It seems like eons have passed since email promised to make office communication easier, more pleasant, and more fun. Remember the feeling? No more navigating awkward voicemail menus, missing connections, or squinting at smudged faxes.
But now, as we confront our overflowing inboxes with dread every morning, many of us long to go back to the days when the desk phone was more than an inert prop and critical information was shared — shockingly — face to face.
Enter Slack. Debuting in 2013, the cloud-based chat app vowed to unshackle office workers from the tyranny of email. It aimed to make work communication more efficient, connecting collaborators instantly, making it easy to dig up previous conversations, putting shared resources at the fingertips of team members, and carving out virtual spaces for productive meetings and casual watercooler chat.
In short, Slack sought to replicate the good things about office communication online with very little of the bad. And so far, it’s been a hit, to say the least:
- The platform swept passed 4 million active users this fall.
- Even complex, security-minded organizations such as the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have signed on.
- Its adoption in the business world is so widespread that it’s triggered an inevitable backlash (tinged with a bit of love-hate).
Naturally, Slack’s success has spawned imitators. Most notably, Microsoft launched its own cloud-based workplace chat and collaboration app, Teams, in November 2016. Backed by the enterprise software juggernaut and tightly integrated with the popular Office 365 suite, Teams is already on track to eclipse Slack in users — according to some observers.
Are your users clamoring to join the Slack-inspired office chat revolution? If you’re trying to decide between the mega-popular Slack and the familiar reliability of a Microsoft product, we’re here to help. Here is a comparison between Slack and Teams.
Slack vs. Microsoft Teams
In a Nutshell
Slack: Though, at its base, Slack is a chat app, its features allow for much more efficient communication than simple back and forth or group free-for-all. These features include channels — private and public — for organizing conversations, direct messaging, video and voice calling, file sharing and syncing, and a complete archive of all conversations and files, coupled with powerful search capabilities. Plus, Slack can be punched up with countless integrations and customized with bots, themes, and emojis.
Teams: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to have been a mantra for the Microsoft Teams designers. On the surface, it looks and functions very similar to Slack and Slack veterans will feel at home on Teams. Underneath, however, there are a few key differences — most significantly, its integration with Office 365 tools like SharePoint and Skype.
Slack: Slack for Teams, Slack’s single workspace offering, starts at $0 for basic functionality, and offers two additional tiers, at $6.67 and $12.50 per user per month. The higher per-user fees unlock features like unlimited archiving, mandatory two-factor authentication, guest access, a 99.99 percent uptime guarantee, and increased per-user storage capacity.
Slack now also offers a multi-workspace product for large companies: Slack Enterprise Grid. Pricing for that has not been disclosed.
Teams: Microsoft Teams is currently only available (for no added charge) to subscribers to certain commercial versions of Office 365. They are:
- Business Essentials ($5 per user per month).
- Business Premium ($12.50 per user per month).
- Enterprise E1, E3, and E5 ($8, $20, and $35 per user per month).
Of course, those subscriptions come with all the other features of Office 365, including downloads of venerable office apps like Word and Outlook.
Slack: Slack trumpets its ability to “bring information out of silos” by feeding notifications from numerous popular apps — such as ZenDesk, Asana, and Twitter — into one central location where data can be found easily by anyone who needs it. Slack file syncing and search capabilities also integrate with Google Docs and Dropbox.
For those looking to build custom integrations, Slack provides an API.
Teams: Teams uses connectors to gather notifications from apps like Trello, GitHub, and Wunderlist. It also allows users to create tabs within conversations or channels for easy access to frequently referenced documents or apps.
Of course, the most important integration for Teams is with Office 365 itself. Users can edit and collaborate on Office documents within the Teams app and use tools like Skype, Sharepoint, and OneNote.
Slack: Slack says, “Our security program is aligned to the ISO 27000 standards and is regularly audited and assessed by third parties and customers.” The app’s security features include data encryption in transit and at rest, SAML-based SSO, and SCIM provisioning.
Teams: Microsoft says, “Microsoft Teams provides the advanced security and compliance capabilities that our Office 365 customers expect. Data is encrypted in transit and at rest. Like all our commercial services, we have a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data. Microsoft Teams will support key compliance standards including EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA and more.”
Conclusion: Slack or Teams for Your Office?
If you’re already on Office 365, Teams might be the way to go. For starters, it’s included in Office 365, so it’s “free” to you. Slack will cost you at least $6.67 per user per month to access its more powerful features. On the other hand, it can’t hurt to give the free version of Slack a trial run with your team and see if they fall in love.
If you’re not on Office 365, both platforms have very similar functionality. You can’t go wrong with either. Although, your users might find the fun personality of the Slack app a refreshing change from the bland enterprise software interfaces they’re used to.