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Employee whiteboarding with a house design guide, and making marks using the webex coloring tool
Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series — Chapter 3: Whiteboards, no line on the horizon

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

The “Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams” series will spotlight techniques in managing and inspiring remote and #WFH teams.  Learn how the Webex Platform and Webex Teams can help transform your remote team into an engaged, creative and productive team no matter if people are across the hall, town or globe.

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

As a people manager at Cisco, I manage a team spread across multiple time zones and countries.  There are many #WFH resources out there these days but for this series of blogs I thought I would focus on how to build and manage a digital team using the Webex Teams Platform.

For this blog we will be covering helping unlock your team’s creativity and engagement with infinite whiteboards in Webex Teams.

No boundaries

If you haven’t guessed already, at Cisco Webex, we work remote…. ALOT.  We can empathize with what it takes to work remotely better than most companies on the planet.  So, when we set out to build tools for our customers, we strive to make the virtual experience just as immersive, engaging and maybe even better than being there in person.  One way we do this is by bringing humanity and creativity into the collaboration workflow using what we call, Infinite Whiteboards.

In talking to our customers and looking at ourselves, we know that people collaborate in a lot of different ways.  Inside Cisco, we use whiteboards everywhere, it’s just part of our culture.  Many would agree that it’s easier to just draw out what you mean to communicate a new idea or a way to think about something different or just have fun.  In many of our physical locations, whiteboards are prevalent everywhere, even most of the walls are whiteboards.  So, we thought to ourselves, how do we reimagine that very human experience of collaboration and digitize it?  Answer, infinite whiteboards.

Get started with whiteboards

Get Started with Whiteboards. A whitebard dasshboard with Big Ideas Room Creativity Workshop and the tabs reading messages, people, content , and schedule

Click on the space in Teams that you want to meet/chat in and you will see in the space categories (messages, people, content and schedule), click on Content (green arrow) and then Whiteboards where the maroon arrow is located to get to the whiteboards.  From there you can select a new whiteboard from whatever device you happen to be using (laptop, tablet, phone etc) and just start drawing.  If you happen to be in a meeting, everyone in the same meeting (virtually or in the same room) will also see and be able to engage with the whiteboard using whatever device they have in their hand or in the room.

It’s alive!

Get Started with Whiteboards. A whitebard dasshboard with Big Ideas Room Creativity Workshop and the tabs reading messages, people, content , and schedule

Once you have opened up your whiteboard and started working on it with your team, all of the changes you make are automatically saved.  Anything you draw, add/remove stickies, etc all are saved magically.  Anyone that is invited into the space can pick up where you left off in the whiteboard and continue.  This makes working with teams really dynamic and fun.  Why is this important? As a manager, you can be much more inclusive with your team members when the tools can help facilitate everyone’s input when and how they want to contribute.

Share It

post snapshot and download. Image of the bottom right corner of the whiteboard that shows a Post a Snapshot and Download buttonOn the bottom right corner of each whiteboard there is a share button.  When you select that button, you will be able to Post a Snapshot of that whiteboard into the Teams Space you are in or you can send it out via a text message, email or post to another site as a PDF.

Examples of where to use whiteboards

With my team we often use whiteboards in many of the planning and strategy sessions we do both internally and externally (yes, you can do this too with people outside of your company). However, some other examples of using whiteboards:

  • Daily / Weekly stand ups or reviews with the teams
  • Project kick offs
  • Customer discovery sessions
  • Network topologies
  • Marketing Events
  • Storyboard design
  • Executive Workshops
  • eLearning / Concept development

Hopefully whiteboards was something that you are able to incorporate into your next remote team building session.  Stay tuned for Chapter 4: Webex Teams and Microsoft, the sweetest thing.

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Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series: Chapter 2: Stay (faraway, so close) using tools built right into Webex Teams. A mature man is at home. He is using a laptop
Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series: Chapter 2: Stay faraway, so close with Webex Teams

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

The “Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams” series will spotlight techniques in managing and inspiring remote and #WFH teams.  Learn how the Webex Platform and Webex Teams can help transform your remote team into an engaged, creative and productive team no matter if people are across the hall, town or globe.

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

As a people manager at Cisco, I manage a team spread across multiple time zones and countries.  There are many #WFH resources out there these days but for this series of blogs I thought I would focus on how to build and manage digital team using the Webex Platform with Webex Teams. 

For this blog we will help answer a question we get asked a lot:” …how do you create and organize a workshop when everyone is remote?” 

Build your team 

A common function of teamwork is to coordinate and collaborate across many different workstreams to achieve a common goal.  In some cases, this could be as simple as responding to a customer’s RFP/RFQ, preparing for a product launch, or planning customer workshop.  In all of these cases, building and bringing your team together was often the easy part, doing this over an extended period of time and performing this remotely can be very challenging.

Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams Series – Chapter 2: Stay (Faraway, So Close) using tools built right into Webex Teams

For a workshop or classroom, one would often have reserved a main office room and then a series of breakout rooms nearby for different groups or teams that could go off, collaborate on their particular objective and then come back to the main group to share, discuss, etc.   

However, the problem with most video conferencing and messaging tools are that they were designed around a particular meeting or topic and not necessarily for the project or workshop which could last a day, a week or longer.  Also, many times a group would need to meet “offline”, not with the greater group, to work an idea or process and then come back to the larger group later.  Webex Teams is great to solve these types of use cases which, at Cisco, is often a primary means for how we get work done across multiple teams with our partners, contractors and customers in many cases. 

Create a purpose

First, think about the workshop you want to run.  The workshop may have a theme, a small team of moderators to facilitate the event and members or participants that would need to be involved in the event.  Get familiar with Roles within Webex Teams and how these roles impact the event. 

For each Team you create, a General Room is automatically created in Webex Teams to use for topics, discussions, meetings that pertain to the group as a whole, like a general-purpose room. Next, each space that is linked to that Team is now its own collaboration space with a unique virtual meeting link, whiteboards, messaging, content share, etc all in one place. Creating a team in webex teams

 

Next, the organization of the event, just like the in-person event, would have breakout rooms, workstreams or spaces where each group in the workshop would go and collaborate together.  For each Team you create, a General Room is automatically created in Webex Teams to use for topics, discussions, meetings that pertain to the group as a whole, like a general-purpose room.  Next, each space that is linked to that Team is now its own collaboration space with a unique virtual meeting link, whiteboards, messaging, content share, etc all in one place.

Here is an example of a Space Meeting Information (join URL, video address and dial in information for any type of user): 

Space meeting information. Screen to schedule a meeting, copy and paste the meeting information, and people's email address into your calendar invite.png

Stay in sync 

The best part of this setup within Webex Teams is, especially with remote teams, everyone can get engaged and stay engaged. When you are in an office setting its really easy to walk down the hallway and see where everyone is meeting/connecting just by looking in the rooms.  However, when you are remote this can be very challenging as the physical room is not available.   

With Webex Teams, you are able to recreate that experience in the physical world but virtually. Each room /space now is represented in the Webex Teams client. So you can see in real time who is in the room and who is meeting which helps keep your team engagedWith Webex Teams, you are able to recreate that experience in the physical world.  Each room /space now is represented in the Webex Teams client.  So, you can see in real time who is in the room and who is meeting which helps keep your team engaged.

Participants

You are probably asking then, “…what happens when you eventually go back into the office, are you able to use Webex Teams then for that same type of experience? Answer, yes.

When the Webex Rooms are in your physical location (say in all of your meeting rooms), the rooms now can autosense the people.  In the example to the right, I am in a meeting connected wirelessly to a Webex Board and now everyone that is invited to the Webex Team space can see me associated to the physical room as well as the virtual room.  This also holds true for all of the content and whiteboards you share in the virtual room now can be part of the physical room as well bringing a whole new meaning to business continuity.   

Get started

At Cisco, we use this Teams framework for all sorts of use cases, here are some examples that can help you get started:Creativity Workshop

  • Company Wide Event Planning
  • Customer/Partner Strategy Workshops
  • Developer Hackathons 
  • Virtual Training Delivery  
  • Community Engagement / Outreach 
  • Multi Topic FAQs and “Ask” Rooms 
  • Marketing Outreach / Planning 

I hope that with some of these examples, provides some inspiration on how to build a virtual collaboration team that is both productive and engaging.  

Stay tuned for the next blog post: Chapter 3: Teams Whiteboards: No Line in the Horizon and make sure to stay connected with all the blogs in the series here.

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Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series
Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series : Chapter 1: When you are with or without your office

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

The “Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams” series we will spotlight techniques in managing and inspiring remote and #WFH teams.  Learn how the Webex Platform and Webex Teams can help transform your team into an engaged, creative and productive no matter if people are across the hall, town or globe.

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

As a people manager at Cisco, I manage a team spread across multiple time zones and countries.  There are many #WFH resources out there these days but for this series of blogs I thought I would focus on how to build and manage digital team using the Webex Platform with Webex Teams. 

Connecting your team  

First, what is Webex Teams?  Webex Teams is what I consider my collaboration “nerve center” where all of the people I work with, the apps I use, and the meetings/tasks/workflows associated to getting work done are located.  Its where all of the activities before, during and after meetings can live, and, if done right, you can shorten your meetings and maybe not have as many meetings throughout your day but everyone can be on the same page regardless where they are located.  Here are just a few pointers to get you started. 

Get some space 

Go here and learn about and setup your Webex Teams account.  Next, you will need some Space.  Yes, everyone needs a little space.  A space in Webex Teams is like a virtual huddle room you can have with 1 to as many people as you want where you can message each other, share files, co edit files you have in OneDrive and Google, post pictures, GIFs, and capture all of the activities before, during and after a meeting on Webex.  At Cisco, we use Microsoft OneDrive, Sharepoint and Smartsheet a lot and within Webex Teams it brings everyone’s ability to co create content, materials and projects in a much more efficient manner.  (screen shot of ecm integration or video link) 

Create a space and a meeting in one step 

As a best practice I setup a space in Teams, in this case “Joshua Tree Project”( highlighted in a yellow box in the picture), that could be about a particular topic/idea/outcome with a group of people (which could include partners and suppliers – notice the external user in the invite) and schedule the initial meeting in just a one step process.   

calendar creation graphic that reads "Joshua Tree Project" with an image of a black and white joshua tree

If you have Calendar services enabled with Webex Teams you can create a Webex Teams space automatically from your meeting calendar invites from Outlook or Google:
1.  Create a meeting invite in Outlook / Google and invite the people you want to the meeting
2.  In the location field, type in @webex:space 
3.  Hit Send.   

Then, auto”magically” your Webex Teams space will have all of your participants and meeting title as the name of the space.  That’s it, chat, message, call, meet, share with your team. 

Create a space and meeting in one step. Image of Calendar services enabled with Webex Teams

Create a virtual watercooler with your team (internal and/or external members) 

In this time of uncertainty, people are feeling isolated at times and that can cause stress and anxiety.  To help bring a sense of community and togetherness, at Cisco we have leveraged Webex Teams to create “Ask Rooms”.  An Ask Room is just like a virtual watercooler in your office.  People can post messages, questions and others can respond with reactions, answers etc.  At Cisco we have found the level of engagement in these rooms is pretty high and people love to keep in touch with each other.  And better yet, create an ASK space with your customers/partners too, you will be surprised how much a little TLC can go!  As a customer and partner obsessed organization, we on average have 30-40% of our spaces with external, outside of Cisco, participants.  This helps diversify our community and accelerates new ideas.   

Simply create a space with a topic that you feel would have a wide audience, invite people to it and invite the EURL bot (eurl@webex.bot) to help provide a URL link for users in your company to discover and join by sharing the link on an intranet page or email.   For smaller groups, you can create a Team within Webex Teams and add people as members, then as you add more Ask spaces, everyone will get invited and aware of the space.   

Ask COVID-10 Collab

If you have a watercooler type room with your immediate team, keep things light.  On my team we often share pictures from our weekends, family event and we even have a goat farmer in the tribe that keeps us updated on best practices in raising goats (and yes, I mean real goats). 

Be genuine and be yourself 

In work, as in the rest of our lives, being recognized is just an important as the work itself and having each other’s back is important.  This idea is even more with working remote where giving the extra pat on the back or seeing someone in the hallway and letting them know you appreciate what they did doesn’t happen easily when everyone is virtual. 

Within Webex Teams we have the ability for people to add GIFs and reactions to messages within context along with notification of who left the reaction etc.  Keeping things light within the Team is important these days, don’t you agree?  (pic of reactions in teams, thumbs up, celebration emoji etc).

Keeping things light within the Team is important these days, don’t you agree? (pic of reactions in teams, thumbs up, celebration emoji etc)

 

Stay active, have fun 

It can be really hard to balance communicating to others if you are available or not and where you could be located at any one time.  Many times, I am in a meeting or sharing my desktop or other times I need some quiet time to get some work.   The problem that occurs is then people start messaging/interrupting/calling it can be really difficult to get anything done.  This is where Webex Team’s presence really shines.

Webex Teams can automatically show if you are away from your app, if you are in a Webex meeting, sharing your desktop and even on a phone call.  Secondly as a user I can create custom statuses (screen shot below) to my community so they know either where I am located, if I need some quiet time or if there is an important message I want them to know.  For me personally this has brought much needed balance back into my workday as I can feel connected to the team and vice versa without having to sacrifice my mental well being. 

Webex Teams can automatically show if you are away from your app, if you are in a Webex meeting,

Well, that’s a few pointers for now.  The next blog post will be Chapter 2: Stay (Faraway, So Close) covering co creation tools built right into Webex Teams. 

Partner with Cisco and have a true global reach

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Connect with all blogs in the Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams

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