In the past decade we’ve seen web-based video tools like Hangouts, Skype, and Facetime change the way the world communicates. Just as having a cellphone is now ubiquitous, I don’t know how I would get things done without the ability to connect with people using free (or low cost) video conferencing tools. As a full-time employee, part-time graduate student and busy mom, I simply don’t have time to drive or fly to meetings with colleagues and classmates here, there and everywhere. For example, just last month I saved countless hours (and dollars) using Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, Zoom, WebEx, and FaceTime. That’s more family dinners, more bedtime stories, less carbon footprint, less hassle and less tears (mine and my daughter’s!) It makes business sense, personal sense and social sense to use technology to solve these issues that come as a package deal with the always-on, smaller world that we live in these days.
OK, full disclosure – here are some of the things I was able to accomplish using web conferencing tools this past month:
- Held recurring meetings with colleagues, including a consultant based on the east coast
- Conducted an intake meeting with a client based in the Pacific Northwest
- Hosted team meetings with my classmates who are dispersed across the Bay Area
- Joined a meeting from my mobile app when I was traveling off-campus
- Recorded video meetings of client interviews that I later transcribed
- Helped my brother practice for an upcoming job interview
I know some people may say it’s easy for me to navigate web and video conferencing tools because I work in tech, but if you know how to use a smartphone, you already know how to video conference. In this brave new world, my colleagues and I are able to edit documents simultaneously in Google Drive and speak with each other as we make changes. I know of others who use the screen sharing capabilities to troubleshoot technical problems or conduct online training.
Here at Berkeley we recently released two super simple, but super powerful, video conferencing options: Hangouts Meet and Zoom. You can learn more about these new services: Introducing Hangouts Meet and Zoom.
At the end of the day, web-conferencing tools enable us to be more productive, to save money on travel costs, and increase collaboration among teams. I’ve even heard that some people work in PJ’s from their couch (ahem). So, what’s holding you back?
Do you have a creative way you or your team is using video conferencing tools to be more efficient or effective? Tell us in the comments section below …