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I travel to work using public transport and sometimes when there are delays I am late to the office. I have calls/meetings over Webex (where someone is sharing their screen whilst discussing something).

Is it a better idea to say that I will be late to the call, and join it when I arrive at the office and am able to use my computer, or join the call whilst I am still travelling, explaining my situation?

Public transport can be loud and I won't be able to see what is being discussed and I am worried it would cause more invconvenience than just being late to the call or entirely missing it as I will be less useful if I cannot see what is being showcased.

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    It's only over Webex since it is between people who are in several different countries. – turnip Jul 13 '16 at 10:06
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    @PPG Of course that doesn't answer the question. Either your presence is important for the meeting in which case said meeting shouldn't be planned during your edge hours; or you don't need to be in the meeting in which case the question is moot. – Lilienthal Jul 13 '16 at 11:03
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    @Lilienthal it depends how geographically dispersed the team is. eg if you've got people in the Americas, Europe, and Asia any meeting time is going to be obnoxious for some of the participants. – Dan Neely Jul 13 '16 at 11:23
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    @RStar Yes, but it is not ideal. Signal varies a lot on public transport which is bound to cause issues. – turnip Jul 13 '16 at 12:26
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    There's alot of context involved with this, perhaps you should just ask your manager? – dyeje Jul 13 '16 at 19:51
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It depends.

In general if you know there is a meeting you should try to be in the office well before the meeting so normal delays don't affect this and you only have to deal with the issue in very rare cases. i.e. if you have an hour commute and it is a demo I would aim to arrive at least half an hour earlier.

In any phone meeting you should be able to mute your microphone as there is always background noise, if you can't do that then don't join as you make it impossible for other users. I have had several meetings where we had to cancel or asked a person to leave because of this.

Then it depends on the meeting, if you mainly receiving information from audio only and are mainly listening then listen in. I have had many status report like meetings where several people phone in from all time zones.

If however you need to see the screen or have to say much then you are better off cancelling and rescheduling.

Remember the point of a meeting is communication if there is barrier to this the meeting has failed.

  • @JoeStrazzere meetings can be across different sites so you have to do remote but if video is useful and you are active then you have to have video (also for remote to work well there are other requirements which is a different question) – user151019 Jul 13 '16 at 11:04
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    Conversely to background noises disrupting the meeting, if OP needs to contribute, talking loudly can be disruptive to the other passengers. One of my pet peeves is someone yelling into their headset while I'm trying to enjoy the peaceful commute. – R Star Jul 13 '16 at 11:55
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    @RStar: There are actually commuter trains that offer small insulated cubes that used to be called phonebooths :) Quite handy. – Juha Untinen Jul 14 '16 at 13:06
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This varies by culture. I can tell you about how our culture handles this. It's a good topic for a team meeting, what ground rules you want to have for remote participation.

I work for an international company with people in many time zones on meetings. It's impossible to plan a meeting for a convenient time for all participants. The expectation in our culture is that as an attendee, you can attend from bed if you like, as long as you turn your camera off and mute yourself if your dog starts barking.

If you are the organizer or presenter, you make an effort to accommodate people in other time zones by either staying late or coming in early so as not to inconvenience other team members unduly. Many of our team members have occasional meetings scheduled directly over their morning commutes. Some shift their commutes and attend from home in the morning, while others attend and listen in while driving or taking the train. It generally works out OK until they have to present, and the background noise of whatever conveyance they are on overwhelms the audio. I once listened in on a meeting while going through TSA at an airport and had to give up my phone through the scanner while the meeting was going on.

You get really good at muting yourself when there is a barking dog, a crying baby, or chickens crowing in the background, on your end, and you want to appear professional. Also, we announce in the chat if we have to leave for a moment.

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