If your organization is like most, it has team members spread out in different locations serving customers in various regions, or simply working remotely in a flexible work environment. These remote team members often interact with your in-house employees, whether they represent an arm of management or other non-remote operations.
As much as remote work can significantly benefit an organization, remote workers can feel isolated, which can ultimately impact their productivity. Combining your hybrid team members - the blend of remote and in-house workers - is a crucial way to improve your business operations.
One of the most useful tools for increasing productivity of remote workers is video conferencing. When in-person communication isn't an option, video conferencing is preferred for feeling connected with co-workers. There are numerous applications and platforms for video conferencing and collaboration. Some, such as Cisco WebEx, are industry standards but can be expensive. Others are growing in popularity and may even be offered free or at a low cost. (Check out our list of the best free video conferencing apps for solo users, educators, and more.)
Here is a list of the top 10 video chat apps for enabling productive online meetings for your hybrid teams. Each of these software options works well with the Meeting Owl, and helps hybrid teams feel more connected.
Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing solutions for businesses. It is feature-rich, with various plans based on business size and needs. Prices range from free for basic personal meetings to $19.99/month/host (with a minimum of 100 hosts) for large enterprises.
The features for the enterprise-level plan include up to 200 meeting participants, unlimited cloud storage, custom emails, a vanity meeting URL, and more.
Google's foray into the video conferencing market is part of its Google Hangouts service. Hangouts is often considered to be an individual use service, not as feature-rich as other commercial and enterprise-ready services.
However, for smaller businesses, or those that fully leverage G-Suite across their operations, Hangouts can be an effective tool for video communication. The cost can be low, depending on your team's G-Suite subscriptions, which start as low as $6 per month per user.
Created for enterprise customers, Google Meet is an upgraded version of Google Hangouts. Google Meet is designed around scheduled video meetings among team members, with similar features to Zoom like calendar syncing, conference room booking, and a more polished user interface.
Source: Google Cloud
GoToMeeting has many useful features, including instant meetings or meeting scheduling, meeting transcription services, and in-app meeting messaging between participants. GoToMeeting pricing starts at $14/month for groups of up to 10 meeting participants, and costs $29/month for larger groups of 150 participants.
Microsoft's popular Skype service is augmented as an enterprise-ready video conferencing tool. It has several business features, such as allowing up to 250 attendees in a meeting and connection with other Skype users and virtual whiteboarding capabilities.
There are some limitations, however, such as the lack of an integrated dial-in audio conference feature, and lack of hardware support with online-only plans. User fees start at $2 per user per month.
An industry-standard service, especially for those with a large number of team members or an exceptionally large enterprise, Cisco's WebEx video conferencing service operates like a mash-up of web conferencing and voice calling services, as it enables joining meetings online or via the phone, depending on the participant's location and ability at the time. Pricing starts at $13.50/host/month.
Source: Cisco WebEx
BlueJeans is a full-featured web conferencing app that integrates with collaboration tools. Touting a simple and modern approach, in contrast to some of the more complex services offered by competitors, Bluejeans uses a system of meetings, rooms and events to enable video meetings anywhere.
No software is required with the ability to launch meetings from a browser. Also, the service allows for easy viewing of all video conference activity in your organization. Plans start at $16.65/month/host for enterprise teams.
An extremely popular collaboration tool used in organizations all over the globe, Slack has integrated video conferencing features. If your organization is not using Slack, adopting it for video conferencing probably doesn't make much sense.
Video conferencing is like an add-on to the functionality of Slack and can be a great tool for integrating hybrid teams. One-on-one video chat is part of Slack's free account offerings, but for larger meetings, customized enterprise pricing is necessary, which requires a customizable quote.
This video chat service is ideal for small organizations that want a simple method for connecting team members. It features a fast service due to its streamlined nature. Appear.in has anonymous features, which might not be important to enterprises, but are noteworthy nonetheless. Appear.in starts free, but teams will want to pay $99.99/month, which will allow up to 150 users.
The last service on our list is the open-source BigBlueButton. It features whiteboard capability for meeting productivity and was created specifically for education and online learning. As a free open source tool, there are many add-ons and integrations through third-party developers that allow for customized web conferencing experiences, including an integration with Learning Management Systems (LMS) that will make for a seamless student and teacher experience.
To learn more, read our quick guide to video conferencing technology next.