Do you sometimes feel like you live at work meetings?
You’re not alone.
Experts estimate that Americans attend as many as 55 million meetings every day.
In the past, you may have trudged into the company’s conference room for daily or weekly updates. In recent years, video conferencing has become increasingly popular — especially since the start of COVID-19.
During 2020, video conferencing saw an astounding 535% increase in daily traffic. No doubt your company contributed to this figure as many of us worked from home or shifted to hybrid work models.
As you probably realized, though, not all video conference solutions are created equal. Maybe you’ve tried a few different platforms and software, but you’re still unsure which is the best option for your business needs.
Since video conferencing is here to stay, it’s vital to choose the right solution for your company. Keep reading and we’ll help you analyze the pros and cons of the most popular video conference software.
What Are the Benefits of Video Conferencing?
Let’s start our discussion with an overview of the many benefits of video conferences. After that, we’ll outline some potential drawbacks to be aware of that could affect your final decision.
1. Saves Time & Money
The most obvious benefit of a video conference is the amount of time and money it saves you (and your employees). There’s no need to travel to the office or another meeting point. It also eliminates the need for expensive business trips to other cities or countries.
All you need to do is open a video conference and invite employees or clients to join you virtually. Once you’ve finished your discussion, everyone can immediately return to work from their current location — no cars, taxis, or planes required.
2. Easy to Use
Chances are that anyone you need to contact via video conference already has everything they need to connect to the meeting. The only requirements are a steady internet connection and a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
There’s no need to purchase expensive equipment or webcams, and you don’t need to set up a dedicated conference room or specialized telepresence system (unless you want to).
Depending on the software you choose, you can easily scale up or down to suit your needs. You can host a private meeting with one subscriber or invite dozens of people to a group meeting. You can even create and host a webinar that thousands of people can view simultaneously.
3. Security & Privacy
Of course, you will want to make sure your network installation and security are up to par, especially if you’re discussing sensitive information during your business meetings. But you can rest assured that the best video conference solutions have built-in security features such as:
- Video and chat encryption
- Security audits
- TLS protocols
- The ability to discard chats
- Two-factor authentication
- Security audits
Different software offers different security features, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. For now, keep in mind that these features are designed to protect you against the most common cybersecurity threats.
4. Enhanced Communication
A lot can get lost during a telephone conversation. When you can’t see someone’s reactions or facial expressions, you can’t always tell whether you’re communicating effectively.
A video conference is superior to an old-fashioned phone conference because it’s the virtual version of a face-to-face meeting. It retains a lot of the “human” element that’s so vital to doing business. It also eliminates many of the distractions associated with in-person meetings.
Video conferencing enables you to share important information with ease. You’ll find an array of collaboration tools from media sharing and whiteboards to conference recording and electronic voting.
5. Improved Productivity
Did you know that 60% of employees are more productive when they work from home? Video conferences are one more tool you can use to communicate clearly and allow everyone to get back to work more quickly.
There’s no distracting lead time or travel time required, and virtual meetings tend to be shorter than in-person meetings. As soon as the conference is over, everybody can immediately implement the new directions.
What Are Some Potential Drawbacks?
Video conferencing has many clear benefits, but like everything else in the tech world, they have their limitations too. Before we discuss specific video conference solutions, let’s briefly consider some potential cons.
1. Technical Problems
In a perfect world, we would all have lightning-fast internet connections and the latest computers and hardware.
In reality, though, video conferences can easily fall prey to technical glitches. Someone’s internet connection may be unstable, resulting in poor video or sound quality. You might also encounter issues with the video conference software, your office hardware, or network failure.
You may not be able to control things on the other end, but 24/7 IT support and monitoring on your end will give you the best chance of hosting trouble-free video meetings.
2. Different Time Zones
If you were planning to fly people in from different parts of the country (or the world), you’d normally have some jetlagged individuals at your business meetings. Video conferencing does eliminate this concern, but it creates another one — finding a time that’s suitable for everyone.
US time zones are easy enough to coordinate, but what if you have employees or clients in Europe, Asia, or Australia? No matter which time you choose, someone is going to have to attend the meeting after dinner or in the wee hours of the morning.
3. “Zoom Fatigue”
Named after one of the most popular video conference solutions, Zoom fatigue (also called virtual fatigue) has become a real concern since the start of the pandemic.
Common signs of virtual fatigue and burnout include:
- Brain fog
- Trouble concentrating
- Physical aches and pains
To help prevent Zoom fatigue, try to keep video conferences short and to the point. Or you may find that it’s more helpful to have one longer video call at the beginning of the workweek rather than shorter calls every day.
You can also help your employees by giving them actionable tips to improve their digital wellness.
Video Conferencing Solutions & Features to Consider
Now that we’ve discussed the overall pros and cons of video conference solutions, let’s turn our focus to your business. Here are some important criteria to consider before you consider specific platforms.
- How many participants will regularly attend your meetings?
- How important is the quality of the video feed?
- How much and how often will other participants communicate during the meeting?
- Will some of your participants be joining from a mobile device?
- Do you want the ability to record audio and video for later viewing?
- Would it be helpful if the platform could integrate with other common applications, such as Microsoft?
- How important is the ability to share your screen, videos, or other documents?
- What level of encryption and security do you need?
There are no right or wrong answers here — it all boils down to the unique needs of your company. Jot down your answers to these questions and keep them in mind as we review the most popular video conference platforms below.
Video Conference With Zoom: Pros & Cons
Zoom Video Communications has been around since 2011, but it quickly became the go-to choice for video conferencing during the pandemic. In fact, it’s now become part of our mainstream vernacular as people use it to refer to any type of video meeting.
Pros of Zoom
There’s a reason Zoom is so popular: It’s one of the easiest and most accessible tools on the market today.
It’s ideal for managing remote teams or setting up virtual client meetings. From your personal meeting room, you can create and share a meeting link with just a few clicks. Participants need only click the link or enter the numeric meeting ID and password to gain access.
Zoom offers these features for free:
- One-on-one and group meetings (up to 100 participants)
- Unlimited number of meetings
- Up to 40 minutes per video call
- HD video and audio quality
- Screen sharing abilities
- Private and group chat options
- Scheduled or spontaneous meetings
- Custom backgrounds
For both the host and the participants, Zoom is (arguably) the easiest and most intuitive platform to use.
Cons of Zoom
To host larger meetings and access more advanced features of Zoom, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their paid plans:
- Pro plan: $150 per license per year (up to 100 participants per video call)
- Business plan: $200 per license per year (minimum 10 licenses, up to 300 participants per video call)
- Enterprise plan: $250 per license per year (minimum 50 licenses, up to 500 participants per video call)
A few years ago, there were some security concerns surrounding Zoom, but those have largely been resolved. Zoom also offers the least integration compared to other options on our list.
Video Conference With Teams: Pros & Cons
Another major player in the video conference world is Microsoft Teams. It was launched in 2017 and largely replaced the former communication hub of Skype for Business.
Pros of Teams
The most obvious benefit of using Teams is its seamless integration with all the other Microsoft products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc). It’s an ideal solution because includes a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 — something your business probably uses every day anyway.
Unlike other software, Microsoft Teams does more than just video conferencing. It’s designed to be an “always on” platform your team can use for messaging and collaboration. Video calls are just an added feature of an already extensive platform.
Their free plan allows up to 100 participants per video call with a 60-minute time limit. It also offers the most advanced security features, including encrypted chats and mute options.
Cons of Teams
Although the majority of Teams’ features are positive, there are a few potential drawbacks to be aware of.
If you’ll regularly be connecting with participants that aren’t Office 365 members, they won’t be able to access some in-meeting features. Anyone accessing the web version will only find full support if they use Chrome or Edge. Other web browsers offer little or no support for Teams meetings.
To access more advanced features and host larger meetings, you’ll need to upgrade from the free version. Current pricing plans are:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $5 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium: $20 per user per month
- Office 365 enterprise plans: start at $8 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 enterprise plans: start at $32 per user per month
It’s also important to know that while there is data encryption in transit and at rest, there’s no end-to-end encryption for video meetings with Teams.
Video Conference With Meet: Pros & Cons
A final platform we’ll consider is Google Meet. It’s included with Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite) and is free to anyone with a Google account.
Pros of Meet
Google Meet integrates seamlessly with other Google applications, such as Google Calendar, Docs, Drive, and Gmail.
Although it’s more basic than some of the other software mentioned above, its recent upgrades have created a much better user experience. For example, the platform offers live automated captions in five languages as well as a consolidated navigation bar.
The free version of Google Meet allows up to 100 participants in a video call, with a 60-minute time limit.
Cons of Meet
Like the other platforms, you’ll need to upgrade your subscription to access better features. The current pricing plans include:
- Google Workspace Business Starter: $6 per user per month (up to 100 participants)
- Google Workspace Business Standard: $12 per user per month(up to 150 participants)
- Google Workspace Business Plus: $18 per user per month (up to 250 participants)
- Google Workspace Enterprise: custom pricing options (up to 250 participants)
Compared to Zoom or Teams, Meet offers fewer “bells and whistles” in terms of in-meeting features. Like Teams, it also does not offer end-to-end encryption.
How Be Structured IT Services Can Help
Whether you love it or hate it, video conferencing has become an integral part of the way we do business. Whether you’re managing a remote team or hosting virtual client meetings, you need the right video conference solutions.
As we discussed above, there are pros and cons of all the major video conference software. While they all share similar features, some might offer extra perks that are especially suitable for your business.
Do you need help choosing the right video conferencing software for your Los Angeles-based company? Is it time to enhance your network security, upgrade your hardware, or migrate to the cloud?
Whatever your IT needs, Be Structured has the solutions. Click here to learn more about our services and how we can help you better reach your business goals. Or, if you prefer, schedule a free consultation with us at (323) 331-9452.