For those users that would benefit from quick, instant message-style communication with other team members, Google Hangouts is a free solution that comes with all Google accounts.  By default, it is accessible in the Gmail app and can be used to converse with one or multiple other users.  Recent updates also allow for multi-person video conferencing.

If you are already using another chat protocol, like Skype, and still have a business need to support it, then adding another, separate, chat client may not be the best solution.  If you primarily use it for instant messaging, there are several tools such as IM+, Trillian and Pidgin that can work on multiple protocols so you can support multiple chat systems in one tool.

If you would like to use Hangouts for your team, but you want to make it a bit more convenient and accessible, then there is the option of installing the chrome web app so that it will become part of the desktop environment and you do not have to have Gmail opened up in order to use it.

To Install the Hangout App:

  1. Go to Chrome App Store page for Hangouts 
  2. Click ‘Add’.  The Hangouts app should now now in the background in your taskbar.