Time to kill the ‘1 remote — all remote’ rule?

It’s time to kill the Sacred Mantra: If one person is dialing in remotely, everyone in the team must be remote.

Jessica Zwaan
4 min readDec 7, 2022


You’ve been there. We all have. You’re at home dialing into a group meeting where everyone else is together. They’re crowded around one laptop, echo, they’re having conversations off mic. It’s only a matter of time before they forget about you anyway, so you just do your best to tune into what you can.

As so many of us moved to a remote-first way of working during Covid, we didn’t really have to think much about this problem. Everyone was remote. Everyone was dialing in from home.

Hybrid is the future

Suddenly now, we have more tech companies working hybrid than not. According to Buffer, 97% of workers want some kind of work arrangement that is at least partially remote. Accenture recently reported that 83% of workers prefer to work hybrid. Hybrid working, where some employees are remote, some are in office, and there is flexibility between either, is becoming the status-quo.

But here is the problem: Working hybrid still kind of sucks.

Why we have The Rule

Enter, ‘The Rule’. The reason we have this ‘one remote-all remote’ rule is to ensure the remote team aren’t left out. But what it ends up with is the team who are together have a kind of crappy experience too — running into different rooms and phone booths, dealing with echos and bad meeting quality. It’s just… not good.

At Whereby we are building a world in which anywhere works. Remote. Office. Van. Hotel. Conference. For our team, this means we are fully remote, meaning 100% of our team work from home, or self-managed co-working spaces.

However, there are many times when our team gets together for hybrid meetings, and it seems to be increasing. Offsites, team-dinners, meet-ups, are coming back onto the menu, but the solutions for how to work in this new way don’t seem to be catching up.

Whenever our team were meeting up and getting together, we ended up feeling like we spent half our working day fighting with dial-in equipment in meeting rooms, or ducking into solo phone booths. It kind of, well, defeated the purpose.

The best way to complain is to fix things

The rule, as much as we get it, wasn’t working for us anymore. We decided the best way to get rid of the need for this crappy rule was to change hybrid meetings once and for all.

✨ 🎉 Enter Whereby Co-located Groups. ✨ 🎉

What started as an internal conundrum about how we could make hybrid meetings work for our company, so that we could get the most of our time together, without sacrificing something dear to us: our remote culture.

We figured it out, guys. We figured it out!!!

Whereby launched something internally which worked like magic, so we’ve decided to share it with all of our customers so that we can — for once and for all — kill the rule. 🪄

If you are together, you can all use your laptops to dial into your Whereby room, form a ‘co-located group’, that group can then cleverly (like, very cleverly, using some tech we have a patent out for) identify and prioritise the speaker’s microphone: no echo, no muting. Those at home see what looks like a normal remote meeting, they can hear everyone, see everyone, and participate as if they’re present.

We still have a long way to go to improve hybrid working

Fully remote teams are proving themselves to be at least sometimes hybrid. Hybrid is the future. We need to stop sticking to the painful and archaic diatribe of ‘remote or in-person’ — it is now all hybrid, all the time.

What does this mean for policies? Rules we hold dear? Collaboration? Socialising?

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Us folks building businesses in Operations and People have a lot left to discover and redefine, we shouldn’t let the rules of 2019 rule the future of work. Let’s build solutions for the future we want to see, not the past we locked ourselves to. Working Hybrid isn’t easy, and there is still so much to improve. I’d love to hear suggestions of other things about hybrid meetings that it’s time to upgrade, we’ll get our best folks on it!

If you want to give Whereby co-located a go, check out: www.whereby.com.



Jessica Zwaan

G’day. 🐨 I am a person and I like to think I am good enough to do it professionally. So that’s what I do.