Queen's University Queen's University

Virtual Work- A New Norm

We are living in unprecedented times; almost everybody is working from home! It’s crazy to think about how many work and school operations, who never used virtual platforms before, are using them now! Before reading further, check out Hannah’s post on how to work at home.

Personally, I have used different applications to connect remotely to people both personally and for school. Especially in group projects, which I talk about here, using Microsoft Teams or Google Drive is the best way to go. Some people are not aware of the different applications that you can use to do work online but there are more options than most might think. I’ve done a little review of all the ones I know below. I hope it helps you in your journey around remote, virtual work. Are there other ones that you use? Let us know in the comments!

Primary Function: Video calling with large groups
Good for:

  • Video chatting
  • Lectures (max people is 100)

Awesome things:

  • Great audio quality
  • Great visual quality
  • You can see whoever you want at any time! If no one is screen sharing you can see everyone!
  • Easy to “share screen”
  • Anyone with an invitation or meeting password can join

Not so great things:

  • Playing a video during a “share screen”- the audio is terrible, and video is bad quality
  • Chat function is very odd. Allows for private conversations but doesn’t show them as different chat windows.
  • Free version limits your call to 40 minutes

Neat trick:

You can annotate on top of a “shared screen” without requesting control and everyone will see it. In the annotation pane, there are many options, one of which is “Save”. This will take a screenshot of the shared screen you are looking at.

Primary Function: Video Calling
Awesome things:

  • No time limit on meetings
  • Easy to contact people saved in your contacts
  • Screen sharing abilities
  • Can have up to 50 people in a call

Not so great things:

  • Audio/Visual quality is ok
  • Need to have an account
  • Need to add the person or at least have their username in order to contact them
  • Need to download software to use it

***Zoom far outweighs the benefits of Skype.

Google Drive- Docs, Sheets, Slidesgoogle_drive_logo
Primary Function: Collaborative work
Awesome Things:

  • Auto saves
  • Clear, simple interface
  • Access to previous versions
  • Your team can have its own folder to house all documents
  • Easy to upload documents
  • Good memory space
  • Can give view/edit access to anyone with link
  • Can edit with other people in real time
  • Don’t need to download any extra software on your computer

Not so great things:

  • Formatting is lost when you move the file to a Microsoft Application
  • Very occasionally, Google Drive may not be available
  • Requires an internet connect to use all features
  • No video calling or chatting function within Drive

Primary Function: Collaborative Work
Awesome things:

  • Can be accessed through and works through your Queens email
  • Microsoft applications, which makes formatting is easier
  • Although working online, you can switch to the desktop version instead of working in a browser
  • Previous versions can be accessed through the desktop version
  • Auto saves
  • Can edit with other people in real time

Not so great:

  • Requires an internet connection to use all features
  • No video calling or chatting function within Sharepoint.
  • Can be difficult to follow who made what edits
  • Can be glitchy for some Macbook users

Microsoft Teamsmicrosoft-teams-1-250x209
Primary Function: Collaborative Group Work

  • Can be accessed through and works through your Queens email
  • Uses familiar Microsoft Applications within Teams- Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Basically using Sharepoint through Teams platform
  • Auto saves
  • The team account works similar to a shared drive
  • Unlimited chat and video calling options available
  • Easy to upload documents
  • Can edit with other people in real time

Not so great things:

  • Cannot share documents to anyone outside your “Team”
  • Interface isn’t the nicest to look at
  • Sometimes confusing with the number of icons and options available
  • Can only access one “Team” at a time
  • Although there is a chat and video call option, it can be difficult to navigate
  • Can use in browser, but it doesn’t work very well. Need to download software

Neat Trick:
You can screen share and other people can request control of your screen, allowing someone to use your screen remotely! Excellent feature when you are trying to show someone how something works or if you are having difficulty with something. This can work with any program on your computer. You can also blur your background in a video call!

Overall, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, and Sharepoint are all good to use, it’s really a matter of preference. I have been using Google Drive for over six years now, so that is what I am most comfortable with. Since aesthetics and usability is important to me, I find it the easiest to use. If you are already a Gmail user, then this is what I would recommend. Microsoft Teams also has some great features that Google Drive doesn’t, especially the share screen and request control functions. Honestly, there really isn’t one good answer. Teams and Sharepoint are especially good for us, since Queen’s Students already operate in Outlook which is part of Microsoft 365. Most of the time, my groups end up using a variety of these applications based on their needs!


One application that is not popular, but I think works great is Slack.Screen-Shot-2019-01-17-at-2.29.34-PM
Primary Function: Organizing chat for a large group
Awesome things:

  • You can create multiple “channels” of chat with different groups of people within your large group slack
  • Can organize between “work chat” and “social chat as well as different tasks/projects
  • Compatible with Google Drive and Sharepoint

Not so great things:

  • Need to connect to another application to actually do work other than chat
  • Requires its own application
  • Not very popular


Other platforms to use for personal or professional chats:


  • Most commonly used internationally
  • Works through your phone but has a feature that allows you to access it through a browser
  • Good audio and Visual quality
  • Group calls with a maximum of 4 people

Facebook Messengera2199526dbfcaca0382d4a73b0090324

  • Works through Facebook account
  • Has its own app when using a phone
  • Works better for android users
  • Can group call up to 50 people…but the audio/visual is not the best even in a 1:1 call


  • only compatible with Apple products- can be used from iPhones or MacBooks.
  • Good audio and Visual quality- but your face is pretty zoomed in
  • Good for personal one on video calls but can have up to 32 people on a call

Other ways to connect with people:

There are many applications that you can use to connect with people that I’m only just learning about. Signal is a conversation and video chatting application that is encrypted and gives those who are worried about security some piece of mind. This was recommended to me by one of my fellow writers, Hannah.

61-618992_kast-gg-logo-hd-png-downloadAnother cool application is Kast, which is built for having a video chat and watching a Youtube Video or Movie together. Rabbit is a similar one that was recommended by fellow writer, Isabel. Another one that’s gaining popularity is Netflix Party. Although it doesn’t allow for video chatting, you can have an online chat and watch a movie at the same time.

QuizUp-logoLastly, many people are connecting online with games! A great simple app to try out is Quiz Up, a social trivia game, or Words with Friends, which is a crossword game like Scrabble.  These apps let you play against your friends.

In conclusion, there are many apps out there that you can use for both professional use and connecting with people socially. I encourage you to try them out to find out what works best for you. If you have any questions, you can leave them for me in the comments below. I would anticipate that we might be seeing a lot more new apps with these types of functionalities coming out in this time. Let me know if there are other cool apps that you’re using!

Stay safe, stay home, but stay connected.

Posted in Productivity, Professional Development, Skill Development, Staying Well, Uncategorized, Virtual Tagged with: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to Gradifying

Gradifying Poll

Grad Community at Queen's
How connected do you feel to a community of other graduate students at Queen's?