Sinu has been closely monitoring the dynamic situation of COVID-19. First and foremost, the health and well-being of our employees, customers, and community remain top-of-mind and our highest priority, and we will continue to take guidance from the CDC and local health officials to determine best practices and protocols, while we remain available to assist nonprofits and small businesses with their technology.
While we continue to operate our normal business hours and offer 24/7 support at this time, we have adapted our service in the following ways:
- Sinu employees are working remotely in an effort to practice social distancing
- For the safety of our employees and clients, we are not doing onsite work in client offices except on an emergency basis
- We are actively educating our clients about remote access options and providing them with free VPN and LogMeIn for that purpose
- We are, for the time being, supporting our customers’ home offices, understanding that this is where business is currently getting done
- We are actively engaging our customers in discussions about cloud alternatives to traditional file sharing in order to remove dependencies on a physical location
- We are providing information and best practices around the technologies we are all depending on to support remote work schedules and stay connected and productive during this challenging time
The most urgent requests for information have been around collaborative messaging and video conferencing tools to help employees bridge the distance that working from home has created.
Our recommendation is that you strongly consider a tool that’s already integrated into your mail system. If you use Office 365 for mail, that’s Microsoft Teams. If you use Google Suite for mail, that’s Hangouts Chat and Meet. A competing product, Zoom, is currently the leader in video conferencing, and offers compelling reasons for consideration too. We have outlined these tools below to help you make the right choice for your organization.
- Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s workstream collaboration and unified communications platform — combining meetings, chats, calls, and file sharing with the Office 365 applications to bring everyone together in a shared workspace. Video conferencing in Teams can handle up to 250 people in one meeting, but you can use Microsoft Events if you need to include a larger number (up to 10,000).
- Teams licensing is included in your Microsoft Office 365 licensing, so there is not additional charge for this service. Microsoft is offering Teams for free to many businesses and educational institutions during the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to find out more.
Google Hangouts Chat and Meet
- Google Hangouts Chat is Google’s team chat service. This app includes direct messaging, but also offers threaded team channels like Slack. It supports up to 50 people per chat.
- Google Hangouts Meet is Google’s video conferencing software. It’s like the video chat service provided in the consumer Hangouts but supports far more participants. G Suite supports 100 people, G Suite for Business can have up to 150 people, while G Suite Enterprise supports up to 250 per meeting.
- Google Meet and Chat are included in your G Suite licensing. In response to the pandemic, Google is rolling out free access to their advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite customers until July 1, 2020. This service not only includes larger meetings, but also live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.
- Zoom is the current leader in video conferencing, with their cloud platform for video, audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across all desktops, laptops and mobile devices.
- Zoom has a free option with limited talk time of 40 minutes. Paid plans start at $14.99 per host per month with no time limit, up to 100 participants, and include the ability to record meetings and recording. Additional plans are available for up to 1,000 participants per meeting.
Many organizations deploy more than one of these solutions since they may find the Zoom interface particularly friendly for third-party calling, and the integrated Microsoft and Google solutions best for internal work.
Check back for upcoming articles about cloud file sharing systems and optimal home office network solutions.