If the daily challenge of communicating with your coworkers is driving you crazy, it's not your fault. Between emails, chat, conference calls, and file sharing--communication is just plain exhausting. Then you're further overwhelmed by the sheer amount of apps to use: Outlook, Google+ Hangouts, Skype, and Dropbox to name a few.
While each of these apps is meant to enhance communication, together they have minimal integration and lead to disorder. It's time to clean house. The key to successful communication is to keep it streamlined, not segmented.
If you want to cut the clutter, here are five platforms that simplify team communication.
Do you love communicating on Facebook but hate the awkwardness of using it for both your work and personal life? Well, now you can separate the two. Facebook just launched a limited pilot of 'Facebook at Work,' a mobile and web app that works just like Facebook but for the specific purpose of collaborating and interacting with coworkers. It offers the familiar features of groups, messaging, news feed and events, but without the ads or data tracking as of yet.
Co-founded by voice over IP (VoIP) pioneer Jeff Pulver, who also co-founded VoIP network Vonage, Zula is a mobile and web app that allows teams to have real-time conversations via conference calls, chat, messaging, and secure file sharing all in one place. Once you create a "Zula" project, you can invite contacts across Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail to join and collaborate.
Available for mobile and web, HipChat is a collaboration platform that offers group chat, instant messaging, and file sharing free of charge. The premium version adds video calling, screen sharing and unlimited file storage. HipChat also integrates with over 60 other tools, which cover everything from bug reports to help desk tickets and more.
Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield now leads Slack, a communication platform that serves companies like eBay, Sony, and Yelp. No matter the company size, Slack is geared for team-based communication and integrates with dozens of apps including MailChimp, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Twitter. It also indexes the contents of every chat and shared file, which makes searching a breeze. Slack also offers a basic version of its service for free.
Acquired by Microsoft in 2012, Yammer describes itself as an enterprise social network and closely emulates the look, feel, and functionality of Facebook. For that reason, Facebook users will find Yammer's interface very intuitive with features like groups, employee profiles, tagging, and an activity feed. It also offers a free level of service.