5 Best Video Conferencing Apps That Can Boost Work-from-Home Effectiveness
The COVID19 pandemic and the subsequent lock-down pushed every business indoors. Offices were shut down and the work-from-home culture, which was once frowned upon, became the norm.
It’s hard to imagine how the world would have coped up with such a situation until a couple of decades ago. Thankfully, there was a handful of excellent video conferencing apps that helped businesses get through the lock-down and their day-to-day operations continued without any major disruptions, albeit in a virtual set-up.
The demand for remote and virtual work has made video conferencing apps one of the world’s most crucial communication tools in 2020. That explains why the global market for video conferencing, which was worth $3.85 billion in 2019, is anticipated to grow at 9.9% every year till 2027 with more people using this functionality than ever before.
While there’s a ton of video calling apps out there, excellent video conferencing requires a few additional features than consumer-level video chats. You’d need stable and reliable apps that can support business meetings and help your team feel connected in that virtual space.
So, here’s a list of the top 5 video conferencing apps that can make your team meetings more productive and help you connect with your clients and stakeholders in a much better way.
Zoom is undoubtedly the most popular video conferencing solutions for businesses of all sizes. It has a simple sign up process and allows you to record your calls too. You can use it on Mac and Windows apps.
It can host up to 100 participants at a time and supports all the three formats i.e, audio-only, video, and text chatting. While the user interface (UI) is a bit clunky, the video quality and stability are pretty decent. While you can get its free basic plan for personal meetings, the enterprise-level plan can be purchased for $19.99/month/host.
The basic plan will allow 40-minute calls with features like screen sharing, camera filters, breakout rooms, and local recording. With the enterprise-level plan, you can include up to 500 participants, and get unlimited cloud storage, a vanity meeting URL, custom emails, and much more.
2. Google Meet
Google Meet’s integration with Google’s other apps is possibly its best feature. When you create a meeting in Google Calendar, you will receive a Meet link that all the participants can click on to join a meeting instantly.
You can also start a call directly from your Gmail inbox and share files from your Google Drive while you're in the middle of a call. While the screen sharing option is already there, the tab-sharing feature comes with very little lag and makes media sharing quite easy.
If you want to address a large number of people, Google Meet is for you as it allows up to 100,000 participants to join via view-only mode. It wouldn’t display their video and they would only be able to hear and see whosoever is leading the call.
Live captioning is another great feature of Google Meet and works quite well for the English language. However, it won’t detect other languages.
Slack is one of the most popular team chat apps today. If you want to call someone from your workplace, just open a direct message and click on the phone icon. The call would start in a new window and a notification will be added to the chat.
Slack calls are almost like the usual phone calls with just an added video (don’t tap on the video icon if you don’t want to turn the video on). It allows up to 15 participants. You can share your screen with your teammates and they can add comments to it.
However, you will need to use the desktop app if you want to make a video call. Also, the video quality drops sharply if there are two people on the call. Consider using it if you want to make a brief call with just one or two people.
4. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams seamlessly integrates video calling functionality into its solutions’ stack, which is why it is being used by over 44 million daily users, who come from 93 of Fortune 100 companies.
While video conferencing remains an integral component of Microsoft Teams, much of its features lean on file sharing, instant messaging, and group collaboration on Microsoft Office documents.
You can host calls with up to 250 members, including screen sharing and call recording. However, it works better for smaller teams as you can see only a handful of participants on a call at a time.
If you are an IT professional, you can access Microsoft Teams even if your business doesn’t have the license for the same. All you need to do is contact their Microsoft partner or sales representatives and you can access the Office 365 E1 plan free for six months.
Microsoft’s video chat tool, Skype, is often thought of as a platform that helps people keep in touch with their friends and family. However, it is important to note that this cross-platform app also allows up to participants in a group video call.
Since Skype can be used in a browser, it’s great for people who don’t want to install an app for the same. People can directly join in by using their email address.
While the screen sharing option is obviously there, Skype also blurs the background automatically, giving your group meetings with teammates and clients a more formal touch. Also, there’s the live subtitling feature and the ability to record your calls.
You can go for Skype for Business if you want to include more people in your calls. It will let you include up to 250 participants, and offer strong security features and office integration for a low monthly per-user fee.
However, due to Microsoft’s increased focus on Microsoft Teams over the last two years, they have announced to discontinue Skype for Business by July 2021. After this date, you would no longer be able to use the online version of Skype for Business.
So, Which One’s Your Favorite?
Go for a video conferencing app that’s best suited for your business. If you own a small business and have a small team to attend to, Skype or Google Meet would work just fine. Slack can come in pretty handy for brief video calls with one or two people. Microsoft Teams would work perfectly fine if you want to get on with a video call with a large audience and are fine if they aren’t all visible to you at the same time.
If you want to address a larger audience and want inputs from all of them, consider going for a more sophisticated tool like Zoom. Google Meet is also excellent for meetings where one or two people are going to do all the talking with a large audience. Analyze your business needs and requirements thoroughly and making an informed decision would be as easy as pie.