Video conferencing meetings can change the way that remote employees work and how they are integrated into the team. When they work well, they are a game changer for remote workers, but when they fail, they can be extremely frustrating.
Since video conferencing performs 30% better than audio-only setups for communication, it's worth investing in a great video conferencing setup for your team. Lucky for you, there are many great, free options for video conferencing software that can be paired with reasonably priced audiovisual products like team video conferencing cameras. For hybrid teams with a mix of in-office and remote employees, a simple but high-quality web camera is a must-have to be inclusive to remote teammates and provide a collaborative atmosphere between employees in multiple locations.
The 2019 State of Video Conferencing report found that when in-person communication isn’t an option, video conferencing is preferred for feeling connected with co-workers. When meetings are audio-only, it creates an unequal experience for remote team members. By not being able to see visual cues, not knowing who is speaking, and usually not being able to hear well, remote team members are less included in team meetings and therefore have less impact on the team. Adding a working video element to team meetings, 1-1 conversations between managers and remote employees (or vice versa), and quick chats between remote team members helps build relationships and improve employee effectiveness. If you make meetings more inclusive for remote team members, the results will show immediately and employee happiness and productivity will drastically improve.
To get started, take a look at these free video conferencing options for a multitude of business use cases. Some of the products listed are great for 1-1 conversations, some for teams, and others for live broadcasts or larger scale team meetings. Pair one of these online meeting platforms with a 360-degree video camera that allows your remote team members to see everyone in the room, read body language, and hear the full conversation on the other end. Once you choose your combination, make sure that your conference rooms or huddle rooms are equipped with all the right audiovisual equipment and necessities to make meetings as easy as possible.
Zoom is ideal for anyone who works remotely or has remote team members. Zoom allows for simple, easy setup meetings or regular meetings in your personal meeting room. Quickly create and share a private meeting link with an individual or team and connect remote team members through video.
Google Hangouts is a simple way to connect with Google contacts (or those outside of your network) and can be used for personal or business reasons. Use this tool for individual conversations, team meetings, recorded demos, and more.
The free version of UberConference is ideal for teams of 10 or less. The free version limits your video call duration to 45 minutes, so it's ideal for shorter meetings. Since it allows unlimited video conferences, you can use this video conferencing tool for recurring meetings, like 1-1s or monthly team debriefs.
TrueConf offers a free plan with up to three participants in video calls. This solution is great for small teams or individuals who need a simple tool to host video calls or collaborate with small groups. The collaboration features like remote desktop control are helpful for those in support who may need to help a client solve a problem.
The free version of Skype works well for small teams with less than 10 total members. It is a good tool if you need a simple way to video chat from your computer, phone, or tablet and tend to have smaller group meetings or 1-1 conversation. Skype also offers a tool called Skype in the Classroom specifically designed for online education.
FreeConference ideal for smaller teams or meetings with five or less participants. One major perk of this video conferencing tool is its ease of use -- no downloads are required to start using it. Plus, moderator controls allow the individual who's running the video conference keep the meeting on track.
Appear.in can be used by remote employees, remote freelancers, or those working with clients who rarely host larger group meetings. While they have priced plans that include solutions for bigger teams, the free version offers a nice amount of features for individuals and small group conversations. It does not allow for a presenter view screen so when screen sharing, the shared window takes up the whole screen.
Slack users can take advantage of the call feature by simply using the command /call or clicking the phone icon at the top of the conversation with another Slack user. This is an easy way to make calls right from Slack if you need to ask a teammate a quick question. You can also Slack with up to 15 people if you start a call from a channel, enabling the rest of the channel's members to join. This tool is good for teams looking for a supplementary video calling solution for small teams.
Facebook Live is a great fit for businesses, influencers, or individuals who are looking to broadcast demos, videos, or showcase their company culture while streaming live. Your followers on Facebook can comment and chat live, you can select a custom audience for the video, and you can schedule videos ahead of time to gain excitement.
YouTube Live, like Facebook Live, is a platform for demonstrating a product with live Q&A, hosting an educational session to teach your audience while screen sharing or using a whiteboard, or hosting a live conversation with members of your team.
When considering which video conferencing tool is best for you or your team, take a look at our State of Video Conferencing report to see how you stack up with your audiovisual needs and which products are trusted by other teams and businesses. Don't forget to bookmark our AV conference room checklist as well so that meetings can get started right away every time.