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).
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?
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