Working from home has its advantages, like avoiding distracting office "drop-ins". But it also means every meeting must be scheduled ahead of time, and if you telecommute it can also mean coordinating across time zones. Here are some tools to help make the process of getting together quick and painless.
The beauty of VoIP is that it's free, free, free. Skype is a universally popular method of ringing, and it allows for multiple callers to be hosted in a single call.
If your call partner isn't technologically savvy, setting up a call-in number through one of the many available services. Instant Conference offers many levels of service free along with a one cent per minute charge.
If you're doing a one-on-one, it's now possible to port your number into Google Voice, allowing you to speak to anyone over VoIP from your regular phone number.
For us, the worst part of trying to coordinate cross-time zones is finding a time that works for everyone. For one project involving people on the west coast, in Canada and in England, we were struggling to convert time zones and work out daylight savings.
Schedule Once is an online service and a Gmail widget that lets each participant select their available blocks of time, then displays the best slots to the meeting coordinator. Simple and efficient.
Sitepoint offers an exhaustive list of online meeting tool programs, including DimDim, Cisco WebEx, Adobe Acrobat Connect and GoToMeeting.
With so many options available, it's hard to know which one works best. In the past we have typically used WebEx's 14 day free trial, combined with a call-in number or one of the VoIP solutions mentioned above.
What are your favorite services for coordinating and conducting meetings? Let us know in the comments below.