Skype vs. Zoom: Which is Best for Working From Home?
Many organizations were thrown into work-from-home arrangements with little warning as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. While some remote work functions were already familiar to most companies and workers — email, text, phone contact — video conferencing was new territory for many teams and companies.
At first glance, the choices seem nearly identical. Video conferencing tools usually offer the same core features: live video with sound and the ability to host several attendees at once. Essentially, video conferencing serves as an alternative to the in-person meetings organizations have had to forego during rolling stay-at-home orders.
Whether or not your team plans to work remotely in the future, video conferencing is here to stay, so it’s important to choose the best tool to fit your specific needs.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a popular cloud-based video meeting tool geared toward enterprise organizations and larger groups of attendees. Users can host and record meetings, hold group chats and collaborate much like they would in person.
Zoom is available for Android and iOS mobile operating systems and Windows and Mac platforms.
Zoom Pros and Cons
As with any software or app, Zoom’s pros and cons are pretty subjective. One person’s “pro” could be another’s “con.” Still, there are a few features and challenges to consider as you compare Zoom to Skype.
There are several reasons Zoom is likely the first service that comes to mind when the subject of online video conferencing comes up.
Primarily, Zoom is straightforward to use and typically very stable. It’s relatively easy for most people to pick up and use, which is important when a business team needs to loop in a new client or onboard a new work-from-home employee.
Other Zoom advantages include:
- The ability to have long video chats without needing to start a fresh meeting
- Solid video and sound quality
- Screen sharing capabilities
- Meeting analytics
- Security features, including single sign-on (SSO), HTTPS access, SSL encryption, and AES 256-bit encryption
- Integration with other apps like like Slack and Zapier
- Webinar capabilities
- Scalability — it’s seamless and virtually instant to increase your Zoom membership limitations to include additional accounts
- Versatility — users can access Zoom from their computers and their mobile devices
- Ability to break out attendees into smaller rooms for discussion and workgroups
There are a few things to consider that can make Zoom less of a good fit for some teams.
One of the most common complaints is that the pro version of Zoom is costly, especially for large enterprise teams. Companies need to make a significant investment to deploy Zoom to all their employees at a level that can keep up with operational needs.
Other Zoom challenges include:
- While Zoom is usually stable and reliable, as with all video conferencing tools, it’s not perfect — there will be occasional screen freezes, audio issues and dropped calls
- Lack of comment control (team leaders can’t remove inappropriate comments on the fly)
- The phenomenon of “Zoombombing,” where bad actors infiltrate calls to create chaos
- HD video is not standard
- Zoom is cloud-based, but to use it, users need to download the app, which can add to your IT burden
What is Skype?
Microsoft's Skype video conferencing tool works similarly to Zoom. Multiple attendees can join in real time to hold meetings and group chats. Skype was originally designed for online voice calls, but has evolved to include robust video capabilities at this point.
Skype is available for a wide range of operating systems: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox and Amazon Alexa.
Skype Pros and Cons
Again, Skype's pros and cons are in the eye of beholders. You’ll want to carefully weigh which of these issues are a true potential issue or benefit for your needs.
There’s a lot to love about Skype.
One of the most touted features is its connection to Microsoft Teams and how well it works with other Office 365 products, which are used throughout the business community.
Other Skype advantages include:
- Instant messaging
- Screen sharing
- White board
- Q&A session creation
- Affordable subscription model
Skype is the ideal solution for many business teams, but for others, Skype's limitations may take it out of contention as their preferred remote communications tool.
One common issue Skype users mention is frequent screen freezing. It's hard to say if Skype freezes more than Zoom, but it is a common complaint among online reviewers.
Other potential Skype challenges include:
- Difficulty in getting assistance from Microsoft
- High bandwidth requirements
- Somewhat clunky, non-intuitive interface
- Requires a download
Deciding Between Zoom and Skype
In many ways, choosing between Zoom and Skype comes down to personal preference. The best way to determine which of the two videoconferencing apps are best for your team is to try out both services.
Ultimately, the best choice is the app your team understands and is more likely to adopt as an everyday tool for collaboration and communication. You may just find that your team loves video conferencing so much that they’ll continue using it when the business world makes a return to normal operations. And with remote work widely expected to continue in some form beyond the end of the pandemic, choosing the tool your employees prefer is doubly important.