From video conferencing to project management software, we look at the tools charities can use to support homeworking in 2021 – and beyond
With social distancing restrictions still in place, it’s important you have the tools to effectively communicate and work with colleagues. These include instant messaging and online platforms to share files and manage projects.
Zoom’s free plan is useful if you need a quick discussion or brainstorm with colleagues. It offers a 40-minute limit for group meetings, as well as unlimited one-to-one meetings. Paid for options include Zoom Pro, which removes the time restriction for up to 100 people and allows you to stream meetings to social media. This option costs £119.90 a year, but we offer a discount for charities.
One of the first video conferencing tools on the market, Skype offers free video and audio calls for up to 100 people at one time. The person hosting the call can create a link and share it with colleagues.
The Meet Now option doesn’t require you to sign up to or install Skype. You can access it through your web browser. Calls can be recorded, and live captions and subtitles added if needed.
If you would like one central hub to make video calls, send messages, and share files, Microsoft Teams is one option. Its free plan includes a chat function, video meetings with a 60-minute limit, and web access to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
The Microsoft 365 Business Basic, for £3.80 a user a month, gives you longer video calls, personal file storage, sharing with OneDrive, and access to SharePoint Online, Yammer, Planner, and Stream.
Another feature of Microsoft Teams is Teams Voices, which allows you to make external calls (and receive them) to people not using the online platform. This gives charities the option to replace their existing phone systems.
Google Workspace brings together email, chat, video meetings, and cloud storage in one place. The Business Starter plan, which costs £4.14 a person a month, allows up to 100 people to join in a video meeting.
Video conferencing is a useful tool but not every conversation needs a face-to-face meeting. Sometimes a quick question is all that’s needed. Slack has a messaging function to quickly reach an individual person or a whole team. It also offers voice and video calls. You can connect services or tools you’re already using to Slack, such as Google Drive and Office 365.
For small- and medium-sized organisations, the standard plan includes group video calls with screen sharing and an unlimited message archive. It costs £5.25 a person a month, when billed yearly.
The instant messaging app WhatsApp is another useful tool for keeping in touch with colleagues. You can send PDFs, documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows up to 100 MB in size using the chat function. It also has free video and voice calls, using a phone’s internet connection.
You may want to consider using a project management tool to keep track of projects. Asana helps remote teams to monitor projects by adding and assigning tasks, setting a timeline, and managing people’s workload. It has a free plan for teams up to 15 people, which includes unlimited projects and file storage.
It’s good to research all the options available. There are lesser-known digital communications tools that may work for your charity.
Chanty is a chat tool that has a free plan for teams up to ten people. It includes unlimited messaging, one-to-one audio calls, and 20GB file storage for the whole team.
There’s a 50% discount for registered charities that sign-up for Chanty’s Business Plan. This gives you unlimited group video calls and an increase in file storage to 20GB for each person in the team.
Troop Messenger has one-to-one and group messaging, video and audio calling, and desktop sharing and remote desktop control. It can also be integrated with GoogleDrive and DropBox. Plans start from $2.50 (£1.82) per user per month.
Charities could also try project management tool ClickUp. You can create task lists, assign staff, track the time taken to complete a task, and comment on projects. You can also see when others are editing documents to avoid duplicating work. For £3.65 a person a month, you can manage as many projects as you’re working on.
Brainstorming isn’t confined to the office. Stormboard is a virtual whiteboard to share ideas with colleagues. You can add sticky notes, text, files, images, and videos. The Business Plan, which includes unlimited brainstorms, costs $8.33 (£6.06) a person a month, when billed annually.