For millions of Americans, both professionals and students, Zoom has become a household name over the last two months. Zoom works as the closest replacement to the in-person meetings and classes that are no longer an option for so many individuals worldwide. Does it work for your remote use?

Remote work has quickly evolved from being something only a small fraction of the population was familiar with to the only choice for so many fields amid COVID-19 pandemic. Among the recommendations from the CDC to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus were suggestions on maintaining a clean work environment, maintaining proper ventilation, and perhaps most importantly, assessing what jobs and functions are considered “essential” and ceasing non-essential. If you have jobs that must be carried out in person, they encourage limiting physical contact as much as possible and washing hands vigorously and regularly. For those that don’t have to physically be in the same room as co-workers or customers, that’s where virtual meeting tools like Zoom come into play. 

How easy is it to sign up?

Ease of use is definitely a strength for Zoom. When I set up my account, it took about 90 seconds from start to finish. To sign up, you only need to provide your birth date, verified email address, first and last name, and a password. From there it’s only a few clicks and you can begin hosting meetings that are audio only, use the webcam, or share your screen.

How will you and your organization use Zoom?

While Zoom is free for a large number of users and academic institutions, there are organizations and use cases that should consider upgrading to professional or enterprise levels. For instance, the free level of membership has a maximum meeting length of 40 minutes. So if you’re just doing quick group check-ins and status updates that can be done within that time frame, you should be fine. However, if you know your team has much more in-depth meetings and brainstorming sessions that go well over that 40 minute limit, it probably makes sense to upgrade to at least the Pro level, where meetings have a limit of 24 hours.

How secure are my communications when using Zoom?

Security is probably the biggest drawback to Zoom as of right now. Accusations of shortcomings on security range from the unauthorized feeding of data to Facebook to hackers and trolls joining meetings in which they should not be allowed. It’s always interesting to me to watch what the people that have the most to lose do when it comes to digital security. In that vein, we see Elon Musk has banned his employees at SpaceX from using Zoom amid security concerns. It makes sense that organizations involved with any level of national security would jump ship at the first sign of data privacy concerns. On another note, the NFL draft is coming up in a little over two weeks and for the first time ever, will be conducted entirely virtually. That means no players will be at the event and no team decision makers will be in the same room. Team’s opinions of players and pending decisions within the event are some of the closest kept secrets in sports. So it’s not surprising to see coaches and executives looking for alternatives when their communications can seemingly be compromised easily.

“We understand that many of us were using this tool for conferences and meeting support,” SpaceX said in the message. “Please use email, text or phone as alternate means of communication.” – Internal SpaceX email

Should I use it?

We’ve laid out in the sections above some of the pros and cons of using Zoom, so it depends on what you and your organization value in a software. If you need something with the highest level of security, it might make sense to look elsewhere. Executives from Zoom announced they were making improvements by the day, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that. If you only need somewhat brief meetings and aren’t super concerned about someone else taking information from your session, Zoom is great. Let us know what software you prefer to use in the comments!