Using technology to work remotely has now become the new norm and it certainly looks like it is here to stay – not just because social distancing is likely to go on for a while, but because the recent experiences are likely to change the way we work moving forward – a new normal.
The Visionary team have always been a home-based remote team and we’ve been using various technology platforms for a good few years to support working in that way.
We have found that we do manage working remotely quite well. Technology can underpin and support us to do, and we have shared below our reflections upon various platforms and options and why we have gone with what we have.
No one size fits all and there are pro’s/con’s for everyone and every option – we hope the below reflections help. If you would like to discuss any of the below then please do get in touch.
Getting increasingly unstable with often poor quality call audio/user experience.
We’ve heard it is going to be “switched off” next year.
Skype meetings aren’t accessible as a dial in from landlines/phones. (unless using the smart phone app – which we have found can be unstable at times).
We are using this for internal team meetings – we like it.
Easy to invite people from outside the organisation to attend a meeting – simply provides a link for people to click on and join (but only online access – not dial in).
We haven’t used the mobile phone app so can’t comment.
We like the integration into Outlook for diary meetings.
The system can offer you a dial in facility where a phone number is generated and can be sent to people to then call into the meeting via a mobile or landline – though this needs further set-up to make it work and we haven’t trialed that.
You can offer the dial in by phone as a free phone number, but you need to buy “credits” for your account and these credits are your charges as an organiser for people to dial in free. Charges are per minute/per user.
GoToMeeting and Zoom – the big names around at the moment:
It’s important to clarify the difference between a tele/video conference service and a webinar service.
- GoToMeeting is a video/teleconference facility
- Zoom is a webinar platform.
Effectively the difference is about functionality as the host.
On GotoMeeting you can host meetings and do some basic screen sharing, for example if you wanted to show a presentation.
Zoom provides a lot more functionality as a presenter. You can share your screen more easily, invite others to share their screens and send people to virtual break out rooms, groups etc.. You can also play audio/videos and broadcast that to all your participants. You can’t do that on GotoMeeting – GoToWebinar is their version of Zoom and offers pretty much the same functionality as Zoom.
Tele and video conferencing – both pretty much offer the same functionality and various free to use (with limited functionality) trial packages.
On both platforms you can access sessions online via laptops/smart devices AND also dial in via a landline or mobile.
Both packages appear accessible for those with a VI. We’ve had the odd issue with people struggling with voice over when using the weblink to connect in via iPads/iPhones but they have been isolated issues.
Important note – anyone dialing in via a mobile or landline will be charged a national rate fee per minute (circa 10p/min) for their call in to a Zoom or GoToMeeting call.
There have been reported security concerns with Zoom, with hackers/trolls gate-crashing sessions. We’ve only ever seen this in the media and don’t know of anyone who has had issues.
What did Visionary go for?
We decided to go with a GoToMeeting paid for monthly subscription. We pay £22.50 a month and that means:
- We can hold tele/video conference calls for up to 250 people and with no time limit.
- It is free for people who dial in on mobiles/landlines, but we as Visionary get charged 11p/minute for each caller who dials in.
We decided to go for this package and offer free dial in as we are conscious that many members staff/trustees are all working from home and using their own resources so having a free call in facility helped relive that issue for people.
Zoom offers paid for packages but does not offer any free phone dial in options for UK users – this was the main reason we went with GoToMeeting. Connecting to Zoom by a phone dial in will see the caller charged a national call rate.
Both platforms enable you to record any sessions you hold. We’ve done this for a few sessions and it can be very useful.
We hope that this helps you to decide what to use for your circumstances. What we’re using works for us – but may not work or you.
Please do get in touch with any questions or to share your experiences.