Everyone dials in
I have a lot of experience running software team meetings with a lot of remote participants dialing in to a conference line. When a big chunk of your team is distributed, it’s important to get on the phone sometimes and hear each other’s voices. But these calls can be really hard to manage.
There’s nothing worse than being the remote participant on a conference call and struggling to make out the murmured conversations taking place in the conference room thousands of miles away — where the “main” participants are all sitting together, suddenly laughing about something you didn’t hear or understand. How is this a good use of your time? You had to get up early for this because you’re in the “wrong” time zone, and now you’re listening to the teacher in Charlie Brown.
On the SUSE Studio team, we had a “level playing field” rule for our weekly meetings. Even though a lot of us were clustered in Nürnberg, Germany, everyone dialed in to the meeting, putting every single person on an even footing. There’s no “local” and “remote.” Everyone has to speak clearly into the telephone.
When we instituted this rule, we noticed the “remote” participants joining in the conversation a lot more often, and the calls went a lot smoother.
This worked well for us. It might help you too. Let me know how it goes.