As the country continues to establish a “new normal” for work, many food and beverage companies ask: What’s the best way to stay in touch with our remote employees?
There’s been a boom in video calling apps and services. Some are free; some are tiered; some have a more youthful and casual look while others have built-in document sharing and conference call capabilities.
Here are a few contenders that should be on any food and beverage company manager’s list to review and consider:
This service is an evolution from Microsoft’s previous tool, Skype for Business. It incorporates video calling with private and “public” interoffice chat rooms, allows meetings to shift from chats to conference calls easily, and can share documents between collaborators with just a few clicks. There are several subscription options to meet the needs of offices of any size, from a free, no-contract basic product to a $20/month per user subscription with all the bells and whistles. Microsoft also goes to great lengths to detail its privacy protection and encryption services to protect any sensitive conversations.
With high-profile clients including Uber, NASDAQ, DropBox, Ticketmaster, and ABInBev, Zoom hit its stride in the early days of COVID-19. The free version allows up to 100 callers at a time, but calls are limited to 40 minutes. (A host can always immediately schedule another meeting if more time is needed.) At the top end of the subscription list is the Enterprise option, which allows up to 500 participants (or 1,000 with Enterprise Plus), a dedicated account manager, bundled discounts on webinars and private virtual meeting rooms and unlimited cloud storage, all for $19 per host per month, or an average price of $1,999 per month for 100 hosts. All levels have video conference calling capabilities with chat functionalities, cloud storage, and group collaboration features.
Part of Google’s offerings for business, G Suite has built-in video and conference call capabilities to its existing cloud-based platform in which users can share and work on documents together in real-time. There are plug-ins for Chrome browsers to allow for sharing of ideas, remote access to files from anywhere in the world through shared folders and drives, shared calendars to make scheduling meetings a snap, and two-step verification to keep everything safe and secure. Prices start at $6 per user per month for a basic G Suite subscription, up to $25 per user per month for the Enterprise package. All packages include Gmail for Business, with the option to add on services, users, and hardware as needed.
Offered by Cisco, Webex offers video and non-video conference call features for online event management, messaging, file sharing, high-definition audio, and screen-sharing capabilities. It can also run on desktop computers or smartphones. Webex’s free tier offers conference calls for up to 100 participants in each 50-minute meeting and an unlimited number of sessions per month. The Business package allows up to 200 participants and provides 10 GB of cloud storage with the option for branding and customizations to meet and fit your business, an individualized domain name, and the choice to purchase and add extra features, all for $26 per host per month, with a minimum of five licenses per month required on an annual subscription.
Offering one-click start to meetings from email or other apps that managers, customers, and employees already use, GoToMeeting also allows for the smooth transition from chat to a conference call or video call, whether speaking to colleagues or with clients and customers. With both desktop and mobile options, users can be called on a dedicated line to join a meeting just by answering their phones or using a toll-free number to join. Up to 25 high-definition video feeds can be utilized on a call at once, and participants have access to drawing tools, screen sharing capabilities, and cloud recordings. GoToMeeting does not offer a free tier but starts with a Professional package at $12 per month for up to 50 participants and extends to the Enterprise package, which includes additional features and is priced on a client-by-client basis.
The potential downside to any of these services is that users need powerful WiFi signals to eliminate dropped calls, frozen screens, digitized sound, or other irritants that can befall meetings.
Food and beverage industry managers and executives will need to consider what works best for their operations as the world continues to evolve. As restaurants start to reopen, and companies begin to bring back remote workers, it’s likely the option of remote work will continue to play a role for some roles for years to come. Having the right communication tools will help food and beverage companies run more smoothly in good times and trying ones.
Kinsa Group remains committed to helping the food and beverage industry face challenging times.
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