This post is from way back in 2014 and may be out-of-date. For work from home tips on video conferencing, chat tools, and more, check out our Mandatory Work from Home Survival Guide.
At Aten we have both a collaborative process and flexible schedules, which means we meet a lot to discuss the work we're doing, and often someone in a meeting is out of the office, maybe working from home for the day or at a conference for the week or, as I am currently, in Korea for a month. Google+ Hangouts are invaluable in these situations and have become a key tool in how we communicate internally. We use Hangouts enough that it's important we keep the process as efficient as possible. Something as simple as spending a few minutes at the beginning of each meeting making sure everyone has the right link can quickly add up to hours or days of time we could otherwise be spending having important discussions or applying Hangout mustaches.
A Hangout for Every Event
When meetings are scheduled in advance, we use Google Calendar, which has a convenient option to attach a Hangout to an event. For a long time, we used this option whenever we knew someone would be attending remotely, but did not attach Hangouts when we expected everyone to be in the office. But when someone ends up unexpectedly attending remotely, we'd end up creating a Hangout as the meeting was starting and trying to get the link to everyone who needed it as quickly as possible. Hangouts are free, so there's no reason not to attach a Hangout to every event. And if clicking "Add video call" is too tedious, there's even an option under Google Calendar settings (the little gear icon) to automatically add a video call to every event. If you haven't already, go ahead and spend a minute doing that now. Go on. I'll wait here. There, doesn't that feel better already?
The Neverending Hangout, Part 2
That's great for planned meetings, but we also needed a quick way to get everyone into the same Hangout for impromptu meetings. For this, we have a few perpetual Hangouts. Normally Hangout links expire shortly after everyone leaves the Hangout, but if you attach a Hangout to a repeating event, the link will last forever. This turns Hangouts into a sort of digital room we can enter and leave whenever we want. We give these hangouts names, so if we need to have a quick discussion of something, we can say "let's talk in hangout 2" and everyone knows where to go. Between Hangouts on every meeting and perpetual Hangouts, we are rarely more than a click away from a quick chat, whether we're in our Denver office or halfway around the world. I hope this helps you get closer to Hangout bliss. If you have any tricks of your own, I'd love to hear them in the comments.