Instant messaging client one of the most important tools of any team. Instant messages make up almost 90% of all the communication that most remote teams do and for teams who sit in the same room, it's still important. When choosing an instant messaging client, you should consider your team’s previous experience to make them comfortable, and weighing what they have used before to make the teamwork as well as possible.
Regardless of which way you choose to go, make sure that the software you use has the functionalities that you need as a team. The tools that I am about to list have been beneficial for us and for many other companies as well. Consider what you hold important, and choose based on that.
Channels are a great tool for remote work.
Separating different projects into different channels makes every discussion easier to track. A great way to give remote workers their need for some social connection is to have a “random” or a “water-cooler” channel where they can discuss non-work-related issues, share kitty images, and all other kinds of fun that they want to do. This is often a good distraction in between work.
Just make sure that the client that you use for chat is not pinging about these messages with sound and constantly interrupting the already scarce work moments that you already have. As of this writing, there are several good instant chat clients.
A few good client options
Slack is a great instant messaging tool aimed at the software development community, but is being adapted by a larger public. It has great emoticon support, good integrations to outside systems, and a helpful bot that you can set up to do pretty much everything you want. Slack also supports different channels and permissions for users, and is fairly affordable. Slack has great apps for almost all smartphone systems.
Flowdock is a great instant messaging tool. It has a well-built UI for web use, and a good client for Mac and Windows. It also supports many task manager integrations out of the box; just enter your task manager URL and other details, and you’re set up. Flowdock uses a good system to track hash tags on content and it helps a lot when searching and browsing your conversations later on. It also features a unique reply/thread system that separates discussions within channels. Think about a channel that has thirty people, and all discussing at the same time; the “reply to a channel” functionality makes threads out of the replies to make an easily managed whole.
IRC is an ancient instant messaging client that was invented at the end of the 1980s. During the rise of the internet, IRC has been a huge part of providing an environment where everyone who knows a channel can easily join with any kind of computer. It’s still in use in the open source community in particular, and using it might still work in some situations. However, the new IM clients are so much more powerful that I recommend using those.
http://limechat.net/mac/ - Mac
http://www.mirc.com/ - Windows
There is an abundance of choice when it comes to instant messaging clients. The ones that I’ve listed before have worked for us in different situations. The best one I’d recommend is Flowdock, due to its unique reply functionality and a great search. Prices between the solutions vary, but to save money on the most important tool in your remote team, that would just be counter-intuitive.