3 work styles that might be hurting your business

The number of available communication and collaboration tools has exploded over recent years, keeping team members connected and working together across city, state and even country. But while nearly half of those recently surveyed by Forrester Consulting reported that they need technology to connect with their colleagues, nearly all of them have had that technology fail them at some point.

Can you say work stall?

For teams to accomplish anything using these online communication tools, reliable, secure and compatible systems that alleviate communication obstacles are an absolute must. Unsure how unreliable, insecure and incompatible systems can derail a team’s progress? Take a look at the checklist in the “3 Work Styles That Might be Hurting Your Business” to identify – and fix – the technology causes that make a team less productive.

 

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#WebExPoll Results: Your Teamwork Habits Revealed

On the third Thursday of each quarter, many businesses observe “Get to Know Your Customers Day.” After realizing that yes, this is an actual thing, the WebEx team grew even more curious about our customers and kicked off our next #WebExPoll Series, dedicated to understanding their meeting and productivity habits.

So what did we discover? Overall, you guys send a lot of emails, get more done in the a.m. versus the midnight hour and are pretty good at juggling the collaboration tools you need to get your work done. Oh – and we love how easy you find it to take meetings from home using WebEx for your video conferences.

Take a colorful look at fun facts we discovered about you and be sure to follow @WebEx on Twitter to join the conversation.

For those early morning meetings across different time zones, 75% of you would hop out of bed and take the meeting from home.

Speaking of starting early, 64% of you shared that morning is your favorite time of day to get the most done.

And you’re all about finding ways to collaborate with your teammates. Because 52% of you use 1-3 collaboration tools daily.

And…Cisco Spark is one of your go-to tools to make things happen. Over half (53%) of you would trust Spark over email to send urgent and confidential documents. We’ve got your back.

We were sorry to hear that most of you are glued to your inbox. 55% said you check email constantly and 49% you send between 50 and 100 emails a day! That’s a lot of typing, folks.

But even when you’re busy, you love finding time to meet with your team face-to-face. For 44% of you, video is your favorite way to meet.

No matter how you like to get things done, finding a way that works for you is what matters most. Learn how Cisco Spark can work for your team.

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Webinar: Teams are Trending: How to Spark True Teamwork Online

While teamwork remains a relevant work trend, after studying 2016 work trends, Deloitte discovered  organizations are moving away from more traditional structures to form dynamic networks of teams, regardless of where team members may be located. So while one team member is working from an office in Dallas for a client in Miami, it’s entirely possible for them to be working with team members in Chicago, New York and London.

And the key to all of this? Technology!

Thanks to increased use of new digital and online tools, teams separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles are still able to connect, create, work and “do” more. It’s no surprise then that 85 percent of the executives Deloitte surveyed noted a compelling and meaningful work environment was just  as important as employee engagement.

But what are the best ways to use technology to create these desired environments?

In our next webinar, “Teams are Trending: How to Spark True Teamwork Online,” Meghan M. Biro, CEO and founder of TalentCulture, Meghan Biro will outline how videoconferencing and online meetings keep teams engaged. She’ll  also discuss the best ways to optimize digital environments for maximum creativity, performance and more.

This is a “don’t-miss” event for leaders looking to help their teams do their best work in a digital network. Be sure to register now for this March 30 event, kicking off at 12:30 p.m. PT.

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Three Ways to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

In spite of the recent winter storms that tagged the country last week, today marks the first official day of spring. In addition to the warmer days that lie ahead, today is also a perfect day to indulge in a bit of spring cleaning – but we’re not talking about a bit of dusting around the house. Today is also the perfect day for you (and your teams) to knock out a bit of digital spring cleaning as well and we’re sharing a few tips to guide you along.

Dust Off Your Digital Work Life

Any one of these tips – or combination of them – will fast track your digital decluttering.

  • Find yourself shifting pass the same apps on smartphone or tablet? If you’ve stopped using them or have turned to other products, then delete them! An added bonus? Eliminating unnecessary apps and files, helps your device could run faster.
  • There have been times I’ve realized I have dozens or even hundreds of unopened email in my inbox. Since selecting all and hitting the delete button is not a reality for many of us, revisit the “Zero Inbox” method to keep your inbox as clutter free as possible.
  • When you’re prompted to change your password for an email account for example, consider changing passwords for all of your work-related accounts. From internal intranet sites to your 401k provider, save yourself some time down the line by taking care of it now.

Get Your Team in the Declutter Game

When everyone gets in on the digital declutter game, your team will already be set to hit the ground running when it’s time to connect and work together.

  • Now that you’ve applied the Zero Inbox method, instead of a starting another long email thread filled with attachments, get the entire team onboard with an app like Cisco Spark to share information, whiteboard, edit documents and screen share.
  • Have your teams look at all of the meetings and invitations currently on their calendar. If there are some they never find themselves attending or are just simply meetings they don’t need to attend, they should delete them to ensure their calendars are as up-to-date as possible.
  • As a leader, do you know what your team members spend their time on each day? Help them optimize their energy and prioritize their day by auditing their time and helping them refocus.

Cultivate Creativity

What does all of this digital decluttering leads to? A fresh new digital environment prime for cultivating the most creative ideas and solutions teams have to offer.

  • One of the easiest ways to cultivate deeper levels of creativity is to welcome new members – and their ideas. Set up a video meeting with Cisco WebEx and tap into the fresh ideas colleagues across town or around the world may have to share.
  • After this deep digital spring cleaning, be sure to keep your digital life nice and tidy. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each to prioritize your workload, clean out your inbox and check your Cisco Spark work rooms for team updates.

How do you plan on decluttering your digital life today? Share your best tips with us or how these helped you below.

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Find Success in 2017 with a Message that Matters

As a kid, I dreamed of being a VP at a bank. After all, everyone had a “safe” job in my family and it seemed like the right path to follow. But since I was five years old and made my first $.10 selling a drawing to my neighbor, an entrepreneurial spirit has always lived inside me. Today, I admit to being a bit obsessed with helping entrepreneurs achieve success, which is why I was so honored to take part in a recent WebEx webinar, “Find Success in 2017 with a Message that Matters.”

While that’s a pretty big title, the webinar focused on one thing – discovering the one word that helps entrepreneurs nail down their passion, their purpose and their personal motto for 2017 and beyond.

My one word came to me in a point during my life when I was experiencing a lot of success – but found that something was missing. After a bit of reflection, I discovered that writing down the things that were important to me spoke a lot to my core values and “believe” was the word that popped off the page.  Believe is a huge concept to try to box into one thought and I did consider adding something to it. But regardless of what business I’m running today or where I may be in the next decade, I know I will always believe in what I’m doing and who I’m working with. So believe it was.

In the spirit of helping others, I wanted to create a blue print that would help others find their word and create a more powerful impact on their lives as well as their businesses. On the webinar, I outlined how the one word is not just a resolution for 2017, but it’s about what an entrepreneur is about and who they are. I also shared how to find your “one word” by listing all of the things in the world that make you happy – from songs to books to family and hobbies – and finding the connective tissue between them that helps you find your word.

The webinar was a lot of fun and a great exploration of how to put your one word to work this year. But if you missed it, no worries. Catch the replay here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @EvanCarmichael and tell me your one word and how you’ll use it to make 2017 your best year yet.

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The Rise of Employee Experience

For a long time organizations around the world have been investing in employee engagement. Today this has become the equivalent of short term perks like free food and working from home on Friday’s, basically a Band-Aid solution that manipulates employees into temporary happiness. Unfortunately, this yields little impact for the organizations and has minimal impact on the employees. This is why investment in employee engagement programs is at an all time high why the scores are at an all-time low.

In a recent webinar with WebEx, The Experiential Organization, I talked about trends behind employee experience and how leading organizations are creating new business value by engaging their workforce. If you missed it, watch the replay here to learn what it means for your business.

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Productivity Can Be Simpler Than You Think

“Be more productive.” While this is a simple thing to say, between busy home lives and just the day-to-day office routine of meetings, conference calls and client catch-ups (and some social media scrolling if we’re all honest), maintaining a certain level of productivity can be a challenge.

  • On a daily basis, Care@Work notes the average worker is interrupted every three minutes, taking another 23 minutes to get back on task.
  • Harvard research also shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing.

All of these distractions not only cause employees to be less productive, but also costs companies some pretty big money in lost revenue. In fact, the total soars into the billions when employees aren’t engaged with their jobs, according to a Gallup poll.

Obviously, there are many ways to go down an unproductive path during the workday. But all hope is not lost! More research shows that people who live busy lives tend to do better on tasks of memory and tasks of reasoning.  So it’s good to be busy! The key is learning how to stay busy and engaged, without tipping into the territory of stress.

As a team lead, I’m all for helping others be more productive at work. In that spirit, I’m sharing a few things that have worked for me and that my team members have said work for them.

Clock Work

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Set your clock 10 minutes ahead of schedule first thing in the morning so you have an extra 10 minute to get organized before you dive into whatever is on your calendar for the day.

Zero Inbox

No, I’m not saying you can just delete everything that arrives in your inbox each day. But, taking immediate action on the emails you receive can save you a lot of time.

When you receive a new email, reply to it, forward it or set a meeting to follow-up on the subject matter. Adding a task to your to-do-list (or best of all deleting it) is ok too.

Check It Off 

Making a list of all of the things you want to accomplish not only helps prioritize your day, but if you’re like me, you’ll find literally checking an item off of a to-do-list extremely satisfying.

When making a list, develop a system that works for you. It could be a color-coded one or maybe using icons helps you better. And if you find the list is getting too long, scale it back to what you can take on for the day.

Find Your Work Happy Place

Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans, believe workers who work remotely are just as productive as those who work in a business office.

Thankfully, technology has made it possible to pretty much take your office on-the-go. Apps and programs like Cisco Spark and Cisco WebEx make it possible to work and meet in real-time, share updates and documents, set up individual meeting rooms and more so everyone can review updates on their own and remain on the same page.

Throw Yourself a Party

Look, everyone deserves to treat themselves a bit when they accomplish their goals and get more done during the day. So celebrate your productivity throughout the day.

For starters, take five minutes to relax after completing a task. Go grab a snack, listen to a few songs, call your mom or best friend for a quick catch-up – whatever helps you recharge and refocus on your next task, do it!

 The great thing is, what helps with stay productive is not set in stone. Discover what works for you and run with it. Do you have any tips and tricks for getting things done? Tells us your favorites in the comments below.

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Caregivers Find Balance Using Technology

Has anyone ever asked you what your typical day looks like? As an art director, I rarely have one. And with the added responsibility of being a working caregiver to an ailing parent, typical doesn’t quite describe any of my days.

My time is typically accounted for during the week. If my life was an accountant’s ledger, then work and caring for my mother are the debits and credits. This is not a complaint; it’s just how the books have been reconciled for me.

Shortly after my father passed away in 2010, my mother and I began to realize how heavily she depended on him. She would get easily confused and often break into her native tongue, French, which pointed to signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. As her dementia increased rapidly my immediate reaction was to grieve. But, I had to quickly gather my feelings and develop a plan to stay engaged professionally while taking on the new role as caregiver of an aging parent.

The truth is, there’s no handbook — this and every situation is unique. But I’ve found a few ways to stay balanced during the process and I hope these simple tips help others on the same journey.

Find Your New Work-Life Balance

For most people, caring for an aging parent means finding more flexibility in your work schedule. For me, having the capability to be mobile and work a non-traditional schedule has been a life-saver.

Luckily, I’m not alone. According to AARP, 61% of caregivers also work. And the 2015 American Time Use Survey showed that the share of workers doing some or all of their work at home grew from 19 percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2015. Many companies are beginning to catch on and offer more flexible work arrangements for employees caring for aging parents.

Not sure where to start? Talk to your HR department to educate yourself about your company’s policy and learn about the benefits available to you as a caregiver. Reach out to employee support groups if they’re available to you — sometimes, talking to someone who has walked the same road is the best way to find solutions.

Communicate with Your Team

For me, it was critical to be up-front with my colleagues about my new responsibilities. Letting everyone know what I was grappling with was a huge benefit in the long run when it came to accountability and communication.

I’ve worked with my team and manager to make arrangements for working outside normal hours so I can attend doctors’ appointments or make unexpected trips to the hospital. My transparency with my team has made it easier when things pop up unexpectedly. And it’s had another side effect. I have felt a wonderful outpouring of support from my colleagues, and this has lightened my load emotionally.

Make Technology Work for You

The ability to work remotely helps both businesses and employees and there are almost limitless things you can accomplish from afar using technology.

Collaboration technology has been vital in my process of staying connected to work. While I love working on my laptop for design projects, I’ve found that using the Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark apps on my smartphone or tablet helps me shift seamlessly between “work mode” and “caregiver mode.” For example, when my mom is seeing her doctor, I can hop into a WebEx meeting or check my Cisco Spark conversations for project updates, all on my iPhone from the waiting room. I don’t need to tote around a heavy bag or rely on Wi-Fi.

Being a caregiver is not easy. But, there are ways to cope if you find yourself in a major life transition like mine. Talk with other people who are experiencing the same things. Rely on your supportive network of family and co-workers. And use technology to your advantage to keep your professional and personal houses in order. Being there in person is always better, but in the end, the ability to contribute and work with your team – allows you to “show up” – wherever you may find yourself.

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Generate More Qualified Leads with Online Meetings

Customer connections have a huge impact on any business, but even more so for SMB owners and operators. As in-person meeting obstacles like travel distances and scheduling conflicts loom, many have turned to using online meetings and video conferencing solutions to engage with their customers, explore new business opportunities and generate more qualified leads.

After surveying businesses with 250 employees or less, IDG Research Services that business communicators (marketers, trainers and educators) focus intently on these critical customer connections. They also discovered online meetings and video conferencing systems help simplify communication on complex topics and following-up with customers, contributing to the “human factor” of doing business.

Want more insights? Get more survey results, discover other desired applications of online meetings and video conferences and see how even the best technology depends on the human factor in the latest infographic from IDG Research Services and WebEx.

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Online Meetings Increase Productivity with Less Resources

Online meeting tools have literally changed every aspect of the mobile meeting game. The ability to flexibly connect with teams, partners and clients on almost any device can lead to many business gains, especially when it comes to productivity. And even in the face of challenges like different video conferencing formats and network reliability, SMB owners using paid versions of online meeting tools find these they make easier to overcome these challenges.

In a recent survey, IDG Research Services surveyed businesses using paid versions of online meeting services, like WebEx Premium. And while their findings showed that WebEx Premium services users were more likely to count a dispersed workforce or fewer resources as challenges to in-person meetings, they also found these same users cited productivity as a “top business” and personal benefit of using WebEx Premium.

Increased productivity with fewer resources? Yes, it’s possible and a new infographic from IDG Research Services and WebEx takes a colorful and stat-rich glimpse at how WebEx Premium helps SMB owners do more with less.

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Make your online meetings mobile-friendly

A mobile-friendly business is now the status quo. You’ve likely thought about making your business more accessible to your customers on their smartphones and tablets. But can your team meet and collaborate while they’re on the go?

People spend more time on their mobile devices than ever before and have very specific preferences about their mobile experience. Your online meetings should be compatible with all major devices, provide a simple user experience and keep information secure.

The infographic below looks at key reasons to make your online meetings mobile-friendly, and shows how your business can upgrade its strategy to keep employees connected from anywhere.

Does your team have challenges meeting remotely? Tell us your story in the comments.

mobile-friendly-meetings

 

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5 hurdles to successful online meetings – and how to overcome them

Think about the best meeting you’ve ever attended. What made it so successful? Odds are, your team collaborated, made decisions and moved a project forward. This kind of progress should be the goal any time a meeting is called.

In reality, challenges often arise that keep your meetings from being productive. And some of these roadblocks can be more difficult than others. When expectations are high, it is important to know how to course-correct so your team can reap the benefits of a successful meeting.

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5 ways to personalize your video conferencing

Technology is constantly changing way we work and interact. With rising costs for travel and more demands on everyone’s time, the use of collaboration tools has become the status quo for many teams.

The ability to share your screen (and more) makes the online meeting valuable to businesses looking to increase productivity and lower costs. But does meeting from afar mean a loss of human connection?

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