How do you get work done in a pandemic when most of your work requires meetings? More, when most of your work is specifically about building relationships to accomplish things together?
Setting aside the COVID vaccine and the supply chain to deliver it, 2020’s greatest technology accomplishment is surely the surge in innovation in the online video meeting space.
Since it seems so many of us HAVE to spend half our days in virtual meetings, it is heartening to know that companies have invested effort in improving the experience.
Zoom has by and large been the beneficiary of much of the new virtual traffic, but Microsoft Teams has been revealing new features regularly this year as well. Google, which was an early innovator with Hangouts, seems to have ceded the space. GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar are professional tools, out of the reach of many smaller organizations. And Skype… does anyone still Skype?
Here are a few new tools we’ve encountered recently that we wanted to share. Want to suggest another? (Because this is by no means a definitive list!) Please drop a note in the comments!
For the tech-experienced
Gather.town is an ambitious experiment in incorporating spatial world dynamics into the video meeting space. This means you move through a map of ‘rooms’ like you’re in a video game (think early Zelda). As you get closer to people you can hear them better — just like in life! You can easily gather, break off into groups, and set up private spaces. You can also interact with objects — useful ones, like whiteboards and a spotlight to address the wider area, fun ones like games, and even utterly useless and charming things like virtual bowls to decorate the rooms with.
It is a very robust system with a lot of potential, but you may want a minimum level of technology competence so your attendees don’t get overwhelmed.
If you prefer clean and simple
On the other end of the scale, whereby.com (suggested by WeavEast’s Julia Feltham) is a streamlined, simplified system: you open a room, send a link, people join you in the room (up to 4 people for free). No downloads, no bells and whistles. It is very tied to the room metaphor. This is your online meeting room. You can lock the door, which requires visitors to knock. You keep one URL address, no matter how many times you leave and return.