Everyone now knows about COVID-19, a new illness which affects the airways and lungs and has resulted in 104 deaths as of yesterday. The main symptoms include a new, continual cough and a high temperature.
For UK residents experiencing these symptoms, they are advised to remain at home for seven days. For the rest of us, we are being told to avoid public transport, avoid large groups and if possible, work from home to prevent catching this contagious virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that UK schools would close from Friday until further notice. Some businesses, including schools, are expected to retain some function as staff and students are asked to work from home.
Despite this causing issues with communication, there is hardware and software available that can help you run your business as normally as possible. In fact, some of the software is 100% free to use. So what is the best video conferencing platform out there?
We Believe it is zoom
There are lots of different video conferencing platforms out there which are incredibly useful in bringing together your staff and customers together during this turbulent period. If you’re looking for a free option, Facebook Live, Google Meets or Skype could be your ticket.
Or, if you’re looking for something with added functionality, consider looking at WebEx or GoToMeeting.
We believe the video, audio and screen sharing tool zoom is the best choice. Firstly, it is incredibly easy to use. Just head over to the Zoom website or click your meeting invite, and you can then download the app and run your meeting. It’s also possible to dial in through a phone through a toll number.
The Best Way to Work from Home Using Zoom
Keep aware of your background. Remember that although you’re working from home, you still need to act professionally in the eyes of your bosses and colleagues.
Remove participant tracking. Enabled, this is something else that could catch you out and potentially land you in hot water. Disabling it is easy. Simply go to Account Management > Account Settings > Meeting > Attention Tracking.
Use audio and video appropriately. If you’re sneakily watching TV or having a conversation with your other half, your colleagues don’t want to hear it. Mute the volume when you’re not directly contributing to the work conversation.
Choose the right view. There are two different view options on zoom. Either ‘Active Speaker View’ or ‘Gallery View’. ‘Active Speaker View’ can be intimidating because it shows your face in full-screen mode. ‘Gallery View’ might be a better choice as all participants can be seen via a grid. ‘Pin a Participant’ can also be selected if you only want to view a specific person.
Maximise your appearance. When you’re working from home, you may not want to spend ages applying makeup. If so, you’ll love the filters available, which can be selected from Settings > Video > Touch Up My Appearance. It allows you to improve the appearance of your skin tone.
Using zoom to Teach Classes Online
As already mentioned, zoom is great for schools because of the recent uplift on the forty-minute time limit previously in place. However, it can be used for virtually any type of business that requires frequent communication between clients and staff.
A feature which we like is ‘Breakout Rooms’ which allow the entire conference to be divided into fifty separate sections. To do this, head to Account Management > Account Settings > Meeting, then select Breakout Room.
The host can jump in between rooms to check-in when necessary. Other useful tools are also available, like whiteboard, annotation, non-verbal feedback and recording. This allows anyone to re-visit the session to review the footage.
Useful Hardware You May Decide to Invest In
Depending on how long you need to self-isolate for, you may decide to invest in some hardware to make your life easier. This is particularly important if you’re expected to do frequent video calls daily over several months.
Some items, like noise-cancelling headsets or standalone microphones, are relatively affordable and can make a massive difference to sound quality.
At the other extreme, there are solutions from the likes of Cisco such as the Webex board which enables presentations, notes, video and audio conferences to be made over a screen. A similar device to this, except without the screen, is the Meeting Owl which features a 360-degree camera, speaker and eight microphone array. With this device priced at £799, and the Webex Board costing upwards of £15,000, you will need to consider whether these items are worth investing in carefully.