Microsoft Teams and Zoom: When it comes to working from home, using a virtual meeting software is an essential part of staying connected with your team, managers and clients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to shift and change the dynamic of their operations and start working from home.
During such unprecedented times, businesses and freelancers all over the world are looking for a solution that can replace face to face interactions.
As a business owner, I have also been on the lookout for different solutions, to allow my team and I too communicate, and maintain a sense of community.
Microsoft Teams and Zoom
After searching the web, both Microsoft Teams and Zoom seem to be the best options at present, and in this post, I will go over a number of features each platform provides, along with some of the pros and cons of I experienced.
Please be sure to use the contents table below if you would like to navigate through the blog to a specific point.
What Is Microsoft Teams?
For those of you don’t know and are wondering ‘what is Microsoft Teams‘, it is a communication tool that is part of the Microsoft Office 365 package.
Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that is ideal for businesses of all sizes, that wishes to integrate functions, such as workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and even other Microsoft applications, such as Word, Excel etc.
For larger businesses, it enables the remote communication between departments, employees and managers effectively.
Below is a list of the Pros & Cons I found when using Microsoft Teams.
It’s Incredibly User Friendly Interface
With a clear and user-friendly interface, I found the Microsoft Teams app extremely easy to navigate.
In my opinion, simplicity is vital for a business that is forced to operate remotely and are unable to train their staff in person.
That said, when you first get started with any new software or implement some element of change, it will take a certain amount of time to get used to its features and your new way of working.
I also particularly liked the “search-box”, which you can use to easily find what you are looking for, rather than scrolling through all sorts of company information, projects, chat logs and more.
Lot’s of Integrated Tools
Microsoft Teams has enabled all of its tools to be integrated and made accessible all in one place. This means your Word Documents, or your Excel Spreadsheets can all be viewed within the app.
It also means that you can chat, share files, book meetings and video conferences with other participants without interrupting your ongoing projects.
There are also hundreds of 3rd party integrations, such as HubSpots Free CRM, which we use to manage our contacts, leads and pipeline.
For me, Microsoft teams very much acts as a “bridge” communication tool between individuals and company members and it allows me and my team too easily and securely communicate, collaborate and share information, all within the one app.
Microsoft Teams Has A Free to Use Version
Given the current climate, and the way COVID-19 has struck all industries across the globe, having a tool such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom is integral to allow businesses to operate, albeit on a somewhat restricted basis.
Luckily, both organisations do offer a free version of their applications which means if it is a communication tool you require, then you don’t have to spend hundreds if not thousands in annual subscriptions.
The free version is available as a desktop application and if you don’t want to download the software, you can also use it through your web browser.
The great thing about Microsoft Teams is that despite it being free to use, there is no display ads or pop-ups that can distract your employees from getting on with their job.
Over-Use of Storage
Storage can become a particularly big problem, as the free version of MS Teams limits the storage space to just 10GB, now whilst this may seem like a lot at first, I assure you all those files quickly add up.
It’s also not ideal if you decide to store long online meetings for a period of time so that your employees can go back to them at a later date.
What is Zoom?
Zoom was a relatively popular communications platform but wasn’t anywhere near as big before the lockdown.
After the news broke out about the world going into a complete lockdown, Zoom quickly became one of the most popular solutions for online meetings and conferences.
In my opinion, Zoom is a fantastic platform with many great benefits, but just like everything, there are some negatives which we will explore in the section below.
Unbelievably Stable Video and Audio Calls
One of the main benefits of using Zoom is the high-quality video and audio calls.
Where other platforms can have jittery videos or voice lags, I found that Zoom was reassuringly stable and there are little to no technical issues with calls.
The free version also offers unlimited one-to-one calls.
As such, it makes a great communication tool between businesses and clients, as a flawless conversation with minimal interruptions goes a very long way.
Great For Content Sharing
When working from home, you can’t just go over to your manager or colleague and get the information that you need.
So to combat this, Zoom has included some excellent content sharing features in to their app, meaning you no longer need to waste time writing e-mails and uploading files to external file sharing domains, such as DropBox or Google Drive.
Lots of 3rd Party Integrations
In order to simulate a real meeting environment, Zoom have added some really helpful tools such as “Raise hand”, which alerts the group of your intention to ask question or raise a point.
This is a great feature, especially when you are participating in large conferences.
Zoom’s Security Issues
As the use of Zoom rises during the global pandemic, so do the security issues and many top companies and governments such as Siemens and Singapore, have dropped Zoom as their preferred platform of internal communication, after a series of hackers managed to enter private chat rooms.
Cyber Security experts have warned companies of serious issues with the security protocols of the Zoom platform.
It’s 40 Minute Limit
As I mentioned earlier, Zoom video and audio calls are free, however they are limited to just 40 minutes at a time.
Many would argue that this will force you to get everything done without wasting any time, which there could be some truth in.
But often the need to discuss important matters with colleagues or customers, would make this an issue for many, as you don’t want to rush and miss out important points.
Breakout Room Limits
I’m a big fan of the Zoom virtual breakout room.
In a real office environment, I’ve found breakout rooms are a great way of splitting off into groups and having separate discussions.
The only problem I came across, is that the Zoom breakout rooms are a little limited when it comes to flexibility and functionality.
For example, it is the host’s responsibility to create all separate rooms and assign participants to each one, which can be somewhat time-consuming.
The Necessity to Download
Unlike Microsoft Teams, Zoom needs to be downloaded if you want to gain access to all of the features.
This isn’t a major negative point, but can be annoying if you have limited space on your hard drive or your internal IT policy requires sign off on each download.
I also found there to be other cross-platform limitations that can affect its overall effectiveness.
For example, if you use Zoom through a mobile device, you won’t be able to participate in breakout rooms in the same way, as you lose certain functionality and accessablity.
Furthermore, if users that are accessing Zoom through Chromebooks, they will not be able to join breakout rooms at all.
Microsoft Teams and Zoom Side By Side
Microsoft Teams has everything that a business may need when it comes to establishing an effective remote communication.
It is also important to note that it is very easy to use, meaning your employees will find their way around quickly, and you won’t have to invest time and resources into training them on how to use the platform.
Teams can also be used across many different devices and doesn’t need to be downloaded, as it can be accessed through a web browser if required.
Throw in the fact that it seamlessly connects to all the other Microsoft apps, and you’ve got an all in one collaboration tool for businesses of all sizes.
Zoom on the other hand is a fantastic tool that can be used to host large conferences and meetings with very minimal disruption.
On the downside, the free version is very limited, and if your employees need to access all paid features, they would need to download the software on their computer.
During the rise of popularity for Zoom, there are also lots of warnings against using Zoom from a security perspective, due to protocol issues.
Microsoft Teams and Zoom: Which Platform Should My Business Use?
When it comes to Teams v Zoom, it is clear to see that both have their advantages when it comes to enhancing the effectiveness of remote communication between employees, managers and clients.
When choosing which of the two is right for you, I would recommend that you put the features of each platform and your company needs head to head, whilst also considering the following:
- Which platform will be easier for my team to get used to?
- Can the business afford to spend money on software subscriptions?
- How important is integration to existing Microsoft Apps?
- Do the platform features match my needs?
- Is the security of a high priority to me and my employees?
Personally, I have chosen Microsoft Teams as it has everything my business needs to allow my team and I to communicate effectively, both together and with our customers.
It is also part of the Microsoft Office 365 package that my business would struggle to operate without, however even if this was not the case, I would still choose Teams for its features and better security.