As companies grow bigger and busier and remote workers become the norm, new tools to stay productive have sprouted to keep us all working efficiently. In addition to the multitude of project management apps, new chat products have popped up to help teams talk to each other while working together remotely. Of remote teams surveyed, 84% said they use instant messaging platforms daily to interact with coworkers.

So what are remote teams using to talk to each other? While Slack and GChat are the most popular, there are new apps like HipChat and old favorites like Skype that companies use to keep in contact.

Here are the pros and cons of the top instant messenger apps used to keep remote teams connected.

GChat / Google Hangouts

Pros: Especially if your team uses Gmail for their company emails, this is a great option since the chat and hangout features are right in the emails.

  • “Off the record” feature to take discussions offline
  • Hangouts can video chat with up to 9 participants for free
  • Users can search for chats by searching in email box

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Cons: Of course this is not ideal if your company does not use Gmail services.

  • Video automatically starts (instead of voice calls only); not great for camera shy employees
  • Privacy: Google’s privacy policy isn’t the best, so if you have sensitive information that you don’t want Google to access, think twice before chatting about it
  • Outages: If Google goes down, so does your ability to chat to your team
  • Confusing invitation systems

Slack

Pros: This chat tool skyrocketed in popularity due to its user-friendly appeal.

  • Google Docs integration
  • Multiple Slack apps
  • Excellent drag-and-drop and search functionalities
  • Very helpful Slackbot

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Cons: This tool is still growing so it is lacking a few key resources.

  • No video chat functionality
  • No screensharing
  • Users have to pay for more upgraded features

HipChat

Pros: This free tool actually launched in 2010 but has recently gained popularity as companies are very happy with its video and voice functionality, as well as screen-sharing abilities.

  • Unlimited chat rooms (great for large teams)
  • Very safe encryption practices for privacy concerns
  • Numerous integrations and large amounts of file storage

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Cons: Users have criticized the poor search functionality as a drawback to this chatting tool.

  • Notification options are more limited than other chat platforms
  • Cannot host multiple groups in one account

Skype

Pros: Skype is still a solid favorite, especially since the company introduced Skype for Business.

  • Video chat, video messaging, and screen-sharing functionalities
  • Integrated with Microsoft Office for easy sharing of documents
  • Most people already have a Skype account, so easy-to-use

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Cons: While this is a great video tool, it can be lacking when using it to chat remotely.

  • The search functionality is not great
  • Limited integration features
  • Skype for Business is not free (though Skype is)
  • Confusing UI, especially during a call or conference

Team on the Run

Pros: This is a super private mobile messaging app.

  • Security is the app’s main focus
  • Walkie-Talkie capabilities
  • The app is in three languages: English, Spanish, and French

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Cons: This is a mobile feature, so if you need something for desktop, look elsewhere.

  • Some users said the setup can be complicated
  • Employees can be slower to adapt this technology and use SMS instead

There are so many instant messaging apps, so it’s important to figure out which features are most important to your team and use that to choose the best fit. Also using GAIN, your team can work remotely on social media content creation, reviews, and content approvals all in one place. Try it today: gainapp.com

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