People have been flocking to Zoom for video conferencing — but sometimes, you just want to have a quick conference call or collaborate on documents. Using a conference bridge isn’t ideal when everyone is calling in and Slack doesn’t allow many participants.
Try Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts. You’re probably using Office 365 or G Suite anyway, so it’s right there at your fingertips.
Microsoft Teams for Office 365 users (and non-users)
Microsoft Teams comes with a paid plan for Office 365. During the COVID-19 crisis, it’s free for anyone. You have a lot of options within the app — meetings, calls, live events — and options within those options. One blurs the background of your video feed so you don’t have to hunt for a camera-friendly location in your house. Here’s an overview to get started. Up to 50 people can join a team meeting and up to 25 can join a call.
Google Hangouts for G Suite users
Use Hangouts Chat for calls or instant messaging and Hangouts Meet for video conferencing. Chat for consumers is free and allows up to 25 people per conference. If you have a paid G Suite subscription, up to 100, 150 or 250 people can join depending on your plan. During the COVID-19 crisis, advanced features are free for all paid subscribers through July 1, 2020. Here’s a good overview of all of Google’s chat, call, and video apps.
Other options while working at home
While Zoom is extremely popular during this crisis because it’s easy to use — and the virtual background option is appreciated — it has had significant privacy issues that it’s currently addressing. Proven free options include Slack for limited participants and WebEx (both also have paid plans) and GoToMeeting, which offers paid plans. All of these services have monthly subscriptions so you don’t have to commit.
Whichever collaboration and communication tools you decide to use, make sure to keep your IT department in the loop. They need to know where data is being stored to protect your organization and to archive communications if needed.
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