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The 5 best free video conferencing platforms in 2023

The 5 best free video conferencing platforms in 2023

March 1, 2023
 minute read  

Traditional video conferencing tools can cause people to switch off. Here are the best free video conferencing platforms for remote collaboration.

We’ve all been there: you’re on the couch watching a slow movie and, next thing you know, you’ve dozed off and it’s all over. You’re not alone: according to a 2022 National Sleep Foundation poll, 58%* of Americans fall asleep while looking at some type of screen.

Unfortunately, traditional one-sided virtual meetings that rely on screen sharing alone can feel like watching a slow movie. Without the right free video conferencing platform, it’s easy to disengage and zone out if all you’re doing is watching the presentation unfold, waiting for your turn to contribute. 

To encourage true collaboration during calls, small remote companies need tools with video conferencing and other key features that allow people to participate, engage, and contribute as if they’re all working together in the same room. 

Here are the best free video conferencing platforms that help foster solid remote teamwork and collaboration.

Want a free video-conferencing platform designed for true collaboration?
Switchboard lets you work side-by-side with your team and share more than your screen—for free. 
Sign up

What should you look for in a free video-conferencing platform?

If you’re managing a small remote team, you’ll know that traditional video conferences can be one-sided. When just one person is presenting their screen, it quickly becomes their show rather than a team effort. 

In fact, 65% of employees even say virtual meetings are an escape from their work, which isn’t how you want your team to view meetings. They should be a chance to get work done and create closer connections between team members. 

To make the most out of online meetings, you need free video conferencing platforms designed for remote teams. This means features that encourage collaboration and go beyond traditional video conferencing functionality. For example, permanent rooms that save all your work and never require a meeting link, so you have a dedicated space for your projects. 

 To choose the best option for your company, look for these features: 

  • Meeting recordings so you don’t lose valuable knowledge and action items 
  • Easy sign-up so you can start collaborating, fast 
  • User-friendly interface so everything and everyone is easy to find
  • Good quality video and audio for uninterrupted brainstorming and teamwork
  • Virtual whiteboards, sticky notes, and in-room chat so people can share information and work together in different ways 
  • A virtual office for teams to easily find each other and start conversations  
  • File sharing to access images, websites, apps, and PDFs so you can work side-by-side during video calls
  • Permanent rooms that save your work so you can pick up where you left off 
  • Encrypted infrastructure and data security to keep client and company information protected
  • Screen sharing and presenting capabilities for those times when you need to keep everyone on the same page 
  • In-app support to resolve blockers to effective collaboration 
  • Web-based platform so no one has to download anything

What is the best free platform for video conferencing?

With that checklist in mind,  here are five free communication tools for remote teams that help foster teamwork and collaboration.

We’ve done the legwork and analyzed each platform’s free features and who it’s best suited to, to help you decide. That way, you can make sure everyone’s engaged whether they’re center stage or playing a supporting role.

1. Switchboard

Switchboard is a browser-based online meeting platform that lets you collaborate on documents and apps inside a virtual room—without having to share your screen. It’s designed to foster team connection, collaboration, and productivity through intuitive meeting rooms. 

Switchboard lets you communicate in real time with video, audio, and chat. You can also work side-by-side allowing everyone to scroll, type, and browse the same document at the same time. 

You can create cloud-based virtual rooms for brainstorming, host spontaneous meetings with your team, and connect with clients in an interactive space. 

Throughout the meeting, you can explore any file in the room, moving around and viewing whatever you want without getting in the way of others. Best of all, Switchboard saves all your files after every meeting, so you never need to download anything or repopulate the room again.

Switchboard room displaying multiple browsers, tabs, and in-room chat for effective collaboration.
Switchboard takes the guesswork out of collaboration with labeled cursors and multiplayer rooms where everyone can easily share content.
Source: Switchboard

Free features:

  • Shared online workspace and rooms for recurring meetings
  • Web-based canvas to add multiple apps, websites, PDFs, and images side-by-side
  • Persistent rooms that save your work
  • In-meeting video, audio, and chat
  • Secure, fast cloud browsers for instant collaboration
  • Screen sharing for native apps
  • Presentation mode
  • In-app support
  • Google Calendar integration
  • Unlimited rooms for 1:1s, meetings, and projects
  • Meeting recording
  • No integration required for web-based apps—they all work
  • Room permissions for members and guests
  • Sections to organize documents and apps
  • Host not required for members to enter a room

Who it’s best for:

Highly collaborative small remote or hybrid companies looking for a comprehensive and team-oriented solution to traditional video conferencing tools.

How to sign up:

  • Sign up for a free account with an email address or Google login
  • Name your workspace—this is where all of your rooms will be stored–and take a quick onboarding tour if you’d like. 
  • Invite your team and start collaborating
Looking for more tips on setting up your Switchboard account? Check out our guide to your team’s first week in Switchboard.
Switchboard room showing multiple onboarding resources.
Switchboard makes it easy to sign up quickly and start collaborating with your team.
Source: Switchboard

2. Google Meet

Formerly known as Google Hangouts, Google Meet is a straightforward virtual video meeting platform that lets teams using Google Workspace meet easily and efficiently.

Google Meet video conferencing with multiple participants.
Google Meet helps get people together for quick team catch-ups and check-ins.
Source: Google

Free features: 

  • Up to 500 participants
  • Live captions (in English)
  • In-meeting whiteboard capabilities and Miro integration
  • Screen sharing
  • Event live-streaming
  • Seamless integration with Google Chat

Who it’s best for: 

Google Meet is a convenient solution for companies that already use Google Workspace. However, it’s not the best option for highly collaborative remote teams since it doesn’t let you work together on the same documents and apps during video calls. 

3. Zoom

Zoom is one of the most recognizable video conferencing platforms out there today. In fact, it has a market share of over 50% in the US and UK. Although it comes with tons of bells and whistles on a paid plan, the free version keeps it simple with free 40-minute meetings and 100 participants a pop.

Zoom meeting where one person is giving a presentation.
Zoom enables large companies to host all-hands meetings, town hall meetings, and spontaneous breakout sessions.
Source: Zoom

Free features: 

  • Meetings of up to 40 minutes and 100 participants
  • Built-in online whiteboard
  • In-meeting chat
  • Automated captions
  • Call recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Breakout rooms

Who it’s best for: 

Zoom can accommodate a large number of participants, which makes it ideal for large companies that need a reliable web conferencing tool. And its built-in whiteboard and messaging features help make meetings more collaborative. 

But if you’re a small, highly collaborative team, Zoom meetings lack the functionality you’ll need for true side-by-side collaboration. 

4. Skype 

One of the original video conferencing platforms, many people will remember making their first video call using Skype’s popular audio and video conference software. Using the free plan, you can host up to 100 participants on a single video call and call phone numbers across the globe when you buy Skype Credit.

Skype video call showing multiple participants.
Skype lets international teams make the most out of video and audio conferencing.
 Source: Skype

Free Features: 

  • Audio and HD video calling
  • Smart messaging
  • Screen sharing
  • Call recording
  • File sharing
  • Live subtitles and real-time translation

Who it’s best for: 

Skype is ideal for small and medium businesses with remote international teams. If you work with colleagues or clients in different languages, its real-time translation feature also lets you communicate naturally even when your teams speak multiple languages. 

However, Skype doesn’t have the collaboration tools you need to work on a document simultaneously or brainstorm with colleagues. That makes it better for meetings or presentations that rely on verbal communication rather than smaller collaborative gatherings. 

5. Microsoft Teams 

Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing tool that lets you host webinars, video and audio calls, and collaborative teamwork sessions. The free version works well for straightforward virtual meetings and lets you host up to 100 participants.

Online Q&A session on Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams lets you collaborate on creative projects with your team through screen sharing and meeting rooms.
Source: Microsoft

Free features: 

  • Unlimited group meetings of up to an hour
  • Up to 100 participants per meeting
  • Unlimited chat
  • Wireless sharing
  • Cloud storage

Who it’s best for:

Microsoft Teams works well for all types of businesses that need to host webinars and create collaborative meeting rooms. It’s particularly convenient if you already use Microsoft products, like Microsoft 365. 

Let’s break it down even more

The table below shows how each tool stacks up against each other when it comes to key features in the free plan. 

Switchboard Google Meet Zoom Skype MS Teams
Meeting recordings
Virtual whiteboard Works with any web-based whiteboard e.g. FigJam
Sticky notes
In-room chat
Virtual office
File sharing
Permanent meeting rooms
Encrypted infrastructure and data security
Screen sharing and presenting capabilities
In-app support

How Switchboard’s rich features support collaboration

In Switchboard, you never have to worry about people dozing off during a presentation or meeting because it’s never just one-way. Instead of playing a game of screen-sharing musical chairs, you get a multiplayer experience where everyone can jump in, share content, and work alongside others. 

Sure, Switchboard offers video conferencing, but it’s so much more than that. It enables true collaboration with features built specifically for small remote teams. 

Here’s how. 

Feel like you’re in the same room

Switchboard lets you work side-by-side with your team to view, edit, and collaborate on important content and documents in real time. Everyone can participate in brainstorming instead of watching one person present, which improves the quality of your work and the flow of ideas. And you don’t have to switch screens, browsers, and tabs because your material permanently lives in your shared room—so it’s always available.

Switchboard room displaying a workshopped document.
Switchboard lets you work on documents during collaborative team sessions and video calls.
Source: Switchboard

Make meetings more engaging

In Switchboard, you can upload any type of content into your dedicated room and keep meetings, projects, and collaborative sessions productive and engaging. 

Since you don’t rely on screen sharing, you can get creative about how to make your meetings hands-on and productive, for example with real-time brainstorming on a virtual whiteboard.

Switchboard room displaying popular apps during a video call.
Switchboard makes it easy to use your favorite tools and web apps when working alongside your remote team.
Source: Switchboard

Get better visibility into projects

Use Switchboard to create a project room with your team and fill it with your favorite browser-based project management tools, documents, emails, to-do lists, gifs, and sticky notes. Anyone who needs to collaborate on the project has all the context and materials they need to get started. 

You can also record your meeting and store it in the room, so anyone who missed can catch up. This will help your team be more engaged during meetings because they’ll be up to speed on important project timelines, updates, and conversations. 

Bring back spontaneity

Switchboard is a central digital workspace for your remote team, which makes it easier for people to find each other on the fly. They can hop in and out of rooms throughout the day to gather information and strike up conversations with team members that turn into productive real-time collaboration.

Switchboard workspace with multiple browsers, in-room chat, a sidebar with rooms, and files.
Use your Switchboard workspace to organize key projects, clients, teams, and knowledge bases into collaborative virtual canvases.
Source: Switchboard

Free video conferencing platforms: Don’t just watch, do

Let’s face it–traditional, one-sided videoconferences don’t make you want to jump out of your chair with excitement, ready to pitch your ideas. Especially when one person at a time is sharing their screen, and you’re not quite sure when or how to jump in. Chances are, you’ll switch off and wait in the wings until it’s your turn to contribute. 

That’s why small remote or hybrid companies need the right free video conferencing platform to achieve true collaboration. These platforms should be specifically designed to bring people together and encourage a multiplayer, collaborative experience. This helps keep everyone on the same page and looking forward to checking into—not out of—meetings with their team. 

Tools like Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams are great for hosting straightforward remote or hybrid meetings. But Switchboard goes beyond just being a high-quality video conferencing solution. It’s built for small remote companies that want the feeling of working and collaborating together in the same room. With permanent meeting rooms, and the ability to work side-by-side, it’s a great choice for rising stars that need a dedicated, interactive space for collaborative meetings and projects.

Want a free video-conferencing platform designed for true collaboration?
Switchboard lets you work side-by-side with your team and share more than your screen—for free. 
Sign up

Frequently asked questions about free video conferencing platforms

Is there a free meeting app with no time limit?

While there are plenty of free video conferencing platforms available, Switchboard and Google Meet are the most popular ones that don’t have a time limit for video calls and meetings. Their ease of use, cloud storage and security, and strong video conferencing services make them both great options. 

However, for small businesses working online that are looking for true collaboration, Switchboard is the only option that lets you video chat while collaborating on files and documents in real time. Easily upload any type of web browser, Google doc, and Slack conversation right into your conference calls for meaningful teamwork and collaboration.  

Is Zoom video conferencing free?

Yes, Zoom has free video conferencing software included with its free plan. It also lets you host face-to-face virtual meetings on your mobile device using the mobile app. If you want to host up to 1,000 participants in video calls, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Which are the best free video conferencing apps?

There are lots of free video conferencing apps out there with various pricing models. But the best ones on the market for remote work are: 

  • Switchboard 
  • Google Meet
  • Zoom 
  • Skype 
  • MS Teams 

For small teams working from home or using a hybrid model, Switchboard is the best choice for true collaboration. It lets you go beyond screen sharing and traditional video and phone calls so you can share content with meeting participants directly in your meeting room. It also recreates in-person conference rooms with permanent meeting rooms, so nothing gets lost.

Switchboard logo

Want a free video-conferencing platform designed for true collaboration?

Switchboard lets you work side-by-side with your team and share more than your screen—for free.

Sign up for free