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Electric Power Research Institute creates a video-first culture with Webex
Electric Power Research Institute creates a video-first culture with Webex

Interview conducted with Matt Corbett, IT/End User Experience Manager at Electric Power Research Institute.


In 1965, 30 million Americans lost electricity in the Great Northeastern Blackout. This crisis left people vulnerable and showed society’s great dependence on 24-7-365 electric service. Because of this blackout, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) was established as an objective, nonprofit organization to conduct research and development in all aspects of power production, delivery and use, for the benefit of the public.

On a daily basis, 1200 employees at their U.S. offices and labs and around the world collaborate in a range of programs  with their peers, member companies, and stakeholders. Effective communication isn’t just important, it’s essential – for establishing and managing research, for reporting results, and for applying new technologies in power systems around the world.

Creating a new culture with video conferencing

We had the opportunity to talk with Matt Corbett, IT/End User Experience Manager at EPRI, about how EPRI is creating a video-first culture to equip employees to communicate — and collaborate — more easily and effectively than ever before.

When Corbett joined EPRI in January 2017 his first goal was to understand how the company was collaborating. Which aspects were working and providing a good experience, and which needed improvement? He spent his first  months  just listening. From this, Corbett put together a transformation strategy, aligned directly to EPRI’s unique needs. Alongside key partnerships with the HR and Facility teams, he was able to secure the executive support he needed, and — most important– establish trust across the organization that proved critical in the success of the transformation ahead.

In a workplace driven by collaboration, the goal was to drive seamless continuity and a flawless user experience. At the heart of the transformation was the need to sever ties with old technologies and habits so that the EPRI team could share ideas and foster further research more readily and effectively .

Corbett determined that hardly anyone was using video frequently or effectively. To address this he brought in new software and hardware, and began modernizing EPRI’s offices, conference rooms and other shared spaces. His team focused on creating comfortable meeting rooms and “huddle spaces,” with easy-to-use conferencing systems.

Creating an intuitive, well-supported experience for  employees was crucial to the strategy. Video conferencing became seamless for individuals on a desktop, individuals or groups in small  conference rooms, or large groups in meeting- and conference-size halls. For all these, a simple push of a button is all that is needed.

As a result, collaboration technology has become more integral to EPRI’s collaborative business model. More people are using video conferencing more often, and its use has moved beyond in-house team meetings.  EPRI is now simulcasting all-hands meetings, bringing its far-flung team together with video conferencing software. By using the systems for interview screenings, EPRI is reducing travel costs. EPRI is using video conferencing to deliver externally-facing training and classes on demand, extending its reach globally.

Best advice to others in his position?

Corbett advises: listen and have an open mind. Don’t approach a situation with a solution already in mind. Ask thoughtful, probing questions. Allow people to express opinions and share their experience. Ultimately you want the team to be excited to adopt a new technology. Also, in your various work spaces, don’t default to the same solution for every room. Regardless of the size or shape, determine which technology and configuration best serves the particular needs – even if that means trying a configuration that is a bit different than the norm. At the end of the day, the technology should fit the way you work, not the other way around.


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team collaboration webinar
Webinar recap: changing the way team collaboration is done

On February 14, we hosted a webinar around huddle spaces and their importance to the future of work and team collaboration.

Alan McGinty, Senior Director of the Global Workplace Innovation Group at Cisco presented on how the traditional workplace, one that looks similar to a cube farm array, is evolving to meet the needs of current workers and the new generation entering the workforce.

But what does this evolution look like?

The quick answer is: people need the right type of space for specific types of work.

A 2-minute recap:

In this webinar, Alan discussed how four large, global workplace trends are validating the need for changes to workspaces. Here they are:

1) Rapidly changing workforce demographic model. The current workplace needs to support four generations in the workplace (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Digital Natives). Baby Boomers are beginning to leave the workforce and 61 million Gen Z’s will be entering workforce (a generation that has grown up with a digital device in hand). Companies need to be able to support their employees in a way they can work most effectively.

2) Demand for flexibility. Work is transforming into what we do, not where we go. People come into an office to engage in culture, be seen, collaborate. People aren’t coming into the office for the free food.

3) Changing work activities. Work is more automated than ever before. The team collaboration we need to support is around innovation/new ideas.

4) Acceleration and advancement of technology. As technology continues to progress, all companies are becoming technology companies.

 

Luckily, we have the answer to solve for these global workplace trends: Huddle spaces.

A Deloitte survey shows that agility and collaboration are key to company success. And that is the precise goal of huddle spaces: for teams to come together quickly and effectively to collaborate and make decisions.

When you think of a team meeting, what comes to mind? A room with chairs, a table, and videoconferencing device?

While yes, this is a type of huddle space, it’s just one in a sea of many. Huddle spaces can take many forms, in many locations. The most important factors are that the technology and the space create a cohesive user experience and empower employees to perform most effectively to do the work they need to do (ie: sharing content, making audio and video calls, white-boarding).

For more in-depth conversation, including information on huddle space analytics and the importance of space design and location for team collaboration, watch the webinar on-demand: here. The slides presented in the webinar are also accessible: here.

Let us know if  you have any comments and/or questions and follow this link here to learn more about Huddle Spaces.

 


If interested, check out Webex Meetings or Webex Teams for free:

https://www.webex.com/pricing/free-trial.html

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