Working from home but need to have a meeting? Here are five reasons Zoom is a great, free choice for staying in touch while out of the office.
Countless teams of professionals are now working from home, but that doesn't mean business can't proceed as usual, thanks to technologies like video conferencing. Those weighing options and comparing features to decide which is the best video conferencing app for their needs are bombarded with choices like Slack, Google Hangouts, Join.me, and Zoom.
For those considering, or who have yet to look into Zoom, these five features are good reasons to give it a try. Zoom's price point is nice, too--you can have meetings with up to 100 people without paying a dime.
SEE: IT pro's road map to working remotely (TechRepublic download)
Zoom virtual backgrounds
Zoom has the ability to replace the space behind you with an image of your choice, no green screen required. It works for Zoom desktop users and iOS users, but Android users are out of luck. The hardware requirements are a bit high, but those who don't meet them can still use virtual backgrounds, though performance will vary.
This is a great feature for those working from home who don't have dedicated office space or, like me, tend to let their workspace get a bit cluttered. It's easy to toggle it on or off and adding a personal background is as easy as making a couple clicks.
This feature is so well integrated that you may not even realize it's turned on in Zoom desktop or iOS (again, no Android support). Hidden in the video settings menu is a field where you can toggle Touch Up My Appearance, which basically puts a hard-to-notice filter on the camera that smooths lines, eliminates blemishes, and makes you look a bit more radiant than you would otherwise.
I've been a home-based worker for years, and this feature is excellent for those mornings when you have to attend a necessary meeting but might have a bit of sleep or stubble still showing on your face.
Zoom web client
Zoom has a web client for those who don't want to muck about with the Zoom app or those who will only ever need to join other people's meetings. It's simple to use and runs with minimal need for the user to change settings, making it perfect for most remote workers.
Allowing Zoom meeting attendees to join from their browser isn't a default option, so meeting hosts or Zoom administrators (in the case of paid enterprise accounts) will need to enable this option in the Zoom web portal.
A good modern collaboration platform can integrate other tools and software, and Zoom is no different. The Zoom Marketplace has a bunch of plugins for things like Gmail, Slack, Salesforce, and other popular business apps that can make it more than just teleconferencing software.
At-home workers who spend a lot of time in Zoom should definitely take a look at the Zoom Marketplace. It can make a lot of aspects of scheduling, inviting, and documenting Zoom meetings simpler.
Zoom's meeting recording features are great—all an organizer has to do to capture video of a Zoom meeting is click a few buttons and you'll have a record of everything that happens.
For users with a paid Zoom Business, Education, or Enterprise account, meeting recording is even more useful; Zoom can automatically transcribe meeting recordings uploaded to the cloud. Automatic meeting transcription has to be turned on by a Zoom administrator, so be sure everything is set up properly before starting a meeting you want to transcribe and record.
This can be a huge advantage for remote workers that have technical difficulties, need to miss a meeting, or want to be able to refer back to what was said without having to scroll through a video to find the right moment. Unfortunately, it's not available to Zoom users with a free account.
- How to become a CIO: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- How to develop your IT team's capabilities (TechRepublic download)
- Policy pack: Workplace ethics (TechRepublic Premium)
- ZDNet's top enterprise CEOs of the 2010s (ZDNet)
- 6 ways to delete yourself from the internet (CNET)
- Best to-do list apps for managing tasks on any platform (Download.com)
- Zoom: More tips and tutorials (TechRepublic on Flipboard)