While group chat is a great resource, it's only available to coworkers and others who share your same domain. There may come a time when you need to invite other people -- contract workers, consultants, or even clients -- into the conversation.
That's where SmarterMail's Team Workspaces come into play. A Team Workspace includes real-time audio and video chat, inline Group Chat, and document sharing. NOTE: While any number of participants can be invited to a Team Workspace, audio and video chats are handled via a peer-to-peer system, so it's limited to up to 9 concurrent users.
A SmarterMail Workspace is a great way to gather people for an online meeting. You can start the workspace right from within the webmail client and then share your Workspace link with whomever you want to attend: others in your office, remote workers, or even someone outside of your organization. That's right: You can invite anyone to your Workspace -- all they need is the Workspace URL. There's no software to download, no services to sign up for and Workspaces are both desktop and mobile-friendly!
NOTE: In order to use Team Workspaces your SmarterMail installation MUST be secured with an SSL certificate. This is because the audio, video, and live chat connections require HTTPS connections in order to work properly and securely.
Creating a Team Workspace
Creating a team workspace is extremely simple. All you need to do is click on the Team Workspaces icon. Once the Team Workspace view opens, click the New button, and you'll be presented with this:
Simply title your workspace, and you're ready to get started. However, if you want some privacy, you can add a password to the workspace, BUT only the title is needed to actually create the workspace. Once you click the Save button, you can either stop there or open the new workspace and customize your settings.
Team Workspace Settings
After you create your Workspace, you can open it and modify its settings. As an aside, you can edit these settings at any time by clicking on the Settings (gear) icon whenever you open your Workspace. Below is what the settings page looks like:
Team Workspace settings include:
- Workspace Details - This is where you set up the Workspace security and access permissions. These options include:
- Title - This will be whatever you called the Workspace when it was initially set up, but you can change it at any time.
- Secure with a password - If you want to lock access to a Workspace with a password, that's not a problem. Simply set the password here to whatever you want. When sending out the invitation, however, be sure to let your participants know the password or they won't be able to join the Workspace.
- Allow guest users - Don't want to force your attendees to log in? No problem! Just enable "Allow guest users" and anyone with the link can attend the meeting, no log-in is required.
- File upload permissions - Each meeting workspace has the ability to allow users to upload files. However, the meeting organizer can set file upload permissions so that only the organizer has upload permissions, people who are authenticated users can upload files, or anyone can upload. NOTE: - It IS possible to restrict the file extensions that are able to be uploaded to a team workspace. However, the File Storage Extension Blacklist is set by the system administrator.
- Video Settings - This is where you set the defaults for the meeting. Generally, keeping settings low will limit the amount of bandwidth that's used for the Workspace, which is great if you or your users are on limited access networks.
- Webcam- This is the stream quality for your Workspace. Video can take up a lot of bandwidth, so keeping this set to Low is a "best practice" if at all possible.
- Microphone - This allows you to set the default microphone you use during the meeting. This will generally default to whichever default input device is set for your computer, but you can change it to headphones, an attached USB mic or any other input device you have set up.
- Speakers - Just as with the microphone setting, this is the audio output for the meeting. Again, this will generally default to whichever default output device is set up for your computer, but you can change it to whatever.
- Meeting Link - This is the link to the meeting that can be shared with whoever you want to attend. You can select the text and copy it, or use the copy icon.
- File Storage - This section will initially be empty. However, as you use the Workspace, it will keep track of the number of files shared in the meeting and the space taken up by those files.
- Chat - While chat is a great feature of Team Workspaces, it may be necessary to delete the chat. For example, if the same Workspace is used on a weekly or monthly basis for a meeting, you may want to delete the live chats after whatever information in the chat was transcribed to a separate document, once tasks have been created from action items, etc. This area allows you to delete all of the live chats that have occurred during the meeting.
Once you have all your settings in place, be sure to save them. As an aside, if you need to change a setting, like allowing guests to upload images, you can change that during the meeting and the setting takes effect immediately.
Access Previous Meetings
Any meeting room you create is saved in your Team Workspace view as a separate card in the Workspaces area. That means you can access, and re-access, any past meetings. While the video isn't saved, live chats and shared documents ARE saved in the workspace, allowing you to refer back to those at a later date whenever needed.
Not only are the meetings/workspaces that YOU create listed, so are workspaces that you've been invited to. To access these, simply click on the Participated Meetings option from the left navigation pane. Here, meetings that you've participated in are listed as separate cards. While you won't be able to edit any information on these cards, you do have the ability to revisit the meetings, see chats, re-login to the video chat, and more.
Want to use the same team workspace for multiple meetings? Not a problem: simply add the Team Workspace link to a recurring event invitation in your calendar and your event invitees will have instant access to your workspace for each recurring event, be it a meeting, a monthly roundtable discussion, or just to hang out and catch up.
Sharing Team Workspace URLs
The URL for a Team Workspace can be accessed in two locations:
- Using the Actions (...) menu on a Team Workspace's card -- simply click on the menu and select "Copy" from the dropdown. (a Team Workspace can be deleted from here as well.)
- By opening the Team Workspace and copying the URL from the Workspace's settings.
The first method is, by far, faster and more convenient. It allows you to quickly grab a Workspace URL and share it in a live chat, in an email, or when creating a single or recurring appointment.