5 essential communication tools for the modern workplace

Leave behind outdated modes of communication in the workplace and steer your office into the 21st century

waving goodbye to out of date communication tools
Image Credit: Josh Holinaty

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to put to rest communication tools that can no longer match the pace of the ever-growing needs of your workplace. In fact, the Slack Future of Work study found that workers clearly favor tools that allow them to communicate with speed, with 80% expecting colleagues to answer emails as quickly as possible. And as the ranks of freelance and remote workers continue to grow, communication tools need to be accessible from laptops anywhere.

Clock into the future of work with these communication tools

It’s easier than you might think to make the shift to more advanced communication tools in the workplace. Even though their offerings are more complex, the tools themselves have become more user-friendly by design. Just look at all the technology from this 1991 RadioShack ad that’s been replaced by the following five communication tools.

1. Better than a phone call: Zoom

Even if you still have a phone on your desk at work, you’re probably a little surprised every time it rings—and unlikely to pick it up when you need to get in touch with a colleague. Who memorizes phone numbers anymore?

To get in touch with colleagues both in and out of the office, consider the freemium video conferencing platform Zoom. Through Zoom, you can host a video conference by scheduling one or by using a dedicated URL.

There are also options for recording your call, calling in by phone, and muting the mics of other participants. With a paid account, you can take advantage of storing your recorded calls to the cloud and using the auto-transcribe feature.

You can use Zoom on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile device. It lets remote workers feel seen and is a simpler, yet more robust, way of connecting with coworkers when you can’t meet in person.

Install Zoom on Slack

  • Start a video meeting with /zoom command
  • Get the meeting summary and recording
  • Experience screen sharing and full suite of collaboration features
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2. Better than a filing cabinet: Dropbox

Once upon a time, an office’s knowledge base was a jumble of paper documents residing in filing cabinets stacked anywhere you could fit them. Nowadays, workers can use Dropbox as a knowledge management system.

Dropbox is a secure platform that allows your workplace to find, use, and transfer files. You can set permissions so that only people who need access to a folder have it, add comments to files, and track changes by viewing the folder history.

New services from Dropbox, like Showcase, for sharing work with clients, and Paper, for working jointly on a project in real time, also help modern workplaces maximize collaboration efforts.

Install Dropbox on Slack

  • Import Dropbox files into Slack so you can share your work and collaborate with your team
  • Imported files are automatically updated when the corresponding Dropbox file is updated
  • Imported files are searchable, shareable, and stored in your Dropbox account
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3. Better than a wall calendar: Airtable

Sometimes collaborating on a project and managing its deadlines can be more work than the project itself—not to mention keeping the entire team on track, too. And wall calendars can handle only so many updates in one place.

Enter Airtable. It’s what happens when you mash up a spreadsheet with a database and then integrate it with other workplace tools at your disposal. Airtable has multiple templates to get you started, based on the project you’re trying to complete. You can assign tasks to team members, look at the project in calendar view, and store images and other necessary files.

Install Airtable on Slack

  • Use Airtable to share survey forms, track ideas, and manage contacts
  • Airtable seamlessly integrates with Slack to automatically post a message when anyone makes changes to your database
  • Get started with a variety of templates or easily piece together your own layout from scratch
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4. Better than a suggestion box: OfficeVibe

Another thing employees want out of today’s workplace, according to our Future of Work study? More transparency. And they don’t mean tearing down cubicle walls.

These days, it’s not enough to send out an email from the CEO or shoot out a company survey. When workers provide their feedback and express concerns about where they work, they want to know what’s being done and how the company is standing behind its core values.

OfficeVibe can be used by human resource departments or team managers to increase employee engagement. Get a handle on what’s really going in your workplace, take stock of the situation, and implement change through OfficeVibe’s tools for surveys and metrics. Workers can give their feedback anonymously, and the software can be customized to meet your specific business needs.

Install Leo (Officevibe Bot) on Slack

  • Measures team satisfaction in real-time through its weekly Pulse Surveys
  • Shares anonymous employee feedback with managers in a private channel
  • Alerts team members when they receive praise
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5. Better than a printer: Scannable

An all-in-one printer-copier-scanner-fax-machine can come with quite a price tag—and then there’s the challenge of where to put it in your office.

Scannable by Evernote allows you to use your smartphone or tablet as a scanner to capture documents, receipts, and business cards. The images are impeccable, and it’s as easy as snapping a photo.

You can scan several pages at once before deciding to store or send off your document. Share your scan using email, Google Drive, instant messaging, or even social media. Scannable is also fully integrated with Evernote, so all your scans are backed up to your Evernote account.

Install Evernote on Slack

  • Take notes on the fly in Slack that automatically sync in Evernote
  • Add comments to notes and clip your Slack conversations into Evernote
  • Find and share your notes from Evernote in Slack channels
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Whether you’re looking to retire your desk phone or retake an area overrun with filing cabinets, give these communication tools a whirl as you modernize your professional workplace. Your colleagues—in their more pleasant office space—will thank you.

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