Virtual Office Software

Which one is the best?

Clement
Clément
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The world of work has been constantly evolving since the beginning of the new millennium. Some trends have taken hold: flattened structure, flexible working hours, connected company...

The global health crisis related to coronavirus has set one of these trends in the lead for all the others and seems to be building the future for employees: work from anywhere.

4.7 million Americans (3.4% of the US population) already use it. Now this number has totally blown. For these newcomers, working from home has brought numerous benefit such as the end commuting, but also new problems related to collaboration and communication.

For employees and managers who had only experienced the same old routine or the interaction during coffee breaks, it was complicated to spend their working time completely alone behind their screen. Don't think that remote work specialists have zero problem about how they operate.

Despite the word "remote" in their DNA, there were also issues to be overcome: creating a corporate culture when employees are hundreds of miles away, improving team reactivity and productivity, facilitating the social bond between team members...

*Source: FlexJob et Global Workplace Analytics 2019

Thinking about my former office friends
Me, thinking about my former office friends

Virtual office software: an online workspace that relies on synchronous communication and collaboration

To meet these key challenges for the thousands of companies entering the path of remote work (whether fully or partially), innovative startups have created virtual office software. To put it simply, it's a tool that allows you to create a work interface that is accessible on the web, with features to connect directly with your teammates.

Unlike other collaborative software services like Slack or Trello, the focus here is on synchronous communication to promote spontaneous and efficient interactions.

The benefits are endless for a remote team:

  • Better collaboration
  • Better productivity
  • Feel your teammates’ proximity
  • Group collaboration
  • Quick feedbacks
  • Spontaneous conversation
  • Water-cooler place
  • Easy icebreakers

You're going to tell me it's nice on paper, all that's missing are some examples. As a good boy scout, I've compiled all the best virtual office software with a review for each of them.

Let’s go !

Collabify

Collabify
  • Website: https://collabify.app/
  • Motto: The virtual office for remote teams
  • Pricing: Free plan (Limited: cloud storage and 5 participants max.) / Premium plan (coming soon)
  • Features: chat walls, voice channels, screen sharing, meeting rooms, task boards, scheduled meeting
  • Review: Collabify, as its name suggests, is based above all on collaboration. It's a standard workspace based on the most successful startups that will help you increase your productivity: Slack for asynchronous text chat, a voice room for spontaneous conversations, task boards like Trello and a meeting tool that will allow you to talk in video and share your screen with your colleagues. A real Swiss Army knife.

Collabify gives this feeling of being an upgrade of Slack by bringing synchronous communication tools. On the downside, the project has been in early access for a year, and the official communication has stopped a few months ago. Stand-by or work in progress to propose their finished product?

Knock

Knock
  • Website: https://knockhq.co/
  • Motto: Your place to collaborate & hangout with your teammate
  • Pricing: Free plan (beta) / Premium Plan (coming soon)
  • Features: Office view, Textual chat, audio chat, video chat, audio rooms, share resources, focus mode.
  • Review: Knock, offers a virtual office software that relies on three principles: communication, connection between team members and productivity.

It is first through the visual aspect that the magic works. At a glance, you can see all your teammates, which removes some of the loneliness of remote work. You will also be able to interact with them in a simple click thanks to the Knock feature and use many tools: Talk with them in the dedicated audio rooms, have a text chat, collaborate through a video call, share your resources, see the status of each teammates (deep work, open to chat) or put yourself in focus mode with no distractions.

A better office, at home

Request access to Knock

Currently, Knock is in closed beta. Other features should be released in the coming weeks.

MEETINGROOM

  • Website: https://meetingroom.io/
  • Motto: Virtual Space as a service for location-less teams
  • Pricing: Free Plan (8 users max/meeting timer) / Premium €99/month (100 users max)
  • Features: 360° digital room, collaboration tools (whiteboards, agenda), audio chat.
  • Review: The software offered by Meeting Room is a bit unusual in the virtual office field. Here, the objective is to break the geographical and human barriers of remote work through a new technology: virtual reality.

With VR headsets like the Oculus Quest, you will be directly in the same room (virtual of course) as your co-workers. An immersive solution, which almost makes you feel the physical presence of your teammates.

It is a long-term project that deserves to be tracked over time because the practical applications linked to VR are only beginning to emerge. Ergonomics, ease of use and design/graphics should be key aspects of MeetingRoom improvements in the future.

My Digital Office

My digital office
  • Website: https://www.mydigitaloffice.io/
  • Motto: A digital office for the future of work
  • Pricing: Free Plan (beta)
  • Features: Office view, textual chat, audio and video meetings, task management, virtual whiteboard.
  • Review: Coming from Japan, this software allows you to set up a virtual workspace where you can see the office, desks and avatars of your colleagues in real time.

The features will allow you to know the status of your teammates at a glance. Synchronous and asynchronous communication tools are here for fast collaboration where you can for example draw your ideas on a whiteboard during a call with another teammate.

MyDigital Office seems to be aimed at companies that are discovering remote work without necessarily having it in their DNA. For the moment, it's a beta and we can't wait to see more of it, especially in terms of visual change.

Pragli

Pragli
  • Website: https://pragli.com/
  • Motto: Wherever you are, you’re better together
  • Pricing: Free Plan
  • Features: Text, audio and video chat, audio rooms, screen sharing.
  • Review: Founded by former Stanford students, Pragli could well be considered a kind of Slack alternative (as Tandem or Teemly). While it is not intended to see a work environment like Knock or MyDigital Office, the focus is clearly on the interaction between teammates.

The software highlights your colleagues in the workspace through their cartoonized avatars. The features are simple but effective: a simple click allows you to talk in audio with someone, and you can make video calls and screen share to collaborate in live and some integrations of remote tools are provided (Google calendar, Slack, Spotify).

A different and quite recent project that hasn't shown us all its features yet. To be continued.

Remo

Remo
  • Website: https://remo.co/
  • Motto: Bring remote teams together
  • Pricing: Premium Plan : $20/40/50/70 per office member per month (depending on a video/audio hour limitation)
  • Features: Office view, textual/audio/video chat, individual room.
  • Review: Remo has recently made a reputation for being one of the best tools to create your own webinar or live Q&A. Recently, they have decided to develop a virtual office based on a reassuring visual that wants to reconnect the teammates with each other. The goal : fight against the loneliness of remote work.

If the spotlight is on their conferencing tool, the growing trend of remote work should make them grow their second product. The very important downside for us is there are temporary limitations on the use of audio and video calls. The standard should be unlimited for all players in this industry.

Remotion

Remotion
  • Website: https://remo.co/
  • Motto: Bring remote teams together
  • Pricing: Premium Plan : $20/40/50/70 per office member per month (depending on a video/audio hour limitation)
  • Features: Office view, textual/audio/video chat, individual room.
  • Review: Remo has recently made a reputation for being one of the best tools to create your own webinar or live Q&A. Recently, they have decided to develop a virtual office based on a reassuring visual that wants to reconnect the teammates with each other. The goal : fight against the loneliness of remote work.

If the spotlight is on their conferencing tool, the growing trend of remote work should make them grow their second product. The very important downside for us is there are temporary limitations on the use of audio and video calls. The standard should be unlimited for all players in this industry.

Spatial

Spatial
  • Website: https://spatial.io/
  • Motto: How work should be
  • Pricing: Free Plan
  • Features: 3D realistic avatar, talk move and interact with your hands (takes notes, handles virtual objects), screen sharing.
  • Review: Spatial, although still under development, is considered one of the most important projects of the future of remote work. The company has raised over $20 million and could overshadow a project like MeetingRoom.

Sit next to each other from across the world, one of their promises is clearly being fulfilled with a device using either virtual reality or augmented reality. Your hand becomes your mouse, and you can interact with this virtual 3D world to collaborate or animate your meetings.

The future looks promising when you see the list of prestigious corporations who use it, like BNP Paribas and Mattel Inc.

Sococo

Sococo
  • Website: https://www.sococo.com/
  • Motto: Work remotely, side by side.
  • Pricing: Premium plan (from 11.69 to $13.49 per office member per month).
  • Features: Office view, textual audio and video chat, screen sharing.
  • Review: It is perhaps the oldest software! It is slowly approaching its tenth birthday. The creators of Sococo, were, therefore, a few years ahead of the remote work trend.

The features are obviously numerous for this visual office : textual, audio and video chats, the possibility of screen sharing, and seeing in real time what your colleagues are doing. The little downside is the old school interface which leads us to believe that the product is intended for large companies that practice telecommuting.

With so many years in this industry which was barely in its early days, Sococo will have to renew itself to reach this new wave of remote workers.

Tandem

Tandem
  • Website: https://tandem.chat/
  • Motto: A virtual office for remote teams
  • Pricing: Free Plan
  • Features: Video call, textual and audio chat, shared cursors, dedicated rooms.
  • Review: Yet another project with Spatial gaining momentum from investors. After raising more than $7 million, tandem was able to set up a software that relies primarily on collaboration.

Here, you won't have a complete view of the office as on Knock but you'd rather have a kind of slack interface with the ability to connect easily with your teammates. Chat, video, audio, screen sharing and above all the possibility to show your mouse cursor on your colleague's screen will allow you to be very efficient in your team projects.

Tandem is the collaboration tool for remote work companies like Buffer or Zapier. If you are only at home a few days a week or if your company has a more traditional way of working and older employees, pass your way.

Teemly

Teemly
  • Website: https://teemly.net/
  • Motto: The virtual office truly connecting distributed teams
  • Pricing: Free Plan (beta)
  • Features: Video call, textual and audio chat, work on a shared document, audio rooms, focus mode.
  • Review: This Swedish project has a different approach from all its competitors. It is through a dashboard composed of rooms that you will be seeing all the people working in your company. At a glance you can see who is there, What they are doing, and what is actually happening in collaboration.

We like the interface's simplicity, despite a significant amount of information if you have a large team.Some features are rather well thought out, like not being bothered if you're in a focus room.

Still in beta phase for the moment and therefore free, we hope to see an evolution of Teemly that could target quite large teams. For smaller companies, we might prefer Pragli today.

Walkabout

Walkabout
  • Website: https://www.walkaboutco.com/
  • Motto: A digital workplace making presence possible
  • Pricing: from 10 to $20 per user per month
  • Features: video, audio, message chat, private room, virtual receptionist, screen sharing, branded office, numerous options of customisation
  • Review: It looks like it was done by Microsoft in the 90s.

WURKR

WURKR
  • Website: https://wurkr.io/
  • Motto: Working together from anywhere
  • Pricing: Free plan
  • Features: Office view, Textual chat, audio chat, video chat, private and meetings rooms (private and meeting).
  • Review: Last software on this list that we hope is complete, Wurkr. Available directly through your browser (like Teemly, Knock or Collabify), you'll immediately have a view of the entire office but this time it's divided by floor. It's visually a bit different from Knock or Sococo but it works well obviously in terms of simplicity.

From an ergonomic perspective, we are looking here at full team remotes. Even if the company's communication leads us to believe it is aimed at all companies that are starting to telecommuting.

Are virtual office software the link between the old world and remote work?

As you can see, the evolution of the work world, which now encourages us to collaborate far from any office, has led to the emergence of new collaboration solutions. Slacks, Trello, Zoom have not totally succeeded in filling the loneliness of the remote worker, or the need for synchronous communication to boost productivity.

These virtual offices are perhaps the necessary link for traditional companies to jump to remote work with a slightly less fear. An invaluable bridge to reassure managers about the productivity of their teams, and employees that they are not being left at home.

But what will make the strength of these virtual office software is obviously their practical use. If the concept is nice but does not bring any improvement in terms of collaboration and communication, what's the point.

Virtual offices are still in their early stages. Almost all projects were launched between 2019 and 2020 and are often in beta testing or development. So what you see today is only the beginning, and we will update the features, the pricing (which will be less often free) and the structural evolution of these exciting products.

Within a few months, we have no doubt that virtual office software will have completely fulfilled their mission: Where the office becomes a tool, not a constraint.

Peace! ✌️

Clement
Clément
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