With more than 12 million daily active users, it’s obvious that Slack is a popular choice for anyone looking to stay in sync with colleagues, teammates, clients, and leadership. There’s a reason for that. Beyond its core chat capabilities, Slack’s robust integrations and features can streamline workflows, boost automations, and simplify collaboration to help businesses stay organized and in control. However, Slack isn’t the best fit for every team. Besides being pricey and potentially unaffordable for smaller businesses, there are a number of reasons your organization could be looking for a Slack alternative.
Whether you’re looking for a less distracting tool, a more affordable option, or an open-source platform, here are the five best Slack alternatives for every business.
The enterprise Slack alternative: Microsoft Teams
With more than 145 million daily active users, Microsoft Teams is definitely Slack’s biggest direct competitor. After adding an astonishing 95 million users since 2020, Teams is one of the fastest-growing apps since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — and one of the most powerful Slack alternatives out there.
Microsoft Teams offers many of the same features as Slack does. Users are able to send messages in channels (Teams), private message others across their organization, conduct video and audio calls (supporting video conferences for up to 250 people), and share files and links. When it comes to integrations, there are more than 530 apps and integrations available in Microsoft’s AppSource store, including Trello, LucidChart, Asana, and Jira Cloud.
One particularly useful feature is Teams’ transcribing feature. Not only will users receive text transcripts of meetings after they’re over, but an AI-driven text captioning tool offers live transcribing as a meeting is happening (including speaker attribution). If your business is spending a ton of time and money on transcription services, this feature alone is a game-changer.
As Microsoft Teams is geared more towards an enterprise-level customer, the onboarding process and usability can be a challenge for some users. Additionally, Teams’ plans don’t allow for guest access (with external contributors) for more than five users — something that could become a problem if you work with a lot of freelancers or other individuals from outside of your organization.
Microsoft Teams is a free add-on for businesses already subscribed to Microsoft 365 Business. If you don’t already pay for Microsoft 365 Business, Teams offers a comprehensive free plan that comes without a time limit. Paid plans start at $4 per user per month.
The calmer Slack alternative: Twist
With the synchronous, real-time nature of chat apps like Slack, the Twist team found that important messages were often being buried by the time team members in other timezones were online. Twist addresses this problem by making sure that all conversations in the platform are clearly organized within topic-focused threads. Users are able to follow multiple discussions at once, include important context, and use an optimized search function to find conversations from the past.
Because all conversations are organized by threads, Twist lets you “snooze your notifications, finish what you’re working on, and then respond to comments in the thread on your own schedule” — without missing out on important discussions or spending hours trying to find what you’re looking for.
In addition to all of the standard chat app features (video and audio calls, private messages, channels, web, desktop, and mobile apps), Twist also features integrations with tools like Asana, Todoist, Google Drive, and Trello (to name just a few).
If you need a highly sophisticated tech stack, Twist might not be the right fit for you. Its simple UX means that it does allow for a calmer experience, but some users state that they require more options when it comes to integrations and add-ons.
Twist’s free plan includes access for up to 500 members, unlimited guests, and up to five integrations, but only one month of search history. At $6.50 per month per user, their unlimited paid plan gives you unlimited conversation history, unlimited user numbers, and priority support.
The Slack alternative with more to offer: Chanty
With a focus on a simple and clean user experience, Chanty is a great option for businesses that have had issues and roadblocks onboarding their teams to new platforms and tools in the past.
Like Slack, Chanty lets you bring all of your conversations into one place with private, public, and one-to-one messaging options. In addition to chat capabilities, Chanty also includes powerful productivity features like a built-in task manager that lets you create, assign, track, filter, and discuss tasks without leaving the tool. You’re also able to optimize your workflow with a Kanban board view, set and control roles and privileges, create and send voice and video messages, as well as conduct voice and video calls.
If you want to streamline your workflows, Chanty supports numerous integrations with other programs such as Salesforce, MailChimp, Zapier, and Gmail. Plus, unlike Slack’s free version, there are no limits to your message history. This means you don’t have to worry about losing any important files, messages, or threads due to going over your message limit.
Some users state that Chanty could be improved with the addition of a virtual whiteboard tool for increased collaboration. Additionally, Chanty’s add-ons are admittedly not as robust as Slack’s.
Chanty’s free plan is available for teams of up to ten people (forever). If you’re looking for more features, you can upgrade to their Business Plan which is $3 per user per month, making even their paid plan an affordable option (up to 75 percent cheaper than Slack’s paid plans).
The best Slack alternative for security: Element
If security and owning your messaging experience is important to you or your business, Element may be the best Slack alternative for your needs. While it possesses many of the same features as Slack — and has a similar feel — its security and compliance measures make it a great option for those wanting more control over their communication program.
A self-hosted Slack alternative, Element is a secure messaging tool based on the Matrix open standard protocol. While Slack doesn’t currently support end-to-end encryption, Element gives you total control over where your data is stored with end-to-end encryption by default. When it comes to privacy, Element also provides security measures enhanced with “cross-signed device verification” which protects against “imposters and eavesdroppers.”
Element’s other differentiating feature is its open network. Because of this, Element users can communicate with users on other Matrix-based properties, as well as Slack, Discord, WhatsApp, and more. By allowing users to easily connect with those working outside of Element, and without needing IT/admin support, it helps bridge the gap and make collaboration much more seamless not only across an organization — but outside of it as well.
Compared to other Slack alternatives, Element is a fairly new product. Because of this, some users say they wish there were a few more advanced features and capabilities such as existing contact integration and a better search option.
You can get started on Element with a free plan. If you’re looking for more features and access, they also offer an Enterprise Plan for $4 per month per user.
The Google Slack alternative: Google Chat and Google Meet
While you may not have considered Google Chat and Google Meet for your communication and messaging needs, they’ve proven to be a popular Slack alternative for businesses and individuals around the world.
While once bundled within a product called Google Hangouts (or just “Hangouts”), Google Chat and Google Meet are now two separate but cohesive tools. Google Chat features private direct messaging, group chats, and chatbots. You’re able to see when somebody is typing, provide and see read receipts, and share files and high-res photos.
Google Meet is where users can conduct video calls and screen sharing, much like the video call features on Slack. The free version includes meeting hosting for up to 100 people or for 60 minutes in length. To boost collaboration potential, Google Meet also features a digital whiteboard integration called Google Jamboard. For additional functionality, the Google Workspace paid plans include advanced features like 500-person meeting hosting, meeting recording, and live streaming.
Google Chat and Google Meet are best used between individuals who all have Google accounts or access to G Suite and the Google Workspace. While this might not be an issue if everyone in your organization has an account, it could prove tricky to communicate with contractors or those outside of your company.
Google Chat and Google Meet are available for free (with certain limits such as virtual meeting size and length) for anyone with a Google account. They’re also available with G Suite and Google Workspace subscriptions, which start at $7.80 per user, per month.
Healthy, gluten-free Slack alternatives
While there seem to be countless Slack alternatives out there, you don’t have time to try each and every option out. With this curated list of the five best Slack alternatives, you can quickly find a tool that boosts the efficiency and productivity of your team without the hassle. Whether you’re looking for a free Slack alternative or one that gives you complete control over your messaging platform, the list above is a great place to start.