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Cover image for Why I Love Skype Meetings

Why I Love Skype Meetings

_patrickgod profile image Patrick God Updated on ・3 min read

Let me get this straight. I’m talking about Skype meetings with fellow coders – not management or marketing meetings where all attendees are in a conference room and someone is connected remotely via Skype (although I do like to talk about management or marketing topics).

Anyways…

I’d say most modern software development teams use SCRUM. Hence, they have their daily stand-ups. If you have team members who work remotely, chances are, you do this stand-up via Skype or Google Hangout and everyone enjoys the conversation comfortable at their desk with the webcam turned on. You’re able to enjoy your tea or coffee and can simultaneously look at the tasks you’ve finished yesterday and the tasks you have to do next. If anything is a bit hard to explain verbally, anyone can share his screen and show the mentioned issue. Which brings me to another big advantage.

As a back-end developer, I talk to our front-end colleagues a lot. We talk about the next tasks, we brainstorm about the best UI/UX solution (if the UX people are not around…) and of course, we discuss the HTTP calls and the JSON stuff we have to exchange. And we do all this via Skype while someone shares the screen. This works tremendously.

Granted, we have to do it this way, because we’re not working at the same place. But even when I have the chance to sit together in front of one screen and discuss technical stuff, I prefer the Skype way. It’s easier to switch the shared screen. I can focus on the screen of my colleague as if it was mine because in fact It really looks like it’s mine. Wearing a headset removes almost any distractions because I can concentrate on the voice of my co-worker. And, if the volume is set to low, I can even listen to background music. If we have to clarify technical problems with three or more people, nobody has to squeeze behind one desk and nobody is standing behind me and looking over my shoulder (I hate when people are looking over my shoulder – maybe this resonates with you). With all that, even pair programming works great with Skype. As Scott Hanselman put it:

“Sometimes I’ll just Skype a co-worker and put them on another monitor and we’ll work together quietly, like cube-mates.”

So working remotely doesn’t have to feel lonely anymore. With the right tools, it feels like you are in the office together with a co-worker, if you want to.

Last but not least, another great advantage: while the others are losing themselves in small talk which has nothing to do with your tasks and doesn’t really interest you, you can secretly work on your code without them noticing. But don’t tell anyone.

What are your experiences with Skype or Google Hangout? Do you think these tools are more important than ever or do you still believe in face-to-face conversations?

This post was originally published on programmergoals.com.


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Patrick God

@_patrickgod

Into code as long as I can remember. First games, then web, now both. Located in the sweet Taunus-region in Germany. Always eager to learn, create and teach something new.

Discussion

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It's alright. It works, mostly. Can't say I love it. Everything feels harder and less personal than meeting face to face to me, and people always start talking at the same time. "Go ahead", "No, it's OK, you go ahead" etc.

 
  • can you hear me?
  • yeah I can hear you. Can you hear me?
  • sorry say it again mate?

If that doesn't happen it's alright as long as teams are small enough. I've had calls when teams had more than 10 people and it was too difficult in most cases just because there was so much going on the stand-up that it was easy to get lost on what's going on.

 

Granted, with 10 people it can get messy. Currently, we are 7 at most and it still works. Maybe we're just lucky that we don't have many technical issues?

 

Probably lucky enough. It's good as long as it works 🙂

 

I don't like telephone conferences, no matter if initiated with computer software or not.

  • voice quality is bad (I'm pretty sure it was much better 20 years ago)
  • there's a delay that is just long enough that the one talking last starts to repeat when someone else starts to answer
  • some people activate hands-free, which is often accompanied by an echo, which makes them and everybody else even harder to understand
  • the ones working in their home office or an open space office "entertain" everybody with their background noise
  • another great feature of some telephones is to play music in the conference when muting or calling someone else on a 2nd line (well, at least you don't make this mistake more than one or two times)

But Skype/Hangout/... are okay for pair programming and when you want someone else to take a look at a problem on your computer (screen sharing).

 

I'm with you. A proper setup is mandatory. That's why we use Skype with a headset and a webcam. Everyone tries to provide a quiet space so that nobody gets annoyed and if anything is disturbing (like a ringing phone, cracking headsets, loud background, etc) we simply tell each other and the problem gets solved almost always immediately.

 

Personally I share the same point of view as you. Skype or any other tool that enables to share screen is a significant facilitation in daily work. I think that anyone knows that a picture is worth thousand words.
Currently I'm working with people which are working in different locations and I can't imagine my work without possibility to share me screen to other developer or even manager :)
In the past I was working with people which were accustomed to tool which didn't support call and desktop sharing. They were using it and they were happy because tool itself was easy to use. When they want to make a call they did it through traditional phone. By the way it was huge waste of time. This situation lasted for many years. Together with my colleagues I introdced them Skype. At the beginning they were sceptical but voice calls and desktop sharing convinced them. They didn't imagine why the had used this old tool so long...

 

Thanks for sharing your story. I don't want to miss screen sharing either. :)

 

Wait so there's nothing about Skype specific, just as audio video calls.
I'll recommend in your situation to try zoom, it has a cool good whiteboard feature beside share screen and video, good for collaboration.

 

You're right on with the collaboration stuff. For instance, we use Visio for any flow charts that we want to draw together or a web-based whiteboard tool if we want to draw anything else.

 

I totally had the "working together quietly like cube-mates" experience via Skype and it was pretty awesome.

My friend and I had worked out some software issues with an art installation I'm helping her with and we moved on to just doing some physical assembly on our respective components for a while. It was nice to be on camera together kind of sharing a space together even though technically we were several thousand miles apart.