The voice over IP (VoIP) marketplace is richer than ever before and most providers have also rolled out video capabilities to complement their audio offerings.
While you may be tempted to run all your team meetings over a free platform such as Zoom, investing in a premium solution from one of the best VoIP providers that offers video conferencing is likely to give you access to additional functionalities like background noise filtering and active participant auto-focus.
Below we’ll cover why you should invest in a video conferencing solution to help your team work remotely during this difficult time. We’ll recommend our top three choices too.
Why Videoconferencing Is Essential When Working From Home
For many workers, this is their first time operating as a fully distributed, work-from-home team. While working from home brings with it many benefits it can also take some getting used to.
For workers used to seeing the familiar faces of their coworkers on a daily basis, the isolation of working alone can quickly lead to decreased productivity.
There is a reason why, as more teams have shifted towards part-distributed setups, video conferencing systems have been among the first types of software to rise in adoption and popularity.
Some of the benefits of videoconferencing for remote workers include:
- Camaraderie: With no water cooler to shoot the breeze around, remote working can be a fertile ground for feelings of isolation and loneliness. Research has shown that teams that are bound by a feeling of camaraderie and common spirit actually perform better and reach higher levels of productivity. While colleagues can keep in touch by email and using instant messaging services, nothing comes closer than videoconferencing to replicating the feeling of an in-person meeting than a video conference with colleagues.
- More efficient: The average person speaks at between 125 and 150 words per minute. Meanwhile, the average typing speed is a miserable 38 to 40 words per minute (WPM). See the problem here? Unless you’re in the small minority of users that can hammer out emails in a flash, it’s likely that speaking is going to be about three times more time-effective for you than typing out text. For video conferencing users, the simple fact is that it’s a much more time-efficient medium than keeping projects coordinated by a project management system, email, or any other text-based method.
- Team cohesion: Video conferencing is clearly a live medium. Calling a team video conference forces all team members to be in front of their computer and webcam at a common time. For those managing teams, policing remote work and ensuring that team members actually log on remotely can be a big challenge. While there are various systems for solving this problem, such as periodically capturing user screenshots, these can feel invasive for users and erode trust. Consider using a team videoconference as a subtler means of ensuring that everybody is a productive member of the team — whether they’re working out of the office or from a remote site.
Key Video Conferencing Features
And what should you look for in a provider? Focus on these features to choose a top tool:
When you want to hold a videoconference, you need to consider both the software and hardware aspects. What webcams do your team members have? What hardware devices are they going to be using in order to connect to the call.
There are various protocols and standards which have been developed to ensure interoperability of both VoIP and video-capable devices. These includes:
For most looking to roll out videoconferencing involving remote workers connecting over their laptops, interoperability will not be a concern. However, if you team plans on having team members participate from the office that might be using legacy or more advanced systems, then it’s essential to check whether the videoconferencing tool you are thinking about using works with the hardware you have in place in your organization.
If you’ve ever been in a video conference and noticed that the camera seemed to automatically zoom in on a participant as soon as they began speaking, then you have experienced the magic of auto framing at work.
This technology uses dynamic facial recognition to ensure that the speaking participant remains in frame. This technology will be most helpful if you have participants joining remotely in groups — or from a crowded location such as a coffee shop.
Active Speaker Mode
Another valuable functionality is active speaker mode. With this feature, the video feed automatically provides the conference with the video stream from the active speaker. This is useful if you are going to be hosting large video conferences with multiple participants. Some systems will call this feature “Speaker Tracking.” Whatever it’s called - it’s a must-have!
Many remote workers are going to be connecting from noisy environments that might have plenty of screaming children, vacuum cleaners, and braying cats audible in the background. Many VoIP video conferencing tools include a background noise filtering algorithm which automatically strips these distractions from the audio feed, resulting in an easier listening experience for all participants.
Our Top 3 Business VoIP Providers
To save you time checking out the enormous VoIP-with-video conferencing market, we’ve narrowed down the best of the market to the top three choices. Here are the tools that most impressed us:
- One click screen sharing
- Up to 500 participants per meeting
- Requires a stable internet connection for best performance
RingCentral is a heavyweight in the VoIP world and its video conferencing solution, RingCentral Meetings, is among the best on the market. The video tool connects with RingCentral’s bank of more than 200 available local area codes, allowing participants to deal in at local rates. The conferences can also fit up to 500 participants and offer one click screen sharing. RingCentral is currently running a promotion to help businesses cope and encourage effective communication during the age of social distancing crisis.
- Easy to initiate recording
- Guests can join conferences without any software
- Participants can join ongoing meetings
- Local dial in numbers are not automatically supported
- Customer service can take a while to respond to issues
Vonage’s cloud-based video conferencing tool, Vonage Meetings, is a mature tool that allows users to take advantage of more than 50 unified communication features. Voyage Meetings offers a single user interface across all platforms, makes it easy to initiate and record meetings, and creates dedicated dial-in numbers with meeting PINs for security.
- Granular permission control
- WebRTC for fast streaming
- Both mobile and desktop clients
- Relatively data-heavy streaming protocol
- Software download required for guest access
Ooma focuses on providing video conferencing solutions designed for internal use for team collaboration purposes. Ooma Enterprise Business Video Conferencing uses the industry-leading WebRTC technology to deliver high stream quality across devices and features advanced permissioning to control access.
Chose A Video Conferencing Solution Today
The market for video conferencing solutions is buoyant and there are many great options to put the zest back in your remote team collaboration experience. Make sure to pick an option that has the right interoperability with your team’s hardware, and inspect feature lists carefully to ensure that you find a tool with the optimum feature-set. If you’re not sure where to start, check out one of our top three recommendations to get up and conferencing in no time.