Coronavirus has meant that thousands of employees are now working from home. There are loads of great ways to keep your team communicating when you can’t physically be near each other…
Perhaps the best-known business app is Slack, which has become enormously popular in the last few years. It’s free to use (although premium versions are available), and has a really slick interface. You can set up channels for different purposes, chat or call, and send GIFs to co-workers too – to recreate at least some of the office’s joy. It is a great way to share files (it also integrates with Google Drive or Dropbox). The free version enables you to make calls but only one-to-one; you need a paid subscription to call a group. Another great feature of Slack is its ability to search entire conversations for certain words so finding what’s been talked about is easy. The app is iOS and Android friendly and autocompletes friends’ names making tagging them simple.
Most of us are familiar with Skype, and Skype for business has the same feel but comes with added business features to help boost productivity. Meetings are straightforward to set up, and it’s a very streamlined service that will allow you to broadcast a meeting to entire teams, or even a large audience, from a distance with ease. In a matter of seconds, you can IM, phone call, video chat or set up a meeting and you’ll easily be able to see which of your contacts are available, in a meeting, or presenting too.
For many companies, Zoom is the video meeting platform of choice. Along with the standard video and audio, Zoom is also packed full of helpful features that make it ideal for organising and holding meetings with work teams. There’s a free tier with unlimited meetings, but these group chats are capped at 40 minutes. Paid subscription options give you access to over 100 participants and unlimited meeting lengths. You have the ability to share your screen, message the group and even send across files and photos from your cloud service of choice. Right now, Zoom has been having a big influx of users and the web version has been crashing and disconnecting for some people, so that might be something to keep in mind.
Google’s tried-and-tested Hangouts service integrates directly with Gmail. That means it’s a really handy way for businesses who use Google’s G-Suite apps to communicate. You can do voice and video calls, chat directly with other team members – and create group chats too. It’s possible to send images and videos through Hangouts, and it’s completely free to use.
Workplace from Facebook is an innovative and collaborative video conferencing tool that let’s teams connect much like friends can on Facebook. Everyone is familiar with the general Facebook interface, so it’s easy to get to grips with Workplace. As it’s compatible with different workplace suites, it’s easy for most people to get set up on quickly. You can start chats and video calls where the max participants depends on the rate you choose. If you start with the Essential rate (which is free), you can have up to 20 people on a video call, and this goes up to 50 people per call in the next two tiers available.
Microsoft’s Teams is a tool for businesses to stay in touch – just like Slack. You can create virtual conference rooms, record meetings, and chat with co-workers. And the app is currently available for six months for free.