Modern day professional life involves a clogged inbox, and multiple WhatsApp groups through which teams collaborate beyond office hours. It’s a reality fuelled by coffee. The smartphones never worked towards our work-life balance. That’s why we need tools beyond email, or shared spreadsheets for team communication, collaboration and coordination.
As part of my work at BGR, it is necessary to track what’s happening in technology. There are a gazillion stories happening. As a team, well, we track a fraction of it. We prioritize. Collaborate. Battle. Sigh. Even joke, at times. It’s human. And all of these swings in energy and mood is necessary for creativity. The one word in the list above that stands for me is collaboration. Now we certainly can’t afford to clog our existing communication channels with such an information overload. How do you organize communication? Cutting a long story short, by organizing your communications. Segregating them into respective channels. So a joke, wishing someone on their birthday, and the delivery for the most critical deadline of the day aren’t interchanged. None of us want our life to be a joke.
To communicate with each other in the team, we use a variety of apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Slack. Today, WhatsApp is used in pretty much the same way as text messaging with the added benefit of sending files, images and videos. According to Bhavin Turakhia, Founder and CEO at Flock, “I think it’s important to note that less than 0.5 percent of the market is captured by team messengers or any other collaboration tool.” He definitely seems to see a huge opportunity there. But would that be enough to convince teams to move to Flock? He admits, “people are more comfortable with generic messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, which works well for personal messaging.” He does add though, that they are “very limiting when used for workplace communication.” ALSO READ: Telegram 4.4 brings live locations, new media player, more
A team that uses Slack for its communication
A lot of chatter in my own team around WhatsApp tends to center around funny GIFs. On Slack, we’ve had our fair share of fun interactions thanks to the AI bot built into the app. All’s working well for the team. When I suggested Flock as an app to try to my team, I received mixed reactions. Why another app, was the unanimous question. Earlier, I’d nudged them to get on to Workplace by Facebook too. I’ve learned, and tread cautiously when requesting the team for yet another app adaption. ALSO READ: Here’s how Facebook is transforming the new age workplace
Turakhia adds, “While the need for team messengers is quite evident, the category lacks awareness. Hence, with Flock, we want to address the communication problems of professionals in the same way that WhatsApp has eased our communication needs. Thus, we have built a platform that is more suitable for team collaboration and communication, where the ultimate objective is to enhance efficiency and productivity. Flock is a pure business-specific chat application. You can sign in using your work email ID and all your office colleagues are auto-synced into your contact list. You don’t have to mix work and personal messages.”
And that’s the whole point with team collaboration. You’re in it together. For the good, bad and ugly. Slack certainly has everything going for it. But given its growth and community, it’s focusing on creating a following. Flock, on the other hand, is a GUI-first collaborative tool that will look familiar to a novice.
I wish Slack offered storage of all past messages in its free version. Unfortunately, after a gap of 15 days, I find past conversations have just been wiped away. With Flock, I’m able to scroll through the last 10,000 messages I shared with my team.
The challenge of yet another tool
The pain of installing one more app was a shortlived one. Besides, the web version of Flock is a pretty light interface. A migration tool to move your team from Slack to Flock makes it a hassle-free process.
However, according to the company, although comparisons are made with Slack, its intent isn’t to compete with Slack. The idea is to replace the use of WhatsApp in teams with a more efficient tool that allows granular control in the communications workflow. A good example of how effective is that a tool such as Slack allows teams to share Google Docs spreadsheets and documents with the team. But a tool such as Flock also allows you to create a document from within the app.
According to founder Bhavin Turakhia, the real advantage with Flock is in its third-party integrations. He said, “Additionally, with our app store and webhooks, our users can integrate their most frequently used apps and services with Flock. In this way, they will always receive real-time notifications and all important information in one place. It also eliminates the need to keep switching between multiple apps.”
Recently, Flock also added GitHub as one the platforms that can work seamlessly with it. So if you’re part of a team that develops software or modifies a lot of code, you wouldn’t have to keep switching between GitHub, email, bug tracking tools and what not. Since you could include Google Docs, email, and bug tracking tools, you could simply work with Flock as your messaging platform, and let your conversations with your team members be directed at the respective platform from one interface.
There’s also a developer platform called Flock OS that claims to be the world’s first chat operating system. In simple terms, it’s the ability to build AI and slash commands similar to what Slack offers into the same service so you can get faster with your keyboard. Interesting features within Flock are integrations with services such as Uber that enables you to book an Uber while still staying in the conversation you’re having with your teammate.