Working and Communicating Remotely

The Coronavirus pandemic has created problems for all sorts of businesses.  Even if your business is able to remain open, you have to deal with the challenge of having most of your office and administrative work done from employees’ homes.  Figuring out how to communicate and hold internal discussions is a top priority.  With the old conference room off-limits, a lot hinges on the ability to hold meetings online.  There are many services that offer online meetings, but which ones are the best?  Business owners need a reliable, flexible, and easy-to-use system.  With that in mind, we offer an overview of some of the most commonly used programs for online meetings.

ZOOM

Zoom is very widely used, which makes it an attractive choice – you are likely to find that many of your employees, suppliers, and customers already have it and are familiar with it.  It has a good reputation for system stability, with few dropouts or bad connections reported.  The one remaining issue is security.  “Zoom Bombing”, in which outsiders were able to hack into Zoom meetings and interrupt them or even post offensive content, was a significant problem, but the company has taken steps to tighten access and this has become much less common.  Other users have raised concerns about online monitoring because Zoom feeds are often run through servers in the People’s Republic of China, but Zoom offers controls that allow meeting organizers to decide which country’s routers to use.

Zoom has a free plan that allows for 40 minute meetings with up to 100 participants.  Zoom also offers virtual backgrounds and a facial touchup filter to help you make your best impression online.

SKYPE

Skype is extremely well known, to the point where “Skypeing” is recognized in many dictionaries as a verb for placing a video call.  Skype works in a wide range of systems – Windows, Apple Mackintosh, Skype can even be used to place calls to telephone at a modest cost.  Skype’s video and audio quality is generally good though it does vary based on connection quality video and audio may be choppy but there are few reports of dropped connections.  One thing to keep in mind is that Skype originated as a service that focused on one-to-one video calls.  The system may be clumsy for larger business meetings.

One potentially useful feature, especially if your business has international vendors or customers, is Skype Translate, which can provide passable translations of audio in nine of the world’s most common languages.

GOOGLE HANGOUTS

Google Hangouts offers video calling with as many as ten people on a call, and it also supports online chat and messaging.  The system does not allow for sharing of all types of documents.  The system is shaky too, with many users reporting blurry video, delayed sound, and dropped connections.  Given Google’s high penetration throughout all aspects of the web Hangouts is a useful application, but given its limitations it should mainly be reserved for smaller meetings.

TEAM VIEWER

Team viewer is a very nifty application that allows users to take over control of other computers remotely.  While it was not really designed as a meeting application, Team Viewer can be very useful for certain types of meetings, especially technical training and troubleshooting sessions.  Team Viewer also provides for drag and drop file transfer.  As you would hope for a remote computer access application, Team Viewer has very robust security protocols, though its security systems may interfere with your meetings at times.  Team Viewer may not be the solution to all your meeting needs, but is very useful within its niche.

JOIN ME

Join Me offers a free plan that allows up to ten participants and three video feeds, making this an attractive option for small meetings, but larger meetings require subscription plans that can be expensive.  Join Me also permits a limited number of shared videos that can put a crimp in larger sessions.  Join Me does offer a “white board” where team members can post ideas during a meeting, which can be very useful.  The system is not entirely stable, and users have noted frozen video, delayed audio, and dropped feeds.

John Potter Media has been helping local small businesses for over two decades with online solutions. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you call our office at 978-808-3428 or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JohnPotterMedia/. We’ll be glad to provide you with a personalized consultation that provides the best results.