Around 30 million American small businesses are being forced to shut-down or transition to remote operations indefinitely amid COVID-19, and that number is growing by the hour.
In an effort to help small business owners identify resources for this shift that won't break their already injured bank accounts, I've rounded up a few companies offering free services and trials during this period.
Microsoft - said it will limit restrictions on its free version of its collaborative communications tool, Teams. It’s also offering a six-month free trial for some of its basic package of Office 365 enterprise products to businesses that reach out to a Microsoft partner or sales representative. “By making Teams available to as many people as possible, Microsoft’s hope is that they can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Comcast has taken a number of steps to improve access to stable internet connections. It’s offering 60 days of free Internet Essentials service to all qualified low-income households—and has permanently increased the download and upload speed for existing Internet Essentials customers. The company also opened its network Xfinity Wi-Fi locations to non-subscribers, started giving internet customers unlimited data usage for 60 days, and will not disconnect internet service or assess late fees for people that reach out about not being able to pay their bill on time.
Google will allow free access to the enterprise version of Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education users. That plan includes up to 250 users per call, the ability to record meetings, and livestream capabilities for up to 100,000 viewers until July 1, 2020.
Cisco Webex Cisco is offering the free version of its Webex service with no time restrictions. In addition, it will allow up to 100 meeting participants and has added toll-free dial-in features with a 90-day license for businesses that are not already customers.
Zoom already offers a free version of its videoconferencing software, but the company is currently working to test its network to "ensure maximum reliability amid any capacity increases, as uptime is paramount," according to a blog post from the company's CEO.
Additionally, the company has created resources and is hosting information sessions to help small businesses use Zoom. It has also extended its free plan in China to allow unlimited meeting times and breakout rooms, and removed restrictions on participant limits.
Ring Central is offering 3 months of free service to impacted businesses.
Asana is a project management tool used to track projects across departments and companies. They offer a free version for teams.
Hubstaff is a web and desktop app that measures remote employees productivity and efficiency while on the clock. They offer a 14-day free trial.