The COVID-19 pandemic forced several businesses to devise quick and efficient countermeasures that will enable their businesses to continue operating and serving their customers.
These countermeasures have drastically changed how businesses execute their operations—including how they interact with clients, manage both in-house and remote employees, and accomplish ongoing tasks and projects.
However, continuing business operations while thinking of a way to prevent the spread of the disease among employees and business partners is tricky.
Thankfully, with today’s technology, some companies such as Google and Apple have devised new ways to help businesses carry on with their transactions and operations without compromising the health of their clients as well as their employees.
With community-wide lockdowns and quarantines currently being implemented in several parts of the world, the work-from-home setup soon became the “new normal” in most companies. Home Based work arrangements mean that essential manpower is made to complete their usual responsibilities and duties through the use of the internet. It is effective in minimizing physical contact while ensuring that employees stay coordinated and connected in fulfilling their roles in the company. A growing variety of communication apps are now emerging. Some are even reportedly adjusting price rates as a way of addressing increasing client demands.
Choosing the best communication app can eat up critical time for business owners. To aid them in keeping their business afloat, here are the top 5 communication software and apps that they can use for their business during the ongoing pandemic:
1. MICROSOFT TEAMS
Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that allows user-to-user chat. It also enables users to conduct group calls and/or meetings, store files, and integrate supported applications. This can be accessed through Office 365 as a feature.
The key features of Teams are as follows:
- 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB for personal storage
- Built-in group audio/video calling
- Conduct events that can cater up to 10,000 heads
- Unlimited Chat
- Video Call that allows to cover up to 250 users
While there is a free version of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft has allowed users to use the paid version for six months. During the said period, users can maximize and use all the exclusive features that the free version does not possess.
On the other hand, businesses using a licensed Office 365 app can enjoy additional perks. These perks include an automatic sign-in feature that is exclusive to members only. New members automatically receive a free license. The free license is valid for use until January 2021.
2. GOOGLE HANGOUTS
Originally an exclusive feature of Google+, Hangouts became a stand-alone app in 2013. Google Hangouts is an easy-to-integrate communication tool that allows users to make audio and video calls, stream live videos, and record conferences.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has offered free access to Hangouts’ advanced features to all G Suites and G Suites for Education users. The free offers are available until July 1, 2020.
Here are the key features of Hangouts:
- Conduct online meetings for up to 250 users per call
- Live streaming for over 100,000 viewers clustered within a particular domain
- Record video conferences and meetings and sync them all up into Google Drive
Zoom is one of the best communication channels that can be used today. Just like the first two in the list, Zoom offers tons of features that can be maximized by users.
Some of the key features of the free version in China are:
- Breakout rooms
- Online Support
- Private conferences
- Unlimited video meeting for up to 100 users
- Unlimited video call time
The company also offers a timely get-to-know session where it allows users to get familiarized with the app. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has received a sudden increase in its users. In response to their growing number of users, the app has lifted the 40-minute limit on free video calls in China. The 40-minute video call limit for schools in the US, Japan, Italy, and several other countries have also been lifted.
Recently, Zoom instantly became a controversial software because of internet trolls called “Zoombombers”. Zoombombers is the term used to refer to people who were somehow able to randomly participate in both public and private video meetings done through the Zoom app. These individuals were also able to bombard meetings with malicious and explicit content. The said incident led the app’s developers to add another layer of security for its users and minimize the risk of accounts being hacked.
Developed by LogMeIn, GoToMeeting is a web-hosted service that allows users to conduct online meetings, video conferences, and desktop sharing.
GoToMeeting is commonly used by businesses to initiate real-time video calls with their customers.
Since the outbreak, GoToMeeting has offered free access to their exclusive desktop tools through their Emergency Remote Work Kits. The free feature is available for three months and has been useful for the government sectors, schools, healthcare facilities, and other non-profit organizations.
It’s features include, but are not limited to the following:
- IT support
- User-friendly assistance for new users
- Virtual conferences, webinars, events
Developed by Slack Technologies in August 2013, Slack became one of the most popular instant messaging platforms used by businesses employing both office-based and remote employees.
Aside from private chats, audio calls, and video chats, Slack’s features also include:
- App connectivity (over 2,000 applications supported)
- Creating private and shared channels for different departments and projects
- Enterprise-grade data protection
- Enterprise Key Management
- Instant messaging
- Seamless file sharing
- Voice and video calls
- Workflow Builder
What makes Slack unique is it allows users to categorize their conversation to streamline communication. Users can now read their texts easily without sifting through messages from one conversation to another. Also, users can share channels with other users and companies.
Slack possesses a built-in file sharing feature where users can sync all files from their phones directly to their computers. Without the need to leave the Slack interface, users are able to sync their accounts to their Google Drive or Dropbox accounts, thereby facilitating a hassle-free method of sharing and exchanging files.
THIS IS THE NEW NORMAL
With the globe’s current situation, adapting became a fundamental component for businesses to survive. Stable communication among teams based in different areas of the world can be quite challenging to achieve. But, by taking advantage of the communication apps and software listed above, businesses can maintain operations without compromising the health of their clients and employees.