7 Free Collaboration Software And Videoconferencing Tools For Working Remotely
Vendors are coming to the rescue with free videoconferencing and collaboration tools for healthcare and government organizations on the front line, as well as students and employees working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of traveling, many companies have been holding remote meetings using videoconferencing tools and collaboration software with colleagues and clients around the world. And it's not just travel that's being affected. Now, many businesses have opted to close their doors and encourage or mandate employees to work remotely to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
Collaboration and videoconferencing tools are helping to bridge the gap for companies that are taking precautions right now for the well-being of their employees and clients, while still working together and keeping their businesses up and running. And many of the biggest tech vendors are coming to the rescue with free or expanded use of their collaboration and video products during the outbreak.
Here are seven collaboration and videoconferencing offerings available now to those working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
CafeX Communications' Challo
CafeX Communications, a firm that enables business applications with real-time communication capabilities, is stepping up to help customers work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The New York City-based company is extending offering Challo, its cloud application for enterprise collaboration, for free for businesses. Challo is an all-in-one online tool for HD video meetings, chat and workspaces to help keep employees connected and engaged while working from home, the company said.
Challo will be free for business use until this summer, according to CafeX.
Cisco Systems at the beginning of March expanded the capabilities on its popular videoconferencing platform, Webex, in all countries where it is available. The new Webex features include unlimited usage or no time restrictions and support for up to 100 participants. Cisco is also providing free 90-day licenses to businesses who are not Webex customers in this time of need through its sales team and Cisco partners.
Cisco Webex has gained popularity as a result of the coronavirus outbreak as many businesses make arrangements for their employees to work remotely. Traffic on the Webex backbone that connects China-based Webex users to their employers increased more than 22 times since the outbreak began. Cisco Webex saw 4 to 5 times as many users in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, with the average time spent on Webex video meetings doubling in those countries. Impacted countries are seeing free Webex sign-ups increase seven-fold compared to pre-outbreak sign-up rates, according to Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Team Collaboration Group.
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins this week said that during the first 11 business days of March, Cisco logged 5.5 billion meeting minutes on Webex. “In the last 11 days our volumes have literally doubled," Robbins said.
Intermedia AnyMeeting, Webinar Pro
Channel-first Intermedia, a business communications specialist, has revealed that it will extend its AnyMeeting video conferencing and webinar service at no cost through Dec. 31, 2020 to support remote workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Effective now, Intermedia AnyMeeting Pro video conferencing licenses are free for the firm's customers and partners. The solution includes high-definition video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, call recording, chats, note taking and more, with no restriction on the duration of each meeting. Customers also have access to one free Webinar Pro license per account, Intermedia said. Webinar Pro lets companies hold larger live broadcast events for up to 200 people, including corporate all-hands meetings, webinars, lectures, religious services and other virtual events, according to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intermedia.
Intermedia also developed a toolkit for SMBs and remote workers that includes best practices for remote teams, remote work and contact centers, the company said.
Videoconferencing powerhouse Lifesize has extended an unlimited number of free six-month licenses for businesses impacted by coronavirus to use for the firm’s cloud-based video collaboration platform.
The offer includes unlimited meetings and call duration for Lifesize video conferencing for employees working from home for new users. For existing Lifesize customers, they can add unlimited users at current paid service levels so they can scale to include all their employees, according to the Austin, Texas-based vendor.
Lifesize's technology can be connected to via apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices, or natively through popular web browsers including Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox, according to Lifesize.
Microsoft in the first week of March said it would offer a free Office 365 E1 subscription for six months to businesses and educational institutions that aren't currently licensed for Teams, its solution that includes group chats, instant messaging and video and audio meetings.
The Bellevue, Wash.-based company said that 44 million people globally are using Teams on a daily basis, up from 32 million as of March 11. It's also more than double the amount from four months ago, when Microsoft reported 20 million daily active users for Teams.
Videoconferencing software and UC equipment provider Poly is lending a helping hand to its customers during the coronavirus outbreak.
Specifically, Poly RealConnect, the firm's solution that lets users connect from traditional video conferencing systems to Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business meetings, is giving free subscriptions for existing customers of Poly Group, Poly Trio Visual+, the Poly Studio X family of video bars and Poly G7500 customers to connect to Microsoft Teams meetings.
Poly is making this service available now through June 2020, the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based company said.
Vonage Business Cloud, SMS Service
Communications specialist Vonage is coming to the rescue with a bevy of free solutions for healthcare users as well as students and remote employees who need to work from home.
Vonage is opening up access to up to 250 mobile-only licenses free for up to 90 days for teams working from anywhere using the Vonage mobile or desktop application. Teams will also gain access to Vonage's entire portfolio of Business Cloud capabilities. People can also take advantage of Vonage's standalone video conferencing solution for free for up to 90 days. Holmdel, N.J.-based Vonage is also offering healthcare providers, educational organizations and non-profit customers 90 days of the Vonage Business Cloud service for free.
Additionally, the provider developed a new Instant Alert SMS service to distribute real-time updates on the COVID-19 pandemic from government agencies which Vonage is opening up and sharing worldwide to agencies such as the CDC in the United States, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The service will be free to download and use for health care service providers, communities and government agencies to support COVID-19 pandemic efforts worldwide, Vonage said.