The origin of my original blog, The Global Mobile Worker Project, was a proof of concept that you can work from anywhere. I had just agreed to be the managing partner of a boutique (means small) consulting firm focused on engaging men in gender initiatives.
When I told my partners, I was going to fulfill my role while traveling through South America, they were enlightened enough not to laugh in my face. Secretly, they had written me off. When one of the partners suddenly left due to family emergencies, and there was no one to finish planning a major conference we had committed to deliver, my skills and their belief were put to the test.
Before I left the continent, I had diligently searched for video conferencing solutions and had trained my group on how to use UberConference.
Global Mobile Worker Archives – How Can I Call You In The Virtual World?
It was a rousing success, and I even made a conference call from a remote town in Guatemala, all documented in Book 3 of the travel series, Two Broke Chicas Backpack Through South and Central America, Mexico, and Cuba. Read Book 1 now.
Videoconferencing Five Years Later
Total communication is the name of the game now, with the unshakable belief that visual communication is an essential part of collaboration and productivity. Some experts believe that the ability to look your colleagues in the eye when you meet really does influence performance and success.
There are a lot of new faces in the “talk from anywhere space.” Now, the bar has been raised to require video capability. And, any anywhere means anywhere. The winners are those with apps that let you take calls on your mobile phone. For people whose daily commute involves an hour in traffic, or on public transportation, like Londoners, this feature is invaluable. It’s nice for the location independents too, who rarely sit in traffic. You don’t have to take your laptop to the beachfront bar if they’ve got strong WiFi.
PC Magazine did a comparison of the top services in 2017.
Others notable options, like WebEx and Adobe Connect, have added features for training and webinars.
Free Conference Calls
If you’re trying to keep it free, my old favorite, UberConference is still going strong.
I’ve been using Amazon Chime. It had a buggy start, then quickly adapted to the pain points and its working great. Video capability, chat groups, and a mobile app. It even calls you when you’re meeting is starting, in case you’ve spaced out on some other tasks, or are taking the call from the beach and were caught in the movement of the waves.
Amazon Chime launched earlier this year, offering frustration-free online meetings with exceptional audio and video quality. Fully-managed by the respected cloud service, AWS, it provides easy connection to people inside and outside a company, so it’s the perfect tool for working with freelancers and virtual employees. It even has a visual roster that minimizes those annoying rollcalls. PC World believes Amazon Chime will give WebEx and Skype serious competition.
Calls with Friends
When it comes to staying in touch with friends and loved ones, my go-to is Messenger. The only challenge, a significant segment of my cohort demographic is not on Facebook. I successfully moved my sister onto Messenger when she finally broke down and got a smartphone. My partner and I use Messenger to talk when I travel. She gets great voice quality on her Samsung tablet, and we can even video chat.
I’ve let go of Google Hangouts, and find WhatsApp users just annoying, but I will accommodate them when it’s the only way to communicate when they are visiting Prague from abroad, or chatting with friends when we are visiting a new country and only I have TMobile Global, so I can chat before we hit the SIM card store.