Communicating with people is hard. Or at least, it can be. Particularly when everyone isn’t in the same room, timezone, or (same) page. I can hear your cries now, bellowing, “That’s why there’s email!” and I would be inclined to agree with you, but email sucks. A lot. That’s why we have Slack and HipChat, which is great for those working primarily at a single organization, but not necessarily for those primarily doing freelance.
Now meet TABLE, a new web-based collaboration tool/platform launching this week in private beta that aims to be an all-in-one for distributed teams, freelancers, and occasional collaborators. Basically if you spend your days doing contract work for many different businesses, this service is worth keeping an eye on.
Table diverges from the recognizable structure of popular enterprise chat systems like Slack and Hipchat by splitting up into three basic portions: tables, people, and discover. The service is essentially divided into these three categories, with each breaking down into several key modules or “micro services” that can be customized to make sense for each project.
“Our approach, even towards the architecture of our web application, is micro services,” says Table CEO and cofounder Cristian Petschen. “We’re not really about the communication tool itself. We’re about connecting people, and being able to build your trusted collaborator network.”
Table lets you connect to people who have individual profiles on the platform, regardless of where they work. You can message them privately, invite them to a Table (which, functions similarly to Slack Channels and HipChat rooms), add them to your Inner Circle, or bring them into a Room. (Rooms function similarly to Teams in Slack and HipChat in that they allow you to bring people and Tables together, but you’re not tethered to a room for collaboration.)
Table isn’t just chat, though. Instead, its purpose is to give you options for communication as it makes sense to a particular project or task via the aforementioned micro services and modules. Some of these will be rolling out as Table moves out of the private beta and into the launch phase, but eventually users will be able to rate each other on performance, make voice calls, and even send and pay invoices directly through Table’s platform.
This brings us to Table’s other two primary categories: People and Discover, which allow you to manage current contacts or find new collaborators based on your professional network.
While LinkedIn has something of a stranglehold on the professional networking game, it’s not exactly a great place for getting things done or finding qualified collaborators for specific projects. Table wants to give users some of the functionality of LinkedIn with a network, but make it possible for people who don’t know one another to connect much like they do through sites like Upwork (formally Elance-oDesk).
“It’s going to be LinkedIn and more in that sense, because you can also put your projects up and people can look at your projects and the work that you’ve done,”Petschen says. “Since you’re collaborating on the platform, it’s not only what you say about yourself, but also what you’re doing. [Table] knows what subjects you’re working on, who you’re coming together with, and it has a much better idea of who you are.”
While Table is still in private beta, you can sign up to get on the waiting list.