Now that 2020 is upon us, it’s clear that we have firmly situated ourselves in the 21st century. The fact that our current year starts with a two has lost its novelty and is now just par for the course. The fact that we are now a fifth of the way through this century should be a reminder that times change, and progress is always being made. So much of how we manage our daily lives has changed in the last twenty years, nowhere is that more prominent than in the workplace. The stereotypical turn of the millennium workplace might bring to mind Office Space-esque cubicles, faxes, having one shared printer for the office, and only being able to check email via a LAN connection and a desktop computer (maybe laptop). Comparing that world to today and your office might not even be a physical space. Sure, there are some offices that still operate via more traditional methods but if you are a new business or looking to compete with the cutting edge, you’ll need to keep up with cultural trends and new technology if you want to be an active participate.
Nowhere has the crossroads of cultural trend and technological advancement collided more than with the innovation and integration of screen sharing programs into our daily workplace communication. According to a 2017 Gallop poll 43% of Americans in 2016 worked from home, at least some of the time. This is up from 39% in 2012. With this number continuing to grow, companies have turned to screen sharing and video conferencing services in order to keep up with the workplace cultural demand for more connected and collaborative methods outside of the office. The use of screen sharing programs has risen throughout the 2010s, making it a common workplace appliance. The biggest issue with this is there are so many options in the market today. If you are looking to start using a screen sharing service or looking to find a new service that might be a better fit for your office, it can be a hard decision and difficult to know where to start.
Who is Using Screen Sharing Services and How Are They Using it?
You might be wondering if screen sharing is even the right fit for your office. The great thing about screen sharing services are that they are applicable to pretty much every industry and work environment. Lifesize published an industry report on screen sharing titled 2019 Impact of Video Conferencing Report. In this report they surveyed over 1,000 individuals across the United States in various industries. They found that 80% relied on video conferencing for one on one meetings, 78% relied on video conferencing for team meetings, and 62% relied on video conferencing for meeting with customers or partners.
These are the three main uses for video conferencing and screen sharing. At its core, the ultimate goal of screen sharing is to be able to speak face to face with someone who is not in the room with you and be able to show them what you are working on first hand. Whether you have limited office space or your team is traveling/decentralized in their origins, screen sharing can close the communication gap left by not having everyone in the same room at all times.
Especially if you are someone who relies on maintaining quality relationships with clients, screen sharing can be a vital tool to not only maintain those relationships but expand the boundaries of who you can have a quality connection with. You may be located in Chicago, but if you implement screen sharing into your repertoire, you can maintain relationships with clients anywhere as long as they have the time and an internet connection.
Phone calls and emails can only go so far when maintaining a connection with people and instead of scheduling an annual, in person, meeting with this person you can now speak face to face and talk over documents with ease. No longer do you have to worry about a client moving too far away for you to continue providing services to them and that connection you made in the airport going in the opposite direction doesn’t have to be lost to time.
Where to Start When Looking for a Screen Sharing Service
With there being so many options for screen sharing services it’s important to consider your needs, limitations, and ultimate goals when it comes to improving workplace communication and productivity. Some questions you might want to start thinking about are: How many people work in my office? How many of them will need to use this screen sharing system at one time? Does my office already use other CMS or communication channels such as Slack or Salesforce? What is my budget? and what will my office be using this screen sharing service for? Is it for daily meetings? Project collaborations? or occasional use?
These are just some of the questions to start considering when it comes to finding the right screen sharing service. With there being so many options and most of these companies offering different tiered services for varying prices, from free to upwards of $100, its important to know what you need in order to make an informed and efficient choice.
Like most tiered service pricing strategies, the basic features are offered at a free or minimal price and more specific or reinforced elements come at a higher fee. It’s important to know that most screen sharing services offer a free tier. While they aren’t all comparable in what they offer, its important to be aware of the fact that you might not have to actually budget for a screen sharing monthly/annual fee depending on your needs and uses. If you are someone in a small office or working in a small group, its good to know that you can probably get by with a free service depending on what you intend to get out of screen sharing.
What to Look for in a Screen Sharing Service
With so many different options on the market its important to know where the industry standard is at in order for all of them to stay competitive and relevant. At their base level, pretty much all of these services offer a basic video call and screen sharing option (the amount people you can have in a call and how long that call can go for will vary). Another commonality is that most of them offer browser-based functions and an easy shareability system to get everyone in the call. Other functions such as call recording, calendar integration, and analytics are usually offered on higher tiers.
While screen sharing has show to be an improvement in efficiency and communication there are some downsides and drawbacks that consumers want to make sure are covered in the service they choose. These issues are usually technical difficulties, audio/video quality, and difficult connection processes. If you share these same concerns, it should be noted that a higher paid tier or a paid only service will often have better audio/visual quality as expected. Especially if this is your main concern it is probably best put a budget aside for a screen sharing subscription.
Maybe you are someone who needs to connect to clients who aren’t the most tech savvy and need a service where anyone can connect to a call without any issue, allowing you to spend your scheduled call time talking over your intended matters instead of trying to blindly figure out what is wrong on their end. Again, most screen sharing services nowadays are browser based, especially for guests. This can cut down on time and effort done on your client’s part in order to prepare for the call and places them in an environment they might be more accustomed to than a new program. If you are looking to use screen sharing with clients, rather than coworkers, its important to keep in mind that you will be using this service a lot more than them. These clients might only have to use a screen sharing services once a year whereas you will be using it much more frequently. In this case you might have to act as a teacher, getting clients accustomed to how the program works. Patience and a simplistic system are probably the two best components you’ll need to keep in mind, not only when choosing a screen sharing service but while administering calls. A feature you might want to keep in mind is if the service you choose has a good tech support. If you are going to have to be a teacher to your clients, its important you can get your questions answered clearly and quickly so you can be knowledgeable and competent when it comes to working with your clients.
Types of Screen Sharing Services
As stated before, there are a multitude of screen sharing services to choose from. It is hard to cover all of them but here are some of the major players in the industry.
Google Hangouts is probably the most well-known screen sharing service. It has been around since 2013, growing in popularity and capabilities ever since. With it being a Google service, it comes with a few added bonuses. One, its brand recognition. Considering it is part of the Google family of products you know what you’re getting into. This isn’t some new company you’ll have to look into, you probably already have a formulated opinion on Google. This also means that Google Hangouts is highly integrated into other Google products. Sharing meetings and scheduling calls in you calendar are easy, especially if you are someone who predominantly uses gmail and google calendars.
The one major downside to Google Hangouts is that it only has its free service. This is a blessing and a curse. For one you get everything Google has to offer but this also means if you are looking for upgrades or additional features, you’ll be stuck waiting for Google to make these changes. Considering how well they are situated in the screen sharing market, they will only make any changes they feel are necessary to keep Google Hangouts in the running with competitors.
Slack is a cloud based, communication system for office and team communication. Since its inception in 2013, it has grown in popularity and you probably have some knowledge of what it is. As far as screen sharing and conference calls go its more of an added feature than the primary purpose. The only call feature included in the free version of Slack is one on one video/audio calls. If you are looking for screen sharing options and group calls, you’ll have to start looking at their paid plans starting at $6.67/month. If you are someone who already uses Slack it could be beneficial to invest in a subscription but if you are completely new to Slack it’s hard to justify paying for a service whose main focus isn’t providing calls and screen sharing services.
With no free tier and a starting fee of $12/month its easy to write off GoToMeeting in favor of another service but its important to know what you could be missing out on. GoToMeeting is a dedicated screensharing service that boasts HD Video, 24-hour support service, and integrated plugins for Slack, Office 365, Google Calendar, and Salesforce just in their base tier. This means you can use it as a supplementary feature to whatever CMS or personal calendar service you are already accustomed to while also having a dedicated service providing you with support and technical assistance.
Out of all of these services Skype has been around the longest. Most people know about the Microsoft owned video calling service as it was one of the first companies to provide calls across the internet. While Skype was revolutionary for its time it has fallen behind competitors as Microsoft has tried to refocus its market position in recent years. Still, Skype has the same brand recognition bonus that Google Hangout has. With an established service and a big name behind it you can know what to expect before committing to it.
Previously known as appear.in, Whereby is another screen sharing service to consider. While Whereby has a free tier that offers the necessities (up to four callers), a lot of features are behind a paywall. Really, you only get basic screen sharing and video conferencing for four people with the free tier but if you want recording, calendar integration, or larger group calls you’ll have to start paying a premium. Depending on your needs this could range from $10-$60 for features you could find on other services for free or a smaller fee. Still, if you are just looking for a basic screen sharing service for your small group this is definitely an option to consider.
Zoom is a screen sharing service that boasts its HD call quality and 100 call participates from its free tier. This is great except for the fact that calls are limited 40 minutes. In order to get a longer call time you’ll have to step up to the $15/month tier. This can be a steep price jump considering the extended call time is the most valuable feature you get for paying more. Other features like calendar integration are available but usually need an extension installed in order to utilize them. If you are someone looking for a screen sharing service where you don’t need long call times to go over information in detail this could be the option for you.
Clearslide is another service who offers much more than just a screen sharing option. From a robust CRM system to customer analytics Clearslide is definitely a program that could do a lot for your business. With it being more of an all-around office utility it does come at a higher price. Starting at $35/month it’s definitely a bigger commitment than nearly any other option on this list. That being said if you are looking to solve multiple problems concerning your office’s efficiency and are looking for a new mass mailing system and CRM as well as a way to screen share this might be what you are looking for.
Uberconference is similar to Zoom in the fact that its free tier is limited by call time. Free calls are maxed out at 45 minutes. Some other limitations are that it is only free for US calls and there are not analytics available. The first paid tier is at $15/month and fixes these problems. That being said, Uberconference prides itself on having high quality call connection starting at the free tier, making it stand out from other competitors. If some of the problems addressed above aren’t an issue for you this could definitely be a solution.
Join.me is another case where competitive features are kept at a higher price tier. The free tier of Join.me allows you to hold limited screen sharing calls with up to three people. If you would like to have more members in the call and fully access the screensharing features, you will need to upgrade to one of their higher tiers. Priced at $10/month, $20/month, and $30/month these tiers implement more and more features such as calendar integration, call recording, and full screen sharing capabilities.
Screen Sharing Service Results
While there are a lot of different options for screen sharing it important to know what you value most. Depending on what services you need to utilize, different screen sharing services could fit your company better than others. There really isn’t one solution that fits all offices. Luckily many of these services offer a basic screen sharing platform for free. If you are someone who doesn’t need to rely on daily use or only really need a screen sharing system for a limited time you can easily find what you are looking for. But if you are a larger office who needs to rely on screen sharing for daily operations you might want to consider a paid tier. While it is another overhead expense for your business, having a dedicated service where you can rely on their support for assistance is a necessary to your office’s success in communication and continued work efforts.