A Blueprint for Hybrid Workplaces
2020 is now half over, and I think we can all agree that it’s been an unexpected year. In Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, we’ve been working hard to make sure Webex was there to enable the connections we’ve all come to rely on. And now we’re looking forward and seeing how we can prepare for the future of work. Because at the end of the day, work is no longer a place you go, work is what you do.
Blueprint for the Hybrid Workplace
We believe the future will be a blend of in-office and working-from-home, and we’ve created a blueprint to help you as we move into this future.
- Empower the remote worker. Enable remote workers with personalized and engaging experiences; help them raise their game, wherever their work happens.
- Safe return to the office. For employees heading back into the office, ensure a safe while still productive environment by providing touchless and intelligent experiences.
- Develop meaningful customer relationships. Continue to nurture your customer relationships and ensure that they can reach you any way, any time.
- Make I.T. hum. Because IT is key to supporting the transition to this hybrid future, the right management and decision-making tools can make IT hum.
Empower the Remote Worker
The blended workplace needs to allow for equal collaboration experiences; being remote shouldn’t be a barrier to being more effective. Today, we’re introducing features and capabilities that make any space a great workplace.
- Video for everyone: Too many remote workers suffer from poor bandwidth experiences at home. So, we’ve further refined our application, so employees still maintain a great experience even with 50% packet loss. And with intelligent super-scaling of 360p and lower video, we’re able to deliver 720p like quality. And with ‘regions of interest’ video encoding, Webex is able to provide a higher quality image for the important areas of the video – like a person’s face. Now, remote workers with less-than-ideal networks still get an exceptional experience.
- Screen Share Preview: How many meetings have you been in when the presenter is talking but is completely unaware no one can see their presentation until someone alerts them? Or that they’re sharing a confidential document no one was supposed to see… You don’t want to be THAT person. So, we built the “Can you see my screen” feature so you have visual verification of what you’re sharing right from the start. Watch the video
- Hand raising: And how about when you’re in a meeting and you can’t get a word in? In-person you can do this by making a simple gesture, or raising your hand. Webex has always had a ‘raise your hand’ feature to ensure you’re being ‘virtually’ seen – even if you join from your phone. Now it’s even better- when you raise your hand, you’re bumped to the top of the list to be more visible than before.
- Virtual, Customized, or Blurred Background: Working from the dining room table? Dealing with clutter? Sneaking in a call waiting for take-out? With our new background options, you can use your video, and show up as the professional you are. Change your background, or customize it with your own photo. But if you find virtual backgrounds distracting, choose blur background. Your peers, your boss, and even your clients will be focused on you and what you have to say, not your background.
- Webex Assistant for Meetings: If you are like me, and your day is one meeting after another, remembering everything is impossible which is why our Webex Assistant has simplified my work life. Webex Assistant can take notes and record action items; even the transcript becomes searchable if you are looking for a key topic discussed across multiple meetings. With Webex Assistant you can be even more efficient at home than you might have been in the office- give it a try it’s now available! Take a first-hand look at Webex Assistant
- In-office experience at home: Most people have no idea of the impact a purpose-built video device on their desk can have until they’ve tried one. It’s a force multiplier for an engaging, anti-fatiguing, “I can do this all day” experience. Now, you don’t have to be crouched over your laptop at home. I encourage you to give the Desk Pro or any of the collaboration devices in our portfolio a try; you will never want to go back to just the laptop! Learn more about Webex Desk Pro
- More business calling capabilities in Webex Teams: Many of you had to quickly transform a spare bedroom or basement space into your home office and armed with only a laptop or a cell phone to continue to orchestrate your business calls. With Webex Calling and new calling features available in Webex Teams like visual voicemail, local contacts search, and call pull, connecting to your co-workers has gotten easier by bringing the enterprise calling features you love from the office to your desktop and mobile.
Safe Return to the Office: A Touchless and Intelligent Workplace
Some people are already returning to the office and we all need to feel safe when we do. By providing touchless and intelligent workplaces, Webex can help transform your office to accommodate a safe return-to-office plan:
- Webex Teams has long operated as a remote control for Webex devices. With it you can call, mute, change audio, share screen, end a meeting or call – from your phone or laptop, without having to touch anything that’s not yours.
- Plus, you can leverage voice-activated controls, so people don’t have to touch anything to start a meeting or share their screens in those meetings.
- Easily promote safe office practices and social distancing guidelines across any common area office screen.
- Room capacity notifications appear in real-time when too many people are in the room based upon high-end sensors in the room devices.
- Schedule cleaning notifications, so employees can rest assured knowing when the room was last cleaned.
- For open floorplans, your personal Cisco headset can instantly log you in and out of shared workstations and hot-desk environments without needing to touch anything.
With touchless controls, room capacity, and cleaning notifications, you can be assured that your work environment meets your exacting standards. Learn more here
Develop Meaningful Customer Relationships, Even Virtually
With the increase in your customer inquiries and online touchpoints, and your contact center agents working from home, many of you have reached out to us for advice on how to expand your existing contact center. We are excited to announce the following new features that continue to make it easier to get up and running with Webex Contact Center.
- Engage your remote agents with powerful cloud WFO: Empower supervisors to optimize agent performance from the cloud with Cisco Webex Workforce Optimization (WFO), which can now be used with your cloud or on-prem Cisco Contact Center. Webex WFO provides quality management tools, workforce management capabilities for scheduling, and workforce analytics to improve productivity. So, whether you are using Contact Center Express on-premise or Webex Contact Center in the cloud, you can leverage Webex WFO to deliver integrated capabilities for team performance management from the cloud.
- Stay on top of reporting, from anywhere: To provide a better reporting and analytics experience, we have made several enhancements to Analyzer, our advanced tool to manage and optimize contact center operations, all delivered from the cloud.
- Enhanced search: Provides a view of all folder names, reports, or dashboards matching the search string for advanced searching.
- Usage reports: Shows the agent license usage for each day of the month for a given site and gives a summary of maximum usage for each month.
- Threshold reports: Set custom thresholds and alerts for agent and call data to stay on top of wait times or other metrics that you need to follow closely.
- Get up and running even faster with PSTN Add-On Option for Webex Contact Center: Cisco is continuing to make it easier and faster to deploy Webex Contact Center by offering a quick-to-deploy PSTN calling solution for contact center agents. Customers can purchase a Webex Contact Center subscription and include PSTN for calling to get up and running in as little as five days. Entitlements for the Cisco PSTN Add-on can now be added on Control Hub as part of provisioning a new or updated order.
Make IT Hum
Many of you have had to scale from 8 office buildings to 8,000 home offices. That is a lot to manage, and we have the perfect toolset for you. Webex Control Hub gives you a single pane of glass to provision and manages calls, meetings, messages, users, your contact center, your workspaces, and your devices… at a granular level.
- Automate and enable remote onboarding: With Webex Control Hub user onboarding (and off-boarding) is easy – allowing you to automate and control rapid rollouts. Active Directory Integration enables automatic user addition to Control Hub, as well as a synchronized approach to de-activating employees. All of this means zero-touch provisioning and flexibility to get new users up and running wherever they work.
VIP Meeting Support: We’re also making it easy for IT to enable high touch support for executives anywhere. If your CIO is reporting issues in their meeting, IT can discreetly join the call to experience the problems first-hand, enabling them to expediently resolve problems. You can set up live meeting notifications and alerts when your VIP’s are having issues – even when they are working at home.
- Expanded Workplace Insights for the Office: A key component of any back-to-the-office plan is the ability to adapt to changing utilization for meeting spaces. With the new workplace insight tab within Webex Control Hub, you can manage meeting rooms and shared spaces, set capacity levels in each room or huddle space, and get a real-time visual notification if capacity is exceeded. Monitor room usage trends and get insights on seat utilization and environmental metrics like occupancy, sound-levels, and ambient noise to know how to optimize spaces or even reassign rooms and plan for the future. Watch the video.
- Security for remote employees: Whether it’s a lost mobile device with sensitive company information, accidental document sharing with external users, or even the risk of meeting attendees joining from suspect domains… going remote can create a new set of challenges. With Webex Control Hub we’re giving IT the tools to manage these situations including:
- Security built, not bolted on: Webex has always supported end-to-end encryption and we continue to enhance security options available to IT to deliver the highest level of protection. And now we have updated the encryption cipher for Webex Meetings to AES-256-GCM.
Preparing You for the Next Normal
It’s time to look to the future, adapting to the new landscape. The next steps are preparing your workforce to be equally productive from wherever they are, being there for your customers when they need you most, and effectively managing this new collaboration experience. We’re continuously innovating to provide you with the solutions you need for the next normal and to make it easier to get work done. We want you to thrive at work, where ever that is. And we want you to trust that we have your back, building features, and functionality that you can trust.
This is Cisco. We will always be here for you.
May 12, 2022 — Shawna Anthony
May 11, 2022 — Abhay Kulkarni