Meetings have always been an integral part of the work week. Still, with the growth of technology, rising demand for remote roles, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, video conferencing has all but replaced face-to-face. In fact, by April of 2020, early in the pandemic, interest in video conferencing software had already rocketed by 500% compared with pre-COVID-19 figures.
What’s more, this sector is only expected to grow further, with more users and more incredible innovation, at an estimated rate (CAGR) of 11.4% between 2021 to 2028. This is no surprise considering the numerous benefits that good video conferencing software can bring to small businesses and other organizations.
The only problem is, with such a wealth of options available, which one should you choose for your business? Which is the most reliable, has the most features and functions? Which is the easiest to use? Well, to help you choose, here we explore what the benefits of video conferencing are before breaking down the best video conferencing options for small businesses, both free and paid.
What Are the Benefits of Video Conferencing
Even though video conferencing may have been the only option over recent months, it has numerous benefits compared with traditional meetings. These include:
Video conferencing doesn’t require the costs of a physical office to meet in or the associated costs such as projectors, etc.
Retaining personal connection
Unlike other forms of communication – such as text chat – video conferencing can maintain a level of personal connection.
Increasing team productivity
Less time wasted in meetings, more time to get essential tasks done.
Simple video conferencing allows team members to quickly confer and collaborate on tasks, leading to a more cohesive work environment.
Reducing travel costs
If team members don’t have to meet in a central location, then nobody has to waste money (or time!) on getting there.
Enabling remote work
Where a team member is based no longer matters. Instead, people are increasingly demanding the ability to work from home, and video conferencing accommodates this.
Making it easier to share ideas
Written conversation or even a phone call can make it hard to get your ideas across. VCs allow for quick, on-demand meetings where you can see each other.
No travel time, no time spent booking rooms, no confusion. Shared calendars and video calls make meetings simple.
Making scheduling meetings easier
Everyone can see when a VC is taking place. There is no need to have to work out how long it will take to get there.
The Best Video Conferencing Apps for Small Business
The best video conferencing app for small businesses should ensure that an enterprise enjoys all the above benefits, so let’s look at some of the solutions that we think fit these criteria. Different companies have different needs and budgets, so we’ve taken into account both free and paid options.
Spike offers incredible free and paid video conferencing tools along with a whole host of other productivity features. This means a small business’s tools are all in a single app to keep projects on track, meetings focused, and productivity soaring.
In addition to free video and voice conferencing and audio/video calls for members, Spike also offers features like online Notes, To-Do Lists, an integrated Calendar, Conversational Email, Tasks, Groups, and more. All the tools an SMB would need are wrapped in a single, modern app.
- Free video and voice conferencing without the need to sign up make Spike potentially the best free video conferencing tool for small businesses
- No limits on time or people, whether calling from desktop or mobile, so everyone can connect wherever they are
- Advanced video and voice calls directly to groups or contacts for Spike users (which only requires an email to sign up)
- Super secure with SRTP encryption, no ads and no private data collected
- Present work on video calls with built-in screen sharing and collaborate with Spike’s other tools such as Notes for teams or shared To-Do Lists
- All small businesses’ communication channels in a single place as Spike offers video, audio, email, chat, and more in a single, easy-to-use app
- The “Send Later” function is not currently available on Spike’s iOS application
- Free – Spike is free to sign up and use for video and voice calls and all the other great features it offers. What’s more, Spike even offers video conferencing to everyone without even needing to enter an email
- Solo Business accounts – $12/month, paid annually
- Businesses with 2+ accounts – $8/month/user, paid annually
- Businesses with 20+ users – $16/account/month, paid annually
Slack is primarily a piece of chat software but now also offers built-in voice and video calls, enabling small businesses to organize video conferencing for their teams. That said, for more robust video conferencing, Slack pushes its integrations with external platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
- Simple video and voice calls already built-in for existing Slack users
- Screen sharing available for collaborative working
- Able to integrate an existing video conferencing tool into Slack if needed
- Not available in group chats without a paid plan
- Screen sharing only on paid plans
- For more significant functions, an external platform is required, which means signing up for and managing multiple apps
- Free (limited features) – $0
- Pro – $6.67/user/month, paid annually
- Business plus – $12.50/user/month, paid annually
- Enterprise – Custom pricing
Google Meet is one-half of Google Hangouts, the other being Google Chat, and allows users to video conference on the web, Android and iOS. It is available for free with limited features, more unlocked for users of Google’s paid Workspace accounts.
- Integration with Google Calendar and Google Contacts is helpful for those already in the Google ecosystem
- Good screen-sharing capabilities
- Real-time closed captioning based on speech recognition (paid)
- Need a Gmail account
- Switching between apps is required for different tools (such as email)
- Only offers video conferencing
- Advanced tools for paid accounts only
- Free – $0 for limited features
- Business Starter – $6/user/month, paid annually
- Business Standard – $12/user/month, paid annually
- Business Plus – $18/user/month, paid annually
- Enterprise – Custom pricing
Skype once dominated the video conferencing industry, having launched back in 2003. Since then, it has faced many competitors but remains a robust video conferencing solution for small businesses.
- Good integration for those in the Microsoft ecosystem
- The ability to pay for international calls through the same platform can make it the only telecommunications service needed
- Single-use app as it offers no other small business tools such as note collaboration or email
- Dedicated app and account required to make or receive Skype-to-Skype calls
- It is less directed towards small business video conferencing than other products from Microsoft
- Skype operates on a freemium model, meaning Skype-to-Skype calls are free with an account, but calls to numbers come at a cost. This can be on a per-minute basis, through subscriptions, or a mix.
Microsoft Teams is part of the Office 365 suite and offers video and voice conferencing, chat, calendar, and file sharing. As might be expected, Teams is highly integrated with other Microsoft products such as Office, Outlook, and more – which could be a pro or a con depending on your needs.
- Video conferencing is front-and-center making it a reliable tool
- Ability to upgrade for live webinar events (with Business packages)
- An integrated calendar means meetings can be booked and taken in the same app
- Lacks other small business tools such as email or voice messages
- Requires an account to start a meeting
- Syncing Teams with external calendars (such as Google) is a nightmare
- Free with limited features
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5.00/user/month
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50/user/month
Zoho Meeting is part of the broader Zoho suite of small business tools, each of which is a separate application. It offers online video conferencing and webinars with a tiered pricing structure for when a business scales.
- Highly integrated with other Zoho tools
- Dedicated Zoho Meeting iOS and Android apps as well as web access for cross-device access
- Screen sharing for team collaboration
- The free version only allows for two attendees
- Lacks other features that a small business needs
- Requires signing up for an account to host any meeting
Price (for meeting only):
- Free – only 2 participants, not really a viable option for small businesses
- 10 participants – $3/host/month
- 25 participants – $6/host/month
- 50 participants – $9/host/month
- 100 participants – $12/host/month
Zoom is a dedicated video communications app first launched in 2012. It offers one-on-one and group calls with the ability to record or broadcast meetings with the paid packages. In addition, there is a free option available, but this limits group calls to only 40 minutes.
- Compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, and Linux
- Wide usage means onboarding clients and staff is straightforward
- Screen sharing and breakout rooms for more advanced meetings
- 40-minute time restriction for Free plans
- It is only used for video conferencing, no other useful small business tools
- Add-ons can make the price quickly stack up
- Free – $0
- Pro – $14.99/month/license
- Business – $19.99/month/license
UberConference is a video conferencing and calling solution from Dialpad that really has businesses in mind. With features such as custom hold music, outward dialing for meetings, and HD video, it is one of the best business-only video conferencing tools.
- Task automation and meeting transcription using “Voice Intelligence”
- Custom hold music
- Screen sharing for team collaboration
- Only 10 participants for Free plans
- Maximum of 45 minutes for Free plans
- Exclusively a video conferencing solution meaning every tool needs a new app, from your email to your task list
- Free – $0 with limited features
- Business – $15/user/month, paid annually
GoToMeeting by LogMeIn is an online meeting and video conferencing software package that was first released in 2004. Since then, it has gone through many changes but retains its focus on business tools, such as analytics and security. In addition, it added, it offers conference calls, video conferencing, screen sharing, and more.
- Access via desktop as well as mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android
- Smart Meeting Assistant integrates notes, action items, and highlights
- Multi-monitor support
- Single-purpose product, with other apps needed for email, calendar, etc.
- Advanced tools such as transcription, notes, etc., require at least a business account, which becomes costly for large teams
- No free option for small businesses/freelancers
- Free trial of only 14 days
- Professional – $14 /organizer/month, paid annually
- Business – $19 /organizer/month, paid annually
Intermedia AnyMeeting is a video conferencing solution for businesses, both small and large. It offers HD video calls, the ability to join from a computer or phone, screen sharing, remote control, and other advanced video conferencing features.
- Screen sharing and annotations
- Custom branding for Pro plans
- Integrated notes available for Pro plans
- Only 4 participants in video conferences under the Free plan
- Single-purpose product means extra apps for other small business tools
- Webinar features are offered separately to the meeting package
- Free – $0 with limited features
- Lite (10 callers) – $9.99 /user/month
- Pro (100 callers) – $12.99/user/month
- Enterprise (200 callers) – $17.99/user/month
Jitsi Meet is a free, open-source video conferencing solution for businesses and individuals. It is encrypted and requires no account for increased security and privacy while offering similar features to proprietary platforms such as screen sharing, chat, and collaborative integrations. As a result, Jitsi Meet is the best open-source video conferencing solution for small businesses.
- Open-source software for greater security and freedom of use
- No account needed
- Screen sharing for collaborative work
- Lack of support due to it being open-source software
- Exclusively a video calling software which means alternative apps are needed for other small business tools
- No simple sign-up for pro tools since Jitsi as a service is provided by multiple companies
- Free – as open-source software, Jitsi Meet can be downloaded and deployed to your own server completely free of charge. Jitsi Meet also allows for free online calls through their site with up to 100 participants.
- Jitsi as a service – if a small business wants a hosted solution or to integrate Jitsi into their system, this will come at a cost that can vary massively.
So What is The Best Video Conferencing for Small Businesses? A Summary
With video calls on the rise, there are many strong contenders for the best video conferencing application for small businesses, whether free or paid. That said, many of those listed here are single-purpose apps, meaning your business will need a suite of different software to get everything done. Some, such as Spike, are more integrated, which can provide a smoother path to productivity.
What’s more, many of the applications listed here do offer free services, and if a small business is willing to take a hit on certain features, there are plenty of options. Some basics, such as HD video, voice, and screen sharing, come pretty much as standard, with other integrations such as collaborative Notes setting software apart from the crowd.
While small businesses should have video conferencing software on hand, and video meetings can be beneficial, it is essential to remember that balance is necessary. Constantly scheduling video calls can give rise to an always-on mentality, which at the end of the day is damaging to both individual team members and small businesses as a whole. In addition to occasionally using video calls, think about also having fewer meetings or even having “meetings without meetings” through asynchronous collaboration in the form of collaborative notes, shared documents and drives, or snoozable messages.
The right video conferencing tool will depend on your individual needs, so look carefully at all your requirements before deciding to ensure you’re not building your productivity suite piecemeal. If you’re looking for more tips for small businesses, stay tuned to the Spike blog, or let us know how video conferencing affected your company by tweeting us @SpikeNowHQ.