Office communication can sometimes feel more like office hearsay. Bob heard that Joan had suggestions on your latest project, but none of her suggestions made their way to your ears (or inbox). It’s not that Joan doesn’t want to keep you in the loop, she just wasn’t sure which team member to bring her ideas to, so she sent them to the boss (who mentioned it to Bob, who mentioned it to… well, you see where this is going).
Instead of sending a new email to your team every time there’s a new idea for your project, wouldn’t it be cool to have all conversation about each project in a single dedicated (and searchable) place? We’ve gathered a few free tools we think can help you and your team.
“Be less busy.” How can you go wrong with a tagline like that?
Slack can be used in your browser, as a desktop app, or as a mobile app—so you know you’ll always have access to updates and your project communication. Slack allows you to create custom conversation channels based on whatever parameters are most important to you. You can have a channel for the entire Design Team and another for a specific project that combines the efforts of members from multiple teams.
As a new member joins your Slack community, they’ll be treated to a non-overwhelming tutorial showing them what to expect and how to maximize their use. With an intuitive setup, the ease of desktop notifications, and a host of available tool integrations (plus the ability to build your own integrations!), Slack may just be exactly what you’re looking for.
Cost: Free (and up)
HipChat has a lot of great, easy-to-use features, but since we already covered those in our tutorial, let’s focus on what sets HipChat apart from other solutions.
Operating out of your browser or as a native app on your Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, or Linux devices, you can set up the same kinds of groups based on teams or projects (called “rooms” in HipChat). What really sets HipChat apart is that on top of being able to communicate through text, with the paid plan you can utilize both video chat as well as screen sharing—all while staying logged into a single app!
If you’re worried about all your information living on an external server (no matter how carefully it’s protected), HipChat allows you to host your account on your own server.
Trello is a simple way to track your workflows for projects and campaigns. With a web app as well as mobile apps for both Apple and Android, keeping updated on a card is simple.
While it doesn’t offer a direct chat feature, you can keep up with all members on a task by using comments and tagging specific users. Projects, campaigns, or groups can be organized by “board” and specific tasks can be labeled and have “cards” with due dates. When a task moves into a new stage (e.g. from the “To Do” list to “Doing”), you’ll receive notifications and have the option to give further feedback.
One good feature is that while you can use Trello for improved task management, it’s compatible with both HipChat and Slack—so no matter what combination of tools you use, you know you’ll be in the loop!
Mashable called Asana “the Tesla of productivity tools” and we can see why. They’ve built a reputation for pushing the limits of productivity.
Asana allows you to organize on a team or project level, incorporates an easy-to-use task management system, and even offers chat capabilities. Not only can you get your own team on Asana, but you can add guests (clients, vendors, contractors, etc.) to your organization on a project or task basis. Plus, they have the option to keep up with all task conversations via email without ever having to log into Asana. So handy!
My personal favorite feature? The ability to create a list of recurring private tasks so I don’t have to create a physical or mental checklist every single day for my regular duties!
When it comes down to it, every company and every team works a little bit differently. The great thing about each of these tools is they give you a chance to try something new for free so you can figure out as a group which direction to go in your office (don’t forget to take time while testing).