The past year has seen many massive shifts in how we communicate with one another. Video conferencing - once a niche way to talking online - has now become one of the primary ways to communicate both personally and for business.

There are many options available for those wishing to video chat online, with Skype and Zoom being two of the most widely used software. While Skype was one of the first to enjoy success, many have made the switch to Zoom for videophone and teleconferencing as the conversation are generally more smooth and effective.

Zoom’s 40 Minute Frustration

Why is Zoom becoming the primary method for videoconferences? The data volume is low and the audio is clear, so users can enjoy a very natural conversation. Also, the fact that you can chat from your PC as well as via your smartphone or tablet is a big attraction to many.

However, Zoom does have limitations that are becoming increasingly frustrating for its users. If you are a free member, you can chat with a group of three or more people - but there is a 40-minute call time limit. This means that if you are planning to hold a seminar longer meeting, you will have to disconnect the call and restart a new one unless you are a Premium subscriber.

However, paying for Zoom’s services may now solve the problem. In fact, whether you are a free member or a premium subscriber, Zoom has a set idle time into every call by which a video chat will automatically time out.

Why does this “idle time” exist, and how can you overcome this limitation for your personal or business video chat needs? Let’s break down Zoom’s idle time function, and discover an alternative solution to this frustrating issue.

What Are Zoom’s Time Limits?

Depending on the type of account and the number of participants, the time limits in Zoom may vary. If there is only one participant left in the meeting or webinar, the meeting may time out even quicker. Here are the general time limit guidelines for Zoom:

Free licenses (Basic)

Less Than 2 Users: Meeting Automatically Ends After 30 Hours

If the total number of hosts and participants is less than two, the system will time out after 30 hours, regardless of the number of hosts or participants.

3 Or More Users: Meeting Automatically Ends After 40 Minutes

If the total number of hosts and participants is 3 or more, the call will have a set time to end after 40 minutes. However, if you join from a Zoom Room in the same account, the timeout will not occur at 40 minutes - regardless of the number of participants in the call.

Paid licenses (Licensed and On-Prem)

Meeting ends after 30 hours

Regardless of whether the call is hosted or not, a video call will time out after 30 hours. It also does not matter who is participating in the call, and this limit applies to webinars as well.

1 Host & No Participants: Meeting Automatically Ends After 40 Minutes

If there is one host left in the call after all participants have left, the session will end after 40 minutes. The same limit applies to a webinar.

How To Avoid Zoom’s Idle Time Limits

The tricky part is timeouts due to idle time. In the case of scheduled meetings, there is rarely a single student left alone, but in the case of office hours, it is a problem. If one student leaves and then waits for the next student for 40 minutes, the timeout occurs. Here are three ways to deal with this, including a somewhat aggressive approach.

One down, one to go.

With Zoom becoming widely used by nearly every industry, it can be difficult to find a way to avoid Zoom’s idle time timeouts. The issue can vary depending on the industry.

One example is in education. In the case of scheduled meetings in education or online classes, there is rarely a single student left alone in a chat - so timeouts may not be an issue. However, in the case of teacher-led office hours, timeouts can pose a problem.

If one student leaves and then an educator has to wait for the next student's meeting for 40 minutes, a timeout may occur - forcing the teacher to restart the meeting and resend invites to students.

Let’s look at three ways to deal with idle time limits in Zoom - including a somewhat aggressive approach to solving this issue.

1. “One Down - One To Go”

According to Zoom’s software specifications, you will be timed out if you stay behind in a call alone after talking to someone. However, if you are waiting by yourself from the beginning, you will not be timed out. In other words, if you leave and re-enter a call after each instance of talking to someone, you will not face a potential timeout.

However, it can be a hassle to have to repeatedly remember to go in and out of calls - let alone, having someone else come in and out in between calls. Also, URLs can expire, so it may not be as effective to overcome Zoom’s limits this way.

2. Have Multiple Accounts

The minute two or more people are in a room, Zoom removes the automatic idle timeout. But what if you can confuse the system by creating another account and loggin into your own room using another device? By creating a second account and joining the call from your phone or tablet, you can increase the number of participants and avoid the timeout.

However, this option isn’t as easy if you only have a single device or if you are already using multiple accounts - as having to overcome this issue can be confusing and frustrating.

3. Make The Switch To Remotehour

Remotehour

What if rather than try to overcome Zoom’s limitation, you simply made the switch to a video chat solution that was as effective as Zoom without the limitations?

If you are looking for an alternative to Zoom, check out Remotehour! Remotehour is a video communication solution uniquely designed to implement office hours. Remotehour’s innovative office hour video software is already being used by professors at Stanford University and the State University of New York to facilitate communication with their students.

What Are The Benefits Of Switching To Remotehour?

No Timeouts

Tired of dealing with idle timeouts during your calls? Remotehour doesn't time out after 40 minutes of idle time as Zoom does. You also don't have to leave a big screen with your face on it open for all to see!

With Remotehour, you can simply visit your online dashboard and receive calls from your students as long as your status is set to “online.”

There is no idle time with Remotehour calls. Once your office hours are complete, you can change your status to away and the system will stop any incoming calls. In the meantime, students can schedule time for your next office hour session while you are away!

Automatic Notifications

With Zoom, you don't get a notification that users are waiting to join - even if there is a line of people in the waiting room.

Have you ever had an experience where you didn't notice that someone was waiting for you, and you had to wait for several minutes before realizing you needed to add them to the conversation? Nobody has time to sit and watch Zoom’s system for hidden notifications!

Remotehour will let you know that someone is knocking on your door with an innovative dial tone and web notification. If you install the Remotehour extensions for Chrome or Slack, it will automatically open a tab for you to chat with anyone when they knock on your digital office door!

No Installation or Registration Required

Best of all, guests do not need to install any software or register for an account to communicate with you through Remotehour.

To initiate a call, users simply enter their name and a message, click a single button, and they will be connected with you right away if you are online. You can also connect from anywhere with a browser - both on desktop and mobile devices.

Make The Switch From Zoom For Your Office Hour Needs

While Zoom is a useful tool for meetings with multiple people, it doesn’t quite have the capabilities to allow for engaging and effective one-on-one office hours. When it comes to hosting office hours with fast and convenient access, you need a tool that offers crystal clear video and audio with the ability to connect any time you need.

If you are thinking of conducting office hours, check out Remotehour online to learn more about making the switch to fast, more effective digital communication.