On 16th March, the UK government introduced a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to limit the damage caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. When it was first introduced to the country, Boris Johnson and his aides expressed that the lockdown will last for an initial 3 weeks and be reviewed regularly. 3 weeks soon turned into 6 months and since then there have been significant changes to the way that we live and also the way that we work.
With offices being forced to close, many businesses had to find ways to adapt. And for those who were able to work from home, their usual routines and working ways have seemingly changed forever. One major change that has occurred as a result of the pandemic is the meteoric rise in video calls and video conferencing. Meetings that would once take place in person are now being carried out via the internet using video calling applications. There’s a number of different applications that one could choose from. If you took part in any online quizzes or have worked from home since March then you may have already used a variety of different applications, but the most popular and the best two in our opinion are Zoom and Google Meet. In this blog, we will take a look at our personal favourite, Google Meet, and explore its many features which make it the video conferencing software of choice for WDL.
Google Meet, formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet, is part of the ever expanding Google workspace. This presents a number of advantages in itself, firstly, you can synchronise your Meet calls with your Google Calendar with ease, for 60 minutes per meeting, up to 100 people and available to everyone for free, with optional upgrades available for unrestricted access, Meet is secure and feature heavy.
Calling with Google Meet is pretty simple for anyone familiar or not familiar with video calling software. If you’re on a computer then just login to your Google Account and select Google Meet from the option of Google Applications, select “New Meeting” and enter a nickname for the meeting you are creating, or enter a code or link for the meeting you are entering. If you’re not using a computer or laptop, then you can also create/join a meeting by downloading the Google Meet app from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.
Creating a new meeting for a future date is just as easy. Simply click to create a meeting as in the steps above, click “Create a meeting for later”, fill out all of the event details and invite the users you would like to attend using their email addresses, each user will instantly receive an invite with a direct link to the Google Meet event.
Sometimes it can be difficult to hear exactly what is being said in an online meeting. I’ve recently had an issue myself where sound and video would continuously cut out (it can be a pain when your internet decides to play up), however, the subtitle feature on Google Meets is a handy feature that certainly helped get through this sticky situation. Luckily it was an internal meeting that involved mostly listening, while I didn’t have a great listening experience, I certainly managed to keep up by reading the automated subtitles which appeared to be incredibly accurate (as far as I’m aware). If you want to turn on subtitles just click “turn on captions” at the bottom corner of your screen, if you decide you’ve had enough of reading and the subtitles aren’t for you, simply click the same button to turn them off.
Is your uncle chewing a bit too loud during the family quiz? Or maybe a colleague has the kids at home and you’re not too fond of the noises of the kids in the background screaming and shouting (not that I’ve ever had this from any of my colleagues). Thankfully, Google Meet allows you to mute uncle Chewbacca by simply hovering over his image and clicking the mute button.
I’d love to take this opportunity to complain about my WiFi (Virgin Media, if you’re reading, this is for you). Despite having an incredibly fast internet connection, I have still had many issues with video calling while working from home during this pandemic. With so many more people working from home and overall internet traffic being at an incredible high, my connection has suffered, cutting out, calls lagging and sometimes just being completely unable to take part in video calls. If like me you’ve also faced similar issues, then you’ll be pleased to know that Google Meet allows you to change the resolution of your call. Simply click on the three dots on the bottom corner, click on settings and click on the video tab. Once you lower the video quality, you won’t be able to see the images as clear, but at least you’ll be able to hear and take part.
You’re stuck at home, deprived of the opportunity to enjoy a nice holiday this year, and you’d do almost anything to be on a sunny beach in St Lucia or enjoying the night lights of New York. Sound familiar? Well, Google has got all the answers to ALL of our problems. If you can’t go to the beach, Google will bring the beach to you, with changeable Meet backgrounds. Use them to add a bit of pizazz and fun to your meetings, to scratch that travel itch, or maybe even to hide the pile of dirty laundry behind you (we’re not judging).
There are a number of other features, but those above are my personal favourites. On reflection, while working from home has its advantages and disadvantages, technology has allowed the transition from working in an office, to working from home to not be as difficult as it may have been 10 years ago. Google Meet and other video calling applications have been hugely influential in making this transition as easy as possible. So if you’re looking at video calling options for the future and still not sure which is the best, my vote and the WDL vote is with Google Meet. Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertisement for Google Meet!
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