How can my team work remotely?

When 100% of your staff has to suddenly work remotely, it’s time to talk technology. In today’s climate of financial hardship, economic downturn and the responsibility to self-quarantine and social distance, it’s difficult for many small and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) to transition so quickly to a work-from-home environment. This may pose a technological and financial challenge for many SMBs that could prove difficult to overcome, especially when not knowing how long this will last.

Which is the Right Software to Work Remotely?

There are lots of free software and productivity apps that give companies the ability to work remotely stay collaborative and connected with both their own employees and clients by utilizing conference call services and video conferencing services. Here are some of the best audio and video meeting solutions that can help your team work remotely…and are free.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a popular web conferencing service to work remotely that has great functionality in the free plan. This platform is user friendly, allows for screen sharing, and is available on both Windows and Mac. With this service, you can host meetings from your phone (using their application) or computer. Meetings can be hosted for up to 40 minutes at a time with up to three participants who can access the in-meeting chat room. Additionally, GoToMeeting has great audio quality using VoIP. This platform would be best utilized by small teams needing to conference, share thoughts, share their screen, or meet with a client.

GoToMeeting pricing breakdown:

  • Professional @ $12 per organizer/month
    • HD video, screen sharing, web audio, dial in conference line
    • Unlimited meetings, no meeting limit time, unlimited cloud recordings
    • Instant messaging, personal meeting rooms
    • Mobile features like mobile apps, commuter mode, voice commands, mobile cloud recording
    • Toll-free numbers, call me, and dial out features
  • Business @ $16 per organizer/month
    • All previous features
    • Recording transcription
    • Slide to PDF solutions
    • SmartAssistant (Automatically detects action items and highlights in meetings)
    • Drawing tools
    • Workflow integrations through Office 365, Google Calendar (Gmail), and Salesforce
  • Enterprise (need to contact sales for enterprise solution pricing)
    • All previous features
    • Comprehensive account management
    • Enhanced meeting features

Pexip

Pexip allows you to host your meeting on-premise from your device or through a hosted cloud service like Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. This platform also allows for complex video conferencing that can integrate Microsoft Teams with other systems, regardless of what they have. This free software lasts for 12 months, allows for two concurrent call connections for professional video conferencing, and is best for integrating enterprise systems. Unfortunately Pexip pricing breakdown is not available on their website however they offer a variety of paid-for solutions like: Video meeting and calling platforms, video conferencing infrastructure, Microsoft inter-operability, Google Hangout Meet inter-operability.

Google Hangout

Google hangouts are great for international audio conferences for groups up to 150. Besides these calls you can utilize status messages, maps, photos, videos, stickers, emojis and animated GIFs through the chat feature. These conversations can also be hosted through VoIP for up to 10 participants, which can be easily scheduled through your Google Calendar or sent through Gmail. These meetings do not have a time limit and are hosted online through Google Hangouts or the Chrome extension. Meeting hosts have the ability to selectively mute participants, record calls, and host meetings through the mobile applications. This is a completely free service provided through the Google platform.

Zoom

Zoom is a great option for smaller businesses that stick mostly to one-to-one meetings that are under 40 minutes. These meetings are free and can run for as long as you need, while group meetings are limited to 100 participants and up to 40 minutes in duration. Zoom allows you to start or join meetings from anywhere using an internet or data connection from a Mac, PC, Linux computer, Android or iOS phone, H.323/SIP device, or a normal phone through their toll-free international dial-in numbers.

Zoom pricing breakdown:

  • Basic (Free)
    • Used for personal meetings
    • Hosts up to 100 attendees
    • Unlimited 1:1 meetings
    • 40 minute limit to group meetings
    • No meeting number limit
  • Pro @ $14.99 per host/month
    • All Basic features
    • Includes 100 participants with a 24hr meeting duration limit
    • User management features and admin control features
    • Reporting
    • Customer personal meeting IDs
    • 1GB of cloud recording
  • Businesses @ $19.99 per host/month (Minimum of 10 hosts)
    • All Pro features
    • Includes 300 attendees
    • Dedicated phone support
    • Admin dashboard
    • Vanity URL, managed domains, company branding, and custom emails
    • Option for on-premise deployment
    • Cloud recording transcripts
  • Enterprise @ $19.99 per host/month (Minimum of 50 hosts)
    • All Business features
    • Includes 500 attendees
    • Unlimited cloud storage
    • Dedicated customer success manager
    • Executive business reviews
    • Bundle discounts on webinars and Zoom rooms

TeamViewer

TeamViewer is the world’s top brand for remote connection solutions and claims to have over 1.3 billion protected devices that utilize their remote support and online meeting platform. TeamViewer allows for: several remote sessions to be running at the same time on separate tabs on your search engine and the ability to leave messages in the form of “sticky notes” to inform clients of any updates or to leave messages. Another user-friendly feature is the quick join feature where customers can join meetings and presentations very quickly, easily, and without the need to install any software. This software is great for those who need remote access to their desktops and remote collaboration abilities.

TeamViewer pricing breakdown:

  • Single User @ $49/month
    • Ability to access and control computer remotely
    • Custom branding
    • File Sharing
    • Up to 200 managed devices
    • Cross-device access to desktops
    • Device management and app customization
  • Multi User @ $99/month
    • All previous features
    • Customized device information
    • User access reporting
  • For Teams @ $199/month
    • All previous features
    • Multiple concurrent connections
    • Mass deployment
    • Device access reporting
    • Pre-built software integrations

ezTalks Meetings

This platform allows for up to 100 participants at one time, meetings lasting up to 40 minutes, screen sharing, interactive whiteboards, vote and polling abilities, among many others . Another nice feature is that ezTalks gives you the ability to record your video and audio on your local device. This platform is great for small business and medium businesses alike.

ezTalks Meetings pricing breakdown:

  • Starter – Free to use
    • Host up to 100 participants
    • 40 minute group meeting limit
    • Local MP4 recording
  • Standard @ $10 per host/month
    • Host up to 100 participants
    • Unlimited group meetings
    • MP4 local and cloud recording
    • 2GB/host online storage
    • 500/month recording online views
  • Pro @ $30 per host/month
    • Host up to 200 participants
    • Unlimited group meetings
    • MP4 local and cloud recording
    • 4GB/host online storage
    • 1000/month recording online views
  • Business @ $50 per host/month
    • Host up to 300 participants
    • Unlimited group meetings
    • MP4 local and cloud recording
    • 10GB/host online recording
    • 3000/month recording online views

Skype

Skype is a widely known and utilized software for video conferencing that allows for screen sharing as well. Unfortunately, it’s not as dynamic as other conferencing softwares that allow for browser-hosted meetings without having to download the software. Although there is not a free option for video conferencing there is an option for free conference calling without having to download any software. Additionally Skype has a mobile app that can allow for greater mobility when hosting a video chat. Microsoft teams replaced the business platform for Skype.

Microsoft teams pricing breakdown:

  • Microsoft Teams – Free to use
    • No user limit
    • Unlimited chat messages with file attachments (2GB/user)
    • Guest accessibility
    • File sharing (10GB across all teams)
    • Collaborative office documents
    • Over 250 integrated applications and services
    • Online audio and video calls, screen sharing
    • Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Office 365 Business Essentials @ $5 per user/month
    • Allows up to 300 users
    • Unlimited chat messages with file attachments (1TB/user)
    • Guest accessibility
    • File sharing (1TB per organization plus 10GB per license)
    • Collaborative office documents
    • Over 250 integrated applications and services
    • Online audio and video calls, screen sharing
    • Scheduled meetings, meeting recording
    • Ability to host online video conferences for up to 250 people and webinars up to 10,000
    • 99.99% up-time guarantee
  • Office 365 Business Premium @ $12.50 per user/month
    • All features of previous plan
    • Up to 1TB per user of OneDrive storage
    • Access to SharePoint Online, Yammer, Planner, and Stream, Bookings, Invoicing, MileIQ
    • Admin tools for managing users and apps
  • Office 365 E3 @$20 per user/month
    • All features relating to chat and collaboration, meetings and calling, productivity apps and service, security and compliance, administration and support
    • Unlimited file attachments in chat
    • Unlimited personal cloud storage

Cisco Webex

Webex is well known in the networking space. The free version offers conferences of up to three participants, the ability to share screens, and extremely secure conferencing lines. The free version of Webex is great for businesses who value security and work with small and medium-size teams (allowing for up to 100 participants in each meeting). This allows for members to dial-in given the information without having to download any software. Webex also offers team collaboration, mobile, instant messaging, and expansive security features. Cisco Webex is also available on the app store to host meetings right from your mobile device.

Pricing breakdown per plan:

  • Starter @ 13.50 per host/month
    • High quality video conferencing
    • Small teams – up to 50 attendees per meeting
    • 5GB of cloud storage
    • Recording transcriptions
  • Plus @ $17.95 per host/month
    • Mid-sized teams – up to 100 attendees
    • Ability to assign alternate hosts
    • Allows other to schedule meetings on behalf of the host
    • Call recording and transcription
    • Analytics and troubleshooting
    • 24/7 customer support
  • Business @ $26.95 per host/month
    • Large teams and businesses – up to 200 attendees
    • 10GB of cloud storage
    • Branding and customization options
    • Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory Sync

The Best Technology for SMB’s to Work Remotely

Right now, the best solution for a remote staff would be Cisco Webex. Cisco has upgraded their free plan to accommodate most SMBs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan has the highest security, allows for screen sharing (computer and mobile), unlimited call times, calendar integrations, meeting controls, presenter tools, polling, interactive whiteboards and drawing tools, unlimited messaging, file sharing, and has great ease of use.

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