More than a million people a day use work-chat app Slack, with its simple, messenger style interface and easy onboarding helping to cut down on unnecessary messages. A counter-trend has begun, though, as people realize that integrating "chatting" into the work force has led to distractions, hence many giving advice about how to avoid unproductive "slacking." That's why many companies are popping up in the hopes of taking some of Slack's market share while learning the valuable lessons of their customers--that they like the idea of sending fewer emails and communicating more effectively.

FreshTeam

FreshTeam is an easy yet effective way to keep in touch with your teammates on the road. It has the basic features that any chat app would need, such as messaging, with the ability to also make free, high-quality phone calls and hold up to 100-person conference calls with a few taps. One key feature of FreshTeam is that you also are able to share statuses throughout the day automatically, which cuts down on even simple Slack messages and text messages. The Android and iOS app will automatically read your location, telling people if you're near the office, or even use your phone's sensors to say if you're driving, on the subway, or walking (saying that you're "in transit," which is valuable if a colleague can't get ahold of you). It even shares other little pieces of information, such as whether your phone battery is low, if you're on a call, or if you're busy. This seems miniscule until you think back to the many texts, emails, and messages you send saying, "Hey, where are you?" and "Are you free to chat?" A simple glance at FreshTeam can tell you if your team, wherever they may be, is available.

HipChat

If you're a development-heavy company, the obvious choice is HipChat, with its built-in connections to other Atlassian products, integrated video chat, and what some consider better security than Slack itself. Though Slack has many integrations, HipChat also offers over 150 of them, with quirky products like Giphy (also on Slack) and more serious integrations with companies such as Cloudpipes (automation with other cloud applications) and infrastructure monitoring tool DataDog. The power of HipChat lies in these integrations, which centralize many communications with external organizations and functions (such as helpdesk tickets), so you can effectively run your business from within the entire chat interface. It also offers the ability to run either in the cloud or on your own servers, meaning that very security-conscious companies running private clouds can still benefit.

Kaleo

The main reason that many start using Slack is to cut down on unnecessary questions. Kaleo has taken the idea of the internal company Wiki, combined it with Quora, and expanded it to the expertise of your entire business. Instead of employees emailing other employees questions that many have asked before, Kaleo lets experts within the business answer questions directly. These answers are then kept within your business' system, meaning that the next time someone needs anything from the password to a database to how they can fix a particularly strange software quirk, Kaleo has the answer. It intelligently pushes content to the right users when they have a query and uses gamification to reward diligent teachers. The key element is the data analysis: Kaleo reports to managers exactly what questions and answers are taking place, suggesting where there may be gaps in your business's training. The result is that you can cut down both on unnecessary messages and focus your business education documents in the right direction.

Work Smarter, Talk Less

When you install any business-communication application, you should always ask one question: Why am I doing this? If the answer is that you're following another person's business trend, that is potentially dangerous and a waste of your time. Always think clearly about the problems you have with your team before forcing a new solution on them. If you do it right, you could save them many hours a month that they could be using to do their jobs.