Tools for Working Remotely: Video Conferences

Statistics indicate that an overwhelming majority (80%) of the working population would prefer to carry out their job duties from the comfort of their own homes. This has created an evident requirement for remote working, which consequently necessitates that more managers than ever before are having to manage and monitor dispersed teams.

At Works, we dedicate our days to connecting talented remote developers with job openings worldwide. If you are interested in becoming part of this process, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Thanks to our experience, we are now in a position to provide guidance to the many managers who are now responsible for managing a remote workforce.

It is widely acknowledged that the fundamentals of successful people management remain the same, regardless of the physical proximity of the team members. However, when managing a remote team, different tools are required. If you are an avid follower of our blog, you will be familiar with the key role that communication plays in the successful running of a remote workforce.

As we embark on our series exploring the range of remote working tools available, it is essential to ensure we properly address how to remain in contact when working away from the office. Without effective communication, there is a greater risk of misunderstandings and a lack of motivation amongst remote employees. However, when communication is well-maintained, it can greatly enhance engagement with the team and help motivate employees to contribute to the success of the organisation.

It is reasonable to assume that your organisation already has an email system and a telephone network in place, both of which are essential for any team, remote or otherwise. However, when it comes to video conferencing, the choice of system you opt for is more dependant on your individual preferences.

The Benefits of Online Meetings

If you think that having both voice and email communication capabilities is enough to successfully manage a remote team, think again. Verbal communication alone is not sufficient to guarantee full comprehension. Non-verbal elements, such as facial expressions and body language, are essential for understanding and are often lost when communicating solely through voice or email. To ensure that your remote team receives the information they need in an efficient manner, video conferencing is the best alternative to gathering everyone in a room together.

In the past, video conferencing was a costly technology that was only accessible to a select few. High telephone charges meant that meetings were expensive to organise. However, with the emergence of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), it is now possible to communicate with people all over the world at minimal or no cost.

We strongly believe that video calls are the most effective way of maintaining contact with distant staff members. Whilst other forms of digital communication, such as emails and instant messaging, can be useful to some degree, they are not as successful at cultivating personal relationships in comparison to more traditional face-to-face interactions. Therefore, when it comes to debates, video calls are the indisputable winner. The best meetings, regardless of whether they are individual or group based, should always include eye contact between participants to ensure a successful outcome.

Video conferencing provides an additional advantage beyond simply having a conversation: it allows you to share your screen with other participants. This enables you to provide presentations or demonstrate a problematic piece of code that you have been attempting to resolve. This is especially beneficial as video conferencing is intended to facilitate collaborative work.

Best Video Conferencing Tools

In recent years, the demand for remote working has led to the rapid improvement of software resources available to make the process smoother. Video conferencing has experienced the greatest advancement, with technology becoming increasingly more refined and sophisticated since its inception just a few short years ago. Today, there are a number of excellent options available that are equipped with a range of features to assist in the effective collaboration of teams who are located remotely. Here is a selection of the top options currently available.

Skype

In spite of Microsoft’s attempts to persuade businesses to adopt Teams, Skype for Business maintains a dominant market share when it comes to video conferencing applications. If you need to communicate with independent contractors or people who are not part of your organisation, you can download a free version for personal use. Moreover, there is a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connection available should any of your participants not have Skype.

If you are looking to make an announcement to a large group of people, a webinar may be the best option, as it allows for up to 10,000 viewers. However, if you are planning a regular meeting, Skype for Business can accommodate up to 250 attendees and can display up to six people on a screen in 1080p quality, ensuring that even the smallest details of Ashton’s hipster beard growth are visible.

Skype, being a Microsoft product, is particularly well-suited for businesses based on Microsoft products and services. It offers a seamless integration with Office applications, making it the ideal choice for collaborative work on spreadsheets and presentations. Furthermore, Skype is the most obvious choice for enterprises that utilise Microsoft products.

In contrast to other options, using Skype doesn’t require any login process. There is no need to remember codes or any other details as all communication is managed through a Skype user ID.

Zoom

Zoom offers a free service that is highly beneficial when it comes to connecting with freelancers and customers, as only the host is required to have a premium membership. Skype initially started as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), yet Zoom has been specifically designed for video conferencing, providing a more tailored set of features. Scheduling is a key factor to consider when organising appointments with people from different parts of the world and Zoom offers a comprehensive solution to this.

Zoom offers lower limits for its free and enterprise plans, starting from 100 for the free plan and up to 200 for the enterprise plan. An advantage of Zoom is its ability to facilitate collaboration with large groups of people. Through the creation of a group, you can quickly disseminate messages and files to a specific group of individuals, making it an ideal solution for sharing relevant information with team members.

Zoom, similar to other video conferencing applications, provides the ability to record conversations, with the choice of storing them either in the cloud or on a user’s local machine. This feature gives employees the flexibility to record webinars and project meetings to their mobile devices, so that they can access the recorded content even when they are away from their desks.

Premium Options

Given the ease of access with no financial investment, we have focused our attention on Skype and Zoom as the preferred solutions for communication. However, if your organisation has the necessary resources to invest, there are other options available that offer a variety of features. Here are some of the best ones.

Connectwise Control Connectwise is an outstanding choice to consider if you are using video conferencing to communicate with customers. It offers you the opportunity to customise the interface, allowing you to incorporate your business logo and colours to create a sophisticated, corporate look.

Skype; Team Viewer At Works, we believe that our video conferencing offering is the most comprehensive in the market, with a wide range of additional features. This includes the ability to access unattended laptops, which can be invaluable for remote team managers who need answers to problems when their employees are not available. Additionally, our video conferencing offering comes with strong security measures, ensuring that all communications and data remain safe and secure.

Join.me Although their conference call function is provided free of charge, more advanced features such as screen sharing are available through a subscription. They offer three different pricing plans to accommodate organisations of varying sizes, from team meetings of five people up to larger meetings involving 250 participants.

How to Choose

Due to the specific nature of your company, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the best option to pick. To ensure that you find the best application to meet your needs, we strongly recommend that you try out a few different options, with both free and paid options available depending on your budget. This will help you to find the perfect match for what you need to achieve.

Video conferencing software can be a great way to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, but it can’t always help to connect you with the right people. If this is something you are concerned about, please do not hesitate to get in touch. At our boutique agency, we specialise in connecting the leading figures within the development world with the projects that need them most. If you are looking to add the right person to your network, we would be more than happy to help.

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