Remote and hybrid work has been in play for a few years now, which is why companies are always on the lookout for a reliable and functional collaboration tool that will keep their teams connected and ensure seamless workflow.
In this blog post, I’ll compare two leading collaboration and communication tools: Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Hopefully, once you read through this blog post, you’ll be able to decide what tool suits your team best.
- The main differences between Slack and Microsoft Teams are that Slack emphasizes communication while Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool that has communication features.
- They also differ in their pricing and free plan options, customization within their interface designs, notification choices, file storage features, integration selections, and more.
- When choosing between Slack and Microsoft Teams, keep in mind your team’s size, budget, need for file storage, integrations, and customer support.
Table of Contents
The main differences between Slack and Microsoft Teams are that Slack emphasizes communication (real-time and asynchronous) while Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool that has communication features. Slack excels in integrations with third-party apps and Microsoft Teams is deeply integrated with the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.
Slack and Microsoft Teams are two of the most popular collaboration tools on the market at the moment. Here you can take a look at Slack’s and Microsoft Teams’ most prominent features:
|One free and several paid plans
|One free (For Home) and several paid plans + free trial for some paid plans
|Instant messaging, audio, and video calls
|Instant messaging, audio, and video calls
|Advanced notification configuration
|Basic notification configuration
|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
|Over 2,600 integrations with leading apps
|Over 700 integrations with leading apps
|Standard security solution
|Standard security solution
Firstly, I’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 a potential downside for companies that rely on asynchronous communication.
On the other hand, Microsoft Teams’ does not offer a free plan for businesses, but it does have one for personal use under the “For Home” option.
If you decide to pay for Slack at some point, you’ll have 3 options at your disposal — the cheapest one starting at $7.25 per active user per month when billed annually.
Teams offers 3 sets of paid plans, 2 of which are cheaper and offer more than Slack’s Pro plan does — Microsoft Essentials is $4 while Microsoft 365 Business Basic is $6 per user per month, also when billed annually.
If you decide that your team needs access to more features in Slack, such as an unlimited number of integrations or more security, then you’ll have to pay $12.50 or more per user per month.
Finally, Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan is $12.50 per user per month and it gives you full access to all Teams’ features. This plan and Microsoft 365 Business Basic offer a one-month free trial, too.
With Slack, you can request a free trial of one of their paid plans.
Slack and Microsoft Teams are similar in design.
Slack can pride itself on ease of use and simplicity. Even though I’ve never used Slack before, it took me one look at the dashboard 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 left 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 right side is reserved for your conversations where you can 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’re like me and you like to personalize your apps for the sake of productivity, Slack is the better option for you.
Slack is a great enabler of asynchronous communication. The app allows you to:
- Pin, save, or delete messages,
- Set messages as reminders,
- Schedule messages, and
- Turn questions into polls.
But, Slack’s free plan limits you to the most recent 90 days of message history and deletes your older messages and files.
On the other hand, Teams gives you unlimited chat history for free. And if you work in a cross-cultural team, you can even translate your chats.
I, for one, often use voice or video calls. If you are like me, you should find a more adequate tool because Slack is quite limiting, even with its paid plans. If your team has over 50 people, you won’t be able to fit them all in one call.
Meanwhile, Teams’ voice and video conferencing offer is better than Slack’s — you can host and record an unlimited number of group meetings for up to 300 people with some paid plans.
Both apps are great at streamlining team communication with advanced message formatting, mentions, and threads.
To improve your team’s engagement, you can react with emojis and gifs to conversations, create bullet lists, and change the font (and, in Teams, even color) of your message – handy features I enjoy using.
But, one downside with Teams is that threads are available only in channels and not in one-on-one conversations.
Notifications might be a deal-breaker for those like myself 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 via instant messaging.
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, which means you’ll never miss an important message or a piece of information. Some of the notification settings available with Slack are:
- Notifications triggers,
- Keyword notifications,
- Notification schedule,
- Sound and appearance,
- Badge notifications,
- Mobile notification timing,
- Email notifications, and
- 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, while I was testing, I noticed that Microsoft Teams is not as sophisticated as Slack. In Microsoft Teams, there are 3 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.
Starting a search in Slack is quite easy and the search feature itself is pretty advanced. You can search through your messages, files, people, and channels for specific words, documents, 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, I find that both apps provide users with advanced search options and help them stay on top of their content.
Slack offers key file storage features, but with Microsoft Teams you get a much better bang for your buck
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, and
- 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 entire workspace, which can hardly satisfy the needs of remote and hybrid teams. On the other hand, their biggest storage plan offers 1 TB per user, but if you want that, you’ll 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’ cheapest plan gives you 10 GB per user 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 documents in Teams). And it allows you to access your files library, create new files, or upload existing ones.
This time around, I think Microsoft Teams is a better option, with its more generous and more diverse file-sharing and storage solutions.
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 2,600 apps available for integration, Slack indeed excels with its extensive offer. The directory is nicely organized and the apps are divided into categories and collections to make things easier for you.
Slack can even be integrated with Office 365 and Google Workspace, streamlining your work completely.
On the other hand, Microsoft Teams integrates with more than 700 apps, which probably includes all your most used apps. Still, it’s pretty basic in comparison to Slack’s offer.
So, if you like using integrations and find it a great enabler of productivity, Slack’s your go-to app.
Otherwise, I think Teams would do just fine here, too.
Microsoft Teams has an extensive knowledge library, but Slack offers more advanced customer support options
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, and
- The Enterprise plan gives you 24/7 priority support with a four-hour first response time.
When it comes to around-the-clock customer support with Microsoft Teams, you can get it only if you opt for one of the two most pricey plans.
Besides its comprehensive help center, another thing that I found very helpful 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.
The library also offers additional support via community forums and other helpful sources.
For more live support and less reading from the app’s knowledge base, Slack might be the better option this time around.
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 for their users. Some of their security features include:
- Two-factor authentication with all plans,
- GDPR and ISO/IEC 27001 compliance, and
- 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.
Slack could be suitable for teams who:
- Are smaller and on a strict budget,
- Favor user-friendly technology,
- Wish to integrate with more apps, and
- Want sophisticated customer support.
In contrast, Microsoft Teams might be more effective for teams that:
- Are larger,
- Prioritize greater file storage,
- Already use the Microsoft ecosystem, and
- Want an app with a very reliable security system.
If you think that neither Slack nor Microsoft Teams satisfies the needs of your team, you can give Pumble, a team communication app, a chance.
What will you get if you opt for Pumble?
- The same functionalities that you had with Slack or Microsoft Teams,
- 10GB of storage per workspace in the free plan and up to 100GB of storage per seat in the paid plans,
- Ability to include an unlimited number of users and have unlimited access to your entire chat history, for free, and
- Voice calls and video conferencing, as well as voice and video messages.