The COVID-19 outbreak and government stay-at-home orders have changed life dramatically for many of us.

Changes to our jobs are just some of the alterations. If we’re lucky, we still have them during this pandemic. Yet, even if we do, we still might be facing disruptions.

Many of us have been working at home or are facing the prospect of doing so in the future. We also might be exploring how to work at home remotely after the outbreak subsides.

But, what do we do? There are many online platforms available, but what do they offer? Are they different from each other?

To simplify matters, we’ve created a brief guide to some online platforms.

Skype

What does it do?

Skype is the granddaddy of virtual messaging. It’s so established, your granddaddy might actually know about it. Or, there’s a good chance that he’s used it to communicate with his grandkids.

Businesses (or grandparents) can use Skype to conduct video or audio chats, send texts, share documents and screenshots, and make phone calls.

How does pricing work?

You can use many of its features free, but it will cost you to make phone calls through this app.

Are there other interesting things about Skype?

Microsoft owns it, so users who have both Skype and Microsoft may find that they’re connected.

Zoom

What does it do?

Another venerable virtual app is Zoom. One fun feature in Zoom allows people to change the background for their video chats, which can prevent others from seeing their messy bedrooms or wandering house pets.

This app allows people to participate in audio and video chats and participate in webinars.

How does pricing work?

Some Zoom features are free, but users can purchase different subscription plans to host meetings with more participants, create webinars, record information and store in the cloud, and utilize other services.

Are there other interesting things about Zoom?

Hackers sometimes enter Zoom meetings, so the service offers passwords for additional security.

GoToMeeting

What does it do?

Like Skype and Zoom, GoToMeeting allows users to make video and conference calls, participate in webinars, and share screens. People can also use the service to record and transcribe their meetings and share this information afterward.

How does pricing work?

Users can purchase different subscription plans to use specific features.

Are there other interesting things about GoToMeeting?

For the convenience of its users, GoToMeeting sells hardware and software to host video conferences.

Amazon Chime

What does it do?

While Amazon is a titan in online commerce, its Amazon Chime business application may be less well known. Like other virtual applications, users can use this app to chat, hold meetings, and conduct business calls.

How does pricing work?

Some Amazon Chime features are always free or free for limited periods. Users pay for other services based on the length of time that they use them.

Are there other interesting things about Amazon Chime?

Users can archive information they’ve generated with the app. They can also use free features and subscription features at the same time on Amazon Chime.

Google Hangouts Meet

What does it do?

People who want to participate in video and voice chats and exchange texts might want to consider the features of Google Hangouts Meet. It’s related to Google’s G Suite, which offers business tools such as Google Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, and Gmail.

How does pricing work?

Depending on the services they want to use, people can buy different G Suite subscriptions. They can also register for two-week trial subscriptions.

Are there other interesting things about Google Hangouts Meet?

A related service, Google’s G Suite for Education, provides assistance for people who are homeschooling their children because of the pandemic or for other reasons.

Livestorm

What does it do?

When you need to host a virtual meeting or a webinar, Livestorm can help you with that. Its software also allows people to chat via text and to share screens.

How does pricing work?

People can use the basic, free options of this platform. They can also pay monthly subscriptions to access additional features.

Are there other interesting things about Livestorm?

Prospective users can learn more about Livestorm’s features by registering for live product demos on its site.

Vimeo

What does it do?

Many users turn to Vimeo to watch and post videos. It also allows people to chat and live stream if they have a Vimeo Premium account, hardware or software for broadcasting, and a camera.

How does pricing work?

Free services are available for people who log in regularly. People who want more advanced features and don’t want to see advertisements can purchase different plans.

Are there other interesting things about Vimeo?

Vimeo users who want professional assistance for their projects can post on their requests on a job board on the site.

LoopUp

What does it do?

Aiming to make conference calls as simple as possible, LoopUp facilitates audio and video meetings.

How does pricing work?

Different monthly subscriptions are available for different services and so is a free trial. People can also pay per attendee or per minute, or they can pay monthly licensing or hosting fees.

Are there other interesting things about LoopUp?

People don’t need to download software to use LoopUp on any device and they can attach their LinkedIn profiles.

StartMeeting

What does it do?

Audio and video meetings, instant messaging, and screen sharing are some of the features of StartMeeting.

How does pricing work?

Following a free trial, users pay a monthly subscription fee for its services.

Are there other interesting things about StartMeeting?

StartMeeting allows users to make international conference calls and use their mobile devices to participate in conferences.

FreeConferenceCall.com

What does it do?

As the name says, people can use the services of FreeConferenceCall.com free of charge to make audio or video calls.

How does pricing work?

The features are free.

Are there other interesting things about FreeConferenceCall.com?

Up to 1,000 callers can use its features and people can also record calls on the platform.

Virtual platforms can help you stay safe, healthy, and productive. They can help ensure that even if you’re physically separate, you’re never far from your coworkers and your work.

About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor for Sunshine Behavioral Health addiction treatment centers who is interested in business, science, gender issues, human rights, and many other topics.

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