When the COVID pandemic first began many people thought that remote working would only be temporary—a week or two—and didn’t worry about getting tools together that would make remote working easier. After all, what was the point?
Now, we’re close to two years into the pandemic, and remote work isn’t slowing down. In fact, many companies are remaining remote even after they were able to return to traditional work settings. In fact, it’s estimated that in some advanced economies, 20-25% of the workforce might be working remotely most of the time.
Larger companies are taking note of this as well, with places like Slack, Dropbox, Twitter, and Google allowing employees to retain at least some (if not full-time) remote work.
There are many industries that thrive in a remote work environment, like marketing, media, and design, but there are other industries you might not have thought of that are also moving to remote work. These include project management, engineering, and construction.
Teams that are now working remotely either full or part-time are having to rethink many of their processes to facilitate remote teamwork. Many of these processes include the tools they need to succeed at business.
Remote Work Benefits and Challenges
There are many benefits of working remotely, including the ability for employees to work anywhere in the world and not needing to pay for an office. Many employees enjoy the lack of a commute anymore and having more flexible hours as well as the ability to focus without the distractions of an office.
However, that doesn’t mean that remote work is not without its challenges, especially for companies that haven’t gotten the tools they need for their teams to succeed.
One of the biggest issues that can make remote work difficult is communication. It’s often easier to walk up to someone in an office and begin chatting or collaborating. It’s even simpler to ask a colleague where a file is or for help with a task. Remote teams, on the other hand, may struggle to communicate properly or engage in meaningful collaboration without the right tools.
The good news is, there are many tools that can help with remote team collaboration, sometimes with even better results than in-person processes.
What Tools Are Available for Remote Work?
Teams use a variety of different systems to make remote work viable for their team. Some of the most important are video conferencing, collaboration tools, secure file sharing, and communication tools.
Teams mostly use video conferencing systems for meetings that used to be in-person.
There are many different video conferencing tools now, but the ones you’re probably familiar with are Zoom, Skype, and Google Meetups.
Other Communication Tools
Communication is a vital part of working on a remote team. There are many tools in place that help teams communicate. For daily interactions, many remote teams use email and/or other communication technology like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Discord.
Collaboration Tools for Task Management
Collaboration tools are used so that teams can work together on tasks, track the progress of projects, and generally know what everyone on the team is doing.
Commonly used tools are Trello, Basecamp, and Asana.
Secure File Sharing
Secure file sharing is a critical element of the remote working world. Teams share files with each other constantly and often need to extend shares with clients or outside vendors. However, not all file sharing methods (like email) have the necessary security measures in place to protect your teams’ data. It’s important to consider security when selecting tools for remote teams.
Top options for secure file sharing include Dropbox, Google Drive, and FileCloud. In fact, your team can even get a free trial of FileCloud right now.
What Tools Does My Remote Team Need?
Your head might be swimming after learning about all the different tools that are available, and often necessary, for remote work.
The problem with all these tools is that you usually need to purchase them to obtain full access to all of their features (though some have free options or trials).
Another issue is that each one of your remote workers will need to have each of the systems downloaded and installed on their computers. You’ll also need to make sure each of these systems complies with your company’s security requirements.
It’s overwhelming to see all the options and decide which ones will work for your teams. The good news is, you don’t have to go through all of them to get the communication and collaboration you need for your remote team.
In fact, we created AirSend— our all-in-one, free collaboration tool—with remote teams in mind.
What is AirSend?
Here at CodeLathe, we all work remotely and have teams and employees across the globe. We understand both the benefits and challenges that come with remote work; one of the biggest challenges is context-switching.
Context switching (like constantly shifting from Slack to Zoom back to Slack) is tiring and kills productivity.
Research says context switching can cost up to 40% of your time (one to three hours of an eight-hour work day).
AirSend is an all-in-one tool that allows you to chat (via the video, voice, and messaging system), collaborate (via boards and customizable wikis), and share files securely, with integration available for your current systems.
Say goodbye to the lost productivity of context switching, and say hello to AirSend.
It’s going to change the way you work.
The Features of AirSend
AirSend can be used by teams anywhere they have an internet connection. It’s available in a web browser, as a desktop app, and also on iOS and Android, so you can stay connected, no matter where you are.
Meetings and Calls
With AirSend, there’s no need for other video conferencing tools. Instead, just click the call button within any channel and choose whether you want a voice or video call. You can also use this functionality to share your screen and show team members what you’re working on.
Collaborate with your Team
Team collaboration is one of the places where AirSend really shines. It’s easy to work with your teams in simple-to-create channels that you can use for one-on-one collaboration or for a team hubs. Other collaboration tools include:
Quickly and easily share files with anyone in your AirSend channels, and use the search function to quickly find previously shared links, media, and files.
One of the core functions of AirSend is the messaging system. Use it to collaborate on projects or for some old-fashioned water cooler chatting. You can react to messages to show you got them, tag specific people, and use common emojis.
It’s easy to manage all your projects within AirSend’s system. Create Trello-style boards, assign people tasks, and create to-dos all within your channels.
We at CodeLathe created AirSend, but we also created FileCloud, a secure file sharing and cloud storage solution—so we understand the vital importance of secure file sharing. With AirSend, you can send and receive documents and media securely within your channels and easily search and find the documents and media with our file management system.
Say goodbye to sticky notes. Within AirSend you can create team Wikis for important information like style guides, or create your own personal Wikis for project notes or personal reminders.
AirSend allows you to keep your current systems in place, with Office 365, Outlook, and Gmail integrations.
AirSend allows you to stop context switching and focus on your real work, allowing your remote team to become productive and stay that way. It’s great for a variety of different teams doing different tasks, but these teams can use the AirSend system in ways that suit their unique needs.
How Teams Use AirSend
Marketing teams use AirSend to collaborate with team members, agencies, and clients. They also use it to track content, create style guides, and track projects.
Community Building Teams
These teams use AirSend because it’s a great way to build community with unlimited messaging, free guest accounts, and customizable and public channels.
Consultants use AirSend to meet and work individually with clients, create roadmaps, and track projects and deadlines.
Many different teams use and love AirSend. You can see just a few of the brands that trust us below and check out our reviews here.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
Remote work isn’t going anywhere. It’s vital for all remote teams to collaborate and communicate without constantly context switching, costing your teams time and money.
As an all-in-one application, AirSend has all the tools you need for success in a remote world. Get your free version of AirSend today and support your remote team on the path of successful productivity and rich collaboration.
Running a smooth meeting with a distributed team can be a challenge. Though meetings provide invaluable time for collaboration, presenters should consider how their audience is affected by virtual meeting fatigue and plan accordingly (Ramachandran, 2021).
The following tips can help you make the most of their time while presenting.
Consider your audience and your purpose in speaking.
As you prepare your presentation, ensure you adopt an audience-centered perspective. Are you speaking to a general audience of people across teams? Will this presentation be delivered to a specific team that shares the same knowledge base?
Answering these questions and adapting your approach will benefit your audience. Your purpose in speaking, whether to inform your team members or to persuade them toward a certain course of action, should also guide your preparation for the presentation. A solid goal is to make the information you share as meaningful as possible to your audience.
Keep it simple.
Though it may seem that a large quantity of information may help your listeners, people can only process a limited amount at once. Additionally, video chats impose a higher cognitive load than face-to-face communication. Here are some specific methods to reduce this load for your audience:
Show your concern for your audience by focusing on a main idea. Avoid any information that doesn’t directly relate.
Be selective in what you cover on any given topic during the meeting.
Say your points in the simplest way possible without compromising the meaning of the information.
If you are using slides, use limited text and include only the most important information.
By enacting these strategies during your presentation, you can prompt the listener to focus on you (rather than reading the slides) and ease their cognitive load for better retention.
Stick to the time limit and practice.
Be respectful of your audience and other presenters by sticking to the time limit if one has been set. If not, try to plan out a reasonable amount of time (no longer than 10 minutes) for your presentation.
Practicing what you are going to say can help you stay within the time limit. Speaking aloud can also help you consider whether you are conveying information in a concise and clear manner. If you find yourself over time when you practice, refocus on your main objective and build what you want to say from there.
Speaking for your audience and presenting clearly will make a noticeable difference in listener engagement. Determining how your information relates to your listeners and adjusting your presentation strategy accordingly are important speaking skills. Though virtual meeting fatigue is here to stay, by focusing on your audience, you can be sure you aren’t putting your colleagues to sleep.
Ramachandran, V. (2021, February 23). Four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their solutions. Stanford News. https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/.
As you might have guessed, we have a new and big update! AirSend is now an extension for GSuite. Refer to old emails and attachments for a current conversation, and send them directly to your desired AirSend channel from your email! Keep teams in the loop, by sending updated emails from an outreach campaign to AirSend. Below is a video of how our extension works
Here are the steps on how to add AirSend to your Gsuite:
Visit Google Marketplace, and search for AirSend. Or you can click here to get to the page faster.
Verify the email you want AirSend to be installed with.
Visit your email.
Click on the AirSend logo located in the right panel.
Click on “Authorize Access.”
An AirSend popup window will open, click “authorize access.”
With the new semester starting off, students are looking for the ideal student apps to help them start on the new semester. These student apps can range from improving study methods to maintaining communication with friends and family. In this blog post, we will be focusing on student apps for communication. Here is our list of 2020’s best student apps for communication.
Let’s start off with our first student app, GroupMe.
GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft. GroupMe is the go-to student app. With free group messaging, students can easily chat and share videos with each other. Additionally, users can use the apps custom emojis and create personalized GIFS.
However, even though GroupMe is the mainstream student app, it is not that easy or great to use. For instance, with the new Skype call integration, students can now place calls using Skype. But my question is, why not use Skype instead of GroupMe? What is the point of implementing call functionality from another chat app into another chat app?
While the app is convenient to have, many lackluster attributes make using the app questionable. Up until now, there haven’t been any decent alternatives to GroupMe. Until AirSend.
Texting can sometimes be boring. There are new chat apps that provide the solution to mundane texting. AirSend is one of those chat apps. With AirSend, students can seamlessly chat with friends and family, manage their own workspace, and collaborate on projects with their peers. Boiled down, AirSend has everything a student needs:
Emote, sticker, and GIF messaging
Built-in File sharing
Create public communities
Communication via channels
Best of all, with AirSend, adding friends and family is super easy. Finally, AirSend offers a clean design with little-to-no clutter. Though we like to think we are the best student app, we need to give credit to other student apps that are just as great as AirSend. For instance, Kakao.
Telegram is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed. Telegram is a simple-to-use messaging app that is private, open, and powerful. What do I mean by private, open, and powerful? Let me break it down.
Private: Telegram messages are heavily encrypted and can self-destruct. Self-destruct meaning that you can eliminate all messages with no trace-down history.
Open: Telegram is an open API and source code free for everyone.
Powerful: Students can send images up to no file size limit.
Among many other attributes, Telegram is a free and much better alternative than most other chat apps. Using the app myself, I felt that it was a comfortable student app to use. Though I must admit that in the beginning, it was a bit difficult to use. Next on our list is WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is one of the more common overrated student apps. We hypothesized that the only reason students use the app is that they haven’t yet found a better alternative (but now they do). However, I still feel compelled to mention WhatsApp on our best student app list because it is highly used.
Voice and video calls
The app is extremely limited in customization, but it still gets the job done. The other major annoyance with the app is that images and videos go directly to your personal multimedia library. I do not know about you, but I would prefer not to see other people’s families in my photo library.
Each student app has its positives and negatives. Though GroupMe is the mainstream app, there are much better alternatives. AirSend and Kakao are great student apps for customization, video and audio calling, and seamless messaging. Telegram is for those who want tighter security. WhatsApp is a good app for those who are looking for simplicity and limited customization.
Due to the Coronavirus, there is an increased dependency on communication tools for remote teams. Imagine a company that has multiple teams across the globe. For global teams to work, there needs to be a working communication tool that allows productive conversations. Skype used to be the solution for remote teams.
If you are a person using Skype, there are more holistic alternatives that can deliver more than what you have. To figure out which communication tool is best for your remote teams, we provide a list of alternatives. Here are the five best skype alternatives.
AirSend is a simple communication tool designed for remote teams. Our platform provides built-in:
Video and audio calling
Task and Business management
AirSend’s capabilities will allow remote teams to work better and faster. No more distractions, everything is found in one space. Even more notable is that users can also plan and communicate on upcoming projects from multiple devices. Working from any device allows users to constantly stay in the loop without missing a beat.
Furthermore, our user interface carries a sleek and simplistic design. A clean design allows users to view all features needed for a channel, such as writing/tracking notes.
Finally, AirSend can do large file transfers, downloads, and uploads.
Discord is known for its all-in-one voice and text chat. While Discord is originally meant for gamers, they offer a lot of features for a free communication tool. Compared to Skype, Discord offers way more functionality to seamlessly get work done. With Discord, users can
Organize their servers/channels
Install bots and moderator roles
Do basic code
However, Discord is originally designed for community building. What this means is that Discord’s features and tools are made for communities. But, if you can get past the community features, which also work great for a team chat setting, then Discord may be a good choice.
Telegram is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed. The selling point to Telegram is that it is available on many of the most widely used platforms. Telegram is also free.
With Telegram, you can send messages, photos, and videos to people who have Telegram, and to those who are in your phone contacts. You can also create groups for up to 200,000 people or channels.
They also have cool features like bots, secret chats, self-destructing messages, and support large files. If you are looking for a free communication tool that carries a lot of features, Telegram may be worth considering.
Though Telegram carries a lot of features, they lack the features and functions for team collaboration. Like WhatsApp, Telegram is made for casual conversation with friends and family.
Zoom is a web-based video conferencing software. Though the platform lacks channel-based functionality, we believe that the video/audio quality is much better than Skype. With Zoom, you can have guest links and scheduled meetings. Additionally, Zoom can house up to 50+ people in a call without any lag. However, Zoom has a 40-minute call limit in the free version.
Tox is a great alternative to Skype. The tool features encryptions and is fairly easy to use. Additionally, the platform supports text, voice, and video chat. They also support screen sharing. One of the main selling points to the tool is that it has zero central servers. This means that the entire network is comprised of the users. This also means no server outages that could disrupt workflow.
As you can see, each platform carries its pros and cons. However, we believe these tools are currently the five best Skype alternatives. It is all a matter of what you feel would be the perfect team chat software and alternative to Skype.
Slack has continuously promised that they will replace email. With the launch of Slack Connect, comes the emergence of a better way to work with external partners. So, what is Slack Connect? And how does it compete with AirSend? In this blog post, we will provide a thorough overview of Slack Connect capabilities and functions. Additionally, we will compare both platforms to see, which is the ideal project management tool.
What is Slack Connect?
According to Slack’s webpage, Slack Connect is a better way to work with external partners. “Designed to replace email, Slack Connect extends channel-based messaging to everyone you work with- inside and outside your organization,” so long as they have a Slack account (Slack webpage, 2020).
The new launch allows companies to:
Collaborate with unprecedented speed
A secure connection across organizational boundaries
Automated workflow with integrations
The idea of connecting with external partners is game-changing. However, Slack Connect has a few significant setbacks. The first is that Slack Connect is not available to free users. Companies must pay for the new platform, which can be costly. For startup businesses or bootstrap companies, Slack Connect may not be an ideal choice. To see free alternatives to Slack, check out our blog post.
The second major setback is that companies must have a Slack account to use Slack Connect. In a way, this is a bit ironic to their message of working better with external partners.
When companies collaborate across organizations, the assumption is that all parties have a paid Slack account. But, what if their partners do not have a Slack account, let alone a paid version? The inability to collaborate then poses a problem.
To work with internal/external partners, everyone must have a Slack account. AirSend does not require all parties to have an account, which we will look at shortly.
In conclusion, Slack’s new feature is a useful tool for those who:
Have a Slack account
Pay for Slack
“For the most part, the channel will look and feel like regular channels in Slack but have people from different companies inside.”
Slack webpage, 2020.
The new platform is undoubtedly efficient compared to the free version. Companies no longer have to exit out of their organizations to jump into another organization. However, the current limitations of Slack’s new feature poses are the inability to collaborate with non-paid users and users who do not have Slack accounts. The final question we ask is, how does AirSend compete with Slack Connect?
Slack Connect vs. AirSend
As mentioned before, Slack’s new external function is somewhat ironic. To connect with businesses outside of your own company, external parties must have a paid Slack account. With AirSend, this is not the case. AirSend does not require external partners to have an account.
For example, Company A is looking for third-party PR agencies (Company B). Company A hires Company B. As long as Company A has an AirSend account, Company B does not need to have one. How this works is that Company B can communicate with Company A via email. Their messages will be displayed in the Company’s A AirSend channel. Doing so does not inhibit the collaboration, nor the communication. Additionally, AirSend is currently free.
Unlike Slack that offers a ton of integrations, AirSend offers built-in essentials:
In summation, Slack Connect and AirSend are both ideal tools for project management. Whereas Slack Connect finally offers external companies to collaborate with others, companies must have a paid version of Slack.
In contrast, AirSend, currently free, does not require all parties to have an account. So long as one company has an account, external parties can communicate via email. Their messages will be displayed in an AirSend channel.
Additionally, companies that use Slack have more accounts through third-party integrations. On the other hand, AirSend offers built-in essentials and no extra accounts.
It all comes down to whether companies want to have a paid version of Slack and a ton of third-party accounts through integrations. To see what others are saying about us, check out the latest review on us.
With the recent increase in remote work, many companies are having to pay for collaboration apps, such as Slack. Everyone knows Slack’s paid version is costly, but the free version is also extremely limited in functionality. Due to the limited functionality of Slack’s free plan, most companies resort to paying for Slack. See the problem?
Companies who use Slack pay more money to get work done, whereas companies who use the free version struggle to get any work done.
Slack’s Free Plan
In Slack’s free version, there is limited functionality. These limits are:
10K searchable messages
10 apps and integrations
1-to-1 video calls
These limits prohibit companies and teams to get work done seamlessly.
But what if you could have a free alternative that delivers equal or better quality than the free version of Slack?
Here is our list of free slack alternatives:
In this blog post, we will discuss the main functionalities of each free alternative. Let’s dive into the seven best free slack alternatives.
AirSend is an all-in-one collaboration tool that provides all your business essentials through built-in functionality. These essentials include:
Office 365 and Email integration
Unlike Slack, AirSend offers extensive search history of conversations and more abundant file storage (100 GB vs. 5 GB). Additionally, compared to Slack’s busy UI design, AirSend takes the approach of clean and simple.
Finally, the most notable feature to AirSend is that when it comes to having multiple clients/partners, only the host needs to have an AirSend account. Guests and external parties can communicate via email, and their message will show up in AirSend.
Chanty is a simple AI-powered team chat tool. Chanty’s features include:
TeamBook: a single hub for neatly organized tasks, conversations, pinned messages, and all the content you share.
Kanban board view
Control team spaces with roles and privileges
There is also a paid version of Chanty ($3 per user/per month). In the free version, Chanty is limited to:
Ten team members
20 GB file storage per team
Up to 10 integrations
To get the calling features, users must pay for the business plan. Chanty is a useful tool for focused collaboration. Previous users of Slack will have less trouble transitioning to Chanty due to its similar design. However, people looking for a free slack alternative that doesn’t involve a Slack-like design, may not find Chanty to be a useful tool.
Dino is a modern open-source chat client for the desktop. It focuses on providing a clean and reliable Jabber/XMPP experience while having your privacy in mind. XMPP is an open standard for communication, mainly used for instant messaging. It is a secure battle-tested protocol developed by an independent standards organization.
Features to Dino are:
Open source: anyone who downloads Dino can modify the tool to fit their needs best
Developed by Github, Dino is an ideal tool for developer collaboration. You can download Dino from certain distributions:
Alpine Linux Edge
While Dino is not limited to developers, most companies/collaborators may feel the UI/UX too complicated for everyday usage. Nonetheless, Dino is a good free slack alternative for those wanting to prioritize security.
Zulip combines the immediacy of real-time chat with an email threading model. With Zulip, you can catch up on meaningful conversations while ignoring irrelevant ones. Zulip features:
Drag and drop
Integrations and API’s
Zulip solves the lack of organization and context in Slack channels. Users who heavily use Slack have to manually scan through hundreds of messages a day to find content relevant to them. The drive behind Zulip is asynchronous communication. Zulip’s free version is limited to:
Discord is a great platform that enables all-in-one voice and text chat. Slack and Discord carry almost the same UI design. If you are looking for a “busy” design, Discord may be a good free alternative. Further, the selling point to Discord is that they give you full control over your server.
Creators of a server can establish roles, permissions, and organize channels. Like AirSend, users with Discord can seamlessly switch between private and public channels. Additionally, Discord does not offer integration with third-party apps you might use for work.
While Discord is not limited to the gaming community, the majority of the audience are gamers. Additionally, while it is also a free chat tool, Discord lacks some functionalities needed for project management/collaboration. Nonetheless, Discord is a good free Slack alternative.
The question that needs to be asked it, why pay more money to be productive when you could save money and be equally or even more productive? With Slack, companies will be paying more to get work done.
We have provided a list of the seven best free Slack alternatives. These free Slack alternatives will not only save you money but also allow you to get equal or more work done. Each tool has its pros and cons, but they all provide equal or better functionality/quality than Slack’s free version.
Want to know more about AirSend and Slack? Click here to see which tool is better for you.
Welcome back to our podcasts series! It’s been a while since we last made one of these, and with all the commotion going around, we felt that it might be time to make another post on the latest podcast. Today’s podcast theme is accounting. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best three accounting podcasts of 2020.
The Abacus show is a podcast centered around accounting careers and job searches. This podcast is excellent for first-time accountants looking to get into the industry. The Abacus show also features top thought leaders, teachers, and accounting professionals. They share their experience to help you become a top performer.
The episode we recommend for first-time listeners is: “5 simple tricks to find accounting jobs faster.”
“5 simple tricks to find accounting jobs faster.”
In this episode, learn the five simple things you can do today to speed up your job search. While listening to the episode, Hannah Morgan, a job search strategist, mentions some notable advice. Bob the CPA and host of the Abacus show preface with a question:
Bob the CPA: “What would you say is the fastest way to get your job search going?”
Hannah Morgan: “People don’t like hearing this, because their natural inclination is to jump right on the job boards. I have to say that the first thing that people need to do before they embark on a job search is really be clear about what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and really begin to pinpoint what they are best suited, and what they want to do.’
Some ideas and questions to consider while listening to this episode are:
How to think about your skills and what type of job you want.
How to identify “Target Companies” in your area.
When should you ask for help in your job search?
Why have sires like LinkedIn become so important?
Coaching Note: a new way to think about goals.
You can find the Abacus show on iTunes, Stitcher, or at their website. Onwards to the next accounting podcast.
The Accounting Best Practices podcast covers essential information on a broad range of business subjects, including accounting technology, controls, closing the books, financing, payroll, and much more. Most episodes are just 7 to 10 minutes long and are jam-packed with information. You can find their podcast on their website, Spotify, iTunes, or Google Play.
The episode we suggest for first-timers is: “Episode #286: Accounting for Investments.”
Episode #286: Accounting for Investments
In this podcast episode, some key points made by Steve Bragg, host of ABP (accounting best practices), are:
Discuss how and when you account for investments, buy security, brokerage fees, and service fees.
Discussing trading securities- when a business may have debt securities are acquired with the intent of selling them in the short term for a profit.
Discussing held-to-maturity investment and available-for-sale.
As mentioned before, each episode is jam-packed with information. This podcast is perfect for accountants and those interested in accounting—moving on to the next podcast.
Accounting Today talks with thought leaders and changemakers from across the public accounting profession. This podcast is an excellent podcast for those already in the accounting industry who want to hear the latest accounting news. Think of this podcast as a newsroom that centers on accounting. You can find this podcast on their website, iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.
A great episode to listen to for first-time listeners is: “The impact of Coronavirus on firm valuations.”
The impact on Coronavirus on firm valuations
This episode focuses on the Mergers and Acquisitions landscape and what the future will look like with the pandemic. Some key points mentioned in the episode are:
CPA firms and their interest in mergers and acquisitions due to the loss of clients from the pandemic
When can we expect to meet face-to-face with clients?
The difficulty of conducting business through meeting platforms, such as Zoom
The future of CPA firms and the virus impact- depending on the effects of the virus, there will be a boom in M&A
2021 to be the busiest year for M&A
AirSend helps accountants by providing a versatile digital workspace to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you.
When it comes to the best business communication tools, we need to take a step back and address what elements need to be considered a business communication tool. Gartner’s definition of business communication is something that incorporates a persistent conversation space where people can collaborate in teams, communities, or networks.
Ideally, a collaboration tool should offer a seamless stream of conversations, similar to a river, and a place where collaboration can happen simultaneously. Each stream of conversation should also have a channel to flow through.
It should also be a tool that allows you to work internally and externally simultaneously. By that, I mean talking with clients or future business partners (external), while also being able to converse with team members in another conversation space(internal).
Now that we have defined what a business communication tool is let’s talk about the tools out there that could be considered the best. Here’s a list of what we think are the best business communication tools of 2020:
Each of these tools will be reviewed through the lens of a business communication tool, along with other various factors, such as usability, convenience, blueprint and functionality, and solutions. Let’s begin with what we believe to be the number one business communication tool, AirSend.
AirSend is a new and simple communication tool that brings all of your productivity essentials in one workspace. To have a successful collaboration space, users need a convenient platform, simple design, and provides a solution to a problem. In this case, the problem is context switching.
Most collaborative/communicative tools believe that to have a successful contextual workspace, you need a significant amount of outside resources. In other words, the “solution” is to integrate with other tools to get the job done. But this is not a solution. Instead, it is a substitute for a solution. While integrating with other apps is undoubtedly great, efficiency is a lacking factor.
We spend most of our time switching between multiple apps to get what we need. Our time is not being appropriately used for productivity. AirSend provides a solution to this. AirSend’s vision/mission is to build a contextual workspace that improves the quality of life, maintain productivity, and increase focus.
We need a business communication tool where communication can happen seamlessly. But seamless communication is not all you need for a useful business communication tool. It would help if you also had the essentials, such as a place to track and manage tasks, file share and organization, and a place where you can keep important notes for later.
Of course, some tools carry these capabilities through the integration of other apps. The main difference between AirSend and other business communication tools is that AirSend introduces these capabilities through built-in functionality. In other words, users do not need third-party apps to get the job done.
We believe that by introducing built-in functionality, users can maximize productivity and minimize context switching. Imagine a tool where 80-90% of the user’s focus is through one medium. That is what AirSend is. Through a simplistic and clean UI, AirSend delivers built-in capabilities of task management, video/audio calling, file sharing, note management, and centralized conversation through channels.
Finally, the convenience with AirSend is that it is available everywhere. Through desktop and mobile, users can stay always stay connected.
Cisco Webex Teams combines cloud software with business communication. Also known as Saas software. Cisco Webex Teams is a safe and secure platform that integrates with other business tools to help with user workflow. One of the more renowned aspects of Cisco Webex is its hybrid solution.
The product offers multiple solutions, mainly to team collaboration, cloud calling, and video conferencing. With the cloud calling system, users can make calls from any device and any location. Cisco Webex offers its very own calling architecture, which gives users an easy path to the cloud.
With Cisco Webex Teams, users can message, meet, schedule, share files, call, and brainstorm ideas through a whiteboard.
Designed for a utility purpose, Cisco Webex positions itself as an ideal team collaboration tool. The product appeals to what most buyers look for:
A centralized conversation space
Content and application interaction
While Cisco Webex seems to solve some solutions to team collaboration through built-in capability, they do not appear to solve all the challenges. One of which is native task management. Additionally, for setting up meetings and calendar dates, a third-party application is required.
Cisco Webex Teams is a great software. It is an excellent alternative for those looking for team collaboration and outside integration. Users will find the product’s usability exciting with neat trinkets, such as built-in screen capture. However, the product is lacking in some elements. If we want to boost collaboration/productivity, shouldn’t communication tools focus on minimizing integration?
Having a conversation workspace results in high performing collaboration. But to get work done, platforms need tools (preferably native to the software/product) and a simple UI to help guide the conversation workspace. Having the essential tools and UI guide the flow of productive conversations also means guiding the flow of getting work done.
Google is another SaaS software designed to combine cloud software with team chat. Like Cisco Webex, Google Chat is another possible solution for team collaboration.
Google Chat integrates with GSuite, which allows users to access and share files, and use all the essentials GSuite offers, such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The idea behind the product is to provide a more accessible alternative to user workflow by providing all the essentials in one.
One thing to particularly note is that Google Suite is a cloud office suite. Cloud Office Suites broke into the team collaboration/chat sector with a solution. This solution was to result in work getting done faster and smarter. Of course, we all want a tool that can enable us to get the job done with convenience, and that is what Google set out to do. Google Suite provides convenient solutions of:
Streamlining communication through email and chat
Carry meetings through Google Meet
Store and share files with a cloud-based server
Increase collaboration with GSuite itself (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.).
To add to the convenience of collaboration, GSuite also offers third-party integrations.
However, GSuite is not perfect. According to various reviews found on Capterra, there is a common negative theme: UI/UX. Multiple reports state the GSuite’s UI is clunky and usually takes users through a rabbit hole of complexities and confusion. Because of the poor UI, users also say that communicating with others is difficult. The difficulty in communicating with team members poses a negative impact on productivity.
After all, to ensure productivity, a platform needs a space for centralized communication. Google Suite is a reliable strong team collaboration tool. With advanced capabilities, users can save time switching between various apps to get work done. The only downside to the product is the complexity of the UI design.
RingCentral is a communication platform designed to bring a unique communicative experience. The specialty behind RingCentral is its cloud phone system. The idea behind the platform is to reinvent the communication experience with a tool that does it all in one: Messaging, video calling, and audio calling.
Additionally, RingCentral takes their product one step further by incorporating teamwork solutions: task management, teams and direct messaging, integration of apps, and convenience.
The platform is most known for its seamless and easy-to-reach communication via the cloud phone system. With RingCentral’s cloud phone system, users can check voicemails at a glance, set up local numbers, and flip calls to any device.
They are reinventing the communication experience with convenience, which results in a new form of communication—a form of communication where work can get done seamlessly.
Though the platform focuses on effective communication, RingCentral oversimplifies its UI/UX design, making it more complicated. Users say that the overwhelming simplicity of the product leads to the confusion of many unnecessary features. In other words, there are too many non-essential features in the product. The product looks cluttered with too many openly available features.
RingCentral’s unique solution, unified cloud communication, pushes the conventional thought, and propels the communication medium’s new standard. By also adding team collaboration to the product, RingCentral is an excellent solution for both small and large businesses. However, with an oversimplified appearance, the product’s complexity could result in a lack of productivity.
Slack is a team communication tool designed to replace email. The platform functions through the integration of other apps. Slack wants to minimize and replace the time we spend buried in our emails. The solution to the problem is presenting all the information we need in one place: a channel.
Through channels, users can absorb the information they need quickly and efficiently. Additionally, with the concept of channel organization, users minimize time spent browsing through their conversation history. Image a platform that has separate channels for everything:
Social Media Channel
Users can make a plethora of channels they need. Efficient teamwork/collaboration succeeds through the incorporation of channel organizations. Having channels is excellent for organized communication, but it is not what propelled Slack to its repertoire today.
There is a reason why Slack is called “The King of Integrations,” and that’s because it is the king of integrations. Slack offers over 500+ integrations. From Google Drive to Asana, Slack’s vision is to enable workflow with everything in one space.
The concept of the product is impressive. Imagine a tool where you can quickly absorb information in a matter of minutes, while also tracking tasks and storing files through a third-party application.
That is what Slack is: a team collaboration tool powered by integrating with other third-party applications. The functionality of the product sounds simple, but when testing the product, there are some complexities.
One of the more significant challenges to the product is that Slack is a communication tool. To use Slack, users need to sign up for many of the third-party applications that Slack offers. Some of these applications are also not free, which means putting more money toward external products.
The second biggest challenge is that Slack is not ideal for multiple clients. For example, let’s say you are a business that is sustained by client relationships. If you were to choose Slack as your ideal communication medium, you would need to have multiple Slack accounts to have a client-to-client relationship.
Having the capability of making public and private channels, sharing files within channels, and having bots to help guide productivity is excellent. However, Slack lacks built-in capabilities. Instead, their concept of organizational readiness focuses on third-party apps.
Integrations are not terrible, but it is also not as efficient as we would like it to be. The reason is that we are not minimizing the context switching. We are still spending an enormous amount of time switching between various apps.
Mattermost is an open-source enterprise team communication platform that provides organizations with messaging and file-sharing tools for web, PCS, and mobiles. The company enters the team chat market industry as the first of its kind at the enterprise level: an open-source encrypted chat platform.
The problem most enterprise-level team chats face is the lack of security and privacy. Especially when developers send information-sensitive data through third-party apps. MatterMost provides the solution for DevOps and remote work:
The Cloud: deployable to both public and private clouds
Integrations and plugins
Encryption + Selh Hosting messaging
MatterMost has the potential to further grow into a more robust and secure tool. Being open-source, DevOps and users can customize the product to whatever best fits their needs.
In four years, the platform has accomplished many of the common issues team communications faces. However, the product is not finished. There are still many upcoming features, such as call and audio (currently in beta). In the future, users can expect the product to be equal with the other highly ranked team communication tools.
Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based solution designed for business communications to help teams manage chat, meet, file sharing, and team discussion. User workflow is also improved tremendously with the addition of Office 365. Boiled down, Microsoft Teams is three items:
The Cloud (One Drive)
Communication (teams and outlook)
Similar to GSuite, Microsoft Teams mission is to enable work getting done faster and smarter. However, like most tools that strive to solve all of the team collaboration challenges with a “simplified” solution, they lack a particular element; and that is designing a simple product.
Microsoft Teams follows this theme by also delivering a sophisticated tool. According to reviews on Capterra, most users agree that the UI to Teams is not well made, making the product’s usability challenging to use.
Additionally, according to a survey we made several weeks ago, users who used Microsoft Teams mention that the integration is not the best it could be. Especially with project management tools.
Microsoft Teams has the right idea of combining One Drive with team productivity applications. It is a great way to change how employees work. But with a poorly made UI, changing how people work to be more efficient will be difficult.
Symphony is a team collaboration tool made for the finance industry. One thing to note is that platforms designed to solve a specific problem or market to a particular audience, like Symphony, offer specific solutions. With Symphony, they are data encryption, compliance, and certifications. Symphony also offers various features:
Bots and apps
Automated trade flows
Collaboration capabilities: messaging, file share, and conferencing
Lately, business communication tools that adhere to both internal and external usage gain traction to industries that involve finance, consultative advice, contracting, etc. Majority of the business communication tools we see now attract internal workflow.
But, few team chats have focused on the concept of business-to-client communication (external). Symphony is one of the few business communication tools that tackle the external business-to-client conversation.
Symphony drives productivity with a kanban-like design, so users can place what’s most important first. Finally, the product is a great tool to have secure conversations with clients and enterprises.
Unify is the Atos brand for communications and collaboration. Unify’s product is Circuit. Circuit (Unify) enables organizations of all sizes to transform the way they collaborate, creating a more connected and productive workforce. This solution would result in improved team performance and business efficiency.
Unify is also available through web and mobile collaboration. The platform features:
One of the more desirable concepts to Unify is its ability to deliver more productivity with less complexity. The way the platform provides this solution is with the OpenScare Business. With its hybrid communication to its deployable cloud services. Like Cisco Webex and RingCentral, Unify also has its very own product line.
Similar to RingCentral, Unify presents a new kind of collaboration that focuses on communication. However, the product lacks some collaboration tools that could better help streamline communication. Some of the tools Unify is lacking in is task/project management and calendar management.
Unify is an extension of team/social collaboration. The addition of the OpenScape Cloud and hybrid communication is a nice touch. But again, with a focus on communication, some elements of collaboration are lacking.
Wire is a modern-day collaboration tool that meets advanced security and user experience. Similar to Symphony, Wire focuses on business-to-client and team-to-team communication.
What’s particularly worth mentioning is that Wire offers guest room access making it easy for client interaction to happen.
Personal and group chats
Wire allows you to securely add Calendars, Financial information, Development progress, Corporate News, or CRM information to conversations. With the focus and solution on security, users can send encrypted messages without fearing a breach.
Additionally, the simplistic UI design of the product makes it easy to use. Some reasons to consider Wire would be:
Guest Room functionality
What do people look for in work communication tools?
Several weeks ago, we had surveyed what people looked for in team chat apps. The results were surprising. Below is a chart of what people look for in the current team chat industry.
When looking for a business communication tool there are three common core capabilities that you need to consider:
Integration/ built-in functionality
Security and compliance
These three capabilities are the makeup for business communication. With a common problem comes a unique solution, and a unique solution emerges a new form of thinking.
Each tool listed today provides its unique solution to a common problem that we face in the team chat industry. There needs to be a channel organization or space where centralized conversation can happen to encourage seamless workflow. Secondly, there needs to be some sort of easy access to integrations or built-in collaboration tools. Finally, there needs to be a tool that has a simplistic design.
If we want to change the way people work, we need to address what is preventing us from being productive? We believe that one of the issues that prevent productivity is having too much context switching.
One-to-three hours of our day is wasted everyday switching between apps to get work done. The introduction of more built-in functionality would solve this problem.
We use AirSend as our digital workspace for our marketing team. Even though AirSend is our product, we sincerely believe that AirSend can help your organization, too. Give us a try and let us know what you think!
AirSend is a versatile digital workspace to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you.
We are back with another blog post on Discord vs. AirSend Design Edition. We recently wrote about Discord vs. AirSend Community Edition, which you can read about by clicking here. In this blog post, we are going to get a little bit technical on UI and UX capability on both community platforms. After all, when choosing the ideal chat/group software, two of the most important decision factors are UI and UX.
Without further ado, let’s talk Discord vs. AirSend: Design Edition.
UI is the design and visual appeal of a product, basically the user interface. Additionally, UI is used for branding, planning/creating product layouts (wireframes), typography, and visual design. You know when people say, “appearance is everything,” or “first impressions are the most important”? Well, it’s true. When deciding on a product to use, the first thing we notice is visual design. What and where are the layouts, the color chosen, the font, size, and color of texts, and even graphics.
More often than not, when a product does not catch our eye, we are less inclined to use it. Now that we have given an idea of what UI design is like, let’s take a look at Discord and AirSend.
Based on the first appearance, we can see that Discord’s UI is incredibly busy looking. On the right-hand panel, you can see a list of the members, moderators, patrons, and creators of the server, all in different colors.
Alternatively, on the far left side of the panel, there is a list of servers. Next to the panel of servers is another panel; which are the customized channels created for the specified server. There are also voice channels. In the middle is the conversation space.
The great thing about Discord’s UI is that it is organized. However, having the layout super organized, leaves the product to feel and look a bit overwhelming to some users.
Additionally, servers that have a lot of channels with an amazing amount of notifications to them can appear exhausting to look at or even exhausting to check.
Finally, with servers that have over 200+ members, the conversation medium can appear daunting. This is especially true when you have multiple people chatting simultaneously on several channels.
With AirSend’s UI design, users can immediately see that it is a cleaner look. There is not so much clutter compared to Discord. Instead of showing members on the right-side panel like Discord, AirSend has built-in functions. These functions are Actions, Files, and Wiki. We will explain those features in the UX section of this blog. On the left side panel, are channels. In the center is the conversation space.
Remember that the basic layout of Discord is the server, channels, and conversation space. AirSend eliminates the complexity that Discord presents by creating a simplistic layout. Instead of having three steps to getting to the conversation space, AirSend has two. Channel to conversation space. Having a simplistic UI allows for increased focus.
Think about it. With AirSend, users can easily shift their focus from one context to another. The context representing the channels. With Discord, most users have a harder time focusing because for one the UI is busy, and secondly, it takes quite a few clicks to get to the designated conversation space.
While both platforms are arguably designed for productivity, it all really comes down to what design you look for that can guarantee maximized productivity. Let’s get into usability.
UX short for user experience is a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product or service. A person’s emotions and attitudes are influenced by the functionalities and capabilities of a product or service. Hence a cycle of user experience. It is also important to note that there are some attributes that make UX a success. Those are:
Usually having a product that carries these attributes are what defines a product successful. Let’s get into the comparison
Let’s get to the bottom line of Discord’s UX. With Discord, you can,
Hide members list
Create invites if the creator of the server gave permission
Assign roles to everyone in the channel
In summation, Discord has a lot of capabilities and functions. Discord is ideally targeted to the gaming community, so having a complex design with access to code, create bots, assign roles, etc, is really helpful. But sometimes not all features are findable. I use Discord quite often, and until recently, I had no idea you could organize your servers with other servers.
As far as the desirable aspect, there are some things I personally still desire. Like, read receipts. Discord has no read receipts, so you don’t know when a community member, or a coworker, reads your message. Discord is definitely useful to a certain extent. The gaming extent. As far as usability, Discord can appear overwhelming at times, and still finding out new features after three years of using the software can be surprising.
So the golden egg with AirSend is that everything is located in one space. AirSend lets you seamlessly switch between channels, with a ready mind to focus. You can assign tasks to anyone who is in the channel, easily switch to organizing files, and working with others to creating a collaborative shared workspace.
There is also a public link feature for creating intimate groups of shared interests. Finally, there are customizable features to AirSend, such as uploading a channel background (great for branding) and uploading a channel logo.
AirSend and Discord are both wonderful products. AirSend exceeds Discord in terms of productivity. Discord exceeds AirSend in terms of community.
But, the bottom line is that UI and UX go hand-in-hand. Yes, there are specific attributes that make UI and UX succeed in their own way, but without having the other element, it will become difficult for the product to succeed.