By now, we all know that the pandemic has forced many businesses to shut down offices and move to work-from-home environments. This has made communication with co-workers, clients, partners and other key stakeholders even more critical.

When you can’t talk to folks in person, you need to find ways to move communication into the digital realm. There are plenty of free tools out there to help. Earlier this month Automattic, best known as the makers of the WordPress blog publishing tool, announced a new communications tool called P2. The company actually took the tool its remote workforce had been using and turned it into a product.

It’s free, at least for now, and chances there will be a free tier, even after they start charging larger businesses for more advanced features. But, there are also plenty of other brand name tools out there to help you to stay in touch as you and your clients continue to work remotely.

So many choices

Besides P2, which is the latest entry in the business communications tools category, there is Slack. This tool has exploded in usage over the last several years and Slack has grown into a successful public company with a market cap of almost $16 billion.

The great thing about Slack is you can integrate other business apps inside the tool. For example, as you grow more sophisticated, you can use it as a kind of centralized workflow tool where all your help desk tickets  and other data can flow through it, if you wish. There is a free tier and a standard one with additional features for $6.67 per user, per month.

If you’re using Google tools, you might want to check out Google Hangouts. Offered for free, it lets you text or talk, and it’s integrated right in GMail, which is convenient if you’re already using that. Google also recently began offering Google Meet, which is their free video conferencing service.

If you’re a Microsoft shop using Office 365, you should take advantage of free Teams integration. Like Slack, there are integrations for many popular help ticketing tools, and you can find those tickets where you are communicating most with your fellow employees and customers. That means you don’t have to be task switching, and can keep your work all in one place.

All of these solutions offer a great way to stay in touch and are either free or available for a modest monthly per user fee. What’s more, as with most forms of digitization, these tools will be just as useful when you return to the office.

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Photo: Chepko Danil Vitalevich / Shutterstock

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Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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