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Guide to choosing the best team communication app for your small business

  • When it comes to managing your team, you have to be able to communicate important information to your staff at any time, from any place.
  • Using the right team communication app helps you have a well-staffed business that runs smoothly while keeping employees informed and happy throughout.
  • Homebase offers the best team communication app, allowing you to send messages to your staff and always keep everyone updated on the ins and outs of your small business.

What to look for in a team communication app

There’s no limit to the number of team communication apps out there. But many of them, like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams, mainly cater to large organizations and remote teams — not small businesses like yours. 

For instance, they prioritize features that most small businesses don’t need like video conferencing, screen sharing, and remote hangouts. Plus, these advanced business messaging apps offer all the bells and whistles at a higher price tag. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of features to look out for in the ideal team communication app that can support small business owners and their hourly workers. 

1. Great user experience

Your team is likely to be a bit apprehensive about downloading or having to get familiar with yet another app. And transitioning your workers to a brand-new tool might not be as straightforward as you want it to be. 

That’s why choosing a beginner-friendly solution that can streamline your team’s experience right off the bat is crucial. Your team communication app is there to save you time and get your team on the same page. So look for an option that can make everyone’s experience as good as possible. This makes it easier to get started right away with little to no friction.

2. Affordability

The second most important deciding factor is pricing. And just because profit margins might be tight, doesn’t mean your business doesn’t deserve powerful technology. So you need an app that’s either free or provides a wide range of flexible pricing options. 

Some team communication software offers extra functionalities like audio calls, AI chatbots, and custom emoji. And they’re great to have, but often make the app more expensive. Instead, it’s better to choose software that meets all of your fundamental needs and does it well, but at a lower cost. 

3. Group chat capabilities

In addition to personal and team-wide instant messaging, your software of choice needs to allow for group chat capabilities. Because having to receive notifications for every conversation can get very overwhelming for team members that don’t need to be involved. This way, owners and managers can message groups of employees according to shifts, roles, and locations

Of course, some conversations can get lost in group discussions. So your software of choice should also let you know when your team has read your messages and viewed any updates, granting you extra visibility. 

4. Privacy and security 

Seeing as you’re likely sharing sensitive information and storing personal staff documents within your team messaging app, you have to choose secure software. This also makes it much easier to get your staff on board with the transition, since you can assure them that their data is safe and no unintended recipients can get ahold of any files or bank details. So always look for end-to-end encryption, a system where only the communicating users can read messages. 

Also, many staff members might be uncomfortable publicly sharing their phone numbers, address, or even emails. Especially if they don’t know the other team members very well. So an app that doesn’t display your employees’ data business-wide is the best choice.

5. Integration options

Integrations expand the capabilities of your software and let you accomplish more things. They also allow you to easily transfer information, like files and data, between different platforms you already use. For example, Homebase’s communication tool integrates with payroll to help you run your operations easily without having to switch back and forth between the solutions. As a bonus, you also reduce the risk of making errors in transferring data from one tool to the other. 

As a small business owner, you can look for a messaging app that combines tools for:

Messaging apps with built-in integrations save you time and help you focus on doing what matters most to your business.

Top 5 team communication apps for small businesses in 2022

When running your small business, there should be no room for open-ended questions and fuzzy details. For everything to run smoothly, your employees should always be on the same page and be aware of important information like when they’re scheduled to work. In terms of project management, your staff should know exactly what’s expected of them so they’re well-equipped to get the job done. 

That’s why having an excellent team communication app is vital. Let’s take a look at the five best team collaboration software and see how they can help your team.

TL;DR: our pick for the best team communication app

We might be biased, but we truly believe Homebase is the best team communication app for small businesses with hourly teams. Whether you’re asking a quick question about availability or giving a team update, with Homebase, you can message unlimited users on your team for free. Send them their schedule as soon as you are finished building it and inform them about their wages, hours, time off, and more.

And the best part about Homebase is that your messaging system is linked with Homebase’s other team management tools. For example, with our free Basic plan, you have access to timesheets and time clocks, hiring, and scheduling. You can even add payroll to any plan for an all-in-one experience. And if you’re already using another payroll solution, you can always sync it with Homebase through our wide list of integrations.

App Price File sharing options Data encryption Integrations Top features
Homebase

Free basic plan

Upgrades start at $20 per location

  • Image
  • Files
  • Homebase’s all-in-one HR suite
  • Quickbooks
  • Square
  • Shopify
  • ADP
  • Announcements and shoutouts 
  • Automated alerts and notifications 
  • HR and compliance 
  • Data and analytics

Connecteam

Free for up to 10 users

Paid plans star at $35 per month

  • Files
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Voice messages 
  • Google Calendar 
  • Quickbooks Payroll 
  • Nextbee
  • Private and group chat
  • Employee directory 
  • Push notifications 
  • Surveys 

WhatsApp

Free basic plan

Upgrades start at 1 cent per message

  • Image
  • Audio
  • Files
  • Video
  • Dropbox
  • Hubspot CRM
  • Shopify 
  • Hi5
  • Built-in camera
  • QR code scanner 
  • Video and audio call 

Flock

Free for teams with under 20 employees

Upgrades start at $4.50 per user per month

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Images
  • Files 
  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Twitter
  • Google Calendar 
  • Integrated search function 
  • Voice messages 

Rocket.Chat

Free Community plan

Paid plans start at $7 per user per month 

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Images
  • Files 
  • Google Calendar 
  • Trello
  • GitHub
  • Video and audio conferencing 
  • Private and group chat
  • Analytics and reports

 

1. Homebase

Homebase’s messaging system integrates with cloud-based timesheets, time clocks, payroll, hiring, and scheduling to support your small business every step of the way.
Source: https://joinhomebase.com/team-communication/team-communication-app/

Homebase is an all-in-one team management app built specifically for small business owners who employ hourly workers. Our platform lets your staff easily turn their mobile device, tablet, or web browser into a collaboration tool so you can share vital information instantly. Send direct messages to individual staff, your entire organization, or create groups according to job function, shift schedules, or seniority — whatever works for you.

No more searching through texts to see what day an employee wanted off because it’s all tracked in one convenient place. Share files and images, leave specific shift notes for employees, share feedback, and simplify communication to get more time back in your day.

Top features

  • Team announcements and shoutouts
  • Automated reminders and notifications
  • Shift notes and employee feedback feature
  • File storage and sharing
  • Data and analytics
  • Time clock
  • Timesheets
  • Scheduling
  • Time tracking
  • HR and compliance
  • Options for mobile payroll with Homebase payroll

Why it works for SMBs

Every piece of our messaging app is designed to help small businesses with their unique problems. For example, our paid plans only charge per location, as opposed to some platforms that charge per employee. This means you’re able to grow your team without having to worry about a price increase every time you onboard someone new.

Also, while other messaging platforms focus on tools fit for larger organizations with hybrid and remote teams, like voice calls and video chats, we offer a lean, straightforward solution so you don’t have to pay for features you don’t use or need.

Homebase messaging also looks out for everyone by sending your team members reminders about when their shift is supposed to start, or if they miss breaks and forget to clock in and out.

Pricing

Free! You can access messaging, timesheets and time clocks, scheduling, and hiring with Homebase’s free plan.

2. Connecteam

Connecteam makes it easy for managers and employees to exchange important information regardless of location.
Source: https://connecteam.com/employee-communication-app/employee-team-chat-app/

Connecteam is an HR software solution with a colorful interface that helps business owners manage their workforce more easily. Like Homebase, Connecteam saves time and increases productivity by simplifying employee communication through easy-to-use polls, group chats, and employee handbooks.

However, some  reportedly find the pricing plans inflexible for smaller businesses, especially if you only have between 11 to 30 employees.

Top features

  • Private and group chat options
  • Employee directory
  • Surveys
  • Knowledge base
  • Shift scheduling
  • Timesheets
  • Push notifications to alert employees of new business updates

Why it works for SMBs

Connecteam is helpful to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) because it provides them with a collection of necessary tools like messaging, time tracking, scheduling, employee recognition and rewards, and document storage. So while not truly an all-in-one solution, it supports managers and business owners with a variety of tasks. Additionally, its free plan is very useful for teams with under ten employees.

Pricing

The Communications module is free for up to ten users. After that, the paid plans start at $35 per month.

3. WhatsApp

Whatsapp, the popular messaging platform, allows businesses to have secure conversations easily.
Source: https://www.cequens.com/blog/7-examples-of-how-mea-businesses-use-whatsapp-business

WhatsApp is a popular cloud-based communication tool that has the power to boost teamwork and simplify group communications. This easy-to-use software lets both you and your team send messages privately, or exchange important information in groups. You can also utilize group video and audio calls for a quick chat.

However, since Whatsapp doesn’t store personal and work conversations separately, your employees can easily get distracted by private conversations during work hours. Instead, apps like Homebase and Connecteam store messaging and other work-related functions all in one place, separate from personal affairs.

Top features

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Audio and video calls
  • Private and group messaging
  • Built-in camera
  • QR code scanner

Why it works for SMBs

WhatsApp is great for businesses who are looking for a straightforward, affordable way to communicate with their staff. The platform’s security efforts and end-to-end encryption also help employees feel more at ease with using the platform.

Pricing

WhatsApp Business is free for the first 1000 conversations each month. Upgrades start at 1 cent per message.

4. Flock

Flock has a straightforward interface and offers businesses all the fundamental features they need to boost employee communication.
Source: https://www.flock.com/

Flock is a communication and collaboration app that mainly serves the following industries and departments:

  • Engineering
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Product management
  • Human resources
  • Customer support

With Flock, you can share files, search message histories for information, and create to-dos for your staff. However, if you’re using the free plan, you won’t be able to create private channels, meaning everyone on your team can search for and join any group. This can cause some chaos and limit private conversations between supervisors and managers, for example.

Top features

  • Video conferencing
  • Integrated search function
  • Voice notes
  • Polls
  • File sharing

Why it works for SMBs

The platform’s affordability and standard communication features make it a convenient choice for small business owners with teams of less than 20 employees.

Pricing

Flock is free for teams of under 20 employees. After that, the Pro plan begins at $4.50 per user per month.

5. Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is a privacy-focused platform that simplifies team messaging.
Source: https://www.rocket.chat/

Rocket.Chat is a communications platform with a privacy-centric approach that allows you and your team to communicate in groups, channels, and individual chats. You can also send voice messages to get information across quickly, or just get everyone on a video call to discuss any important information.

Top features

  • Direct messaging
  • Private channels
  • Audio and video calls
  • Unlimited chat history search
  • Analytics and reports

Why it works for SMBs

Rocket.Chat prides itself on security and safeguarding your internal communications. So if you’re looking for a highly encrypted platform that makes it easy for you to get even your most skeptical staff on board, then this app is for you.

Finally, it’s an affordable alternative to some other more expensive, but powerful, solutions on the market.

Pricing

Rocket.Chat’s self-managed pricing plan has a free Community plan, with all the basics teams need to get started. The Enterprise plan, which offers high security and performance, starts at $7 per user per month.

Team communication app FAQs

Is there a business team communication app I can use for free?

While there are quite a few collaboration platforms you can use for free, not all of them are set up to help small businesses like yours. For example, Software giants like Microsoft Teams and Slack are free to download but are missing several features that are helpful to hourly teams such as customizable chat room features and integrations with other HR software.

Some examples of team messaging apps that are useful to small businesses include:

  1. Homebase
  2. Connecteam
  3. WhatsApp
  4. Flock
  5. Rocket.Chat

Do I need a team communication app?

Team communication apps make staff management and collaboration much more efficient for small businesses. Some other benefits of communication software include:

  • Better organization
  • Increased employee accountability
  • Higher productivity
  • Enhanced communication
  • More employee well-being and happiness

Does Homebase have a team communication feature?

Homebase’s all-in-one team management solution offers a free, easy-to-use messaging app that simplifies team, individual, and group messaging for small businesses and hourly teams.

You can also integrate the app with your other tools like your scheduling, time tracking, and payroll solution. We make sure you’ve got complete coverage for your business at all times and can communicate with your staff from anywhere.