These days, it’s common for administrative professionals to attend meetings and collaborate with colleagues from places other than offices. Whether you’re working from a conference room, hotel lobby, or the comfort of your own home, you need tools to help you work effectively in a virtual environment. These video and voice chat tools can help you do just that — and the best part is that many of them are free!
1. Google Voice — With Google Voice, you can get a free phone number that you can use to send free text messages, as well as customize your voicemail and read transcripts of voicemails — all you need is a Gmail account. You can also route your Google Voice number to your cell phone, office phone or Skype account free of charge. There is a charge for some calls that varies based on where you’re calling to and from. To learn more, check out this guide on how to use Google Voice.
2. Skype — Skype is a tool that allows you to make video and voice calls, send instant messages, and share screens and files over the Internet. The program uses Voiceover IP (VoIP), instead of traditional phone lines. Skype can be used on multiple devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones, and offers both free and paid services.
3. Google Hangouts — This is Google’s instant messaging and chat program. Hangouts are private video chats between two or more people. You can also use Hangouts On Air to record sessions to your YouTube account ( which must be linked to your Google+ profile), and make them viewable by the public afterwards.
4. FreeConferencing.com — This teleconferencing service is used to conduct meetings and collaborate with others. (FreeConferenceCall.com is the flagship product, which we’ll get into next.) It’s free and does not require meeting registrations. You can record and mute calls directly from your computer screen. To sign up for an account, all you need is a name and e-mail address.
5. FreeConferenceCall.com — With FreeConferenceCall.com, you can hold online meetings and record and share calls. Up to 25 people can see the same screens for free, and more features are available with a paid subscription. You can also conference online with your tablet or smartphone.
6. AnyMeeting.com — This web conferencing service is geared toward small businesses. Choose from free and paid plans (all individual Pro plans come with a 14-day free trial). Free features include screen sharing and six-way video conferencing. A paid subscription also includes access to phone support.
7. GoToMeeting — This is an online meeting service with free and paid options, including an HD video conferencing feature. GoToMeeting lets you choose between phone and VoIP audio, and gives you the ability to share screens. You can even record meetings to send to people who can’t be there live. There is a fee for this service. However, you can test it out with a free 30-day trial.
With colleagues — and sometimes executives — scattered all over the globe, these tools make it easy for admins to meet and collaborate with anyone anywhere. Give the free versions of these programs a whirl and figure out which ones work best for your needs. Put them to work and enjoy the flexibility!
© 2014 Julie Perrine International, LLC
Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.