Okay, so I work on a team of 4 people. We're spread all around the country, and when we communicate, it's either through email or our issue tracker.
That's okay most of the time, but I feel like I spend a lot of time waiting for people to reply to my emails/comments on tickets. That's a real productivity kill for me, since in the 5 or so minutes it takes to get a response, I usually start doing something else. I'd like to start using some kind of synchronous (i.e. instant) form of messaging so that we can communicate faster. I was thinking that I could set up a private IRC channel, but I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of hosting this and I'm not sure I could sell this to some people on the team. I also like the idea of being able to convey status to everyone else -- show that you're available by being in the channel, and then set statuses (e.g. "working on x issue" or "eating lunch" while in the channel).
Are there any no- or low-cost options (some time cost is okay, just not monetary) that will allow us to instantly communicate as a team, much like an IRC channel would allow? Some priorities:
- We all have to be able to chat at the same time or PM each other if needed
- Privacy is, of course, important
- It has to be relatively easy to set up or it won't get adopted
- It has to be low-cost
Also, any thoughts on instant communication in general? I'm interested in any support for my theory as well as any criticism.