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Please Tell Me This Conference Call Is Over

The days of the dreaded conference call are over.

Today, staying connected and productive on the road has never been easier with new technologies and devices that can turn any hotel room into an office away from the office.

But the traditional conference call can be time consuming, disruptive and downright unproductive. Ready to turn your remote meetings around? Check out these strategies for keeping your business in sync — whether your team members are down the road in Altona or networking in Anchorage.

Smile, you’re on camera

When your team needs to meet, there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation. Depending on your mobile platform you’re probably ready to start a video chat without needing any additional applications. That simple solution is exactly the route that many Manitoba businesses — like Winnipeg corporate-consulting firm inVision Edge — are electing to take.

“Many of our clients’ employees are valuable to a given project, but may be in remote locations, and can’t physically participate in meetings,” says Wendy Ferris, a partner in inVision Edge. “In those cases, we have had a lot of fun and success using video chat applications like FaceTime (iOS) and Google Hangouts (Android and iOS) to bring them in and include them in the discussions of the project.”

For businesses already using the Google ecosystem, Google Hangouts gets even better — with Google Drive integration for quickly sharing and updating documents during a meeting.

Many mainstays in video conferencing and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) — like Skype and WebEx (both available on iOS and Android) — remain popular among Manitoba businesses, and have grown to include features like scheduling and Outlook integration.

Share your screen

Anyone who has tried to explain an issue over the phone or chat will tell you how frustrating that task can be. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to remotely show off a project or give a stellar presentation.

Popular service offers simple, one-click sharing for desktop screens, and includes mobile applications (iOS and Android) that allow your team to easily join in. It can also turn your device into a virtual whiteboard for collaboration. Other conferencing applications including Skype and WebEx previously mentioned also offer similar features.

With the ability to view your colleague’s desktop on your mobile device, you may find your remote meetings more productive than your in-person ones.

Work in the cloud, meet in the cloud

Remote meetings have long been hampered by a common dilemma — being away from files on your personal computer. Cloud applications remove the need for local storage, giving you access to your files from any device over the Internet.

Google Docs’ robust word processor and spreadsheets are perfect for anything from quick notes to large projects and are made even better with live editing and user tracking.

“To quickly and easily enable our team to access documents, each other and information from wherever they are, we rely on cloud-based technology like Google Docs,” adds Ferris.

For those more familiar with Word and Excel, Microsoft’s recently overhauled mobile Office suite (available on iOS and Android) allows for free document sharing directly through cloud-storage service Dropbox.

Any device, any location

Powerful new smart devices have blurred the lines between your cellphone and your personal computer. Most meeting applications work seamlessly across your desktop, tablet and phone, meaning that meetings are no longer tied to the boardroom. Stuck at the airport during a layover in Minneapolis? Find a ledge to prop your smartphone on and you’re probably closer to joining, or even starting, a meeting than you think.

How do you help your teams collaborate and stay productive while on the go?

Adam Campbell

If there’s a new piece of tech, Adam is probably coming up with an excuse to buy it. He’s constantly experimenting with new applications to find simplified solutions to everyday issues. Adam is a writer, a reader, a communicator, a devourer of media and a pop-culture obsessor. He’s also a Winnipegger with a passion for his home city’s history and quirks.

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