Team chat: 10 best apps for a distributed workplace in 2024

Sara Ana Cemazar
February 9, 2023
min read

Team chat is the best proof that the way we communicate at work has changed.

Not that long ago, who would have thought that you could reach your coworkers in another time zone so quickly and informally, and actually get a reply within minutes?

With the rise of distributed teams and hybrid work, team chat became an integral part of the remote work tools collection. But, there are so many solutions on the market that it's hard to choose the best one for your team.

Read on to learn what are the best team chat apps on the market and how they differ to choose the right solution for your team and organization.

What is a team chat?

Simply put, team chat app is an instant messaging solution that enables you to easily communicate with your colleagues

Think of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but with features that enable you and your team to more easily manage business projects.

With team chat, you can reach anybody from your company, and sometimes external partners and clients too. Moreover, you can create or join group chats, or discuss certain topics in team channels or discussions.

In other words, team chat apps are solutions that make business communication more efficient and streamlined.

Most important features of a team chat

How do you differentiate a good team chat from a bad one?

A good team chat should both be liked by its users and uphold the organization-level criteria (security, scalability, and others). When combined, these traits will ensure that the team chat is actually used and people don't resort to other channels of communication.

Here's an overview of the most important features that a team chat should entail:

  • User experience: is it easy to use the app? Team members need to use the chat on daily basis. They need to learn to navigate it quickly, and the UX should be seamless.
  • Organization and collaboration: do users have advanced options to organize their conversations? Threads, teams, discussions, and more are useful additions to the chat itself. Moreover, collaboration needs to be made easy by enabling file sharing, audio messages, and more.
  • Integrations: to integrate the team chat app in your teams' workflow, it needs to fit in well with the existing tech stack they already use. This also extends to integrations with video conferencing apps if they're not native to the team chat solution.
  • Privacy and security: in the digital world, data privacy and security are paramount. Team chat apps should represent secure channels for exchanging confidential information without the risk of exposure.
  • Flexibility and scalability: is the app flexible enough to fit within the existing infrastructure? Is it flexible enough to let the team scale to more team members?

Top 10 team chat apps

There can be no consensus on what the best team chat app is. Every company finds different features important. Organizations operate in different industries, different regions, and are of different size. That's why every organization will appreciate some team chat features over others.

We've listed the ten team chat apps that have a good reputation among distributed teams of various organization sizes, regions, and industries:

1. Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is a versatile open source messaging platform that's frequently listed as one of the most secure collaboration tools for privacy-conscious organizations. It can be hosted on-premise, giving organizations full control over their data.

With this team chat app, teams can stay connected no matter when they work from and when they work. They can organize the communication in teams, channels, and discussions. Integrations with video conferencing tools and project management apps make it easy to keep on top of daily tasks.

Rocket.Chat is a unique team chat app for cross-functional teams. As it's interoperable, this means that Rocket.Chat users can securely communicate with people in partnering organizations who use another solution on their end. This feature comes especially handy in the public sector.

Key features of Rocket.Chat

  • Easy to use
  • Matrix federation
  • Interoperable with other team chat solutions
  • Deploying to a secure cloud or on-premise
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Chat history
  • 150+ integrations on the marketplace

Best for: distributed teams in highly-regulated industries

2. Slack

team chat

Slack is certainly one of the pioneers among team chat apps. It was one of the solutions that popularized business instant messaging.

Remote teams love Slack because of its superb UI/UX. It's easy to organize and manage conversations, send files and audio messages.

Even though it has great team communication features, some organizations find it lacking in security options. Also, the steep pricing models is giving way to Slack alternatives' popularity.

Key features of Slack

  • Advanced search of conversations
  • Read receipts
  • Messaging capabilities
  • Audio and video conversations with screen sharing
  • Rich integrations portfolio

Best for: small to mid-sized teams that don't need to customize their chat too much

3. Microsoft Teams

team chat

MS Teams is one of the most widely used team chat apps in the business world. This is no surprise since Microsoft has a very big customer base - every MS Office user also has access to MS Teams.

MS Teams is mostly used in large organizations that already pay for extensive MS Office licenses, therefore making it easier to manage expenses and use a ready-made solution from a trusted vendor.

Key features of Microsoft Teams

  • One-to-one and group chats
  • Audio and video calling
  • Rich online meetings
  • Assistant bots
  • @mentions

Best for: enterprise organizations with standard enterprise security needs outside the EU (MS 365 is somewhat conflicting with the GDPR - read about it here)

4. Twist

team chat app

Twist is an interesting team chat app that truly caters' to remote workers' productivity. Namely, it doesn't feature presence indicators and offers advanced notification management so employees can catch up with chat in their own time.

This makes it a very useful tool for teams that require focus time and don't want to be disturbed by overwhelming communication.

Key features of Twist

  • Structured channels
  • Conversations organized in threads
  • Smart notifications system
  • Context sharing (TLDR for new conversation participants)
  • Rich integrations portfolio

Best for: distributed teams that focus on deep work and async communication

5. Flock

team chat

Flock is one of the most popular team chat apps on the market. It's used by teams to talk when working remotely. However, it also features simple features that help remote-working individuals to organize their work better, such as reminders and to-dos.

Built-in video conferencing allows teams to mix asynchronous and synchronous communication means that make business communication most effective.

Key features of Flock

  • Company directory access
  • Integrated video calling
  • Easy file sharing and organization within the tool
  • Guest users
  • Mailing lists management
  • Message bookmark

Best for: teams that need to be highly organized and want simple project management features

6. Ryver

team chat app

Ryver is a popular team chat app that combines chat functionality with team collaboration features. Namely, it includes Tasks feature, allowing teams to assign, track, and complete projects.

When it comes to instant messaging, Ryver allows user to organize their communication into direct chats, threads, channels, and larger groups, similar to other team chat apps for businesses.

Key features of Ryver

  • Forums and Teams
  • Conversations organized by quick chats, topics, and tasks
  • Single Sign On
  • Integrations via Zapier
  • End-to-end encryption

Best for: teams that want to manage their chat and email communication in one app

7. Google Chat

team chat

In 2021, Google rolled out Google Chat for its users, promising to bring a seamless chat experience to all Google Workspace users. Even though this team chat app has yet to show its stickiness to the market, wide Gmail user base could prove to be helpful in this area.

In any case, Google wants users to achieve the fluidity in conversations while using other Workspace apps. Experts are claiming that this is the best Google's team chat app to date. Let's see what 2024 has in store for Google Chat!

Key featues of Google Chat

  • Edit and delete messages
  • Read receipts in a group chat
  • Smart composing
  • Message quoting
  • Hiding inactive conversations

Best for: teams that already use Google services and need a simple chat without extensive customization or security features

8. Troop Messenger

Troop Messenger is another team chat app available for self-hosting. It also has other security-oriented features that make it a good choice for highly-regulated industries.

Frequently listed in the best team chat apps lists, Troop Messenger allows teams to bridge the physical gap when working apart.

Key features of Troop Messenger

  • One-on-one messaging and group conversations
  • File previews
  • Voice-video calls
  • Screen sharing
  • Burnout and Forkout features
  • Code Jointly mode

Best for: smaller teams in Government and Defense

9. Chanty

Chanty's user-friendliness and simplicity are its biggest advantages. Teams use this chat app to stay connected, manage their work, and organize joint work better.

Due to Chanty's collaboration features, teams can track their work easily. Moreover, numerous integrations will drive the adoption of the tool in the early stages of implementation.

Key features of Chanty

  • Unlimited message history
  • Integrated Kanban board
  • Content hub with all the shared content
  • User and team @mentions
  • Audio and video calls

Best for: teams that want their chat and project management features in one tool

10. Brosix

Brosix is one of the most established players on the team chat apps market. It's easy to set up and leads to increased team productivity.

Brosix chat is designed to cater to security-minded companies, therefore including a lot of Administration and Control features.

Key features of Brosix

  • Screen sharing with remote desktop control
  • Advanced customization features
  • Presence indicators
  • Easy files transfer
  • Audio and video calling

Best for: security-minded organizations with advanced control needs

How using a team chat benefits the whole organization

Team chat has many advantages over traditional forms of workplace communication such as email. In our research on how we communicate at work, we found that team chat users list the following as the top three benefits of instant messaging at work:

1. Faster response times

70% of respondents from our study say that the biggest benefit of team chat apps is faster response time. And this is something that employees worldwide have simply craved for.

Unanswered calls or emails to your work colleagues can be a huge bottleneck. As a matter of fact, Forbes found that 65% of emails are ignored. More often than not, it’s one coming from a colleague asking an important question.

In comparison with email, team chat is a realm of informal communication that is still focused on business. In other words, you can drop the “Dear John and Sally” at the beginning of your message and “Best regards” at the end. It’s fast and direct communication that people are more prone to respond to.

team chat

2. Easy file sharing

The second biggest benefit of team chats is easier file sharing, according to 52% of employees included in our study. It only makes sense: remember how hard it is to share large files via email? Or how long does it take for the email with a large file to be sent?

Team chat apps mimic the features and functionalities of consumer instant messaging solutions in great percentage. With it, it’s just as easy to send pictures, files, and other media as when you’re sharing your pet’s photo to your family’s WhatsApp group.

52% of employees say the biggest benefit of a team chat is easier file sharing.

3. Intuitive collaboration

Successful cross-functional collaboration is not easily achieved, especially when employees work remotely. Simply put, effective workplace collaboration is virtually impossible without the right tools.

That’s why 43% of employees in our study said that intuitive collaboration is the third biggest benefit of team chat. What does “intuitive” mean here? It means that employees find it natural, and they find it natural to collaborate via team chat app because it resembles their everyday communication so much.

If you're looking for a team chat, here are some additional resources to help you choose

We know a thing or two about online chats. Here, we've listed more resources to help you choose the best chat app for your team:

Best team chat is the one that works for you.

As you know by now, there are more than one great team chat app you can choose from. It's hard to say that you'll go wrong with any of them.

Still, it's best to ask yourself these questions while choosing a chat that will serve as an internal employee communication solution:

1. How does this solution fit with our existing tech stack?

Can it be integrated with the rest of the tools we use to ensure streamlined workflow?

2. How secure is this app?

Do we need to be mindful of data privacy regulations in our region or industry? Can we comply to these regulations by using this app?

3. Is this team chat app easy to use? 

Will teams love to use it and stick to it, thus avoiding workarounds that might lead to insecure online behavior?

People from different organizations will answer these questions differently - and that's ok! You need to find the best solution for your organization and your people.

If strong security is a priority for you and you operate in a highly-regulated industry, Rocket.Chat might be a match. Get in touch to try it out and find out more details.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Frequently asked questions about <anything>

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How to communicate effectively via team chat?

Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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