The hardest part of working outside the office is the isolation that develops from lack of face-to-face contact. That means it’s essential to set up regular phone or video conferences to keep team members connected. Check out these tools. They’ll help you get started and start sailing with virtual conferencing.
- Doodle.com is the fastest way to schedule meetings. It’s a free online tool (there’s also a mobile app version). Just log in, select some days and times, and email a link of those options to your team members. As they mark preferences, you’ll see who’s responded and which time slot suits most of them — all without any emailing back and forth.
- FreeConferenceCall.com is fine if you’re talking to people inside the United States. But if you need a free international conference call option, start an account with UberConference.com. The Web version lets you see who’s on the call, where they are and who’s speaking. The mobile app lets you start complimentary international calls from your phone. Both entertain the first to arrive with satirical conference-call related music. If you’re a Google Hangout fan, load the UberConference app. That way, if someone is driving or otherwise unable to join the videoconference, you can call their phone and connect them to the Hangout that way.
- Skype.com and Apple’s FaceTime videoconferencing tools are familiar to most people. Both have phone apps as well as desktop versions.
- Google Hangout is the newest free videoconferencing tool. It’s more reliable than Skype and more professional than FaceTime. It also integrates with Google Drive, which means you can collaborate on or edit any of your Google documents in real time with other videoconference participants. Hangouts may be private events or public broadcasts that are streamed and archived on YouTube. You can read more about that here.
- If you don’t mind paying a little for your videoconferencing platform, the industry standard is GoToMeeting.com.
What video or phone conferencing tools do you use? What are some of the pitfalls you’ve noticed?