Text by: Sushil Neupane
These are challenging times for everyone as the COVID-19 pandemic continues wreaking havoc around the globe. Without a definitive treatment plan, country officials are urging citizens to stay indoors in hopes of containing the exponentially growing number of infected patients.
The state of “lockdown” has urged businesses to rethink their model of operations and has inspired a “work from home” culture. Now more than ever, digital integration is crucial for businesses to survive and thrive.
When in-person communication is not an option, video conferencing and online learning are the next best things to make your team feel connected and boost productivity. Here are a few platforms that businesses have been using to keep their remote workflow in check.
Zoom is undoubtedly a global leader when it comes to video conferencing solutions for businesses. The versatile platform offers various plans tailored to fit every business. The basic plan for general one to one meetings is free, but the enterprise plans for large businesses can cost as much as $19.99 per host every month.
You can use the platform to host meetings with up to 200 attendees and what’s really convenient is that they don’t need to have the app installed or make a new account just for that meeting, thanks to the Zoom web client. Not just that, you can divide the attendees into smaller groups to accommodate team activities during the session, with the break-out room feature.
However, the massive drawback of adapting this platform in such a time of crisis has been hard. As employees remain reluctant to the change in workflow, so the whole transformation process has been tiring and has decreased productivity.
G Suite is the umbrella term that refers to the host of services provided by Google including everything from word processin+g software to e-mail services and cloud storage. Arguably, the G Suite alone makes up for more than five individual apps (13 to be precise), but since they are all under the same ecosystem and provide complimenting services let’s keep it all in one place, as Google did.
With add-ons like Pear Deck on Google Slides, you can add a whole new dimension to your presentations and training sessions by actively creating polls, check-ins, and even check the status of individual attendees. Also in the box is Hangouts Meet, a more polished version of Google Hangouts merged with Google Meet and integrated with features that can be more appealing to its enterprise customers.
Where this suite of apps falls short to Zoom is with the versatility of the actual “meeting,” meaning that the video-conferencing offerings from Google are simply not as feature-rich. They are built more for webinars or a one to many style form of delivery and don’t allow much flexibility in an all-inclusive discussion.
The G Suite offers all of its services with the promise of security from Google for a minimum price tag of $6 up to an enterprise package of $25 per user every month.
Skype is a video conferencing platform from Microsoft, that alone makes the application feel more reliable to its users. Skype can be readily used as a free platform, but they also offer a Skype for Business as an enterprise-ready tool. The premium platform offers business-oriented services such as allowing up to 500 attendees (with add-ons) in a meeting and virtual white boarding capabilities. The premium services start at a minimum of $2 per user per month.
The services like Zoom and G Suite are superb in their own rights, but the one simple fact is that when people think video calling, they immediately think Skype. If the meeting is a one to one meeting or a quick interview, Skype becomes a no-brainer. Another reason that Skype is so popular is its simplicity, partly because the aforementioned apps, although very capable, have a learning curve to them.
Now, I know what you might be thinking, “WhatsApp? For business meetings?” well not exactly, but hear me out. WhatsApp is primarily an instant messaging app capable of audio and video calling. WhatsApp is the most prominent app in its category and after the whole lockdown situation, it has become the absolute substitute to general one-to-one conversations.
Since people were already accustomed to using this platform to communicate with their friends and family, using the app in their professional lives was hardly a stretch. The app can also be used to circulate photos, videos, and other documents rather easily.
Another widely used application of this app is group chats. Group chats can be used in a variety of ways, the most common of which are for daily updates, sharing minutes, scheduling conferences and team interaction. The app is a very efficient space and can even run when your internet connection is not great.
Udemy is an online learning platform designed for professionals and has an extensive user base of more than 50 million students and over 5000 enterprises, including 80% of the Fortune 100 companies employing them for employee upskilling. A majority of the 150,000+ courses offered are designed as a means of improving professional skills, while some even generate credits towards technical certifications.
The obvious benefit of an online course such as the ones available on this platform is the flexibility of time, even in times like these. The flexibility really comes in handy when you are stuck at home, and random chores come up at random times. Despite the difficult times, many professionals now have a lot of free time on their hands and it does seem like the best time to enhance your skillset even further. Wouldn’t you agree?