gap between you and your employees. These are the most used functions:
- Individual and group messaging. Talk to your team in private one-to-one, group, or team-wide conversations.
- Integration with Homebase tools. If you’re using other Homebase products like the time clock or scheduling app, you can automate notifications regarding shifts, reminders for time tracking, or schedule changes.
- File sharing. Send important files and allow your team to read and sign through the chat app.
- In-app notes. Create notes and add them to your employees’ profiles so you can guide performance conversations.
- Shoutouts. Promote a culture that celebrates each other’s wins with these features. Everyone on your team can shout out someone for doing a good job.
Pros and cons
Homebase’s biggest advantage is that it was designed specifically to solve hourly-based business needs. It comes with a suite of tools to solve all your people management problems and it’s highly cost-efficient as you pay for location and not users. Plus, each tier gives you access to multiple platforms. Not only will you be paying less, but you won’t have integration issues, risk missing information, or spend time trying to understand each tool.
However, while you can send individual and group messages for free, you need to subscribe to a paid plan to unlock the team communication app’s complete features.
The messaging app for individual and group text is free forever. Prices for the Homebase team communication platform begin at $20 per location per month and include access to advanced time tracking, scheduling and team communication tools. For your people management tools like hiring, retention and performance tracking, time-off management, departments and permissions tools, you can opt for the Plus plan for $48 per location per month. To handle all your HR and people operations like new hire onboarding, compliance management, and labor cost insights, get the all-in-one plan for $80 per location per month.
2. Best for project-based businesses: Flock
Caption: Use Flock to chat with your team, create tasks, and send files to group conversations.
Flock is an online collaboration tool that comes with an integrated messaging platform. This chat app lets you organize information in channels and connect to other apps to boost team productivity.
Flock is a team messaging app packed with features for better communication, productivity, and security. These include:
- Advanced search. Flock lets you add filters to your searches to find what you’re looking for faster. That way, you can look for messages including a particular word, sender, or channel.
- Channel messaging. Similar to tools like Slack, Flock lets you create topic-based channels to organize conversations and avoid talking about multiple subjects in the same place.
- In-app to-do list. With Flock, you can create to-do lists right from the app and add tasks for yourself and other team members. You can also add reminders and reorganize your pending tasks in order of priority.
Pros and cons
Flock is a comprehensive and secure tool. It lets you host private conversations on an individual and channel level. Flock is a great tool for your team to be on top of pending tasks as it has a task management tab. It also helps boost productivity as it can automate to-do lists or send information to CRMs.
However, Flock isn’t necessarily the best tool for a small business like yours as it’s crafted for more corporate and project-oriented businesses. Also, the message storage is limited — 10GB per team member on the pro version.
Flock offers a free plan with limitations on search, storage, and size of video calls. Then, prices go up to $4.50 per user per month. Enterprise plans are available on a custom quote.
3. Best text and video collaboration app for medium-sized businesses: Chanty
Caption: Chanty lets you create tasks and assign them to others for instant approval.
Chanty is a secure and friendly team collaboration app for instant communication. It lets you host online team meetings with video and chat on different devices.
Chanty is mostly catered to corporations, but can also be used for small businesses, restaurants, and shops. These are three of the most popular features:
- Team-wide notifications. Tag one person or the complete group to notify them when they need to read an important message. You can use this to announce that a supplier will be coming over at 4 pm.
- Pin messages. Highlight important messages by pinning them to the conversation for easy access. Use it to have easy access to your timetables or schedules.
- Task management. Turn messages into tasks, assign deadlines, and assignees without switching apps.
Pros and cons
One of Chanty’s advantages is that it lets users add their availability and time off directly to their profiles. It’s also highly intuitive and user-friendly. If you have a small team of up to 10 people, Chanty is completely free to use.
However, while Chanty can be used for restaurants and small businesses, it’s more suitable for corporate environments and developers that need to collaborate with their teams. Hence, its current integrations are mostly developer tools and project management apps like Jira and Trello.
Chanty has a free forever plan for businesses for up to 10 employees and one group chat conversation. Then, prices start at $3 per user per month with extra charges per additional group conversation.
4. Best for hourly employees at desk-based jobs: Connectteam
Caption: Use Connectteam on your phone or computer to chat with your team members and send files.
Connectteam is a complete team communication app. This tool also comes with different products to handle operations and HR like a scheduler, time clock, and a recognition and rewards system accessible at an additional cost.
Connectteam’s communication tool lets users chat with others through text, audio, and video. Here are the most popular features:
- Surveys and polls. Launch in-chat questions in the form of polls or surveys to get your team’s thoughts and take their opinion into account before you make decisions that affect them.
- Employee handbook. Add a knowledge base of your business-specific information regarding benefits, processes, menus, or price lists so your people always have it at hand.
- Easy to use chat. Hold private one-on-one and group conversations with your peers and managers. Connect with other peers online easily even when you’re working separate shifts.
Pros and cons
Connectteam is a powerful tool for small businesses to connect and simplify communication. Users on GetApp value Connectteam’s support team and their fast responses.
While users are happy with this tool, some users believe the Connectteam app isn’t as intuitive and comes with a somewhat steep learning curve.
Prices for Connectteam’s communication app vary depending on the size of your team, storage size, and accessible features. Its basic plan is free to use for up to 10 team members. Then, prices go from $29 to $99 per month. Each plan has a user limit that you’re able to exceed for between $0.5-3 per additional user per month.
5. Best for organized and topic-based conversations: Slack
Caption: Teams who use Slack hold organized and topic-based conversations through different channels.
Slack is a popular team collaboration app for focused and organized message exchanges. It lets you hold live or asynchronous conversations through text, audio, or video.
You can use Slack in your preferred browser or by downloading the app. Its features include:
- Time-bound notifications. Slack lets you adjust notifications so you only get alerts during your working hours so your employees don’t need to be on top of messages unless they’re at work.
- Group conversations and channels. Make it easy for teams to communicate in real time by creating group conversations and topic-specific channels. Small shop employees can create channels for specific shifts, updates, feedback, or help needed.
- Automate workflows and reminders. Use Slack’s automation feature to create a workflow based on your teams’ scheduled shifts and send out automatic weekly reminders of shifts and notifications about when to start and stop the time clock.
Pros and cons
Slack allows you to have conversations with your colleagues without people having three simultaneous conversations. Instead, you can use the channels to organize topic discussions and have more focused chats.
However, some users believe that Slack isn’t as intuitive to use for non-tech savvy people and it can take some time to get used to it. Also, you need to pay for the more expensive plans to adjust security policies.
Slack offers a free plan for unlimited users but with storage, automation features, integrations, and security limitations. Then, prices range from $7.25-12.50 per user per month, based on annual billing. There’s an enterprise plan available for a custom quote.
6. Best for big corporations: Microsoft Teams
Caption: Host group or individual conversations and reply to others within the group chat with Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams collaboration software allows colleagues to communicate, share information, and work together on projects online. You can do that by chat, video, audio, or phone conversations.
Small businesses can use Microsoft Teams to hold secure, focused, and effective communication between employees. Features include:
- Calling plan. Use Teams as your store’s phone and allow customers to call your business easily. This feature comes with a voicemail, caller ID, and automated menus.
- Collaborate on files. If you use the Office suite of products, you can upload and create documents directly from OneDrive and get your employees to collaborate on files online. You can use this feature to fill out time off or shift change requests.
- Video calling. Teams lets you host video conferences with your people, so you can hold monthly meetings with all your team members to recognize the employee of the month or announce changes even when some aren’t physically present.
Pros and cons
One of the main advantages of Microsoft Teams is that you can move your phone calls from one device to another easily, so you can start the conversation from your laptop and finish it on your mobile.
On the downside, Teams can feel a bit too complex to adopt for users who aren’t familiar with online collaboration tools. Also, while you can use Teams for small businesses and local shops, it really caters to corporations who need to connect with teammates in multiple locations.
Microsoft Teams offers a range of pricing plans, including a free version and paid plans starting at $4 per user per month (based on annual billing).
7. Best self-hosted chat app: Troop Messenger
Caption: Send text, audio, or video messages through Troop Messenger’s chat app.
Troop Messenger is a business chat app that provides an array of features for teams to hold conversations, share files, and be more effective. You can use it on the web or from an app as software as a service (SaaS), or you can choose to host it on-premise, i.e. have your data stored in local servers.
Troop Messenger offers several features tailored to small businesses thanks to its ability to text, share files, and manage tasks in real time.
- Forkout. Share files and messages to multiple people in bulk. This is an alternative to group messaging that you can use to remind people about shift changes or notify employees that you’ve approved their PTO.
- Private, time-sensitive chats. Hold one-on-one conversations with your colleagues in a private chat. Your messages will disappear after an established time.
- Read notifications. Trooper Messenger lets you activate read indicators to know when your team has seen your message.
Pros and cons
Troop Messenger’s platform is user-friendly and intuitive. It’s also great for managers who work remotely as you can take control of someone else’s screens and walk them through how to use a new order system, for example.
However, Troop Messenger’s pricing can be confusing for non-technical users as you need to choose where you want to host the platform. Plus, you’ll need to pay additional fees for file storage and screen monitoring.
Troop Messenger’s SaaS version comes with a 7-day free trial. Then, prices range from $2.5-$9 per user per month.
8. Best for Google Workspace users: Google Chat
Caption: Create Spaces on Google Chat to communicate with larger, topic-based communities of up to 8,000 people.
Google Chat is a communication and collaboration platform available from a web browser or mobile device. It allows you to chat, send gifs, share files, and invite colleagues to jump on a Google Meet meeting in one click.
Google Chat is part of the Google suite, so everyone with a Gmail account can use this tool. Here are its top features:
- Spaces. Create separate group conversations and make them private or public to people with your business domain. This and the ability to answer messages in threads makes conversations more organized.
- Integrations. Google Chat integrates natively with Drive and Meet, so you can continue the conversation by editing a document live or hopping on calls from the chat tab. This is useful in case you need to call your employees and notify last-minute changes to the menu or prices. You can chat in real-time on a tab on the document, or show them what you mean on a video call.
- Schedule meetings. As it integrates with Google Calendar, you can invite people to meetings immediately or at a future date directly from your chat app.
Pros and cons
Google Chat is just for texting so it’s easy to use. It’s also free to all Google users so you can talk to your clients or vendors without having to call.
But its simplicity also makes Google Chat fall short. This tool doesn’t have as many features as other comprehensive team communication apps like Homebase or Slack. Also, you need to have a Google account and use its suite of products to make the most out of this tool.
Google Chat is part of Google Workspace, so you get it for free as soon as you pay for your business domain. This solution is free to individuals, and Workspace plans range from $6-18 per user per month. Enterprise plans are available on a custom quote.
9. Best team communication app for tech-savvy users: Rocket.Chat
Caption: Rocket.Chat lets you organize your conversations on channels and answer with text, audio, or video on the desktop or mobile app.
Rocket.Chat is an open-source and self-hosted team collaboration and chat tool. It’s free to use (for small teams) and community-based. Plus, all data is stored on local servers so you can edit the code and add features. It allows teams to communicate and share information.
Rocket.Chat comes with a large set of plugins for you to customize the app to your business needs. Its main features include:
- Shared inbox. Answer all of your customers’ questions from multiple sources (i.e. email, social media, webpage chat, SMS) in the same place. That way, your employees can answer easily as they continue with their daily activities.
- Automation. Rocket.Chat integrates with chatbot apps so you can create automated messages to answer your customers fast and with no manual intervention. For example, you can redirect them to your open hours or catalog.
- Chat history. This tool lets you host any kind of one-on-one or group conversation through text, audio, or video and keep track of everything on an archive. Users can always see the previous messages when they join a chat.
Pros and cons
One of Rocket.Chat’s biggest advantages is that it’s open-source and highly customizable to your liking. It also comes with easy-to-install plugins for better performance.
But the open-source aspect is a double-sided sword. You only get community support on the free version – which is probably all you need for your type of business. And, while customization is available, it’s not easy to do it if you’re not a developer.
Rocket.Chat is free to use for small businesses and individuals. They offer an enterprise-level plan with web support and advanced features like identity management with a maximum of 25 users and 5 agents. Prices on the enterprise plan are $7 per user per month and $35 per agent per month.
10. Best team communication app with scheduling features: When I Work
Caption: Talk to your team members individually or in groups using When I Work’s WorkChat app.
Designed for small and medium-sized businesses When I Work is a cloud-based employee scheduling, time tracking, and team communication software.
When I Work was built for clock-based businesses, and its team messaging app comes with these popular features:
- Broadcast messages. Ping all your contacts at once using this feature. Use this function only when you need to announce relevant team-wide information, e.g. when your store is closing for fumigation.
- Accessibility. Use this tool on a web browser or mobile device so you can get notified and caught up with important information at any time.
- TeamTxt. When I Work lets you send text messages from the app so you can communicate easily with employees who don’t own a smartphone or don’t have storage to download the app.
Pros and cons
When I Work’s team communication app is easy to use and highly secure. Managers and team members can craft messages and hold conversations in a simple way.
However, the team communication platform is only available when you pay for When I Work’s scheduling app.
When I Work offers two different plans for scheduling. You can upgrade each of these plans to track time and attendance. Prices for the Standard plan vary from $2.5-4 per user per month. Advanced features start at $6 per user per month.
Which team communication app is right for you?
Team chat apps can encourage open communication and collaboration. The platform that you choose needs to be a plug-and-play solution that’s easy to use and integrates with your scheduling, payroll, and time-tracking tools. These are the ones we recommend:
- If you want to organize your conversations, Slack or Flock are your best options as they let you create channels for topic-based discussions. However, these tools cater more to big corporations and people who use task management apps.
- If you’re looking for an all-in-one HR and team management platform, you can’t go wrong with Homebase.
Homebase comes with a large suite of tools that lets you handle your entire people operations without having to increase your team. It’s extremely easy to use and has a zero learning curve. The team communication app connects to the time clock and scheduling tool to simplify changes in shifts and send reminders and alerts. Plus, with Homebase, you have a team of friendly experts on hand to answer all your HR questions.
**The information above is based on our research on team communication apps. All user feedback referenced in the text has been sourced from independent software review platforms, such as G2 and Capterra, in February 2023.