No office and workflow is a stranger to digital team collaboration in this day and age. Due to the extensive need to shift everything to cloud and online, platforms that enable teams from all over the world, regardless of their geolocation, to work closely together have made a difference when remote work has become a true essential. We have moved past the mere necessity to hold meetings online, but now also require a useful tool that will allow for efficient task management as well.
That said, one of the rather popular tools in this sense is undoubtedly Microsoft Teams. However, we’d also like to present you with some fine(r) Microsoft Teams alternatives that may prove to be just the right solution for your team, workflow, and company.
What is Microsoft Teams?
To put it simply, Microsoft Teams is a communication platform that’s been utilized for business purposes the most so far as it creates a proper digital working environment for remote teams. The platform’s main features include live chat and video conferencing, but there are other useful features as well, such as calendar integration and the ability to share documents.
As the name of the platform suggests, Microsoft Teams is highly integrated with the Microsoft ecosystem. Therefore, plenty of Microsoft-based add-ons such as Outlook, Office apps, Stream, etc. work seamlessly with Teams. And while that may seem like a great solution for all Microsoft users, the reality is not as ideal, especially considering the need to sync with other providers, such as Google.
Why consider Microsoft Teams alternatives for your team communication?
We’re not here to bash Microsoft Teams, but for all of those remote teams who are not blindly using Microsoft-based tools and have to make the most out of different providers in order to maintain a smooth workflow, the fact of the matter is that Teams may not be the ideal solution.
For starters, Microsoft Teams has a limited number of channels, meaning that the messaging app can only support 200 public and 30 private channels max. If you’re looking for a smooth communication line for a company with a bunch of teams and departments, Microsoft Teams falls short in this case.
The other big issue is that permission settings aren’t flexible enough. Essentially, you can’t have a guest that you invited to your channel, with custom permission to access. If you add someone, that person will instantly have full access to everything. We don’t find that to be such a great deal.
Finally, there’s the matter of limited organization. We’re not saying that shared file organization in Microsoft Teams is impossible, but shared file organization in Microsoft Teams does feel impossible. Every single file that’s shared ends up in the channels’ file section. And when you try to move those files to named folders in the hope to organize them, the links to those files in the conversation channels completely break. Which is quite a deal-breaker for Microsoft Teams as well.
Best Microsoft Teams alternatives that provide better meetings experience
Keep in mind that the best Microsoft Teams alternative for you and your team will highly depend on what it is that your team and workflow need from such a platform. Just like Microsoft Teams, the following platforms offer a handful of useful features, but that doesn’t mean that all of them will suit your business needs, much like MS Teams doesn’t, since you’re looking into its alternatives. That said, make sure to analyze the following platforms and their features concerning your daily operations.
Stork, as we like to call it, is a time machine for meetings. If you’re tired of missing meetings or missing important parts of it, the Stork platform may as well be the Microsoft Teams alternative you’ve been looking for. Essentially, this is a team’s workspace that automatically records all meetings. What’s more, it’s a voice and video messenger with a powerful screen recording feature, essential for asynchronous presentations. Not only does this mean fewer missed meetings, but fewer meetings in general as well.
Stork provides live voice calls within channels that all team members can easily see during the first 30 seconds and then decide whether to join instantly or play back later when convenient. Users can collaborate with voice and video messages while the built-in screen recorder allows sharing it anywhere for sales and promo purposes.
Stork key features:
Ease of communication
Stork allows users to share screen, voice, and video recordings on the platform, meaning that team members can exchange video notes together with text and voice notes. Users can communicate in both public and private channels. Shared materials are visible to the channel members.
Watercooler and voice calls
Stork provides an opportunity to record your meetings in Microsoft teams, Zoom, and Google meets. All voice calls are automatically recorded without the need to press the button. Calls within the Channels are classified as Watercooler chats that members of the Channel can join. Recorded calls are saved in chats or channels depending on where the conversation or a conference call took place with an exceptional quality in mp4 format.
Instead of sending endless Slack messages or scheduling a Zoom call, turn that conversation into a Video Note exchange. The platform also lets you pause your recording anytime. Furthermore, every conversation can be turned into a video note exchange that can be played back up to 2x speed.
Get instant text notes
Speech recognition will transcribe the video note, thus letting the recipient choose whether to read or listen. Be it a private call or a conference call, you always have a record of that call that you can play back at any time (provided you participated on that call).
- We provide access to all media records where you participated personally as well as all media records that were part of a public conversation (within your team), regardless of whether you’re an admin or a host
- We made sure that anyone can join the conversation that initially featured only two people to have a Clubhouse-style chatting experience
- Any member in the channel is allowed to start a live audio discussion on any topic that anyone can join
- The Admin Pan may not be at the advanced enough stage for really large entreprises, but Stork is currently working on resolving this issue.
Stork offers a basic free plan that seems rather effective for teams and companies that are only getting started, while the paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month, billed annually. Stork offers absolutely free subscriptions for teachers and educators and non-profits.
2. Cisco Webex Teams
Cisco Webex Teams, formerly known as Cisco Spark, is a great solution when it comes to very large organizations in need of enterprise-grade functionality. There’s a good selection of core features, which include video conferencing, scheduling, chats, and file sharing. Aside from those, teams can also utilize the whiteboard functionality and make the most out of the platform’s powerful visual collaboration tools.
Cisco Webex Teams key features:
- Up to 1K participants can be in a video call
- It allows for both file and screen sharing
- Team members can brainstorm their ideas together over a whiteboard
- It allows for smooth meetings recording and almost immediate transcription of the said recording
Cisco Webex Teams pros:
- It’s possible to join and host meetings on the web browser, the desktop app, or mobile device
- The platform integrates well with both Google and Microsoft Calendars
- It allows the users to send messages in both personal and public chats
Cisco Webex Teams cons:
- Compared to other MS Teams alternatives, there’s a limited number of integrations
- If you want to get customer support via either chats or call-ins, you need to upgrade to a paid plan
- The free plan doesn’t offer a video recording option
Cisco Webex Teams offers a free plan, while the paid plans start at $14.95 a host per month. The pricing of Cisco Webex Teams is also its biggest downside, as it’s costlier compared to other Microsoft Teams competitors.
3. Cisco Jabber
Jabber is also a Cisco-produced platform that’s suitable for online team communication and collaboration. However, Jabber comes packed with more features when it comes to general communication.
IM and Presence
Thanks to these features, users can enjoy a real-time chat experience with no delays. What’s more, it’s possible to check the availability of other users. Finally, chat options include both individuals and entire groups, outside or within the organization.
IP voice and video telephony
Jabber has excellent sharing abilities, especially when it comes to HD videos. At the same time, the connection between users is stable and secure thanks to the Cisco Unified Communications Manager’s call control.
Collaboration for iPad
The modern needs of collaboration tools are all set for the utmost user productivity. Therefore, Jabber has collaborated with iPad, thus allowing users to access plenty of features in terms of voice and video communication, voice messaging and conferencing, instant messaging, and telepresence. Telepresence is especially crucial when team members are out of their office space.
Just like Webex, Jabber also syncs well with Microsoft. And thanks to Jabber’s integration with Microsoft Office, users who heavily rely on MS can also start a meeting, chat, and share video/voice all at the same time.
The mobile feature is carefully designed to provide the users with a desktop-like experience but on their mobile devices. That way, communication is possible from any device and location.
Jabber Software Development Kit allows for HD communication when it comes to the Web-based business. Not only does this boost productivity, but the task workflow is bound to become more efficient too.
Even though they’re both Cisco, Webex and Jabber are not entirely the same platforms. Each one is designed to facilitate specific workflow, depending on the needs of a particular business and team.
That said, advantages of Webex over Jabber include:
- Team meeting feature where Webex utilizes high-quality video, audio, and file sharing
- Streamlined meetings where Webex manages all the docs and recordings efficiently before and after the meeting
- Effective meetings where Webex makes the most out of real-time meeting situations and ensures a smooth and forward process
- Face-to-face experience where Webex allows the active user to take the center stage position among all other participants
And, advantages of Jabber over Webex include:
- Presence where Jabber shows the available user status
- Softphone where Jabber allows for calls to be made and taken via desktop anywhere
- One-on-one and group chats support instant messaging with no delay
- Users can share their desktop with other Jabber users problem-free
- Also, one Jabber user can easily send their screen to another user
- Microsoft integration allows for easily making calls based on the Outlook address book
Self-proclaimed as “the ultimate communication platform”, Rocket.Chat bases its nickname on the fact that it’s open-source software that has an unlimited number of integrations with all sorts of apps. It’s possible to perform these integrations with cloud-based services or social media platforms. And while this may seem like a counterproductive solution for team collaboration, Rocket.Chat allows for centralized collaboration as well.
The biggest asset of this particular tool is that it’s extremely customizable with perfect inclusivity when it comes to other platforms. And by being open-source, it's a rather nifty tool on this list for DevOps as well as customer engagement. What’s more, Rocket.Chat has 28K developers who work on its roadmap.
Rocket.Chat key features:
- @mentions are available for individuals and announcements
- It supports voice and video calls together with screen sharing
- The tool can manage direct messages between multiple users
- It’s possible to access an engagement dashboard to check the way users are interacting with the app
- The tool is very secure, with an extra verification step before specific actions
- It supports message translation via MS Translate to close external and internal communication gaps
- It can sort out conversations based on the last activity or alphabetical order
- The tool is available for desktop, web, and mobile use
- Compared to other Microsoft Teams alternatives, the interface is not as user-friendly
- Compared to other Microsoft Teams alternatives, mobile apps lack the same level of functionality
- Read notifications on desktop fail to reflect on mobile
Rocket.Chat offers a free plan, while paid plans start at $3 per user a month, on a yearly basis.
5. Google Workspace
Google Workspace fused all of the previous Google business products into one single platform. This particular Microsoft Teams alternative offers plenty of useful features such as video conferencing, one-on-one and group chats, an in-built calendar, etc. As it utilizes Google’s suite of products that most people are already familiar with, Google Workspace onboarding is relatively smooth and simple. Also, Google Meet is fully integrated with Google Workspace, making the actual meetings quite easy to manage.
Essentially, via simple Google Chat, users can then easily access all other Google products:
- Google Meet
- Google Docs
- Google Drive
- Google Calendar
- Google Forms
Google Workspace key features:
- Collaboration with colleagues made easy with an @mention on all Google workspaces (Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.)
- It allows for efficient file sharing and creating polls, even in live meetings
- Thanks to the Jamboard and Meet integration, it’s much simpler for everyone to brainstorm together
- Access to email is quick, easy, and simple
- Google Meet Hardware Series One allows for touch-free meetings
Google Workspace pros:
- Full Gmail integration, used by approximately 1.8 billion people across the globe, which makes 43% of the entire email service market
- Offers similar features to considerably more expensive platform alternatives (such as digital whiteboard)
Google Workspace cons:
- Available integrations may not be as powerful as MS ones (for instance, MS Word is still regarded as more powerful compared to Google Docs)
- The basic package doesn’t have all the necessary features such as meeting moderation, video call recording, and hand raising
Google Workspace plans start at $5.3 per user a month for Business Starter.
A most well-known Microsoft Teams alternative is undoubtedly Slack. As you would expect, Slack boasts all the major features that MS Teams also has, from channeled real-time messaging and video calls to both file and screen sharing. Aside from the powerful features, Slack’s popularity also lies in its ease of use and simple yet intuitive user experience. What’s more, Slack offers a great connection when it comes to business workflows, as it has one of the largest integration ecosystems available (more than 2K apps).
Slack key features:
- Compared to Microsoft Teams with around 600 integrations, Slack offers more than 2400
- Even with a free Slack version, users get to share files up to 5GB, while Microsoft Teams limits file sharing to 2GB
- Slack posts mimic a full-text doc as team members can share fully formatted docs and edit them one at a time
- Slack offers preset options when it comes to colors and theme customization
- Together with efficient to-do list integration, users can add a star to their messages, which then allows for easier viewing of starred items as well as setting the reminders for these tasks/messages/files
- The tool features a very convenient drag-and-drop file sharing
- The free Slack version offers unlimited one-to-one video calls
- It supports email forwarding to either an individual or a channel with messages and attachments
- In the free version, users are limited to searching only the most recent 10K messages
- Only the Enterprise Gold plan offers HIPAA-compliant features
- Hosting meetings is limited to 15 participants max
Slack offers a free version, while paid plans start at $8 per user, per month.
Mattermost is another open-source Microsoft Teams alternative which deems its popularity to its great security, flexibility, and reliability. It’s possible to use Mattermost as a self-hosted platform. While it lacks some features that other platforms on the list have, such as calendar or video and voice conferencing, it is a rather nifty solution for developers.
That said, the platform supports integration with hundreds of tools and workflows suitable for DevOps. What’s more, even the self-hosted plan is more budget-friendly than some other Microsoft Teams alternatives even though it supports incident collaboration and advanced user roles.
Mattermost key features:
- Since it’s a budget-friendly option, companies with 1K users can save up to 28%
- Thanks to the open-source software, Mattermost lets teams customize their workflow
- Team chat allows group and one-on-one messaging, with rich markdown formatting and multi-language support
- It’s possible to set custom alerts that allow the users to keep track of their favorite keywords and channels
- Mattermost supports a hefty management database with reports, user behavior, performance and system monitoring, and more
- This platform supports 16 languages
- It offers productivity features for developers, such as rich markdown formatting and code syntax highlighting
- Mattermost has prebuilt Jira, GitLab, and Jenkins plugins
- There’s no feature that supports audio and video conferencing
- To set it up, it’s necessary to possess some technical knowledge
- Mattermost doesn’t offer screen sharing
Mattermost has a free plan that’s suitable for small teams while paid plans start at $3.25 per user, per month (billed annually).
Microsoft Teams is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s perfectly fine. After all, as it’s evident from the list above, there are plenty of free Microsoft Teams alternatives that also come with their own unique paid plans, thus allowing your business to thrive remotely as you choose and customize your workflow however it fits you.
Effective team collaboration is a must, regardless of the size of your business. What’s more, team collaboration tools have gained even more importance since plenty of teams have decided to switch to remote work. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a digital collaboration platform that will meet your needs and budget as efficiently as possible.
Hopefully, you’ll find everything you need to improve your team’s workflow and communication within the MS Teams alternatives we have chosen to present. We believe these are the best options that can successfully take your daily operations and business in general to a whole new level.