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March 30th, 2020

As millions of us adjust to working from home, it’s important to use the right platform to stay connected. In fact, virtual meetings and remote learning has never been as widely used as a resource within the UK as it is in today’s current climate.

So which program to choose? They all host an impressive variety of features guaranteed to keep team communication flowing, it’s really a matter of deciding which features suit your business’ needs. Whether you want to set up a team catch up, a client meeting, distance learning or a candidate interview we’ve rounded up five of the best video conferencing and communication tools which are currently trending when it comes to remote working.

 

Zoom

Zoom has shot to fame since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and it’s clear to see why. It’s free, easy to use and boasts great video quality. The free version of the program allows up to an impressive 100 people within one conference call – the only drawback being that these calls cannot exceed 40 minutes. If users wish to hold longer meetings there is an option to pay for a premium account (prices start at £11.99 per host, per month). You can share your screens with teams which proves effective for combined meetings. Most notably, Zoom provides 256-bit encryption to ensure confidentiality and privacy for all users, which makes it perfect for business use.

 

Microsoft Teams

Following the government’s recent advice to stay at home, Microsoft Teams has extended their trial period to a generous six months so you can try before you buy (a paid plan is £5 per participant, per month). It seamlessly links with Microsoft Office, allowing users to collaborate and share documents and much more in real time. Schools are eligible to sign up for free, offering a learning platform that allows children to participate in lessons at home. Microsoft Teams is capable of having an astounding 10,000 participants in one broadcast. It allows users to hold video conferences or the option of hosting a live broadcast whilst other users can tune in, similar to Facebook’s ‘live’ function – which may prove an invaluable tool for home learning. Microsoft Teams has vowed to assist doctors and nurses by offering free use of the program for all NHS workers during these uncertain times.

 

Skype

A division of Microsoft but popular in its own right, Skype has the capability to integrate Microsoft’s products. This social platform supports communication on all levels including strong quality audio calls, limiting the amount a business spends on their calls. It is definitely cost effective if the business can support internet generated calls – though it is important to mention that Skype does not support emergency calls so all users are recommended to have an alternate form of communication (perhaps a personal phone) in case of emergency. Skype’s features include HD video calling, live subtitles and mobile screen sharing during a call. Video meetings can also be recorded in HD and archived. The innovative ‘whiteboard’ feature allows users to brainstorm during a video conference. Skype is user friendly and is free for basic video calling, although if you are looking for a plan that boasts all the premium features, Microsoft Teams now replaces Skype for Business as Microsoft’s key business communication tool.

 

Google Hangouts

If you already have a Google account, Google Hangouts can really be worth considering. It integrates with Google’s other features such as Google Drive, Google Calendar and Google Documents. Meetings can be recorded and saved to Google Drive. For those wanting to create a completely free account, this supports video calls with 25 participants. For premium users, it enables 250 participants and 100,000 live viewers to drop in and out of meetings effortlessly. It is worth noting that Google have announced they are making their premium version completely free until July 2020 in a bid to support businesses or schools which have no option but to work remotely due to the Coronavirus outbreak. As expected, Google’s video call quality is phenomenal and it is easy to navigate for first time users.

 

Flock

Flock is suitable for use on Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. Flock are currently offering ‘Flock Pro’ for free on a 30 day trial period. Flock allows up to twenty users for twenty minutes per video call on its standard free platform and paid users can have unlimited video calls. They have a personable, hands-on email team to support with any teething problems. Flock has a file sharing feature and also allows teams to instant message, useful for sharing ideas or discussing projects. Flock allows a user to drag and drop files to a chat and store those in a drawer, to access when needed. Flock is user friendly and offers high video quality, describing itself as a virtual office – offering not just communication tools but useful remote working tools such as to-do lists and reminders.



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