The ash cloud caused by the eruption of a volcano beneath the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland has led to travel chaos across much of northern Europe, disruption that is now stretching into a second week. Flights are grounded and many meetings are being missed.

The ash cloud caused by the eruption of a volcano beneath the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland has caused travel chaos across much of northern Europe, and the disruption is now stretching into a second week. Airports are closed, flights are grounded, passengers are stranded — and many meetings are being missed.

While in some cases a face-to-face meeting is an absolute necessity, sometimes you can get by using technology. If you’re grounded this week, give these apps a try — they’re all available for very low cost (and some of them are free).

  • Skype For a quick teleconference with a few participants, VoIP service Skype is great. You can use a webcam for video calling, and the latest versions of the software enable screen sharing. The basic Skype service is free, and the client software is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and many mobile devices.
  • Dimdim — For larger meetings, you’ll need a more robust web conferencing tool than Skype. My personal favorite is Dimdim, as it’s got a great feature set for a good price. Other tools available include WebEx and GoToMeeting.
  • SocialText — Corporate social networking tools are useful for communicating with colleagues and keeping them up-to-date with what you’re working on. SocialText is very full-featured (it’s kind of like Facebook for businesses), but there are other, simpler tools, such as Yammer and present.ly.
  • 5pm — A good project management tool can go a long way toward keeping stakeholders informed about the progress of a project, reducing the need for update meetings. I like 5pm as it’s well-designed, but other good options include Basecamp and Wrike.
  • OffiSync — The latest version of OffiSync (a nifty little program that allows you to sync Office documents using a Google Docs account) allows for document co-authoring — which means that two or more people can work simultaneously on the same document. While it’s never going to be as good as being in the same room with your co-workers, if you need to collaborate on a document remotely, it’s worth trying. Free.
  • Tungle — Need to reschedule your meeting? Free app Tungle will help you find a time that’s convenient for everyone.

Are you affected by the ash cloud? What are you doing about it?

Photo courtesy Flickr user thorvaldurkarl, licensed under CC

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By Simon Mackie

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  1. Simon-

    Great reminder of the tools available to keep people working. I’ve used most of what you suggested, but hadn’t heard of 5pm before, excited to check it out.

    Thanks for including Dimdim in your list!

    Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager
    Dimdim Web Conferencing
    e: kevin@dimdim.com
    twitter: @dimdim
    facebook: dimdim.com/facebook

  2. Hi Simon,

    RHUB’s 4-in-1 web conferencing appliance is also a great tool for working remotely. It’s a self hosted appliance, so once it’s set up, you can access your office or home computer from anywhere as long as you have internet connection. You can host meetings, webinars, do screen sharing, desktop access with one appliance.

  3. One thing can be said for sure. CISCO web presence is going to get lot of benefit if this situation continues. Experts say that these volcanoes continue to erupt as long as 1-2 yrs, lol
    No air travel till that time. i cant imagine. huh

  4. Thanks for including Dimdim in your list!

  5. Thanks for this sharing. I’ve got a friend stuck at the airport for a couple of days and it’s causing him a lot of losses in his business. I might as well have to share this link with him and others I know of, so the next time something like this happens — we can still stay connected. Cheers!

    On a side note, I’m loving Skype. The best I’ve ever used so far.

  6. [...] : There are more tools which have been talked by Simon Mackie which we highly recommend you to check. Flight Cancellations [...]

  7. [...] : There are more tools which have been talked by Simon Mackie which we highly recommend you to [...]

  8. We used mind meister to connect to our London office folks last week. Worked flawlessly! I’ve been using a number of these already, but the 5pm looks interesting. Thanks!

  9. If it is to be a long conference call, you want a wideband conference bridge like ZipDX, better audio quality will make it less painful.

    If it’s a quick informal meeting and you need to collaborate with folks over an image or a webpage design try twiddla.com .

    If it is a long-term collaboration and you are a disciplined team (re)try
    google wave – it was designed for this stuff -even if it is still a bit rough around the edges.

    • disclaimer: twiddla.com is a phonefromhere.com customer.
  10. Thanks for the review. But I still think Skype is the best on market. I will give a look at OffiSync because I already use Google Docs and sharing data in our team really matters.

  11. Another option is to use a hosted VC service like the one provided by Attend Anywhere (www.attendanywhere.com).

    We utilise VidyoConferencing(tm) technology which allows for very high quality, multi-participant video conferencing from your desktop over the internet.

    It only takes a minute to set up as well.

    And since it works on PAYG credit there is no long term commitment.

  12. Simon,

    Another tool people may wish to turn to is Pixetell, a visual communications technology that’s ideal for working remotely http://www.pixetell.com. It gives you the ability to collaborate and communicate with colleagues like web conferencing but without having to align schedules to make it happen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7-Vtyr7yIM.

  13. [...] San Francisco with many of my colleagues and community members from around the world, but the giant volcanic ash cloud over Europe put a damper on the final day of the conference as my European friends started to realize that [...]

  14. Nice article, Simon.

    There’s been a new app specialized in meetings and minutes. It’s Yoomit – http://www.yoomit.com – and allows anyone or any organization to organize their meetings and minutes.

    Everyone adds agenda itens and discuss them, uploads support documents, takes personal notes etc.
    Then you write the conclusions, assign tasks and close the meeting in professional-looking minutes!

    Using the discussion feature, people can even have a meeting from a distance, say, being each participant at their airport – although there’s no real-time talk, you can leave comments and have a “talk”.

    The personal account is free and although there’s no collaboration (discussion) in the free version, you can schedule meetings with anyone and are still able to upload documents for agenda items.


    Website: http://www.yoomit.com
    Twitter: @yoomit

  15. Simon,
    Thank you for linking to Wrike! We’ve recently released the new version beta. You can check it out at wrike.com/beta. Would be great to hear your feedback on it!

  16. [...] so, I wish you a very speedy return home. In the mean time, there are some pretty good VoIP based tools to help you stay connected published by WebWorker Daily. Posted by ruthiez Filed in World News [...]

  17. [...] so, I wish you a very speedy return home. In the mean time, there are some pretty good VoIP based tools to help you stay connected published by WebWorker [...]


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