The Top 5 Remote Collaboration Challenges and the Best Solution for Each
Forty-three percent of U.S. workers said they spent at least some time working remotely in the past year, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, and that’s good news for their employers. Remote work increases productivity, decreases operating expenses, and reduces stress for employees. But those benefits depend on software solutions that allow employees to collaborate efficiently and effectively from wherever they are.
The top three software solutions for remote team collaboration are Skype for Business, Zoom and Webex. While much of their basic functionality is the same, each tool has specific benefits for specific collaboration goals and use cases. Keep reading to learn more about each solution and to determine which tool is best for you.
What’s Hindering Your Collaboration—and What Can Fix It?
Challenge #1. Communicating in real time.
For remote collaboration to succeed, it must be as seamless as in-person collaboration would be. That means participants need to see, hear, and understand each other as easily as they would if they were in the same room.
The Solution. For video conferencing, which is the best and closest approximation to an in-person meeting, Zoom leads the pack. While Webex was originally designed for document sharing, and Skype was originally designed as a messaging application, Zoom was created with clear, reliable audio and video as the main objective. Zoom users can launch an audio or video call from their web browser or the mobile app.
Challenge #2. Sharing and updating content in real time.
Seeing and hearing other participants is a critical first step, but productivity in remote meetings suffers if not everyone can see the documents or other content being discussed. And meetings go even better if participants can update that content together in real-time rather than making edits separately and then emailing multiple iterations back and forth or, worse, holding another meeting to talk over any changes that were made.
The Solution. The winner here depends largely on the size of your team and how many content owners you have. Zoom lets multiple meeting participants share their screens simultaneously and co-annotate content in any format, which makes it a better choice for larger teams working with a lot of different content pieces. When it comes to archiving and organizing shared content, however, Webex has an edge. A participant can share their screen or a single piece of content including documents, videos, and images, and that content is displayed alongside and archived with the relevant group messages so everything that belongs together stays together.
Challenge #3. Whiteboarding for brainstorming sessions.
Sometimes, when it comes to brainstorming complex ideas, seeing is understanding. When everyone is in the same room, it’s easy enough to throw a picture, diagram or doodle on a whiteboard. But what about when everyone is not in the same room and they still need to communicate and dissect complicated ideas and plans? Team members need a collaboration tool that provides the same capability for remote meetings and remote participants.
The Solution. All three applications provide interactive whiteboarding features for meeting participants, but for remote employees working from personal devices on the go, Webex offers the most flexibility. With Webex, participants draw directly on their phone or other device and then share the interactive drawing through the chat feature.
Challenge #4. Recording meetings.
Even the most attentive participants can’t remember every word that was spoken in a meeting, but sometimes they need to. Meeting recordings allow any participant to go back and listen to or watch anything important they might have missed or need to have refreshed. A recording ensures everyone’s memory stays accurate and saves lots of back and forth calls and emails to try to remember what was said.
The Solution. Skype, Zoom, and Webex all include a recording capability, but Zoom’s recording feature is the most robust. With Zoom, meetings can be recorded locally or in the cloud, and all transcripts are searchable.
Challenge #5. Accommodating multiple participants in disparate locations.
If your team members are working from anywhere, they need to be able to join a meeting from anywhere. And your collaboration solution should accommodate as large a group as you need it to. Collaboration solutions that force you to limit the number of participants your meeting can host, or restrict the number of lines participants can call from will hinder rather than help your collaboration efforts.
The Solution. This is where the biggest differences between the three options come out, and the best solution will depend entirely on how many meeting participants you need to accommodate. Zoom meetings, for example, max out at 100 participants, while Skype for Business has a cap of 250 participants. If you are regularly hosting large-scale meetings and online events, Webex should be your first choice—Webex meetings can host up to 1,000 participants.
|Skype For Business||Zoom||Webex|
|Maximum number of participants||Up to 250||Up to 100||Up to 1,000|
|Cost||$5-$35 per user per month||Up to $19.99||$19-$39 per host per month|
|Integrated video connection||·||·|
|Join with one click||·||·|
|Content and screen sharing||·||·||·|
Choosing the Best Collaboration Tool
The ideal remote collaboration tool needs to meet both your functionality and budget requirements. An experienced integrator can not only map your business goals to the right solution, they can also leverage vendor relationships to get you the best possible deal. While Level 3 AV is a dealer of both Zoom and Cisco Webex solutions, including Crestron and Zoom solutions, our AV experts are ready to help you find whatever solution best meets your needs. To start narrowing your search, check out these video collaboration best practices including how to choose the right tool and get the most out of it.