Here are the best meetings platforms for home workers - from Google Hangouts to Zoom and Skype

Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 1:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 1:11 pm

As workers are encouraged to work from home wherever possible, many will be making use of various remote working platforms to stay in touch.

Holding meetings, exchanging documents and generally keeping tabs on one another will be vital as companies seek to adapt to the new, socially-distanced working arrangement.

With plenty of platforms to choose from, here’s how some of the major offerings compare.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Google Hangouts

Google’s video-conferencing service has been specifically designed with business needs in mind.

It features a clean, easy-to-use interface that can handle up to 250 users and allows people to drop in and out of meetings quickly, which could be important as working schedules are disrupted.

As a Google product, it also works well in tandem with the company’s other services like Google Calendar which can make it easier to create and discuss plans even as many people are self-isolating.

It can also provide written captions from the meeting using Google’s speech-to-text technology – ideal for anyone just looking to follow along.

Skype

Probably the best known video calling tool, Skype is marketed more as a social platform but it does support calls for up to 50 people, making it perfectly viable for business too.

Like Google, Skype offers a web app which means each user won’t have to download new software to use it – ideal if employees are using their personal computers or working with older, slower hardware.

It can also be upgraded to Skype for Business for a monthly fee, allowing up to 250 people to join the same call and offering stronger security options for those whose work involves handling sensitive data.

Zoom

While Zoom also has paid-for tiers that allow for bigger calls, the free version enables 100 people to video-conference together, although it does put a 40-minute time limit on meetings of three or more people.

Zoom’s 256-bit TLS encryption technology also ensures that meetings and any files shared within them are highly secure.

Zoom’s pricing structure essentially means that you can tailor it to your workforce’s need – if a 40-minute meeting with 100 people or less is all you need then the free version will suffice, while there are plenty of other tiers for those looking for additional features or bigger capacities.

Cisco Webex Meetings

Cisco’s video-conferencing app offers one of the most impressive free-to-use services you’re likely to find.

It allows for HD video meetings of up to 100 people, while also providing 1GB of cloud storage to make juggling files all the easier. Webex also boasts various other features like screen sharing and private chat rooms.

At no cost, it allows for unlimited meetings with no time constraints, TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption to ensure security and even allows users to make MP4 recordings of meetings to review later.

There are paid-for versions of Webex which users can upgrade to but it’s likely that the free version will fulfil many people’s remote working needs.

FreeConference

Like many of the other options, FreeConference offers both free-to-use and premium options, with the free service providing an ideal quick and easy way for small teams to stay connected.

It doesn’t require any software to be installed and has all the basic features you’ll need, such as allowing users to share their screen with the rest of the meeting and also to share files between users.

Calls can be recorded and recurring meetings can be set up – all using FreeConference’s slick, simple interface which is designed to make things as straightforward as possible.

However, the free version will only allow users to host meetings of up to five people so it really is only for small teams.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, The i.