Employer Advice
June 29, 2020

Communication in the home office: These tools facilitate the interaction with your colleagues

Communication in the home office: These tools facilitate the interaction with your colleagues

Communication is the key to success. However, it is not always possible to carry out agreements and meetings in the physical presence of the conversation partners.

In our previous blog post on video job interviews we already mentioned how important it is to have at least a basic understanding of the program used. Also, in the current situation, conferences are almost exclusively held in video format, as many companies have changed their working environment to "home office" due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In this article we would therefore like to introduce you to a selection of frequently used tools and give you a brief overview of their features and costs. All programs described in the following have text, call and video call functions.

The all-time classics: Skype, Microsoft Teams & Google Hangouts

The well-known Skype is still very popular - despite its replacement by the business-oriented follow-up Microsoft Teams. Free use and simple handling also lead to extensive usage for private purposes. In our study, the tool clearly establishes itself as the front-runner in terms of the maximum number of users, as there is no limit to this. However, Skype has only a few features that support advanced management.

With Teams, the Microsoft team has successfully replaced Skype for Business and offers not only the familiar telephone calls and video conferences, but can even compete with market giant Slack, thanks to numerous management tools and large data capacities. According to an announcement, both providers are planning to cooperate: Due to the current corona crisis, work is to be done on a technology that allows users of Slack and Microsoft teams to communicate with each other.

Especially with regard to the maximum number of participants in a call, Microsoft Teams surpasses the market leader with a maximum of 250 users per call compared to just 15 participants in Slack. However, in order to be able to use the extensive features to their full extent, a paid Microsoft Office plan is required. Alternatively, free use with up to 300 members is possible, but with limited functionality. For example, audio and video calls are not included. Should the company decide to purchase a more extensive feature package, this is available from €4.20 per user per month. Thanks to Office 365 business packages, however, other programs are also included, such as e-mail hosting, writing and working programs, as well as storage space in the cloud with a minimum of 1TB and access to SharePoint as a mobile intranet.

Google Hangouts is part of the Google Suite, which already offers many opportunities for collaborative work. While the basic version of Hangouts only allows text chat and thus covers company-wide communication, the paid version also allows users to hold conferences and video calls. These can be planned in a user-friendly and convenient way by creating an event in Google Calendar. External users can also participate in a telephone call via web link. Just like the Microsoft Tools, you will quickly notice that the Google Tools complement each other very well. So if you generally rely on the G-Suite programs in your company, Google Hangouts is probably ideal for your company's internal communication processes. In addition, after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Google is offering all G-Suite customers access to premium features until July 1st.

The modern favourites: Zoom & Slack

Zoom is becoming more and more popular among both smaller and larger companies. Even in its free version, the solution offers access to all basic functions such as speaker priority and call reminders. If you want to expand this package with additional features, paid plans offer additional options for conference recording, cross-platform operation, features for creating statistics and administration tools.

Slack, the widespread organisation artist, has experienced strong growth, especially in recent years, and enjoys widespread popularity within companies. The tool is primarily known for its strong app integration and management tools. By means of different channels, projects, topics and teams can be organized as required and desired, in order to make collaboration as effective as possible. In addition, Slack offers the possibility to be easily linked to essential third-party platforms for sales managers such as Salesforce or for data exchange such as Dropbox. If the basic package, which is already very extensive, is not enough for you, the paid version also offers video and conference calls as well as even stronger features for collaboration with external parties.

The surprisingly strong outsider: Discord

At this point you might ask yourself why we have included Discord in our list. Even though the program is mainly used by gamers, it also offers some advantages for companies and is therefore underestimated by most companies. Originally developed for gamers, the program not only offers the possibilities of video conferencing and presentations, but also options for organizing teams and channels, making its free features increasingly interesting for business customers.

Discord is ideal for teams that are in a constant exchange of information. Users can continuously communicate with each other in different channels and create channels according to current projects and topics, which ensures a high degree of clarity. It is also suitable for companies of different sizes, as up to 250,000 people can communicate with each other on a single server. In this field, Discord is the second most popular tool after Skype. It is also the leader in terms of number of participants per call with up to 5,000 users per call. On the other hand, as with Skype, some weaknesses can be identified in terms of management and data storage capabilities. Basically all basic features of Discord are free, but the program also offers advanced options with its versions Discord Nitro & Discord Nitro Classic at a subscription price of $9.99 or $4.99 per user per month. 

Our conclusion

We at Taledo primarily make use of the Google Suite offers and even before the crisis we had already intensively recognized the advantages of Google Tools and therefore of course also of Hangouts and integrated them into our work processes. However, since the introduction of the Home Office, even other programs such as Discord, Skype and Slack have been used by individual teams to maintain communication and effectively exchange information and data.

Which programs do you use in your everyday work? Is there perhaps even one that we have not yet included in our overview? Feel free to share it with us and let us know which program best meets your needs!

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