woman at home on video call through computer
From Microsoft Teams to Group FaceTime, there are several options out there for businesses looking to use video conferencing software. — Getty Images/filadendron

The current COVID-19 pandemic has pushed most businesses into a remote work setting. Many teams are now turning to Zoom for video call meetings, conferences and one-on-one check-ins.

While Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing tools, the sudden rise of popularity due to the coronavirus crisis has revealed many securityand privacy flaws. If you’re looking for a video hosting platform for your business, there are many other options available, some of which may be better suited to you and your business’s needs.

Here are five alternatives to Zoom.

[Read more: How to Change Your Zoom Background]

Skype and Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has two video chat applications that can serve as alternatives to Zoom. For more casual and smaller meetings, Skype offers meetings for up to 50 people for free, without requiring an account to sign in. The one drawback to Skype is its security, as it is not end-to-end encrypted.

This is where Microsoft Teams comes in. Microsoft transformed Skype for Business into the platform of Teams. Anyone can sign up for the low-tier, free version which allows up to 300 members and guest access. The business plan gives managers access to security, management and compliance tools with 1TB of storage and accessibility with other Microsoft Office tools. It also supports screen sharing and 2FA security.

BlueJeans

A cloud-based video conferencing application that offers three different tiers of service options depending on the size of your team, BlueJeans offers in-application meeting scheduling as well as integration with your other workflow services. It also gives every employee access to their own meeting room. Administrators can record up to 10 hours of meetings and the number of participants varies on which option you select.

Most of these tools offer free trial versions so you can test out a few before financially committing to the one that fits you best.

Coronavirus Guide for Small Businesses

CO— is working to bring you the best resources and information to help you navigate this challenging time. Read on for our complete coronavirus coverage.



Google Hangouts Meet

If your company has a paid subscription to G Suite, then they have access to Google Hangouts Meet. It supports meetings up to 250 participants, can be streamed to up to 100,000 people and all meetings and their materials can be saved and uploaded to Google Drive. The free version is offered with every Gmail account and can host up to 25 participants, with 10 individuals visible at a time.

Group FaceTime

The same app you’ve been using to stay in contact with friends and family for years can also be used for businesses. You can talk with up to 30 people through clear conversations all by using the free app. There is one limitation though: You can only use Group FaceTime with Apple products. If your company has not invested in the Apple ecosystem, you won’t be able to reliably use FaceTime across your entire business. If, however, your company provides Apple devices, such as a Mac, iPhone or iPad, FaceTime will serve your needs.

Discord

Originally used by gamers, Discord offers encrypted chat and video calls. Users can set up designated rooms in which callers can break off into their own chats to work on projects and have separate meetings. The free service recently raised the limit of users on video calls from 10 to 50 people and is available through most web browsers.

[Read more: 5 Apps to Improve Employee Communications]

Which video conferencing tool is right for you?

When you’re deciding which video conferencing application is best for you and your employees, there are a few factors you should consider:

  • Cost. What is your budget for video conferencing and can it accommodate every employee? Most of these tools offer free trial versions so you can test out a few before financially committing to the one that fits you best.
  • Customer service. As these are new tools in business, it is inevitable that your users will have difficulties with some of their features including file sharing, recording meetings and multiple callers. It won’t be seamless for everyone. Consider the level of customer service your business will need and read the reviews for each app.
  • Hardware. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should skip looking professional. Look into buying microphones and lighting equipment to make every meeting look and sound fantastic — and ensure that the software you choose is compatible.

With the variety of options out there, analyzing the factors and offerings above will help you decide which video conferencing software will suit your business best.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 28, 2020