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Remote working made easy

As remote working and working from home becomes more important in today’s current climate, the need to utilise software that allows easy communication between client and therapist to continue sessions and build relationships is crucial. In this article, we’ll list our top 5 conference and video software based on our own personal experience from calls with clients and ease of use and access.

Slack

An easy to use chat room with video* and voice call functionality

As a business, we utilise a program that you might have heard of – Slack. It’s a downloadable application available for desktop, android and IOS and provides a chat room, with video and voice call ability. 

It’s mainly used by workgroups and teams but as we are continually striving to bring people closer together and create a community feel, using it for large group therapy or mentorship provides a safe place to discuss either directly with members of the channels or privately. The only direct comparison to make is with Facebook groups, however, they don’t have the ability to directly call or video chat amongst members.

*video requires paid plan

Benefits 

  • The free package is available without face to face video conferences
  • Easy and intuitive application that can be controlled by yourself and managed similar to a Facebook group
  • Message history and chat functionality alongside storing helpful documents and links
  • You can invite members to certain channels to restrict full access

Negatives

  • Face to face video calls require ‘workspace’ owner pay a £5.25 monthly fee per active user
  • As a chat room, the ‘always available’ mechanic can make users message at unsociable times however you can set user profiles to do not disturb  
  • Private messaging between users is possible

Zoom.us

A really intuitive and accessible interface great for multiple group calls and one to one meetings

Our personal favourite for client calls and general phone conversations is Zoom.us, its widely known to be the most versatile and manageable software available and I know of therapists already using it to run sessions from home and online. We love how easy it is to set up Zoom, via a simple link that you send to the person you want to call or see, they click the link and it downloads to their phone or desktop. The interface provides simple clear instructions on how to turn the video off, or even share the screen you’re currently looking at.

Positives

  • Simple one-click URL to download across all types of devices, with small download. 
  • Simple controls to allow sharing screens
  • Easy to manage if you are the ‘call coordinator’ 
  • Free plan for calls less than 40 minutes

Negatives

  • Most Therapy sessions last around an hour so you would require a package of £11.99 a month for unlimited minutes
  • Depending on certain connections (if the user is out and using 4G) the video quality may differ in quality

Skype

The most well-known call software in the world.

The good thing about skype is that most people have heard of it. Its been around for longer than most of the other conference facilities and if you, like the other 360 million people that have Hotmail or outlook accounts will easily be able to access it without ‘creating a login’. Like the others its both for PC, Mac, Android and IOS and is primarily used for calling out, it has easy access to a ‘skype’ number that can dial worldwide numbers so it’s really good at voice chat from desktop to mobile and vice versa. 

Skype to Skype calls are free but you can load up credit and call using that to landline and mobile phone numbers.

Positives

  • Free and most people are aware and may already have an account ready to use
  • Can make straight calls via your headset to a clients mobile phone
  • Solid video performance even on slower connections

Negatives

  • App has been known to crash and have temporarily slowdowns
  • The recent release makes sharing screen difficult at times 
  • Limited functionality for group calls

Google Hangouts

Integrate with your google products for a seamless experience

Google released its own version of voice software called Google Hangout, to easily allow people with google accounts (Gmail and also Google Apps) to connect via video meetings and provide conferencing facilities. As Google tries to integrate more of their software for a fuller experience you can even connect Google Hangout to YouTube if you publish educational videos. It’s completely free of charge and also has the same quality you’d expect with a Google product alongside all of the security needed to call your clients in complete safety.

Positives

  • Free alternative to other cost options
  • Google Calendar and Google Account integration, meetings will synchronise with your calendar and notify when they are coming up
    Also great for instant messaging 
  • Simplistic interface with stripped down controls 

Negatives

  • You need access to a Google account or will be required to create an account to use within their software.
  • Bad connection can really impact call quality

Join.me

Lightweight with a small learning curve

Join.me has tried to follow in the footsteps of zoom with its easy to access interface especially for those that are technically adverse. The main benefit of this software is not forcing the client download software (if they don’t want to) and can be accessed through the users browser. It offers email templating for sending personal invites which will make sessions feel more tailored. As with most software in this industry, this is a paid-for utility however there is a free trial to see if this is something you want to work within for future sessions. We definitely love the fact the ease of access for the end-user here, and for anyone wanting to run a lightweight call to call experience, this holds real potential.

Positives:

  • Simple interface
  • Easy controls and small learning curve 

Negatives

  • Pricing plan
  • Currently £9 to host calls up to five users
  • Reports of poor customer service for technical issues (on Trust Pilot, but not tested by ourselves)

Conclusion

In summary, there are a lot of options out there to connect with your audience if a face to face option isn’t available. The connected world we live in allows us all to interact and offer support to those further away, easier. Especially with the younger demographic and its accessibility and technical knowledge, any of the above software will be easy for them to get accustomed to. As ever, these are just our personal preferences, however, if you’re just starting out we definitely feel checking out Zoom.us or Skype might be two utilities that your clients can easily get on board with and quickly. If you have any other suggestions or personal preferences feel free to give us a shout about them!

Design Wellness

About Design Wellness

A new startup aimed at helping counsellors and therapists communicate better with their audience. We provide tools to allow wellness professionals connect and get noticed easier online.