But at the same time, we know that the same technology can change in the blink of an eye and unveil a whole new toolbox of resources that can grow your business.
With 63 million Americans telecommuting by 2016 (Global Workplace), it makes sense to evaluate if your own business is providing the necessary technology to keep current employees happy and prospective employees knocking as the typical workday shifts from office to home.
The best place to start is to look at the tools available for sharing meetings, training, and valuable industry information with current and potential employees online.
Keep in mind, not all of these technologies are new – but the way you use them might be!
Skype may be turning 13 this year, but it still provides many benefits to the small business. In 2005, Skype had 2.9% of the overall international call market share, but in 2014 it was closer to 40% (Inc.)!
First, it can be totally free to use! With one-to-one calling, it makes it easy to host meetings with remote employees, potential vendors, or devoted clients. It even makes it easy (for a few dollars a month) to set up your own telephone number and voicemail to communicate globally!
Limitations: Many reviews claim that multi-party calling is pretty unreliable. It becomes more difficult to get audio and video working at the same time to make sure everyone gets a fair shot in a meeting.
Hopefully with the introduction of Skype for Business this month (April 2015), the video conferencing tool will solve this issue and provide an even better tool for your small business to utilize!
2. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts allows an easy way to communicate through instant messaging or videos.
As part of the suite of products in Google Apps for Work, Hangouts gives access to plug-ins when connected to share screens and collaborate with your team using Google Drive documents. You can turn any Hangout into a video call with up to 10 people making it simple for productive multi-party meetings.
Your business could also participate in “Hangouts On Air,” which is a live video broadcast on topics of interest. This feature allows you to broadcast in HD, and have the recording automatically saved to your YouTube channel to demonstrate your expertise in your industry.
Did we mention Hangouts On Air is also for free?
Limitations: The only downside we saw to Google Hangouts is that you MUST have a Google account to participate. The good news is that there is a dial-in option that will allow you to be audio-only if you don’t want to sign up for Google.
Therefore, for one-to-one or even one-to-many meetings, Google Hangouts has some very affordable options for when choosing a way to connect with employees or others in your small business industry!
While these tools are two different companies, the apps attempt to achieve the same goal – provide video feeds to followers in real-time.
For small businesses, Meerkat and Periscope give you the opportunity to produce videos in a more relaxed manner. Instead of the pressure of creating a beautiful YouTube video or an organized On-Air Hangout, you can share snippets of a powerful seminar you’re attending or a training meeting you may be hosting. I even attended an event last weekend where the small business shared a stream of their owner speaking at the event!
Therefore, these tools primarily focus on the one-to-many relationship small business would like to foster with potential employees and their industry.
Limitations: The biggest downfall of these apps is the amount of bandwidth it takes to record, share, and consume the live-streaming videos.
However, the same could be said for the automatic playing Facebook News Feed videos. And since Facebook video has now surpassed YouTube video in views on desktop per month, you may want to think about the risk to reward ratio to investing in Periscope or Meerkat when trying to reach your potential employees and others in your industry in a meaningful way!
Have you experimented with any or all of these technologies? Which were your favorites?
Share your experiences with us in the comments!
About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. Get more from Deanna on the Webs Blog and Twitter.