Journalist, speaker, founder, musician, photographer, and digital nomad.
Since the start of the pandemic, the tech world has been scrambling to take formerly offline practices and processes online. Sometimes that has meant making better use of existing tools, like Slack. On other occasions, we’ve all been forced to find new ways to do things.
But, let’s be honest. Slack’s implementation of threaded comments has never been a personal favorite of mine, and I know others agree. Other asynchronous communications tools are also a little lacking in that respect, whether it’s Discord or (shock horror) a WhatsApp group chat. And while Trello is a great tool, it can quickly become overwhelming. And let’s not talk too much about taking meetings online. Still, the security controversies and free-to-use limits of Zoom haven’t exactly made it the best video call buddy, despite its popularity.
So what else is out there, and why should you be taking a look?
Let’s cover the Zoom alternative first. Jitsi is an open-source, peer-to-peer video call, screen share, chat, live broadcast, and cloud recording platform that requires no account.
You read that right: no account. No payments. No time limits. No limit on how many people can join. It’s secure, good quality, and easy to use. What’s more, if you’re anxious about security, you can spin up your own Jitsi server. Oh, and it’s also available for Android and iOS.
So why is anyone still using Zoom, when there’s a free alternative available? Sure, the quality can be a little poor on slow connections, but otherwise, it does almost everything Zoom does.
Give it a try, and if you feel it’s worth paying extra for Zoom’s green-screen-alike virtual backdrops, you’re welcome to carry on. Otherwise, Jitsi’s free nature always wins.
Asynchronous communications are super relevant in the “new normal.” And while Slack, Discord, and various messaging apps help, it can be hard to follow what’s critical to your business, team, or project.
Howspace is an exciting alternative to those apps, providing a customizable workspace that can serve multiple purposes. And I know what you’re thinking, “Customizable? That must need expertise!”
Unlike other workspace tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Howspace requires zero coding. Disclaimer: I occasionally advise Howspace but do not have any financial stake in the business.
Need to chat with Facebook comments-style threading, and likes? Go ahead and drop a chatbox on the page. Need to create a course so you can improve your team’s skills? Just drag and go. Want to vote on important issues or features? Simple.
In fact, Howspace includes drag-and-drop modules that cover everything from booking your team’s time, polls, exams, assignments, videos, and more. You can even email workspace participants to inform them of important updates, and then there’s the feather in its cap.
Best for bigger teams, Howspace is not going to work for you if you're trying to be the new HP and build an enterprise from your garage (well, two garages now, unless you've been isolated all this time with your co-founder).
But there's one extra bonus tool that can help those large teams understand the workspace better, and faster. Howspace includes AI summarization, which surfaces relevant themes and topics without reading everything added to the workspace.
Sometimes, you just need an excellent kanban project management solution, and that tool is likely Trello or one of a dozen alternatives. But now and then, Trello falls short, especially for coders.
Enter Restya, which takes all of the best bits of Trello and does its best to add to them. For example, you can add boards using predefined templates, such as bug, CRM, Gemba, kanban, scrum, or todo. Like your project management old school? Gantt charts are available in Restya too. And you can sync your board with Google Calendar too.
Already a Trello user? That’s good because Restya lets you import everything, so you don’t have to build from scratch. Are you using something else? That’s fine. It will also import from Taiga, Kantree, Asana, Pipefy, Taskwarrior, and Wekan.
And there’s an excellent API explorer, which makes custom integrations simple if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and doing a little coding.
Restya is free until you want to add more than five plugins, at which point you’ll have to pay, but if you need a tool for unlimited users that doesn’t require multiple integrations, give it a shot.
Hopefully, one of these alternatives to Slack and Trello can help you and your team work more efficiently. Have some alternatives of your own that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!