We are facing an unprecedented time of uncertainty; global markets are seemingly on the downswing, face to face meetings are all but nonexistent, office staff are leading the teleworking charge by remaining hunkered down in their makeshift home offices- encumbered by children displaced from their schools.  What does this mean for us? What does this mean for businesses who thrive on constant contact and moment to moment decision making? What about meetings? As it turns out, we have been preparing for this without even knowing it.

The same technology that allows us to meet with a client in San Francisco or Bejing from the comfort of our homes will be the technology that keeps our businesses running as we face COVID-19.   It seems that the recent uptick in popularity of these services has also pressed software developers to quickly de-bug and make them more user friendly- and just in the nick of time.

Tech writer for CNBC Jordan Novet touts Zoom as the “darling of remote workers” reporting that Zoom is known for its reliability, avoiding long outages that discourage repeated use, and it doesn’t have the latency that makes some services painful for extended conversations. Unlike Apple’s FaceTime for iOS, Zoom is also available on Android and on any laptop. It’s designed to make IT departments comfortable, and people can start video calls for free, as long as they’re kept under 40 minutes and below 100 participants (the time feature can be overridden, as at the end of the 40 minute window a meeting can be restarted for free up to three times).   Zoom also offers the option of using virtual backgrounds- a feature that other online conference apps are quickly adding to their repertoires. 

GoToMeeting is another web based conferencing service.  It offers the ability to screen share and the ease of “one-click” conferencing.  PC Mag lists among it’s pros a simple user interface, easy to create meetings, a custom URL to access conference room, free plan availability, commuter mode, meeting transcriptions, and 25 video feeds.  Cons include the fact that other software may need to be downloaded to access the service’s most integral features.

Skype remains one of the most popular web conferencing apps to date (formerly known as Lync, now known as Skype for Business).  Perhaps it’s key selling point is the fact that it can completely sync with Outlook- making scheduling meetings with e-mail contacts a breeze.  Skype for business also allows up to 250 participants to join meetings from separate devices- making it the preferred app for meetings on the go.  Other key features are meeting playback, polling, screen sharing, and various viewing options. As an added alternative, anyone can join Skype meetings by phone with Microsoft’s PSTN conferencing solution, which is useful when there is no internet connection.

As it turns out, the technology we have been utilizing to make our business relationships easier and more accessible has become the technology we now use to keep our businesses thriving.  The uncertainty of this global pandemic has ushered in new pathways to communication and has upped the demand for more user friendly ways to remotely meet. Necessity truly is the mother of invention, and we are all bearing witness to revolutionary change in the way we do business.