Microsoft Teams vs Slack

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and a huge increase in the number of people working remotely, the use of collaboration workspaces like Microsoft Teams and Slack has exploded.

In the third week of March 2020, Microsoft Teams, as part of Office 365, had 44 million daily users, a figure that grew by 12 million in one week alone. Slack added 2.5 million users in two weeks and 9,000 new paid customers between February 1 and March 25.

With both at the top of the workspace market right now, a Microsoft Teams vs Slack debate has started. The platform you choose will depend on the needs of your business, the features you need, and what you’re willing to spend. Here are some key attributes and differences to be mindful of when making your choice.

Messaging

Messaging is a key part of any collaboration platform. Both Microsoft Teams and Slack have group chat functionality with thread messaging as well as the option for private chats. Each offers the ability to edit, delete, and pin messages, as well as the option to mention someone, share a file, and start a new thread.

If you’re into adding GIFs to your messages, both offer that option as well. Teams has a “Stickers” button on the toolbar to create a customized meme. While Slack does offer integration with Bitmoji and similar services, it’s not as easily accessible as with Teams. However, Slack gives you the option to “like” someone’s comment with an emoji as a reaction.

As for customizing the message interface in Slack, you can change the overall appearance, switch between light and dark themes, and switch the sidebar colors between almost a dozen options.

Meanwhile, Teams recently announced that it’s offering custom backgrounds, although users are limited to choosing an image from a set supplied by Microsoft. According to the company, “This feature builds upon background blur, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to blur the environment behind you.” In the future, you’ll also be able to upload custom images — but that’s not available yet.

Meetings

When it comes to meetings, both Teams and Slack offer online audio and video sharing — but Teams has the edge for larger companies, as it’s backed by Microsoft’s years of experience creating products specifically for large enterprise organizations.

The free version of Teams allows you to hold video meetings, and use background blur and screen sharing. The version included in Microsoft 365 Basic allows you to schedule and record meetings, and host meetings with up to 250 attendees. You can also host live events and large meetings, webinars, and company-wide events with up to 10,000 attendees inside or outside your organization.

As for Slack, the free plan offers unlimited one-to-one voice or video calls but does not allow you to record a meeting without integrating a third-party app. However, you can use Slack to make voice and video calls either with or without third-party services like Google Hangouts and Zoom, and if you upgrade to a paid plan, Slack will support up to 15 simultaneous callers and provide screen sharing.

Channels

Both Teams and Slack allow you to create private messages and channels that provide you and your team with a shared view of the work that’s being done. As you work in channels on both platforms, your conversations and files become a searchable archive, making it easier to find what you need when you need it.

Slack offers public channels, private channels, and shared channels, so two separate organizations can work together in Slack, allowing you to collaborate in real time with clients, vendors, agencies, and more.

With Microsoft, teams are made up of channels, which are the conversations you have with your teammates. Each channel is dedicated to a specific topic, department, or project. Standard channels are open to all members, and anything posted is searchable by others, while you have to be invited to a private channel in order to view it.

So what’s the difference?

In Slack, you can’t have a channel within a channel, but with Teams, you can create a team and then create a channel within that team, which makes it easier to encourage group collaboration. In addition, creating a team for each department or project creates a dedicated Office 365 Group that integrates the team with the other applications available in Office 365 like SharePoint Site, OneNote, and Planner.

Integrated apps

Both Teams and Slack have tons of integrated apps, but the Slack App Directory has more than 2,000 apps built for all types of organizations using Slack. However, you can only install up to 10 apps when using the free version.

Teams, on the other hand, offers unlimited integrations with other apps for all levels of pricing but only supports around 180 apps. It does, however, integrate with Office 365 and is designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft’s suite, making it the preferred platform for businesses that use Office 365.

Pricing

Both Slack and Teams offer a free version of their product. With Slack, you get unlimited public and private channels, file sharing, 5 GB of storage, and 10 app integrations. With Teams, the free plan provides unlimited messages, guest access, screen sharing, over 250 integrated apps and services, 2 GB of storage per individual, and access for up to 300 registered users.

Slack offers a Standard package for $6.67 per month, per person. Slack Plus costs $12.50 per month, per person. Slack Enterprise requires you to contact the sales department.

Microsoft Teams isn’t a standalone product and only comes as an add-on with any Office 365 plan, but it starts at $5 per month for Office 365 Business Essentials and $12.50 per month, per user for Office 365 Business Premium.

The bottom line

Overall, Slack offers more integrated app options, and its familiarity and “fun” way to connect has made it the choice of many businesses and teams looking for an independent collaboration tool. However, because it doesn’t inherently integrate with any tools outside of file storage and chat, users end up paying more if they want to add other tools.

Microsoft Teams offers seamless integration with Office 365, meaning you don’t have to leave the platform to work on Word documents or PowerPoint slides. Its robust video conferencing option also makes it the choice of larger enterprises that have employees around the world — and the cheapest Office 365 plan that includes Teams is cheaper than Slack’s cheapest plan.

Many companies are allowing more employees to work remotely during the coronavirus crisis. And that’s something that isn’t expected to change afterward. In fact, it’s estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021. The collaboration platform you choose — whether it’s Microsoft Teams or Slack —  comes down to what best suits the needs of your business — not just now but in the future.

This article is originally published on Apr 30, 2020, and updated on Jun 05, 2020
Ex-nomad finally managed to settle. Been to 51 countries and counting. Doesn't like to be stuck in an office. Cappuccino aficionado.

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