Holding off Meeting Madness (For March and Beyond)

If my alma mater Villanova is a testament to anything, it is my love of college basketball. So naturally, when March rolls around, I’m completely psyched to be in front of the TV watching elite teams – and a few Cinderella contenders – battle it out on the court. However, as much as I love on-court action, if I’m not careful with my time, something I like to call “meeting madness” can take hold.

Thankfully, I’m pretty savvy at using WebEx tools to coordinate priorities so I can still cheer on my team and accomplish my work goals. Here are a few WebEx playbook strategies you can use as a guide to do the same.

First Quarter – Put Together a Team

Whether you’re in pursuit of an on-court victory or a business win, the right team mix makes all of the difference.

When colleges scout new players, they visit a vast amount of schools to discover talent that aligns with their team’s needs. When the time comes to recruit new talent for your work team, use WebEx’s videoconferencing tools to connect with remote work candidates around the world with an abundance of diverse backgrounds that enrich your team. All without the hassles of travel.

Second Quarter – Have a Game Plan

In basketball, you don’t make it to the championship without a game plan. And for a successful meeting to happen, everyone must be able to share in the game plan for whatever wins you’re after.

WebEx’s screen sharing provides everyone on your team an opportunity to share resources and keep up with what’s going on, all in real-time. Which is especially important if any parts of your game plan changes and there’s no time to chase down files, for example.  The white-boarding feature is also definitely handy for sketching out big plays or ideas as well.

Third Quarter – Gain Speed and Agility

When projects are on strict deadlines or when team members are working outside of the office, WebEx provides the competitive and flexible work options.

If you need to hit the ground running with a brainstorm or when need to bring everyone together for a must-attend meeting, the WebEx WebApp instantly allows access to a video conference via web browser no matter where you are, giving your team some maneuverability to aim for success before that final business buzzer hits.

Fourth Quarter – Workin’ the Court

Now that you know a bit more about the mobile meeting tools available to you, it’s up to you and your team to execute and get in the game and strategically use them to foster growth and engagement for your business.

So how do you use technology to balance out work obligations and your personal time? Share what works for you, with the hashtag #DefeatMeetingMadness.

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The Evolution of a Serial Entrepreneur and How to Manage a Remote Team

Cisco WebEx and Influencive are teaming up to bring you real-world tips for taking your remote business to the next level. Check out the advice below or and don’t miss our Facebook Live discussion at the bottom of the post to learn more about how to build and manage a remote team effectively.

Operating a business is so different today than it used to be. When I first entered the world of entrepreneurship as a 16 year-old entrepreneur in the suburbs of Massachusetts, I didn’t even know I was an entrepreneur.

I was selling products on Ebay as a way to make money because I didn’t want to work at a grocery store, but after a while someone told me that I had started a business and I didn’t even realize it necessarily. This was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.

Ever since my eBay days I have went on to build, grow, and exit multiple businesses which have led me to founding Influencive.

With the way that technology continues to advance, the way that us entrepreneurs conduct our day-to-day activities also continue to evolve. Ten years ago, social media and networking online is nothing like what it is today. Now, you barely meet people in person first anymore because it happens online. The first impressions you give someone are online and are even more important today than they have ever been.

Social media and networking has evolved immensely over the past few years but an area that has allowed entrepreneurs like myself to build and manage a remote team is through software tools and apps like Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark.

Without technology, I don’t think I would be nearly as “successful” as I have been. These types of tools are used by my team and I use them to communicate on a regular basis, but also use them for meeting clients. Having apps like this on my desktop or mobile are important for me to stay in the loop and in communication with team members as needed.

At Influencive and my other companies, most of the team members are remote. Managing a remote team can be tricky. Here are 3 ways to help you manage a remote team.

1. Have Open Lines of Communication

When you have a team spread out over time zones and countries, it’s important from day one to set expectations that your team is able to communicate with each other. The days of telling your employees and co-workers to just email each other are dwindling by the day. If you do this, you are going to create more work than necessary. I don’t know about you, but I get more spam than ever before and it’s increasingly difficult to find important emails.

What we do at Influencive to help minimize our daily emails to each other, is we have a chat group that we communicate and message each other in. This helps increase our productivity almost tenfold because we can ask questions right away, send documents, and can even do calls as needed. We know that if we want to contact anyone, we can just send them a message. Then people can reply on their own time instead of being constantly interrupted with in-person water cooler talk and other shenanigans that has been proven to reduce productivity.

If you are still relying on your email inbox for communication, find a messaging platform or chat group you can use with your team to help minimize the amount of emails you send.

2. Implement Weekly Check-In’s

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve started to get away from actually holding meetings with my teams. We all have 1000’s of thoughts going through our brains at any given time and holding meetings daily with your team usually only hurts them because most meetings aren’t very productive.

As a matter of fact, most 1 hour meetings could be done in under 10 minutes. Crazy right?

When you have a remote team, one way to set expectations and maintain order and productivity is to implement weekly check-ins with your team. Everyone has different schedules and work better during different hours of the day.

For that reason, sometimes a scheduled meeting is pointless because schedules shift, people are on sales calls, in-person meetings and etc. I’m not a big fan of set weekly meetings for that reason.

Instead, all communications can be done through Cisco Spark. And the check-ins can happen when and if they are needed rather than having meetings just to have meetings. This saves the team time and money.

3. Promote Autonomy

One of the benefits of having a remote team in the first place is not having a team member be location dependent. You can pick people to be a part of your team no matter where they live. This is a major advantage to have.

Rather than relying on the uber competitive talent pool in the city of the founders, you can look elsewhere to add to your team.

Something that you need to implement from day one is that you want to give all employees autonomy. They all need to feel a part of the team, but they also need to feel that freedom to make mistakes and take risks. Now, this doesn’t mean go out there and make the company look bad, it just means employees need to feel that they can make some decisions and their boss isn’t looking over their every move.

A quote I really like is:

“If you don’t trust your employees to work from anywhere, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.”

This is so true. You need to trust your team to get the job done and if you don’t trust them to work from the beaches in Bali or from the coffee shop down the street then you probably shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.

Allow them autonomy and the ability to do their job from wherever they want. Just make sure that they actually get their work done. If they get their work done, and are the best at what they do, then you shouldn’t have anything to complain about.

With the power of the internet and remote collaboration tools like Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark, location is irrelevant so stop using location as an excuse and instead use it as an advantage.

Want to know more? Check out our live discussion from the WebEx Facebook page below.

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Meeting Place. Workspace.

Project management is all about bringing people together to get things done. But when dealing with your collaboration technology seems like a separate job in itself, moving a project forward can feel impossible.

Thankfully, Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark make the process of working together easier (and more fun). Project managers can make one space for teams to meet, collaborate and even whiteboard. That way, everyone can spend less time connecting to meetings and more time working toward the finish line together.

Ally Taylor is a project manager specializing in employee communication for IoT and apps at Cisco. In the fast-moving world of tech business, Ally has to stay on top of updates from multiple teams in real-time.  Go behind-the-scenes to see how this busy project manager rocks her work day.


Learn more about how Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark work together.

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How to Unplug on Your Summer Vacation

It’s a yearly tradition in our family. We pack up our camping gear and make one last frantic run through the local grocery store before we head into High Sierra Music Festival. Bring your sleeping bag and join our family to disconnect from your 9-5 responsibilities. Oh, and don’t worry about bringing your phone; you won’t need it out here.

I treasure this annual chance to disconnect, but I also understand the hesitation to do so. The business world is more connected than ever before. I know the feeling of not wanting to miss a thing, especially with how face-paced today’s work world can be – “What if I miss a cool marketing opportunity with my team?” It’s like work FOMO.

But the technology that tempts us to constantly connect also gives us the freedom to take a break:

  • Collaboration tools mean that I can trust my team to jump on any time-sensitive opportunities without missing a beat.
  • With the right tools, everything will be waiting for you when you return. Your teams can record meetings with WebEx so you can jump in without missing a beat.
  • With Cisco Spark, everything you need to catch up is in one place. Find where you left off and scroll down – it’s that easy to get up to speed.

It might seem like even if you can step away from work, your mind will always be at the office. Check out these tips to overcome the temptation to take the worries of work with you.

Before you go:

  • Communicate with your team. Let them know when you’ll be heading out and getting back.
  • Recap and fill your teams in on the status of your projects.
  • Leave contact information to connect people who may need to find the right resource.
  • Make a note about your trip in the Cisco Spark space associated with those campaigns. It’ll be easy to pick up where you left off.
  • Set your ‘out of office’ in email and in Cisco Spark. Be sure to include when you’ll return and a contact to answer any immediate questions.

When you get back:

  • Block off an hour of time to get caught up. Reserve time on your own calendar to read emails, scroll through Cisco Spark, and watch any recorded WebEx meetings.
  • Connect with your teams for any high priority messages.
  • Let your Cisco Spark spaces know you’re back and catching up. Use this time to ease back into work.
  • Keep your vacation photos handy! Take breaks during the day to remember the great times with your family.

Being able to relax, recharge and get a new perspective is going to help you a lot more than chiming in on small things during your time off. Be brave and don’t check email; maybe even turn off your phone!

Enjoy the show, enjoy the music. You literally earned it.

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The future of digital teamwork: 5 ways to get ahead

Work teams that once huddled together in conference rooms are now meeting in virtual settings from multiple locations around the world. Employees are also sharing information through various messaging platforms and social media tools. The right unified communications (UC) systems can create real business value for organizations.

The latest team collaboration tools should offer searchability, a well-designed user experience, easy integration with business applications, and easy access to the most relevant information.1

Organizations can gain the type of on-the-go connectivity they need through the use of secure cloud-based business collaboration solutions. Cisco Spark is a cloud-enabled UC service that provides the accessibility and security that teams need to collaborate via a single platform.

Here, we explore five ways Cisco Spark helps businesses maximize the benefits of digital teamwork:

1. Remain in control with end-to-end encryption and security.

Think about all of the data, files and sensitive communications that companies exchange throughout the workday. There’s no question that digital technologies have helped unlock information barriers. But who holds keys to a company’s cloud security? Typical business messaging platforms compromise security by directly accessing an organization’s content. So what’s at stake?

Consider this: 40% of organizations have online team meetings that involve financial data.

In addition, one-third of organizations have meetings where employees share private customer or patient information, and approximately one in five organizations have web meetings that involve trade secrets.3

When it comes to security, companies can’t take shortcuts. Cisco Spark offers several key security features, including:

  • HTTPS to encrypt data in transit between devices and servers, which protects the identities of the senders and receivers of the encrypted content.
  • Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol for all media, such as voice, video, and desktop share.
  • Data that stays encrypted when it’s in transit to cloud servers, when it’s in use, and while it’s in storage.
  • Encryption of all content using dynamic keys from the key management service (KMS).

2. Seek a solution that grows with you.

Why invest in technology if it’s not easily adaptable to your growth or expansion plans?

For example, 66% of executives “have felt that limitations of their software programs have negatively affected their company’s growth.”4

Unfortunately, delivering digital collaboration capabilities using premises-based infrastructure can be very challenging because they lack the flexibility your company needs as it grows. Cisco Spark moves all of this complexity to the cloud, so businesses can quickly connect via phone, video, or messaging wherever they’re located. Cisco Spark also includes customizable plans that allow companies to easily upgrade from plans that offer video calling to plans that also offer video conferencing.

Plans offer the ability to: 

  • Meet with up to 25 people.
  • Instantly initiate meetings with a single click.
  • Join a scheduled meeting from any device.
  • Schedule meetings in Outlook by using @spark or @webex tags.

Video conferencing plans offer the ability to:

  • Meet with up to 200 people.
  • Join on any device, Cisco phones registered to Cisco Spark, Microsoft Skype for Business endpoints, third-party standardsbased video endpoints, and more.
  • Access to a personal room for each user with his or her own meeting URL.
  • Schedule meetings within the platform (no integrated, hybrid system needed).
  • Add @webex to an Outlook invitation to automatically populate the body of the invitation with information to join a WebExpowered meeting or add both @spark and @webex to the location field. A flexible, customizable collaboration solution frees IT resources to work on projects that are more innovative and growth focused.

3. Move quickly between communications tools and devices.

Today’s on-demand economy keeps employees on their toes. They’re constantly moving from one device or communication tool to another.

In fact, 49% of small and midsize businesses say they need to be available at all times to meet the demands of today’s digital economy.5

Having access to multiple communications tools helps team members get better work-life balance, stay on top of project deadlines, and respond quickly to customer needs. How do companies increase accessibility to these collaboration tools?

Cisco Spark acts as a bridge between mobile and the office, freeing the workforce to:

  • Receive calls that are identified as business related. This helps maximize that users are prepared for business calls if they’re answering a phone outside the workplace.
  • Switch quickly from one device to another during a meeting— advantageous for users who need to leave a meeting early, but want to remain connected. With Cisco Spark, users can turn a phone call into a virtual meeting with one tap, or move a video call from a conferencing room to their mobile phone and then to a new meeting room.

4. Consolidate project files and communications in one space.

Anybody who has worked on a project knows how hard-to-find files and miscommunication between team members can impact project goals. Sometimes individual team members choose their own filesharing and collaboration tools without checking in with IT or even each other.

For example, 90% of organizations collaborate using Dropbox, Google, Skype, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networking sites.6

This can create confusion and inefficiencies if key team members miss relevant conversations, messages or document updates. Features to consider in a collaboration suite include the ability to:

Download the messaging app on a phone or tablet to remain connected while away from the office, including access to video calls and shared screens.

  • Create an unlimited number of team work spaces as needed.
  • Name work spaces based on specific projects, teams, or even a specific sales territory.
  • Get creative with whiteboarding or annotate existing documents. These features are particularly valuable for business units or groups within an organization that are working on specific projects. They also ease the pain of new-hire onboarding and training because organizations can keep all of their hiring documents in one easy-to-access place.

Keep existing systems with third-party integrations and support.

If you’ve already invested in a number of tools and communication systems, you may want to know how you can bring everything together and get more value out of your investments.

Your question makes sense: Modern business projects or work tasks that required two or three systems in the past now can take place over five to 10 applications or more today.7

Cisco Spark integrations bring together the tools organizations need—including those they may use outside of Cisco Spark. Other key features to consider include:

  • Self-enabled integrations, bots, and APIs that can be customized to existing processes and work streams.
  • The ability to integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive, Sameroom, and other apps.
  • A system that’s “open” and works with many developers for access to integrations and bots. (Bots can send automated notifications, respond to questions, and even be an in-app assistant.)

To learn more about how Cisco Spark brings together the digital tools organizations need in a secure, mobile environment, visit www.webex.com. If you’re interested in a free trial, visit: https://www.webex.com/pricing/free-trial-DG1.html.

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Does Your Team #MeetBrilliant?

Leaders understand their teams better than anyone and that business magic happens when they have the freedom and space to bring their best work to life. When you have great meetings,  brilliant ideas are shared, plans are made, and work moves forward. That’s what we like to call #MeetBrilliant.

Now, we’re pairing WebEx Meeting Center with another powerful tool, empowering your teams to create, share and do more whenever and wherever inspiration may strike.

With the addition of Cisco Spark to WebEx Meeting Center, teams now have access to secure, reliable workspaces in the cloud. With the power to meet in personal workrooms with unique URLs, teams can now join work sessions, message one another, upload files and even engage with interactive “whiteboarding” to visualize new concepts. All while still using the crystal-clear video and audio of WebEx Meeting Center.

Imagine all of the possibilities when work moves at the speed of your team. When ideas can be shared in real-time and feedback can be instantaneous. When you can simply answer a phone to join a meeting without the hassles passwords and access codes. When your teams can count on Cisco security, reliability and service.

It’s time to move beyond imagining and embrace the realities. Take advantage of our 30-day free trial of Cisco Meeting Center with Cisco Spark and give your teams the tools and space they need for brilliant meetings.

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Better Together: Meetings Before and After

Whether you dread them or delight in them, meetings are a part of everyday work life. And while unproductive ones can be seen, at the least, as an annoyance, the cost of meetings like this can be astronomical; as in costing companies more than $37 billion annually.

Technology can be the great differentiator between dynamic and mutually rewarding meeting experiences and unfruitful gatherings where ideas become stuck and conversation stalls.  Do you know what tech your meetings are missing that could be slowing down progress? Take a look below and see how WebEx tools can help fill in missing meeting pieces.

The “Gather ‘Round the Conference Call” Meeting


Meeting attendees hunkered around a conference speakerphone, jockeying for space and hoping their input is heard.

What’s Missing?

WebEx conferencing that fosters face-to-face connections with remote team members, which in turn, promotes better idea sharing.


An interactive meeting where everyone is seen, feels engaged and has a voice.


The “Can Everyone See This?” Meeting



A meeting attendee, only partially facing their audience, sketching out a potentially ground-breaking idea, as others struggle to see it.

What’s Missing?

Interactive WebEx “white boarding” that allows teams to share and collaborate in real-time with key visuals.


An engaging visual representation of possibilities, plans and progress discussed during the meeting.


The “We’re Sorry – Your Password is Incorrect.” Meeting


The irritation of remembering (and entering) complicated passwords when trying to join a video meeting or conference call.

What’s Missing?

The ease and simplicity of connecting to a meeting with the touch of a button.


Remote team members who can join the discussion quickly, no matter where they are, on the device of their choice.


What technology is missing from your meetings that would empower your teams to achieve more? Have a more detailed look – and explore other WebEx tools that lay the foundation for easier and more reliable meetings – with a free WebEx trial.

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Using Technology to Unite Your Community and Promote Your Cause

This post was contributed by Patty Medberry, Senior Manager, Collaboration Solutions Marketing at Cisco Systems

International Women’s Day (IWD) is nothing short of a global movement. As a woman working in technology, I’m proud to work for a company that values the contributions, perspectives and leadership capabilities that women bring to our industry and one that listens to and understands the importance of diverse voices.

As part of Cisco’s IWD celebration this year, employees around the world participated in a video series discussing all things diversity, including gender parity and women empowerment. They shared their thoughts and sentiments through Cisco WebEx, which Cisco is broadcasting to the world for the next 24 hours using Facebook Live. Check it out here

I love seeing the broadcast. In it, my fellow employees selected questions from an assortment presented to them.  It is interesting to see that while their questions may have been the same, their answers were very different. None is right, none is wrong. They are simply reflections based on individual experiences and influences that show our great diversity.

I’ve always been an advocate for using technology for collaboration. And this IWD project is even more meaningful because it uses technology as a way not just to share ideas and work together but also to promote and advocate for a worthy cause and unite us in all of our diverse thoughts. The integration of WebEx with Facebook Live allows us to expand our reach for IWD beyond just people within Cisco to potentially millions beyond our corporate walls.

For Cisco, International Women’s Day centers on celebrating the progress of women and their impact on society. And just as we tapped into technology to promote and advocate for this great cause, you can use it to work toward a positive business impact. So maximize the technology you have on-hand to connect with others today to realize the results you want for tomorrow.

How do you use technology to foster collaboration and diversity or to rally a cause? Comment and share with us here.



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How to Lead a More Productive Workforce


From music players and computers to televisions and data storage, technology trends are constantly evolving. And since this also includes the technology we use to collaborate, this means meetings have evolved as well.

From the traditional “gather round the conference room table” events from the 1960s to the collaborative work spaces of today, join us for a fun “wow, remember when?” trip down business memory lane as we look back at the way we use to meet and the new tech-driven ways we collaborate today.

Check out the infographic below, then get started with better collaboration for free.

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A Tale of Two Teams

In business, disjointed team collaboration tools set the stage for meeting frustration, less productivity and potentially negative bottom-line impact. But introducing better collaboration tools can reverse these trends, leading to richer collaboration experiences for brands who want to move business forward.

So how does a company do this? Say hello to integrated collaboration.

Follow along as we meet teams from “Disjointed Enterprises” and “Continuous Collaborators, Inc.” and see what happens when one keeps with the meeting status quo – and the other embraces a “collaboration for all” mantra. Then explore how to bring teamwork to your team with a free trial of Cisco WebEx.

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Claiming Our Seat at the Table: One Woman’s Story of Business Empowerment

Guest post by Janine Kurnoff, founder of The Presentation Company.

As of January of this year, there are an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses just in the United States alone. This is an impressive stat, given recent discussions on women in the workplace, our roles and how we support one another. In light of this and being a member of this “girl power” collective of business owners, I wanted to share my story to perhaps inspire another woman who has a desire to fearlessly pursue her business dreams.

From Flying Solo to Soaring Together…

I’ve always had a passion and a knack for helping people tell their stories, which led me to form The Presentation Company in 2001. When I joined the ranks of millions of women entrepreneurs, I was a one-woman show focused on presentation consulting.  But even then, I knew flying solo would only get me so far. Thankfully, six months in, my sister (and now business partner) Lee joined me, bringing her amazing market research and branding skills with her. And we haven’t looked back since.

People tend to be a bit amazed that Lee and I are not only sisters, but successful female entrepreneurs who make things work at work. And though we like to joke that we’re “twins” and have been known to tap into a telepathic “sister” thing, the reality is that finding a partner who shares your passion, is trustworthy, has your back and one who can represent you is the foundation of a successful brand. We have and never will get bogged down with stereotypes about women not being able to work together. Rather, we believe women can soar with another entrepreneur whose goals are as lofty as their own.



Cheerleaders Aren’t Just for a Big Game…

There is something to be said about having a team of “cheerleaders” in your corner. For me, those cheerleaders were my mom and dad.

Our parents immigrated from England, with two young girls in tow, arriving in 1978 at San Francisco’s Pier 35. I often think about what a risk it was for them to leave the familiar to go after their American dreams. Early on, my dad told me “find your passion and the money will follow.” And my mom always encouraged me to believe that I deserved to “have a seat at the table.” Together Lee and I found that passion and confidence. It came in the form of helping talented people tell authentic business stories.

We embraced, honed and followed this vision and our parents were our earliest – and most enthusiastic – cheering force. And their belief in us pushed our belief in ourselves.

Whoever encourages their dreams in the face of the seemingly impossible – these are the people I advise women to surround themselves with to help keep their entrepreneurial fires burning.


Because Mentorship Matters…

As business founders, Lee and I both feel honored to be in our roles. We take pride in empowering the talented women (and men!) on our team. Why? Because the same passion for our work and desire to help brands tell their most authentic stories in the most meaningful way – we see that in them. We’ve witnessed team members blossom before us as we pour into them, growing confident enough to own rooms and command audiences. It’s in these small ways that we mentor and influence other women.

And that doesn’t stop, no matter what professional heights you reach. In many ways, my sister is my mentor; indirectly, we’ve done that for each other. And we are constantly learning from the host of compelling women we meet. For a woman to surround herself with other powerfully productive women in the workplace, it’s empowering and encouraging.

As women, we must believe that we have every right to succeed and not downplay, our talents, abilities and accomplishments. We have to communicate who we are and define our own paths with a clear vision. And because I have daughters, I believe we have to share our stories and show other women and young girls not to “fake it until they make it.” But rather, “fake it until they become it” as Amy Cuddy says. Because they, and all of us, deserve seats at the professional tables of their choice.

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Weatherproof Your Work Life

From iced-over bridges to snow-covered highways, Old Man Winter has had a firm grip on most of the country recently. And while that may mean a snow day for some, for many, the work day must go on.

Thankfully, remote work tools like WebEx and Cisco Spark are available to keep teams connected and work moving forward. And even though snow is a rarity in San Jose, over the years, I’ve learned lots of work life “weatherproofing” tips that keep productivity up when inclement weather keeps you away from the office.

Morning Consistency is Key

It’s totally understandable how blustery weather would make you want to stay bundled up in your PJs or work from your laptop in bed. But if you’re working remotely due to the weather, keeping to your morning routine as much as possible can mentally set the stage for a more productive work day.

If you normally exercise outside in the mornings, but can’t, do a quick workout in your living room to maintain your normal pre-work routine. Go to your closet and get dressed, even if you’re just going down the hallway to your home office. Whatever it is that you do to kick off your work day, do it! It will kick start your mind into work mode.

 Keep Your Desk Ready-to-Go

Speaking of your home office, the moment you hear bad weather may keep you housebound is the time to ensure your work space is work ready. National Clean Up Your Desk Day was great inspiration for me to take a few moments to declutter my home office space. Everything is now in its place, which saves me a rush cleaning job when impromptu WebEx meetings have to happen. An added bonus? Studies show that a decluttered workspace leads to more productivity.

Check Your Tech

One minute before a remote meeting or conference call begins is not the time to discover your technology has gone on the fritz.  If weather is keeping you housebound, you’ll need to rely on your tech tools to stay connected, so make it a habit to ensure any and all technology software and hardware you use is online and ready to go when you need it.

Plan B & C & D Location

If bad weather knocks your power or causes internet connectivity issues for example, having a nearby location to work from is a must.

A nearby coffee shop or even a library are just a couple of options. Wifi is often free and nothing beats a hot cup of coffee if you’re forced to travel to another location.

Set Expectations and Boundaries

You know when you’re working from home that you’re actually working. But does everyone else?

When bad weather keeps people who do not work remotely inside, it’s easy to see how they may not understand how you could be carrying on your work day as normal. If you have children, they’re probably home with you if the weather is bad and may not understand that yes – you have real work to do. In these instances, set boundaries and expectations early so everyone understands that even though you’re physically at home, you have to remain focused.

There is definitely something to be said about maintaining a work-life balance, so be open and communicate to your children or friends when you can chit-chat, play games or watch a movie with them.

Has bad weather kept you in the house recently? Share how you’ve been able to stay in work mode with me on Twitter @WebEx, with #WinterWork.

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The Best WebEx Moments of 2017

Being knee-deep into the holiday season means another banner year for WebEx is in the books and coming to a close, folks! There is no time like the present to reflect on how we spent the year helping you to keep business moving forward, uniting your global teams and even earning an accolade or two in the midst of it all.

Before we break out in “Auld Lang Syne,” here’s a look back at some of the best WebEx moments from 2017.

 Take Two Minutes with Us

Our “Two Minute Take” video series gave everyone an all-access pass behind the scenes as Cisco team members got candid on their busy work lives and how the dynamic duo of WebEx Meeting Center and Cisco Spark help them balance their time, meetings and more.

From keeping project manager Ally on task and in touch with her remote team to helping inside sales manager James stay in-the-know when he’s on the go or halfway around the world doing charity work, the series provided an insider’s guide at staying productive while living your “real” real life.

Be sure to check out sales engineer McKenzie talking all things productivity and product marketing manager Nate outlining how WebEx Meeting Center and CiscoSpark keep his team’s unique culture going.

Upgrade Your Remote Business with Influencive

Though brick and mortar offices still exist, the business landscape is taking on a more digital look as more entrepreneurs tap technology to establish and grow their brands. That made 2017 the perfect time for Cisco WebEx to form a ground-breaking partnership with Influencive and its founder, entrepreneurial rock-star expert Brian D. Evans.

Through the partnership, Brian and his team shared their tried-and-true insight into the unique challenges of conducting business for social entrepreneurs and elevating these tech-based businesses to new heights.

Get Smart with Impactful Webinars

This year, we were ecstatic to connect the WebEx community with some of the industry’s most impactful and innovative thinkers on all things digital, data and business growth with our webinar series.

  • The Presentation Company’s Janine Kurnoff shared best practices on using data visualization to tell more compelling stories.
  • Striving to “solve the world’s biggest problem” of untapped human potential, Evan Carmichael guided participants on a journey to nail down their personal motto for finding success in 2017.
  • Author Jacob Morgan challenged us to think differently about employee engagement, and gave us essential tips for building an “experiential organization” to create new business value.

Once Again, Kudos from Gartner

This year marked the 9th time Cisco was designated as a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions!

Thanks to its Cisco Spark, Cisco WebEx and Cisco Meeting Server offerings, Cisco was positioned in the highest and furthest positions for its “Ability to Execute” and “Completeness of Vision” for meeting solutions.

WebEx + Cisco Spark = BFF

This year we celebrated #NationalBestFriendsDay with our number one pal, Cisco Spark! We go together like peanut butter and jelly, coffee and donuts, burgers and fries, meetings and messaging. There is a lot more in store for Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark in 2018 that we can’t wait to share, so stick with us. Until then, Happy New Year!


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What’s new with WebEx?

At WebEx, our team is always looking for fresh ways to create a better user experience. If you manage or use collaboration tools for your business, you know that a seamless user experience is essential to keeping everyone connected and making sure tech tools are adopted by your team. And when your tools work together, everyone can spend less time troubleshooting and more time collaborating.

We’re excited to share just a few of the coolest new features we’re rolling out that integrate WebEx with some of your other favorite tech tools. Check them out below and give them a try during your next meeting!

Background audio noise detection

WebEx Meeting Center now automatically detects background sounds like knocking, typing, sirens and dogs barking. You’ll be prompted to mute your microphone after detection, to help eliminate distraction and keep the meeting focused on the task at hand.

The noise detection functionality distinguishes between users who are actively speaking and background noises, so you won’t be cut off mid-sentence if Fido chimes in.   

 MacBook Touch Bar support                    

Mac users using the WebEx Desktop App can now access meeting controls directly from their MacBook Touch Bar. Just click the button in the Touch Bar to use some of the most popular WebEx functions, like audio mention, mute/unmute, start/stop video and more.

Control your WebEx Meeting with controls on the MacBook Touch Bar.

Easy controls at your fingertips. What’s not to love?

Google Calendar Integraion

If you use Google calendar to keep track for your work week, you can now schedule and start Personal Room meetings more easily with the Cisco WebEx Scheduler, which you can download here from the Chrome Web Store. You can also. Simply schedule and add join information by typing @webex in the “Where” line of your Google Calendar invite.

Download the Cisco WebEx Scheduler to schedule, start, and join WebEx meetings directly from Google Calendar.

This type of compatibility means you can use WebEx with other productivity tools you love.

Cisco WebEx app for Slack

Last but not least, Cisco WebEx is now available in Slack. Add the WebEx app to a Slack channel and quickly share your WebEx meeting or Personal Room URL with your team. Simply type /webex to share your WebEx Personal Room link.

Want to know more? Follow us on Twitter @WebEx to stay up to speed on the latest product updates, or share your ideas for features you’d like to see!

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Easy annual planning for remote teams

 It’s that time of the year again! The days are shorter. The weather is cooling down.  And your manager is asking to see your team’s 2018 plan ASAP.

When there’s a lot on your plate between work and home, staying productive and efficient is non-negotiable. Add in the logistics of coordinating a remote team and the stress can add up quickly. But those end-of-year deadlines don’t have to bring your team down. Follow this simple guide for streamlining your workflow to get that annual plan wrapped up. Hint: the key is collaboration.

Step 1: Create a work space

First things first, you need to assemble your key players together in one place. And I don’t mean a conference room.

To work together fluidly, you need a virtual workspace. Create a Cisco Spark room and include everyone who will contribute to the planning process. You can use it to chat about updates in real time, share documents, review feedback, and even add bots to help you with scheduling and project management. Label the room and ask your team to use it for annual planning only, so conversations stay focused and on-task.

Step 2: The kickoff

Next, schedule a WebEx session to kick things off. Share an agenda in advance to keep the meeting structured. Ask your team to turn on their video – having some face-time can go a long way in rallying everyone around a common goal and help ensure you’re all on the same page.

Consider preparing a few slides with an outline of the plan and share your screen during the meeting. Have everyone weigh in with initial ideas about what’s been working, what’s not, and what the priorities should be for the next year.

Before you close the meeting, be clear about the expectations and next steps. What should be included in the plan? What are the deadlines? Recap team assignments so everyone can divide and conquer.

Step 3: Sharing is caring

Now it’s time to get to work. After your meeting, share a recap in the Cisco Spark room to reinforce the next steps and deadlines.

As each member of your team fulfills their assignments, have them share updates and documents in Cisco Spark. It’s a lot simpler than searching through lengthy email chains to find attachments or links.

Collaborate in real-time via chat or call team members directly, all within Cisco Spark. Bouncing ideas around in as they come up will help move things forward quickly, and you can keep your team in-the-know if things change.

Step 4: Review and revise

Once your plan is drafted, it’s time to start editing. Set up another meeting with your team to review the plan together as a group. Ask yourself a few essential questions along the way. Does the presentation tell a clear story? Did we accomplish what we set out to do? Is our data presented in an impactful way?

Make edits in real-time during the meeting, and continue any follow up via Cisco Spark if you need to add finishing touches.

Step 5: The final presentation

This is where all of the team collaboration will pay off. It’s Showtime!

Schedule a meeting with your manager/stakeholders over WebEx. Have everyone fire up their video and share your deck (just be sure to share your application instead of your entire screen to avoid any distracting notifications). And don’t forget to record the meeting – you can send out a link so anyone who missed out on the presentation can catch up.

Step 6: Celebrate! And keep the conversation going

After you’ve nailed your presentation, congratulate your team and pat yourself on the back. Now that your annual plan is in place, you can keep the work moving in Cisco Spark. Create new rooms for individual projects and initiatives once your plan is approved, and check back in throughout the year.

Having the best collaboration tools makes a big difference when it comes to planning, and every team has a different style that works for them. How does your team approach planning and workflows? Tell us in the comments below!


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Keep your team conversations going

The weekly update. The customer presentation. The on-the-fly team meeting.  Every type of meeting has its own purpose, but how can you tackle them efficiently and effectively every time? The key is to keep the conversation going.

If you work remotely, you know this can be especially hard. When your team is spread out, you need a strategy to keep everyone connected before, during and after each meeting. And with the right tools, your projects can move forward and everyone can stay connected.

Not sure where to start? Check out our handy guide for using Cisco Spark and Cisco WebEx to keep your team collaborating, whether you’re giving a big presentation over video conference or sharing daily updates over chat.

Have your own collaboration tips and tricks? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Debunking Remote Work Myths

Work from home. Telecommuting. Remote workers. They’re all just fancy words for people that work in pajamas with dogs at their sides, right? Well, while my lab Fletch sometimes makes a surprise appearance on a video call, remote work is burdened with misconceptions that I set out to debunk:

Misconception 1 – “Are they even working?”

Remote workers are often accused of “phoning it in,” only half listening to meeting conversation as they surf the internet, watch television or answer other emails. The truth is, studies show remote workers report being more productive – 91% in one study – than their office-dwelling peers. Working remotely also encourages having more detailed communication with managers and team members to clarify objectives, which is not the mark of a lazy person.

Misconception 2 – “Is that even a real job?”

Just because remote workers are surrounded by the comforts of home when they work doesn’t mean that they’re not working a “real” job.

Cisco and many other respected brands, including Amazon, Dell, Apple and Wells Fargo, support remote work. And this trend is growing; a survey by Global Workplace Analytics found that 40% more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options than they did five years ago.

Misconception 3 – “Do you ever leave your house?”

The beautiful reality of being a remote worker is that – well, we can work remotely from wherever our happy work spot may be.

I do have a home office and it where I work from most often. But tools like WebEx and Cisco Spark provide flexibility that gives me the freedom to hunker down in my favorite local coffee shop to work and even attend meetings.

Misconception 4 – “That must be really lonely.”

Though remote workers may be physically alone when they do their work, video conferencing enable us to become expert collaborators, connecting with teams in real-time.

Personally, I love the interactive drawing and whiteboard feature offered by Cisco Spark. Our team uses it to share graphics and outline concepts, all in real-time. And whatever devices we’re all using – cell phone, lap top, tablet – Cisco Spark allows us to share files and message one another and engage in occasional “virtual” water cooler talk. Again, all in real-time.

Misconception 5 – “You must find it hard to turn off.”

In the age of collaboration (rolling over first thing in the morning to check emails, anyone?), this is an issue that we are all working on. Regardless of your work environment, work-life balance is critical. Though this can seem like a challenge if your home is your office like mine, it’s not impossible. It’s all about pacing.

What works for me is creating barriers between “work-mode” and “family-mode”. For example, I don’t work during dinner time and I don’t check emails until I’ve dropped my kids off at school. For you, it may be designated a certain area of your home as a place you don’t enter until it’s time to work.

What do you enjoy most about being a remote worker? Share with our community on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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Remote Meeting Distractions – and How to Deal

Did you know that 87% of remote works feel more connected  to their teams when they use video conferencing? And did you know that 100% of remote workers absolutely detest remote meeting distractions that don’t have to happen?

Ok. That last stat was not discovered in any recent journals or news stories – but we have no doubts that it’s true! All of the benefits that remote meetings offer team members – increased productivity, flexibility for those who are on the go and reduced traveling stresses – are lost if annoying remote meeting distractions derail what teams are trying to accomplish.

Thankfully, several WebEx tools that can help do away with remote meeting distractions. Check out our “top four” list (provided in no particular order – we love them all) and let us know your biggest remote meeting distraction pet peeves.


1. Pesky passcodes

 season 3 black and white episode 16 telephone 3x16 GIF

It’s very easy to become distracted during a meeting. And even more so when you’re running late and somehow can’t get into the meeting! Passcodes are often the culprit for this type of distraction.

WebEx’s “Call Me” feature eliminates this worry. With “Call Me,” meeting attendees simply click the “Join” meeting button and then the “Call Me” button. From there, it’s as simple as answering the phone when the WebEx meeting calls. No passcodes, no problem.


2. Background noise

What do a barking dog, rumbling lawn mower and a full-on marching band have in common? They’re all just a sample of distracting (and annoying) background noises that can disrupt your meeting when you’re working remotely. Unfortunately, you don’t always have control over what passes by your home office window.


Rather than issue the standard, “who’s not on mute?” question, WebEx users with the WebEx noise cancellation feature don’t have to stress. When WebEx detects background noises that could hinder your meeting, a friendly pop-up reminder to mute your phone will briefly appear.


3. Connecting on-the-go

Working At A Cafe GIF - Eow Bored Cafe GIFs

 The beauty in working remotely is you can actually get things done and stay connected on-the- go your favorite place – like your local coffee shop instead of fluorescent-lit cubicle. But sometimes you don’t always have your laptop and a strong Wi-Fi connection handy when it’s time to connect to a meeting. Luckily, no matter which device you or other team members use to connect, WebEx’s mobile features make remote meeting a breeze.

From a phone, a tablet – even an Apple Watch – WebEx’s mobile app system provides “on the move’ users the freedom to host and attend meetings. And with the addition of Cisco Spark, remote meetings are never delayed because anyone can join no matter which standards-based video conferencing device they use.


4. Meeting crashers

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot WebEx can do if the smallest and cutest distractions are determined to join your meeting. Our advice? Be quick on your feet!

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