Day: November 3, 2016


How are your feelings about teleconferences? In my experience, they are nearly always a complete disaster. It doesn’t seem to matter if you use Skype or Skype Web, video chat using an app on your phone, or rely on expensive university-paid videoconferencing protocols in rooms that are specifically designed for that purpose, there is always at least one and usually several occurrences of image freezing, breaking, or completely disappearing; of the calls randomly disconnecting; and of people being unable to show slides or other electronic materials, even though the subscription should clearly cover it. When I want glitch-free communication, I always have to resort to the phone. Some VoIP services are excellent.

I am about to head to a meeting which has always been in-person only (all people are local). The meetings are scheduled well in advance and are infrequent. If someone has to be absent, they are absent. Recently, an accommodation request has been made for a reason for which I would personally never request  accommodation (convenience rather than necessity or urgency), and now I foresee we will spend  1/3 of the time making sure the person can hear or see us, re-connecting, waiting for them to unfreeze, and repeating stuff because they are cut off. The room is in no way set up to accommodate a video conference and they will be able to only see a couple of people, at best. If the person absolutely must be present, I would much prefer them calling in (although that is a pain, as well, when many people are present and no appropriate conference microphone is available).

I was going to deny the accommodation and tell the person to either show up or sit it out, but a staff person jumped in and offered the requested flexibility. Me denying it now would make me a douche on multiple fronts. However, since I am in charge of the meeting, I most definitely do not want this to become the norm and be sought all the time because it makes us highly ineffective, and what we do is time sensitive, takes considerable focus, and we meet infrequently enough that people can just find a way to just be there in person.