In days gone by, meetings took a completely different form. While some businesses have been using video technologies for many years, meetings were conducted at a physical conference table in a brick-and-mortar meeting room.
Since 2020, the world of work has changed irrevocably, and virtual meetings have revolutionised how we conduct our day-to-day business operations. Arguably the most advantageous change we have seen for businesses during this period of turmoil has been the increasing use of cloud-based and agile technologies to enable remote working.
Video has become one of the most impactful solutions in allowing teams to continue to connect as part of a disparate workforce.
Whether you use video technology to catch up with friends in your leisure time, or you need to conduct work meetings via video, the video conferencing boom isn’t set to slow down. Popular video conferencing platform, Zoom, expects sales to increase by 40% by the end of the year.
As remote working becomes commonplace, businesses are putting the measures in place so that teams can collaborate, conduct meetings, and get work done from wherever they are in the world. The first port of call will be a robust, secure video chat app to facilitate smoother virtual meetings for many companies.
Video chat definition
Video chats can take the form of several different online, visual communications. Essentially, a video chat is an online communications session performed via video and over the internet using a webcam or mobile device camera and dedicated video software.
Whether you’re using FaceTime to catch up with family or webinar software at work to deliver product demos, video chat has become part of everyday life. During the past year, families and friends have taken video chat apps such as FaceTime, WhatsApp Video, or apps such as Houseparty, whose download growth increased by 500% between the 2nd of March and the 9th of March 2020. Many of us have become accustomed to using cameras with technologies and social media channels such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Conducting video chats has become a staple part of our everyday lives.
Commonly described using the terms ‘video calling’, ‘video chatting’ and ‘video conferencing’, visual communications has become a go-to method of conducting meetings, webinars, conferences and training sessions remotely.
A video call used to mean an exchange between two participants. Advancements in technology now mean businesses can host large-scale events with any number of online attendees. As long as participants have access to a functioning camera, microphone and access to the same video software, colleagues can meet, make use of a messaging function while they’re on the call, and conduct work from wherever they are, on any device.
Benefits/advantages of using video chat apps
Video calling can have a huge impact on your business bottom line, making users more efficient, streamlining workflows, and allowing a cost-effective and scalable way to make meetings possible in a virtual working environment.
Breaking down some of the major advantages of implementing a video conferencing solution, we’ve highlighted some of the best ways your business will see a change.
1. Improved communications
While many feel that working remotely can make workers feel more isolated, video calling software can actually help break down barriers if technologies are used smartly. A reliable video chat app can provide an accessible way to connect with colleagues and get valuable face time despite being physically separated from colleagues.
As many of us process visual information better than via voice calls or messaging, being able to take advantage of video technology with features such as Screen sharing and whiteboarding can hugely improve the quality of your team communications.
Being able to switch seamlessly from instant messaging straight into a one-to-one video call or group chat in a single click means teams can troubleshoot, discuss challenges and complete work projects and tasks together much more quickly than ever before.
Eliminating the need to go into the office just because there’s a meeting in the diary that day, teams can work from wherever they feel most productive and still turn up for the meetings or group video calls where necessary. That means connecting with partners, customers, suppliers, and colleagues has never been easier and frees up valuable time for workers to focus on deep work and complete tasks more efficiently.
3. Better attendance
With traditional meetings, organising participants to gather everyone at the same place simultaneously for group calls can be troublesome. With co-workers working across different office locations, and clients and partners travelling from disparate sites, the logistics of organising a physical, in-person meeting can be hugely time-consuming in itself.
With video meetings, workers no longer need to be in the same physical location. All they need is access to the software via a desktop or mobile device and access to wi-fi. That means it’s more difficult for colleagues to shirk a meeting, and video meetings are generally less disruptive, which results in better attendance rates for every meeting. What’s more, if anyone does miss a meeting, most video software now includes a recording function so that participants can catch up on the meeting in their own time.
4. Talent retention
Using better technology that enables better productivity and makes workers’ day-to-day lives easier can result in better employee engagement. Using a reliable video chat solution for meetings enables businesses to provide more flexibility and agility for their staff. With many workers looking to continue working remotely, having the tools at their fingertips that facilitate a better work/life balance will make them more inclined to stay loyal to their place of work in the long term. Giving employees better control over their daily routine and empowering them with tools designed for a more efficient, digital workplace will mean you’re more likely to retain talent and also attract great new candidates to join the workforce.
Top video chat features to have in the new decade
There is a wealth of video chat apps on the market, and not all of them are cut from the same cloth. While many may seem similar, there are some different types of video platforms built for completely different purposes.
Many of the video chat apps we have encountered, particularly free versions, were built for personal or leisure usage. Apps such as Google Duo, FaceTime and the messenger app WhatsApp have enabled face-to-face connections for a long time now, and apps such as Houseparty and Heads Up gained great traction during the past 14 months. While these are great for reconnecting with friends and family, for social gatherings and virtual events, many of them would fall short when it comes to business use, as they lack some of the crucial features that workers need to gather context in real-time, collaborate on projects, and generally meet in a professional virtual environment.
Now that home working is commonplace, it’s crucial to leverage software that facilitates productivity and effective communication in a virtual working environment. Certain features will emerge as essential functionality for teams looking to collaborate seamlessly and productively via video in the next decade:
Being able to record your video calls means your team can catch up on important meetings, training sessions or webinars at a time that suits them and archive them to keep a log of important sessions or presentations.
Presenting and sharing what’s on your screen means you enable a more visual information-sharing experience, and you can keep participants aligned to discuss and work together on projects.
Being able to integrate seamlessly with your calendars, easily send invites. Schedule one-off or recurring meetings and receive notifications when meetings start, which means your teams can manage their diaries and meet more efficiently.
As remote working becomes increasingly commonplace, businesses will want to equip staff with video conferencing without limits. Some solutions offer time-capped meetings or maximum numbers of participants, and companies need to look for tools with better flexibility and unlimited access.
RingCentral video chat
Built for the future of remote working, RingCentral brings together a range of features and functions, making it the perfect, cost-effective solution for disparate teams.
With exceptionally high standards in call quality, including high-quality audio and HD video, our dedicated virtual working hub brings together messaging, video, and cloud phone features all in one single, feature-rich environment.
What’s more, with a handy mobile app that enables users to connect from anywhere, unlimited video, video call recording, screen sharing and seven layers of baked-in security, including end-to-end encryption, at every stage of our architecture, teams can collaborate, stay productive, and keep their business communications secure wherever they choose to do their work.
Whether your workers are meeting via a mobile device, desktop Mac or Windows using the app or through a web browser, all participants have to do is click a link to join their meeting and if they want to swap from desktop to mobile mid-call, or vice versa our handy call switch feature means you can change devices whenever you want to connect on the move.
The great news is you can even try out RingCentral with a free version of the app, which includes unlimited meeting minutes, so you can make sure it meets your business needs.
Other video chat apps
With many apps on the market that could meet your needs, it’s important to do your research and shortlist the providers or chat services that address your key business and team challenges. Here are a few of the most popular apps for video communications.
Google Hangouts has become a popular conference calling app for corporate teams. With apps that work across iPhone, iPad, Android, or desktop, it’s also integrated with the rest of the Google suite as long as you have a Google account.
While all Google tools boast the benefit of integrations with other G-Suite apps, Google Hangout can sometimes fall short when calling quality and joining via a phone number.
Great for startups and smaller teams, Whereby is an up-and-coming video meeting solution with a simple, easy-to-use interface. Ideal for small, dynamic teams, the platform has a modern, alternative feel that appeals to SMEs looking for a more informal virtual meeting experience.
With the ability to customise your environment and add creative touches, including colour scheme and branding, users can also avoid downloading the app and integrate with key productivity tools such as Trello and Google Drive.
While some find Skype a little outdated, many find they want to stick to a video chat platform they know. For a simple video chat solution as an alternative to the fellow Microsoft video solution, Microsoft Teams, Skype is a strong option for small teams. Easy access and integrations with other Microsoft applications make Skype a strong option for those using Windows devices.
Zoom has quickly become one of the most popular video conferencing platforms, with many businesses and individuals turning to the app to connect with others during lockdown periods.
As a great option, if you’re looking for free video and a platform purely for video calls, Zoom offers simple-to-join meetings with features such as a hand raising emoji, screen sharing and breakout rooms. But with some limitations on its free version, such as a 40-minute time limit.
Ready to purchase your team’s video chat app?
Making the best video chat app purchases and investing in the right tools for your teams must start with an audit of your core business needs. Whether you need a platform purely for video calls or a comprehensive, unified solution, some options are available. It’s important to consider the main features you need from your conferencing app and look for a business-first, secure architecture with built-in flexibility and ease of use. RingCentral’s unified, feature-rich platform has become a compelling choice for businesses seeking fast, quality and reliable video meetings that support their ventures in an increasingly digital workplace.
Originally published 28 Jul, 2021, updated 13 Jan, 2023