This article was first published on 21 April 2020 and has been updated with additional information.
Telecommuting is a work arrangement that businesses cannot afford to ignore. With it, online audio calls and video conferences have also become a common mode of communication between employees and partners.
Zoom’s ease-of-use and cost-effectiveness have earned it its increasing popularity has made it synonymous with video conferencing. However, there are many other equally (if not more) effective video conferencing solutions for businesses.
But with a variety of apps available on the market, how can you zoom (pun intended) in on an alternative video conferencing app that best suits your business? Listed below are 5 Zoom alternatives for video calls!
#1 Cisco Webex (Free)
While Cisco Webex offers four different priced plans, the free version should work for most small-scale businesses. Not only can you manage your meetings, instant message, share files, schedule video calls (of up to 100 participants) and record them, Webex, similar to GoToMeetings, provides interactive whiteboards for idea-sharing sessions.
What makes Webex even more attractive is that you can also access the software from your desktop or as an application on your mobile phone.
#2 TeamViewer (Free)
TeamViewer is known for its ability to grant its users remote access to their computers and servers. Third parties can also easily jump in on meetings/presentations with the TeamViewer QuickJoin. In addition to screen-sharing and instant chatting, one of TeamViewer’s interesting features is also the ability to leave a sticky note on the customers’ computers to inform them of any ongoing tasks or completed updates. The best part? TeamViewer is free to download.
#3 Skype (Free, With Paid Upgrades)
A household app known for its instant messaging features, Skype is also a free-to-install app that supports video calls for up to 50 participants, making it the perfect app for conferences or to simply communicate with your team. Skype also allows screen-sharing, a handy feature for facilitating discussions. The app also records the conversation if needed, allowing you to focus on the discussion instead of frantically taking down notes.
If you were to upgrade from the free version of Skype, you will be looking at Microsoft Teams, previously known as Skype for Business Online. Forming part of the Office 365 ecosystem, Microsoft Teams allows you to create video conferences (of up to 250 participants),have conversations and participate in file sharing. It also provides a calendar of your scheduled meetings, a feature that is seamlessly synced with Outlook. While there is a free version of Microsoft Teams, we recommend you to opt for the paid version. At US$5/month, you’ll get to enjoy the full fleet of features and hence we say that the paid version is worthy it.
#4 Google Chat, Google Meet (Free, With Paid Upgrades)
Both Google Chat and Google Meet support video calls and online conversations, but there are some differences between the two tools that can affect your experience. For instance, while Chat supports video calls for up to 25 participants, Meet, depending on the suite (e.g. G Suite Basic, G Suite Business, G Suite Enterprise), can support up to 250 participants. While messages can only be sent through the web browser for Chat, Meet allows you to do so through the convenience of the mobile app. More importantly, Meet gives external parties access to video meetings through a single shared link (similar to Zoom), as compared to Chat, which requires a combination of invitations and permissions.
However, depending on the scale of your business, Google Chat alone may suffice. However, do note that you need to be enrolled with a G Suite to be able access Chat.
#5 GoToMeeting (From USD$12/month)
A more robust alternative to Skype and Google Chat/Meet, GoToMeeting is a popular video conference software that supports a variety of functions, such as keyboard/mouse sharing, joining meetings by answering calls without the need for codes, recording of transcripts, using drawing tools during screen-sharing and using a virtual whiteboard for brainstorming of ideas.
GoToMeeting also features a user-friendly interface that allows you to easily schedule, manage and participate in meetings. In short, the app is an all-rounded video-conferencing software package. The app comes with three different pricing plans, starting from USD$12/month.
When deciding between a free version and a priced plan, it’s important to understand the nature of your business and what it requires. For instance, opting for a priced plan is not necessary for a team smaller than 50 as most of the free versions would be capable of meeting your needs – unless you’re looking at certain features of an app that’re only available in the priced plans. While having more features can come in handy, under utilising them would defeat the purpose of paying for the software – so bear that in mind when choosing your app!
#6 MS Teams (US$12.50/month)
The benefit of using MS Teams is that it is typically bundled with other tools that many businesses would already be using. This includes Microsoft Office tools – such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and others – as well as cloud storage solutions – with Microsoft’s OneDrive offering a reliable solution.
Using MS Teams also enable you to collaborate on documents online, using Microsoft Office rather than other brands of office tools. This creates better synchronised work files.
MS Teams enable you to create work “teams” and set up group chats and video conference meetings with these different “teams”. You can also seamlessly use the chat function on MS Teams to share documents, and thus keeping email less cluttered and only for clients or external partners.
A Microsoft Business Standard plan costs US$12.50 a month, for a minimum one-year commitment. Businesses can also pay US$15.00 a month for a monthly commitment.
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