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I work on with a fairly small development team (4), and we normally do daily standups and check-ins at days end. Recently we have started a required all day voice call meeting in teams with all the developers, QA, Manager, and Product Strategist and sometimes others that are optional. During this time random conversations (about important topics that do not involve everyone) spark all day that often can be distracting while trying to work. I would just mute everyone but then you never know when they might ask you a question.

How does it make sense to have this all day call, how can I explain that using Teams and direct message is a more effective approach? thoughts?

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    Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Or that a micromanager is in charge. – Peter K. Jul 24 at 16:18
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    Have you checked with the Others that it also makes things worse for them? – guest Jul 24 at 16:25
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    Are the developers working during this time or is it obvious that they are not working? Has there been talk of reorganizing departments/teams? – HenryM Jul 24 at 17:40
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    This has "nope" written all over it. – Joel Etherton Jul 24 at 19:54
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    2 questions: (1) Have you or anyone else tried simply not joining the call? The call stops having any value at all if enough people just don't join. (2) Do you think this will last long? It sounds like a half-baked idea that someone just wanted to try, and I wonder if people will just give up on it after a little while. – ASDFQWERTY Jul 25 at 0:43
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How does it make sense to have this all day call

It doesn't make any sense.

If this is a new experiment, you can just let it fail naturally, as everyone learns how ridiculous it is.

If this is an ingrained and entrenched practice, you'll have to learn to live with it. If it were me, I'd mute the sound when I actually wanted to get something done, or at least turn the volume way down.

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    Not just mute the sound, but also turn the camera off. Alternatively, taking the laptop with the sound left on when one needs to take a bathroom break might help stop this policy. "Sorry about the noises; I had kielbasa and sauerkraut for dinner last night." – David Hammen Jul 25 at 14:22
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All day voice team meetings, where you are forced to listen for hours to conversations which are irrelevant to you, really? How do people come up with these ideas? It's obvious to even a child that this is a drain on productivity. The only reason I can think for it, is that your manager is a controlfreak and wants to be able to check on you every moment if you are paying attention/working. If this is indeed (partly) the reason behind this, then maybe you can stop this madness by addressing his/her (irrational) fear of you and your colleagues slacking off in some other way.

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Yikes, this all day phone call sounds like a terrible idea.

I see four strategies you can pursue, in combination or separately:

  1. Remove yourself from the call. Don't ask for permission. Do show empathy.
    For example, "I'm quite worried I won't be able to contribute to these conversations while I'm focusing on coding, which as you all understand requires a lot of attention, so I'll have to mute/leave the call. I would hate for someone to ask a question of me on the call and for it to go ignored or unanswered. So that I can better communicate with the team, I'll be available on chat and for scheduled meetings, but alas I cannot listen with half an ear all day while coding. It would simply not give you all the communication that you deserve."
    The goal of this strategy is to show that the call organizer's need for communication won't be served by the call because either you'll only be half-listening or you won't be on the call at all.

  2. Address and eliminate the underlying need for the call The call organizer will be more susceptible to persuasion if you address the reason they wanted the call in the first place. It probably has something to do with convenience in reaching the people on the call. Do those people have a tendency to skip meetings or ignore emails? How can you all meet the needs of the call's organizer while also meeting your need for focus?

  3. Present evidence the call is bad. There is plenty of evidence that context switching is damaging for productivity. Present these arguments in terms of the call organizer's needs--i.e. your team will deliver less over time. (I know you said everyone's getting work done, but I'm skeptical that they are as productive as they could be without the call.) Here's a starter kit of relevant research: https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask Note that non-coders may need extra persuasion since they are often more comfortable with interruptions. Presumably, the call's organizers value productivity in addition to convenient communication.

  4. Get strength in numbers. Persuade your colleagues to leave the call too. Some people need coaxing to do anything even vaguely insubordinate or contrarian, so use your best empathic listening to persuade others that this all day phone call is not in anybody's interest and they should join you in leaving and objecting to the call.

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This is a management issue to sort out. Tell your boss you can either attend the call or code but not both for the reasons others have stated and let them decide what you should do.

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As most of the other answers have stated, this is definitely a train wreck; however, the communal audio stream can be bent into something productive.

Many people listen to music while working.

If you’re going to have to listen to an all day call, have someone put music on in the background. Have the “DJ” rotate across the members. This (hopefully) minimizes the amount of talk on the channel and has the added benefit of allowing people to share their musical tastes with others on the team, promoting team chemistry. Ideally this could transition the focus (and ideally the means) of the chat to simply a music sharing mechanism.

The ideal endgame of this is that the all day voice call transitions into a shared music playlist on eg Spotify.

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    What if you prefer to work in silence? Or listen to your own music, for that matter? – Llewellyn Jul 25 at 16:14
  • @Llewellyn Then this is going to be a difficult thing for you as a shared radio live radio station. As is having an all day voice chat. However, if this successfully pivots the voice chat into a shared streaming playlist, then individuals can opt in as desired. – DongKy Jul 26 at 0:15
  • Well, the difference is if I don't like the shared radio, I can put on my headphones and listen to something else. :) – Llewellyn Jul 26 at 13:17
  • @Llewellyn If you’re in the OPs situation, you can’t just put your headphones and listen to something of your choice. You’re stuck in an all day voice chat. I’m not asserting live radio is an instant panacea to this trash situation. It certainly has problems (possibly worse than before, depending on musical choices, HR concerns, volume modulation,...) and would better be replaced by a streaming playlist. I’m only suggesting it’s a possible way to transition from trash to that treasure. Once it’s a shared playlist, you can partake in it as much or as little as you please. – DongKy Jul 26 at 14:47
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All day call looks like "work from home" solution to people working on open-space or same office. And just like in those places you put headphones on to cut outside nose here you mute everyone.

Now, how other people get your attention? They use some communicator (slack, teams, zoom) or just come to you. For me this all-day call is missing the point. I understand that person A want to talk to person B and person C, D and F can hear and drop their input. But in the office you're not dealing with "at home" distractions.

So I would advice to talk that you need to do the job so you will mute the call. Advice that if anyone need to talk they can drop the message then you will make the call, maybe invite other participants.

Make people aware that in the office you ALL have same/similar distractions. If you add "always be aware there is all-day call" it will have terrible effect on your output. Search for any training/research on turning "disruptors" off while working.

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How does it make sense to have this all day call

Open offices have a lot of problems, but they proliferate.

In a lot of companies, it is far more important to prove that activity is occurring rather than to actually achieve anything. I had a boss who openly acknowledged that at least part of my value as an intern was as "activity furniture" to help non-technicals think that something is being done while many people were on summer vacation.

In another internship, the order came down from above for everyone in the department to be in the office for this several hour period and be doing something visibly productive (whiteboard, meetings, etc). oriented towards the hallway so that you were easily spotted in the breakout rooms. For those hours, I was a decoration to make some other higher up seem impressed.

In both cases, the fact that people had to cancel meetings or teams had to cancel sales or were just making up work on the whiteboards to look active was irrelevant. I bet that the equivalent of two weeks of manhours was thrown away for that. I suspect that is what you are at the moment.

Half your value is in being a developer and half as activity furniture.

Many companies do not meaningfully evaluate productivity either, so they effectively do not care about destroying it in many cases.

I would just turn down the volume to what it would be if I were in the office and if I really needed to work, I would just mute it and claim "technical issues."

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