By: Emily Finlay
Communication is essential to a productive workplace. It’s how employees build relationships with each other, clarify requirements, deliverables, and due dates for projects, and collaborate to find more effective ways to meet goals.
A report from The Economist found that poor communication, including both a lack of information-sharing and ineffective communication, causes numerous issues.
Among respondents, 44% experienced delayed or canceled projects due to bad communication, while 25% said communication barriers prevented them from meeting performance goals.
The pandemic pushed many communication applications into the spotlight. With more than 145 million users on the platform, Microsoft Teams became a top choice among businesses worldwide.
The platform’s many features, including video conferencing, group-based chats, and easy file- sharing, helped organizations overcome many of the challenges created by the rapid shift to remote work.
Along with its core features, Microsoft Teams integrates with many third-party applications. These tools further expand the platform’s capabilities, helping users do more without having to switch to other programs.
In particular, Microsoft Teams communication applications offer new ways to communicate information, simplify quick conversations, and manage workforce-related messages.
In this post, we’ve put together a list of the five best types of Microsoft Teams communication apps that can help give your employees the resources they need to work more productively and collaboratively.
1. Project management applications
Many workplace conversations are centered around projects and tasks. Teams share updates, ask questions, and send information back and forth to keep projects moving forward and on schedule.
While Microsoft Teams can facilitate this discussion, it doesn’t provide a simple way to track all of the elements involved in your work.
Integrating a third-party project management application with Microsoft Teams, such as Trello or Asana, can help simplify planning and tracking for every stage of your project.
Use these tools to create a set of to-do lists or boards to stay on top of project requirements. You can assign tasks to specific team members within Microsoft Teams, tagging them to ensure they see the assignment.
These applications allow users to create comment threads on individual tasks and tag anyone who needs to be involved or notified. This enables you to view what tasks your team is referring to right away, simplifying the communication process.
If you need to have a more in-depth discussion about a particular task or project, you can simply start a Microsoft Teams chat or call in seconds to keep the conversation going without interruption.
2. Feedback applications
A recent study found that 63% of US employees have wanted to quit because ineffective communication interfered with their ability to do their job. Another report found that 66% of employees would be more engaged in the workplace if their employer improved company culture.
In other words, you need to make sure your team feels like you are enabling and enforcing strong communication practices, and that you’re taking steps to improve company culture to ensure that workers feel appreciated and receive the feedback they desire.
One way to help prevent turnover and disengagement is with feedback applications such as Qubie. This tool makes it easy to gauge what employees think about how you’re running the team.
Using built-in surveys, you can ask workers questions about engagement, leadership, communication, performance, remote work preferences, and more.
Qubie then shares the results with all participants, helping everyone understand where the team has areas for improvement. This tool also uses your results to recommend ways to address issues you uncover.
Another popular feedback tool is Polly. Rather than using survey templates, you and your employees can use this application to create unique polls and gather feedback.
These polls can help you quickly determine things like the best times to hold meetings, preferred communication methods among your team, and other information that can help you improve communication and collaboration.
In addition to providing your team with a new way to communicate, feedback applications add a fun element to the workplace by giving employees a new way to engage and share their thoughts. Use them to encourage greater participation and strengthen connections among team members.
3. Centralized communication applications
Even if your team collaborates primarily through Microsoft Teams, you likely also communicate through other tools. The ability to store all of these multi-platform conversations in a single place allows you to quickly pull up something that someone said or a data point that was shared.
An application like MailClark, a smart shared inbox within Microsoft Teams, is one way to centralize all of your messages.
Once it’s added to your Microsoft Teams platform, you can connect inboxes from a variety of other applications, including Gmail, Facebook, IMAP, and more.
When you get a message on any of these tools, you’ll receive an instant notification through Microsoft Teams. You can also send messages through these different applications without leaving Microsoft Teams, which helps to minimize disruptions.
Centralized communication applications can be particularly beneficial for teams that include third-party contractors. You can easily keep in touch with these workers on their tool of choice, without having to add them to your organization’s Microsoft Teams platform.
Yablo is another shared email inbox application. It enables users to manage shared inboxes (e.g., support@, sales@, or info@) so companies can respond more quickly to customers.
By turning emails into conversation cards, Yabo helps teams collaborate by enabling users to create owners, assign priorities, and reply to customers directly from the cards themselves.
4. Workforce management applications
Workforce management applications are another helpful way to improve the way you run your team. AttendanceBot, for example, can simplify employee scheduling.
Once integrated with Microsoft Teams, employees simply type “in” when they start their shifts and “out” when they leave in the AttendanceBot chat. The app then tracks each worker’s status automatically.
If workers follow a specific schedule, you can use the bot to send reminders to each person when it’s time to log in so they don’t forget.
Employees can also request time off through AttendanceBot. It integrates with Google, Outlook, or Apple calendars, so managers can quickly see who is off and who is working. The application also provides analytics on employee attendance.
SelfDrvn is another Microsoft Teams application that can improve engagement. This tool simplifies and enables workplace gamification, encouraging employees to work more productively and achieve goals faster to win prizes.
You can view performance data to track each worker’s progress toward their goals, helping you determine who may need extra attention. This application can help keep employees engaged while also encouraging better connections with their teammates through friendly competition.
5. Visual communication applications
According to the Economist report cited earlier, 50% of respondents think visual-based tools such as sketch pads and whiteboards are an effective way to communicate data.
For remote and hybrid teams, however, these tools don’t always work well in virtual meetings. Employees may struggle to see what you’re writing or drawing if you’re far away from your camera, and the information can be difficult to save and reference post-meetings.
An application like Pickit enables users to create visually engaging documents and slide decks by providing access to unlimited photos, clipart, and even your own organization’s images.
By helping teams create more visually impactful presentations, this application can help improve information retention while also speeding up the time it takes to put together slide decks, thus saving resources.
Another application to try is a mind mapping tool like MindManager® for Microsoft Teams. It provides employees with the ability to create engaging visual diagrams from dozens of templates including mind maps, flowcharts, and timeline charts—that can be easily organized and shared with other team members.
During meetings or brainstorming sessions, you can easily display any mind map or diagram you’ve built within the shared window in Microsoft Teams easily. Users can leverage co-editing to edit and add to the mind map or diagram in real-time, which helps create a shared resource that contains all relevant information.
With MindManager for Microsoft Teams, you can assign tasks to team members by tagging them within the map to show everyone where and how they’re expected to contribute.
You can even add events scheduled on your calendar, Outlook emails, or other helpful information to ensure employees complete tasks more effectively.
All of your maps are saved within the MindManager application, allowing workers to access them whenever they’re needed.
Learn more about the benefits of MindManager for Microsoft Teams.