Remote and hybrid work have been in play for a few years now, but the pandemic sped up their development and spread across the globe.
With the demands on the constant increase, remote and hybrid companies have to quickly find a reliable and functional collaboration tool to keep their teams connected and ensure seamless workflow.
Before diving deeper into the topic, I want to give you a piece of advice.
Finding a suitable collaboration tool can be challenging and exhausting, especially if you’re looking to cross all the points from your checklist. What you should do instead is keep an open mind and remember that you can always make a switch if things don’t turn out so great later on.
In this blog post, we’ll compare two leading collaboration and communication tools: Slack and Microsoft Teams.
In addition to providing you with a quick overview of both apps, we’ll also list and examine their:
- User interface,
- File sharing and storage,
- Support, and
Hopefully, once you read through this blog post, you’ll be able to decide what tool suits your team best.
Table of Contents
Slack and Microsoft Teams are two of the most popular collaboration tools on the market at the moment.
Slack represents a cloud-based collaboration and communication tool that helps businesses boost their communication by providing instant messaging and minimizing the share of email in their internal communication and communication with third-party clients.
Slack can also be used as a quick file sharing and an effective task management tool, too. Considering how it integrates with more than 2,400 other apps, many opt for it because it makes their life and work easier.
Finally, Slack can serve great as an internal knowledge base tool for your organization, allowing you to quickly exchange important information and find whatever you need.
Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based team collaboration and platform that exists within the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suite of applications. Its popularity and strength lie in its diverse offer, its outstanding video conferencing capabilities, and its feature-price ratio.
Its core features include:
- Business messaging
- Audio and video calls
- File uploading and sharing
What some hybrid and remote companies might find attractive is Microsoft Teams’ language availability — it covers about 80 world languages, including Turkish, Serbian, Polish, and Hungarian.
Its generous pricing plan makes it an attractive and convenient tool for businesses of all sizes — particularly for those with a large number of employees and teams.
Here you can take a look at Slack’s and Microsoft Teams’ most prominent features:
|Pricing||One free and several paid plans||One free and several paid plans + free trial for some paid plans|
|Communication||Instant messaging, audio, and video calls||Instant messaging, audio, and video calls|
|Notifications||Advanced notification configuration||Basic notification configuration|
|Search||Advanced filtered search options||Advanced filtered search options|
|File sharing and storage||Optimum file sharing and 5 GB per workspace with the free plan||Optimum file sharing and 5 GB per user with the free plan|
|Integrations||Over 2,400 integrations with leading apps||Over 700 integrations with leading apps|
|Support||Standard support||Standard support|
|Security||Standard security solution||Standard security solution|
In the first round, we’ll be comparing Slack’s and Microsoft Teams’ pricing plans.
Slack’s Free plan is limited in terms of message history and storage room, which is bad for companies that rely on asynchronous communication.
If you decide to pay for Slack at some point, you’ll have three options at your disposal — the cheapest one starting at $8 per user per month.
When you decide to access more good features, an unlimited number of integrations, and provide more security to your team, you’ll have to pay $15 or more per user per month.
In contrast, Microsoft Teams’ free plan is more generous and provides you with unlimited chat history, more storage, and screen sharing.
Teams offers two sets of paid plans — one set is designed for home use while the other satisfies business needs.
Out of three paid business plans, two are cheaper and offer more than Slack’s Pro plan — Microsoft Essentials is $4 and Microsoft 365 Business Basic is $6 per user per month.
Finally, Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan is $12.50 per user per month and it gives you full access to Teams’ features. This plan and Microsoft 365 Business Basic offer a one-month free trial, too.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
If you want an even more affordable solution than Slack and Microsoft Teams, you should try Pumble. Pumble is a great business messaging app that comes with the most generous free plan of all and a paid plan that starts at only $1.99 per user per month. Take a look at its pricing here:
If this was a real match, Microsoft Teams would secure the win in this round, thanks to its affordability and feature richness.
|Pricing plans||Slack||Microsoft Teams|
|Cheapest paid plan||$8||$4|
Both Slack and Microsoft Teams are similar in design.
Slack can pride itself on ease of use and simplicity. Even if you’ve never used Slack before, one look at the dashboard would be enough to understand how things work.
On the left, you’ll find all your messages, channels, and threads. On the right, you get to see your conversations.
Exchanging files with your teammates, reacting to messages, and replying in threads is how Slack helps remote teams connect easier and quicker. If you want, you can also customize your Slack theme and format messages.
Microsoft Teams’ user interface is much like Slack’s.
The right side shows you all your channels and messages, but also meetings, files, and your activity. You can also access your Outlook calendar from there.
The left side is reserved for your conversations where you easily exchange files and messages with others.
Customization options are limited with Microsoft Teams, allowing you to choose from three themes only.
You might take an instant liking to Slack thanks to its clean design and agreeable user experience.
If you like to personalize your apps for the sake of productivity, Slack is the better option for you.
|Layout||Clean and neat||Simple|
Slack is a great enabler of asynchronous communication. The app allows you to:
- Pin, save or delete messages.
- Set messages as reminders.
- Schedule messages.
- Turn questions into polls.
But, Slack’s free plan limits your chat history to 10,000 most recent messages and once you reach it, Slack deletes your old messages and files.
If you use voice or video calls, you should find a better tool because Slack is quite limiting, even with its paid plans. If your team has over 15 people, you won’t be able to fit them all in one call. Bummer, right?
Microsoft Teams is also great at streamlining team communication with advanced message formatting, mentions, and threads.
But unlike Slack, Teams gives you unlimited chat history for free. And if you work in a cross-cultural team, you can even translate your chats.
Teams’ voice and video conferencing offer is better than Slack’s — you can host and record unlimited group meetings for up to 300 people with some paid plans.
But one downside with Teams is that threads are available only in channels and not in one-on-one conversations.
All in all, both apps provide a bunch of useful features that help distributed teams connect more effectively. Since both apps make an effort to support effective communication, we give them one point each.
|Chat history||10,000 most recent messages with the free plan||Unlimited with the free plan|
|Mentions and reactions||Yes||Yes|
|Threads||Yes||Only in group messages and channels|
|Channels||Private and public||Private and public|
|Emojis and GIFs||Emojis yes, GIFs no||Yes|
Notifications might be a deal-breaker for those who prefer uninterrupted work. Nobody likes spam, so let’s see how Slack and Microsoft Teams have handled this.
Slack has devoted a lot of time to fine-tuning its notification settings to ensure its users stay focused on their work but still stay in touch with teammates.
With Slack, you’re in control of your desktop, mobile, and email notifications. The app allows you to choose what channels, messages, and threads to get notified about. Some of the notification settings available with Slack:
- Notifications triggers
- Keyword notifications
- Notification schedule
- Sound and appearance
- Badge notifications
- Mobile notification timing
- Email notifications
- Channel-specific notifications
Bonus points go to Slack’s Do Not Disturb (DND) mode which is only a click away.
In terms of notification settings, Microsoft Teams is not as sophisticated as Slack. In Microsoft Teams, there are three ways to get notified:
- Via the activity feed in the top left corner, you get notifications about what’s happening across your teams and channels.
- Via the chat feed, you get notifications about your group and one-on-one conversations.
- Via desktop/banner notifications that appear somewhere on your screen depending on the system you use.
Microsoft Teams allows you to set notifications per channel, too. And you can set Quiet hours on your mobile phone after hours or over the weekend — great support for establishing a healthy work-life balance.
When put like this, it’s clear that Slack did a great job with notification configuration and takes the win in this round.
|Mute channels and direct messages||Yes||No|
Finding specific messages, files, or people in time-pressing situations is essential for maintaining productivity in your team and avoiding information overload.
Starting a search in Slack is quite easy and pretty advanced. You can search your messages, files, people, and channels for specific words, files, or whatever you need found.
And if you need more help, you can employ advanced filters or even find messages via specific reactions you’ve used for them.
Microsoft Teams also provides you with advanced search options — you can search for messages, one-on-one and group chats, teams, and channels.
Just like with Slack, you can filter your search results by subject, date, team, channel, etc. Teams also allows you to use modifiers in your search to improve the process and once you find what you’re looking for — you can save it for later.
Overall, both apps provide users with advanced search options and help them stay on top of their content.
|Message and channel search||Yes||Yes|
|File and people search||Yes||Yes|
File sharing and storage room will prove essential features for all virtual teams.
In Slack you can:
- Add and browse files
- Share files
- Download files
- Delete files
The great thing is that you can upload very large files in Slack — up to 1 GB in size.
But, when it comes to its storage plan, Slack will complicate your collaboration efforts.
The free plan will give you only 5 GB for the workspace, which can hardly satisfy the needs of remote and hybrid teams. If you want the whole deal, you would have to pay a lot for it.
With Microsoft Teams, you can also store, share, and edit files on the go. File-sharing is possible in a one-on-one chat, a group chat, or a team channel.
Microsoft Teams is in the lead from the start — it gives you 5 GB per user in its free plan and the storage expands to 1 TB per user with Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan.
Moreover, Teams offers advanced security options, such as cloud-storage service and file permissions (handy if you want a third party to access your document in Teams). And it allows you to access your files library, create new files or upload existing ones.
If your initial idea was to stay on the free plan and still get more storage space, you can always try out Pumble. With Pumble’s free plan, you can also share files and links and get 10 GB of storage per workspace.
This time around, Microsoft Teams takes the win with its more generous and more diverse file sharing and storage solutions.
|FIle sharing and storage||Slack||Microsoft Teams|
|Free file storage||5 GB per workspace||5 GB per user|
|Secure file sharing||No||Yes|
|Cloud-storage service||Only with third-party apps||Yes|
Seamless work experience can be facilitated with a good third-party integration solution.
And if you go with Slack, you’ll be able to choose from its comprehensive third-party apps directory.
With more than 2,400 apps available, Slack indeed excels in this round. The directory is nicely organized and the apps are divided into categories and collections to make things easier for you.
Slack integrates even with Office 365 and Google Workspace, streamlining your work completely.
On the other hand, Microsoft Teams integrates with more than 700 apps, which is pretty basic in comparison to Slack’s offer.
Now even though Slack’s the obvious winner here, the choice is entirely up to you and your team. If you like using integrations and you find it a great enabler of productivity, Slack’s your go-to app.
Otherwise, Teams would do just fine here, too.
|Number of integrations||Over 2,400 integrations with leading apps||Over 700 integrations with leading apps|
Slack offers standard 24/7 support with its free plans. And the more you choose to pay, the more support you get:
- The Pro plan gives you 24/7 support.
- The Business plan gives you 24/7 support with a four-hour first response time.
- The Enterprise plan gives you 24/7 priority support with a four-hour first response time.
Besides its comprehensive help center, another great thing about Slack is its Slackbot. You can access it in the left sidebar and customize some of its responses with the right permissions.
On the other hand, Microsoft Teams provides you with an extensive knowledge library packed full of useful tips and training videos that will help you get started with Teams or troubleshoot existing problems.
You can also find additional support that includes community forums and other helpful sources here.
When it comes to customer support around the clock, you can get that if you opt for one of the two most pricey plans.
For more live support and less reading from the app’s knowledge base, Slack might be the better option this time around.
|Bot feature||Yes||Yes, but have to be added|
When it comes to the reliability and security of your collaboration tools, I support strictness.
Protecting your team’s data security and ensuring they have a reliable tool for daily communication is paramount in virtual organizations.
Both Slack and Microsoft Teams are doing a great job at ensuring security to their users. Some of their security features include:
- Two-factor authentication with all plans
- GDPR and ISO/IEC 27001 compliance
- End-to-end encryption
The more you’re ready to pay, the more security you’ll get both in Slack and in Microsoft Teams.
With Microsoft Teams, you’ll also get extensive admin controls that allow you to modify member, owner, file, and SharePoint permissions. Plus you can apply DLP and data governance controls to chat content and the files in Teams.
Both Slack and Microsoft Teams take their security seriously, but Microsoft Teams would be slightly better at protecting yours.
The score is tight in the Slack vs Microsoft Teams case.
|File sharing and storage||0||1|
Both apps can cover most communication needs, offer advanced search capabilities, and support. It seems that both apps hold high positions in the collaboration and communication industry for a reason.
However, their pricing and storage limitations might be a deal killer for larger teams working in industries such as healthcare or software development.
If you think that neither Slack nor Microsoft Teams satisfies the needs of your team, you can give Pumble, a free team messaging app, a chance.
What will you get if you opt for Pumble?
- You will get the same functionalities that you had with Slack or Microsoft Teams.
- You will also get 10GB of storage per workspace in the free plan and 10GB of storage per user in the paid plan.
- You will be able to include an unlimited number of users and have unlimited access to your entire chat history, for free too.
- You won’t have to choose between so many different and expensive pricing plans — Pumble’s Pro plan has all you need.
If your idea is to focus more on the communication and not the communication tool, it might be a good time to register for a free account and start your Pumble journey.