Category Archives: workspaces

10 Best Video Conferencing Tools For Remote Teams

Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and their team have to find novel ways to remain productive and stay connected with each other. With work from home notices across the world, video conferencing tools are booming, helping teams connect in real-time and allowing for remote networking. However, with this also comes the question of the effectiveness and usability of these online video chat software. Some can be pricey for a small business, while some open platform tools perform better than others.

Companies are increasingly finding and experimenting with online video conferencing software to find the right fit. The ideal choice is one which is easy to use, accommodate the various sizes of your department/teams, compatibility with various devices, operating system and so on. A business, even in this trying time, has to maintain its bottom line and thus ensure standard operational productivity by their employees.

Here are the 10 best video conferencing tools to engage with your remote teams:

1. Zoom

This platform has seen its business suddenly booming during this crisis. Zoom offers both free and paid versions, however, it has become the go-to platform for many small businesses. Up to 100 participants can join a single conference with a time limit of 40 minutes. For more advanced features such as meeting recording and multiple admins for additional controls, the Pro version costs $15 per month, per host. If you wish to use this for a larger gathering of around 300+ participants, one can upgrade to business or enterprise plan for $20 per month, per host.


  • For short usage, the free plan is great as it comes with screen sharing option and allowing 100 participants
  • Easy to set up meetings, link-based access to invitees to join a meeting
  • With Paid plans you can access analytics reports, user management, and administrative controls, along with this, you also get cloud space to record and save your meetings
  • Fun Fact: Say good riddance to dull backgrounds and uplift your look with a face filter called “Touch Up My Appearance” along with a virtual background


  • Meeting feed will cut off at 40 minutes since the start of it with the free version
  • In the news for privacy concerns which the company is currently addressing
  • Multiple hosts and add-ons become expensive on the paid version

Zoom has become one of the most popular platforms for various businesses due to its various offering in the free version. However, choosing a paid version will cost you per host, so be mindful of who can have access to undertake a video meeting.

2. Google Hangouts Meet

Not to be outdone by others, Google for a long time had come up with their own version of video call feature with your Google account called Hangouts. It’s free for personal Gmail users, supports up to 10 participants in its unpaid and G Suite Basic, and 25 people with the Business or Education accounts. Furthermore, Google’s paid video conferencing is Google Hangouts Meet which can allow up to 250 participants. Google Hangouts Meet is part of the G Suite features, pricing starts at $6 per user, per month.


  • Suitable to those already inducted with G Suite, as meetings can be integrated with Google Calendar
  • Easy access, participants can join from any device through browser link or app


  • Compulsory sign up with G Suite to use Hangouts Meet

In this COVID-19 pandemic, Google has opened up its Hangout Meets access to schedule a meet for free, without having to sign-up to G Suite. However, this may not last for long and you will need to arrange for an account with Google.

3. Microsoft Teams

At the outset, Microsoft Teams does not provide any free version, but this software is more than a simple video hosting platform. As part of Office 365 Business Essentials, it allows for collaborative tools and full-access meeting service. Compared to other services in MS Office’s tools, this is a cost-effective tool starting at $5 per user, per month.


  • Easy integration with other Office 365 apps such as Powerpoint and Excel
  • Participants can access a meeting without having to install or create an account with Microsoft Teams


  • Unless proven as an educational institution, there is no free version
  • Linked with Microsoft, so if you’re an Apple or Mac user, a training session will be required

The video hosting tool is one part of Microsoft Teams. Unless you or your organisation already have an overall MS Office set up, the meeting service can be a bit costly for just hosting meetings and video calls with your team or clients, as there are other services for this purpose.

4. Cisco Webex

Similar to Google Hangouts Meet, currently the unpaid version allows up to 100 participants with no time limit. Webex provides three plans to choose from, depending on your needs. Small business owners or team might better be suited for the starter plan of $13.50 per host, per month. The other two plans are more focused on midsize and large businesses.


  • Free plan is quite generous just by itself


  • Every host is considered as a “license,” thus, every time someone sets up a meeting, it can become expensive

Overall, Cisco Webex is the best video platform for business training, online learning, and webinars. The free service has also become a great choice for smaller teams and businesses for video conferences.


Under the free version, only three participants are allowed for a video call, while the paid versions, ‘ Pro’ and ‘ Business’, allows up to 10 participants.


  • Personalized and branded URL for meetings
  • Easy screen-sharing option


  • Video conferencing tool seems ad-hoc and not a strong suit
  • Limited access: one can only join a meeting with an iOS mobile device or Google Chrome. plays on vanity psychology with its circle-shaped video bubbles and personalised URL. Access is limited along with small participant limit. If you wish to host a meeting with over 10 people, this may not be the best bet.

6. GoToMeeting

Starting at $12 per month, per organizer, GoToMeeting can host up to 150 participants. The other feature is the business plan for $16 per month, for hosting up to 250 people. This platform also has advanced features like drawing tools and meeting transcripts. The annual subscription plan is more cost-effective for businesses of any type.


  • Easy to join meetings with a single click from any device
  • Personalized “meeting room”


  • No free plan

Belonging to the same parent company as, GoToMeeting is the better product of the two.

7. Skype

Skype has often been the go-to platform for making video calls as it allows free video calls for up to 50 people from any device – mobile, tablet, or computer. The only paid service is for making international calls via the Skype platform.


  • Every participant can screen-share, not just the host
  • Portrait mode, blurring the background and camera focus on you


  • Limit of only 50 people for a video call

Skype has been around for a while and many are familiar with it and remain a strong choice for the occasional video meetings. However, it may not be a suitable choice to host a video conference involving a larger group of over 50 people.

8. BlueJeans

Similar to Skype, BlueJeans can host up to 50 participants. While prices are quite cheap, starting at $9.99 per host, per month, it can record up to five hours of meeting. You can upgrade to the $13.99 monthly plan which can host up to 75 people and provides more advanced tools such as analytics and integration with other business tools. Custom plans are also available for Enterprise levels.


  • Cool features such as real-time chat, raise hands during meetings, and intelligent meeting recaps
  • Powerful Dolby voice audio and background noise cancellation
  • No downloads or installation needed


  • Lacks a free plan
  • Paid plan has member limit of 50 and 75 participants

BlueJeans caters to the professional aspect of video conferencing, brand agnostic and can easily integrate with Microsoft, Google, or Apple, for a seamless experience. However, there are other better resources available for both free and paid service to hosting a video conference.

9. Cyberlink U

It comes with a basic plan for free, hosting up to 25 participants with a 30-minute time limit. The paid plan amounts to $29.99 per month, per host, with a 50-person meeting limit, where to host 100 people, one will need to upgrade to the $49.99 per month, per host, plan. Enterprise plans are also available with advanced meeting analysis however, pricing is undisclosed and accommodates only 100 participants.


  • Live notes or message during an ongoing meeting
  • Share a specific application, instead of the entire desktop, along with a range of annotation tools and a whiteboard mode
  • No downloads, registrations, or complicated dial-in numbers


  • Steep pricing of its paid services, compared to other video conferencing platforms

Cyberlink U’s interface has plenty of unique features. For a short meeting with a small number of participants, the free plan is quite suitable. For heavy usage, other platforms are far better than this one.

10. Lifesize

Lifesize’s free plan can host up to 25 participants, with no time limit for a meeting. The standard plan is for $16.95 for one host per month and can host up to 100 participants. For small to medium-sized businesses, the $14.95 per month, per host, plan, allows to host up to 300 meeting participants which can be a suitable choice, however, there is a minimum sign up for a minimum of 15 hosts.


  • End-to-end encryption for video calls
  • 4K hosting experience for a more professional meeting


  • Limit of only 25 people on the free plan

A cloud-based videoconferencing and collaboration platform, Lifesize, can work on all devices and platforms. It also offers a free trial to excite interest for a limited time period.


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Modern Meeting Room Design Tips for Coworking Spaces

Meeting rooms are an integral part of office space, it constitutes at least a quarter of your workspace design. Prominent research has depicted that various teams spread across different sectors and organizations spend most of their working hours in a meeting room, ideating and brainstorming.

Meeting rooms are mostly the secluded part of your office space, where most of the action and implementation takes place. Meeting rooms in coworking spaces are known for their innovative design and tech-enabled environment, which supports innovation and aids productivity.

Even though meeting rooms are a crucial element of coworking space designs, they are the most ignored. Gone are the days of dull and dingy meeting rooms, everyone prefers a vibrant-looking meeting room, which has a positive impact on an employee’s mood and keeps them motivated to accomplish the goals on their to-do list. There are many factors which contribute in shaping the overall look and feel of a meeting room, which includes the kind of furniture and their placement, lights and acoustics, conferencing equipment and the room décor, these design factors are an integral factor in the success or failure of a meeting, for a meeting room is an important factor which helps form the first impression.

Here are a few tips to design meeting rooms for coworking spaces:

Chalk out your audience

Before setting out to design a meeting room, it is imperative to understand the likes and preferences of your target audience. The idea ‘one-size-fits-all’ is a notion of the past, it is important to understand that with the emergence of new-age professions, different kind of work demands a different workspace experience. For example, a radio artist or a VFX director would need a sound-proof room whereas a marketing team would need a collaborative space, different key aspects of the meeting room like the lighting, furniture or sound system have to be designed keeping in mind the preferences of customers.

Pro Tip:
Bifurcate your target audience in terms of their profession, team member count and preference, before drawing the meeting room design.

Technology and Connectivity

Technology failure is the most common problem faced by people while conducting a meeting. Technology is a key aspect of your, it can either make or break the deal. Everyone demands a tech-enabled meeting room which helps increase their productivity and maximize employee engagement. A state-of-the-art conference room with the latest amenities like high-speed wifi, projectors, and display systems, concierge services aids the overall experience of the employees.

Coworking spaces should also focus on devising an easy way of booking meeting rooms, most of the problems faced by clients while booking a meeting room in a coworking space is that of no-show bookings and multiple bookings, an efficient app can be designed to simplify the process of booking meeting rooms.

Pro Tip:
Meeting rooms can be equipped with IoT for easy operation and maximizing energy efficiency

Design and Aesthetics

Another common problem while designing meeting rooms is sticking to the old and outdated designs. Gone are the days of dull and dingy meeting rooms, everyone prefers a aesthetically designed meeting rooms, with ample of seating arrangements and adequate lighting. A well-ventilated meeting room, with comfortable furniture, can make all the difference.

Pro Tip:
Research the analytics and study the utilization of data before designing the meeting room.

Focus on the walls

The texture of the wall determines the vibe of the space while having a positive and serene effect on the mood of the individual. Walls that have pastel shades or vibrant designs have a calming effect and help combat a high-stress work environment. A graceful wall décor can, not just add colors but also complement the individual’s sense of purpose.

Pro Tip:
Exposed brick designs and vibrant wallpapers are an upcoming trend.

The three basic considerations while coming up with meeting room designs are- floor space, privacy, and technology integration because meeting rooms are the spaces where most of the productive interactions happen. It can have a positive impact on the way meetings are conducted and the direction they steer. An excellent meeting room design is not only aesthetically pleasing but also takes into consideration employee comfort.


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Transforming Workspaces For the Future Employees

As we enter the new decade, it is imperative that workspace ranging from traditional office space to coworking/co-sharing spaces are ready to retain the new-age workforce in their businesses. The workspaces for the future are going to be revolutionized soon.

Over this decade, 693 million workers will enter retirement, causing a major worldwide shift in the modern workplace. This will result in businesses hoping to recruit and retain talent to go the extra mile to ensure their workspaces are adapted to the unique needs and expectations of younger workers. Flexibility will become more and more valuable as we enter the era of Generation Z.

Millennials, those born between 1981 to 1995 and Gen Z (sometimes referred to as Gen Alpha), those born after 1995 will become the major chunk of the workforce. According to a study by Cushman & Wakefield, which examined the biggest changes in demographics and a workplace culture that will happen over the next 10 years, some 1.3 billion Gen Z members will enter the workforce this decade.

This is a big number! And on top of it, these Gen Z are also digital natives, meaning, they don’t know a world without internet or smartphones and their habit reflects that. These digital natives are always clicked on and have more knowledge than even their immediate Millennial peers.

So how can enterprises tune their workspace for future employees?

Holistic Workplace Strategy

To create a shared workspace, enterprises need to understand the cultural significance of Gen Z. Millennials are moving in the bracket of the new elders and are most likely to stick with their existing business. However, Gen Z is looking to more than just earning a living. They seek experiences and a better work-life balance. An agile workspace needs to cater to their professional growth while also giving avenues for self-growth such as recreational areas from a gym to a basketball court.

Fewer Silos More Collaborative Space

Professionally, Millennials and Gen Z now expect a shared workspace where there is free-flowing of information and accessibility. This means less siloed departments and more collaborative spaces with an employee-centric workplace.

As the way work changes, enterprises should be able to physically change as well. A space that is more collaborative physically. Offering wellness programming or a robust and dynamic design plan that puts employee needs first, without sacrificing productivity, will help companies easily align with the younger generation of workers seeking long-term careers.

Going The Extra Mile

For the younger generation, talking about inclusivity and sustainability is not enough. A business needs to showcase that they can walk the talk.

According to Cushman & Wakefield, 29 percent of Millennials rank environmental concerns as their top priority. Whereas, Gen Z has the highest level of social awareness, and that is reflected in their employment choices. Corporate social responsibility, alongside flexibility, is perhaps the leading competitive recruitment strategy moving into the next decade.

Brands and companies that are looking to highlight their positive contributions, will be more attractive to Gen Z.


A cubicle is a thing of the past and Gen Z will most likely not join a company that still has this type of setup. Soft furnishings that can be changed with the needs of the office and through subscription services are more popular than ever and with good reason. A coworking space that gives people the power to make their own space will be more successful in retaining talent. Business-wise it makes sense as there will be less waste and consumption which allows for more flexibility to create the workspace for the future.

Understanding the trends of Gen Z will ensure enterprises are ready to hire and retain this new workforce. They will, after all, lead your business and having flexibility at work will allow them to grow and get new talents too.


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Bursting 5 misconceptions around coworking spaces

Over the last few years, professionals across the globe have been ditching traditional office spaces in favor of coworking, but some professionals are skeptical of the shift as this movement disrupts long-held business norms. People often think coworking spaces are too distracting, only for startups, or just a glorified term for any other office space.

While many coworking spaces do have a casual vibe, they are definitely much more ‘work’ than play. So, today, let’s debunk some of the most common coworking myths once and for all!  

Misconception: “Coworking spaces are not for big enterprises.”

Truth: While coworking facilities are great for startups as they cut overhead costs, startups are not their primary users. Gone are the days when the majority of occupants at coworking spaces were startups or small enterprises. With affordable prices, a dynamic environment and ease in transitions (staffing, location, and renovations) many large enterprises are looking towards coworking spaces as a solution. Even Smartworks, in addition to several budding businesses, is home to conglomerates including Jaguar, and Amazon India.  

Misconception: “Our business has a fully-functional office, so a coworking space isn’t suitable for the company.”

Truth: Traditional office spaces are a comfort zone for a majority of businesses, which is why coworking spaces become uncharted territory for them.

But the perception is slowly changing with professionals believing in a change of scenery. Companies are today using co-working spaces for a variety of tasks, for example, hosting business meetings with visiting clients, providing workspace solutions for short-term employees or renting the space during the expansion of the business.

Also Read: Fun Things That You Can Do in a Coworking Space

Misconception: “ Coworking spaces will only work for my business if I were a solo entrepreneur.”

Truth: Another name for a coworking space is “flexible space.” The coworking model is flexible and works for businesses of all sizes, be it independent workers, small businesses or satellite locations for larger corporations. According to an industry report by JLL, “Workspace, Reworked: Ride the Wave of Tech-Driven Change,” flexible workspaces will comprise up to 30 percent of corporate real estate portfolios by 2030. Which means coworking spaces will not only work for solo entrepreneurs but also provide an excellent setting for all size of enterprises looking to combat isolation and to thrive in a productive environment.

Misconception: “ Coworking spaces are an extrovert-friendly arena.”

Truth: People often think of coworking spaces as offices with a  bunch of hipster programmers working on their start-ups, walking in and out with their pets, usually wearing pajamas. That’s really not true. A coworking facility does not confine to a set layout, every space is different, and some are designed to facilitate socialization more than others. While some spaces offer open office space, others provide private offices.

These spaces include both common areas as well as spaces for independent work. Therefore, professionals get to choose the extent of socialization and can strike a balance between mixing and personal autonomy. This benefit offers space for personal expression and creativity, making coworking professionals thrive.

Misconception: “Coworking spaces mean people who share a job.”

Truth: This is one of the most common misconceptions about a coworking space. People tend to assume that only similar businesses and jobs share a coworking space. Getting different professionals to work together is not always the purpose of a coworking space instead of a coworking environment often has professionals working on various projects or even in different industries.

What sets coworking spaces apart, is the rapport that coworkers working in different industries build, as their work relationships grow. Such camaraderie allows for a transfer of knowledge across industry lines which has the potential to bring insights and innovation to disparate fields.

Coworking is a unique business model that has something for every business. So, if you’re on a hunt for the most productive and profitable environment for your business, consider coworking.



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5 Characteristics that Make Good Workspaces GREAT

Times are changing fast. Workspaces that people yearned for, expected and cared about a few years ago are so different than today. The first priority for founders and managers today is to create an environment where the work is both exciting and challenging. A place where careers blossom and the bottom line thrives.

So what are the essential values and behaviors that every organization must follow to thrive in the future? What can an organization do to ensure that a workspace is a place where employees want to be and not have to be? Focus on creating a workspace that goes way beyond choosing nice decor or comfy chairs.

In this article, we’ve enlisted five essential characteristics of a workplace that attracts and motivates people to come to work every day.   

Authentic leadership

The success of any great workspace arguably hinges on great leaders. From executives down to front-line managers, authentic leaders demonstrate respect, credibility, and fairness to employees and the organization.

These leaders consistently present a clear vision for their company and increase trust every time they listen carefully to employees and live up to their word. So start by identifying, hiring and promoting leaders who cultivate strong bonds with their teams, connect everyone to the mission of the organization, and spotlight team members’ successes.

Also Read: 5 Must-Read Books For Entrepreneurs Recommended By Billionaires like Steve Jobs

Clear purpose

A great workplace, or any workplace for that matter, has a clear and specific purpose for existing which is captured and ingrained in every action or decision a company takes. A 2014 study by Deloitte found that an organization that focuses on ‘purpose’ is an organization that inspires higher levels of confidence among stakeholders and one that boosts growth. Similarly, a 2010 Burson-Marsteller/IMD Corporate Purpose Impact study found that a strong and well-communicated corporate purpose can contribute up to a 17 percent improvement in financial performance.

So make sure that your organization has a clear purpose in place. Your employees should have a clear understanding of this purpose and must be enlightened by leaders as to how their roles help to achieve the company’s purpose.

Equal opportunities

The cardinal rule of a great workspace is maximizing its human potential. When all employees are at their best at work, it’s better for businesses, better for people and better for the world.   

Create a culture that allows every employee to be innovative and contribute to their own capacity. Even Apple’s Steve Jobs firmly believed companies that want to retain great employees have to let them make decisions. IBM in 2006 invited 150,000 employees, family members, business partners and clients to an online brainstorming session called an ‘Innovation Jam.’ Participants from 104 countries responded, and their ideas led to $100 million in investments by IBM on suggested projects.

Diversity & inclusion  

With the millennial generation entering and representing the significant segment of the workforce, the expectations are changing. Workforce, today, expects their employers to create inclusive spaces around gender, race and even sexual orientation. They look forward to open and candid communication where everyone should be able to voice their perspective respectfully.  

Therefore, companies should take note and add multigenerational positions within the organization where inputs from anyone and everyone are appreciated.

Workspaces that WOW you

Employees today don’t need a lavish multi-story office to feel more productive. Design working environments that are safe, comfortable and hassle-free. Ideal workspaces are those where people feel free to move around, don’t feel tied to their desks, and create more opportunities for creative collaboration.

That’s where co-working spaces like ours come into play. Make a switch today to spaces that allow for privacy, collaboration, and networking.


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Solving the Snag with Smartworks: Vibe ain’t right!

Are the daily tasks lists and meetings the only reasons for your gloomy mood and fatigue? While most of us unconsciously blame it on the certain external factors, we miss the most important one- the vibe of your workplace.

The vibe of any place has the power to set the mood for the day, and this holds true for coworking spaces as well. Depending on who or what is using the space, a coworking space can go from utter chaos one day to being as quiet as a library the next.

Even at a regular office space ‘work’ becomes a convenient scapegoat. However, the real culprit is the disapproving vibe existing in the air around you. The inexplicable nagging and constant pessimism have become quite prevalent in most workplaces. At a coworking space, the intensity of such a vibe tends to increase due to the variety of companies working there. Every firm working in the vicinity will have their good and bad days which most likely won’t be in sync with yours. While most days would be spent in harmony, there will be others where this ‘vibe’ might float over to your side.

Fret not, at Smartworks; we believe the vibe at a coworking space can only be what you make of it. And it can be so much more than just another place to get work done. The potential for productive networking within a coworking space is one of the significant advantages. Interacting with individuals beyond your colleagues can be therapeutic of sorts. When done right, this networking can be low-key and feel as productive as a brainstorming session with colleagues.

That said, there needs to be just the right amount of interaction and privacy. At Smartworks, we provide fully-customizable workspaces to suit your business and employees needs. From a smart suite, a non-intrusive office space that shadows your business’ ethos, to a smart cube, a space with the best of both worlds- private, with the benefits of networking as well. There is an option to suit every need. Moreover, regular interactive events act as an ice-breaker between firms. It not only provides a much-needed breather from mundane work but also presents an excellent opportunity for healthy networking.

Lastly, the coworking mentality is one of openness. We believe in nurturing a supportive community where one shares the knowledge that can not only help a co-worker but also lead to future gains. We also believe in creating a harmonious environment where all our members can thrive in good energy.


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Smartworks Takes Bengaluru!


A casual stroll in Cubbon park, an exciting evening at Koramangla, breakfast at Brahmins’ Coffee Bar or a shopping spree at Brigade road. Bengaluru is not just a melting pot of cultures but also the Silicon Valley of the country. Here, a number of successful startups were conceived and today, new ones are born every fortnight. So, the tech-first city invariably became our choice for our newest coworking space.

With recently launched centres in Hyderabad and Mumbai, we’re all set to launch our biggest centre yet in Bengaluru. We’re thrilled to be back in the city to open our second centre at the Global Tech Park in the beautiful suburb of Bellandur.

Accessibility feels like a dream in a city known for its exasperating traffic. To soften this blow, we decided on a strategic location to ensure your corporate life is a joyride. Our flagship centre is easily accessible to all parts of the city via BMTC and close proximity to key residential hubs like Outer Ring Road, Bellandur et al. Keeping in mind the frequency of travel for work, the Baiyappanahalli metro station, and the KR Puram railway station are at a distance of 15 km and 10.5 km respectively.

The luxurious marble-finished double-height lobby and perfectly manicured lawn will greet you as soon as you step into the spacious compound.  It not only offers plenty of natural light but also superior indoor air quality. As you look around, biophilic architecture and open walkways will catch your eye. Furthermore, the enormous centre has enough space to house 5000 members.

The members enjoy benefits like multi-cuisine restaurants, planned crèche and gym facilities in the vicinity of their workspace. Not to forget, our offices have opened the doors to your furry friends as well (pet-friendly). Whether it’s taking a much-needed coffee break in the smart cafeteria or a quick pop-in to the nearby mall, this new centre has it all. In addition to malls, the centre is at a stone’s throw away from premier hotels like Royal Park Plaza, NOVOTEL, Aloft, IBIS, CITRUS and retail outlets like More HyperMart, Total Mall.

We’re excited to take a plunge into Bengaluru’s bustling tech scene through the reinvention of traditional office spaces. We’re certain that our coworking space will become an indispensable part of the city. Come and experience the true essence of coworking and productivity at our centre!


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