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How team collaboration technology can work together no matter where you are

What’s it like to achieve seamless collaboration with someone with no matter where the two of you are?

In many depictions from science fiction, such interactions often involved HD video as well as mobile communications. “Star Trek” had video conferencing and handheld communicators, while “Star Wars” featured high-quality audio links between ships, even in the depths of space. No matter where characters went in those universes, they could reliably stay in touch. Check out the Best Video Conferencing & Online Meeting Software

In the real world, available collaboration technologies have caught up with, and in some ways, even surpassed those once far-out fantasies. Employees can now join a video or VoIP call from their mobile devices, but take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) to establish context around each meeting, fill in key details through chat, and improve customer experiences.

Check out a first-hand experience of the all-new Webex Meetings with faster join times and anytime-anywhere access:

While it’s always been theoretically possible to collaborate over long distances via email and phone, modern tech makes everything more accessible and real-time. Let’s look at two typical workflows, one with and the other without the most up-to-date collaboration technologies.

A day in the life: One meeting, many locations

Let’s imagine someone starting their workday at home, which has become pretty standard these days. After all, telecommuting has surged since the mid-2000s; one estimate put the number of remote workers in the U.S. at nearly 5 million as of 2018. And in 2020, many more workplaces are allowing their employees to work from home, or split their time between home and office.

Check out our Work From Home Best Practices

This hypothetical worker wakes up and then joins a web conference from their desktop PC for a little while. Built-in AI provides full context on who’s who in the meeting so that there’s no guesswork in understanding the purpose of the proceedings and the participants’ background.

Then it’s time for them to take their kid to school. Using collaboration technology they can transition the call onto their phone with just a swipe and keep listening while in their car, using wireless earbuds or the vehicle’s Bluetooth and a built-in mic.

After finishing the commute, they finally arrive at the office. They sit down at their desk and transition the same call that started back at home to yet another device, this time to their company laptop connected to a docking station and external monitor.

Once the call is over, they can follow up with a few of the participants via chat. The group chat space comes with read receipts and automatic saving of all messages and files so that it’s simple to find any item and understand how it fits into the workflow. The conversation, thanks to technology, happens in real-time, just like a video or VoIP call.

Help Center: Take a look around the Cisco Webex Teams App UI and get used to your app’s interface 

Takeaways

A few takeaways about this experience:

• The conference call worked reliably across a variety of screen sizes and device capabilities.
Cognitive collaboration features made it easier for participants to follow who was speaking and what was going on.
• The worker didn’t have to use any proprietary cables, dongles, or infrastructure – the team meeting worked entirely over just wireless connections and various apps.
• No emails had to be exchanged and read at any point during the workflow.
• Participants got a much richer experience than a standard phone call would allow, thanks to seamless device switching and added context through messaging.

From start to finish, this workflow kept the entire team connected and on the same page even as at least one participant moved between devices and sites. It’s a stark contrast from traditional approaches to collaboration, which are much more limited by location and hardware.

How collaboration used to work, and why it’s time to move on

The scenario above is an exciting look at how collaboration can play out when everything works. For many employees, though, this workflow is still out of reach due to ongoing reliance on older, less efficient collaboration.

Imagine the same worker, except this time, they begin the workday checking emails in an office. The inbox is overflowing since they’d been out on PTO for a few days. Some of the email threads aren’t even relevant anymore but reading through them first to find that out.

Responding to the handful of items that do require action takes up even more time. To top it all off, the inbox has to be kept open in its browser tab or mail client and checked obsessively throughout the day to see if important messages receive responses.

These types of productivity-draining workflows are all too common. A McKinsey analysis estimated that the typical worker spent 28% of their week on email alone. That’s too much time for too little benefit, as email isn’t real-time and is often challenging to stay on top of – all the more reason to move on to something better. Read how you can use technology to create work-life balance.

Watch how the new Cisco Webex is Built into Your Everyday Workflow

Charting a course toward anytime/anywhere collaboration

There’s a night-and-day difference between traditional and modern collaboration technologies. By investing in newer solutions for cognitive collaboration, video, voice, and chat, organizations can make life easier for their workers while also increasing company-wide productivity. Check out this article on getting the the most out of work-life balance.

Enabling seamless cross-platform collaboration is essential in the context of growing remote work and multi-device setups. Webex can help your team keep up with these trends and stay in touch.

Learn more about Cisco Webex video conferencing solutions and how technology can work together no matter where you are: Get started with a free plan today.

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Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

Tips for WFH when everyone else is home

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Cropped shot of a little girl using a laptop with her mother at home
Using technology to create work-life balance

Leveraging technology for better work/life balance

There’s no doubt about it: Work-life balance is essential for today’s employees. People have a widespread desire to address both personal and professional responsibilities. And everyone needs a little time to relax and unwind.

A survey from project and resource management company MavenLink also found a majority of employees of all ages – 62% – believe work-life balance is the most important part of a successful work culture. (1) Happy, healthy, and well-rested employees tend to be more productive, after all.

How can your company use technology to create and improve its employees’ sense of work-life balance?

Give them tools to automate repetitive tasks

Some of your staff’s most important responsibilities involve repetitive work, from creating budgets to organizing projects and allocating resources. However, the many computations and calculations involved are often best left to an application or program. Human error is inescapable, and can easily be introduced into these efforts despite the best efforts of staff and supervisors.

Tools as simple as spreadsheets and budgeting software can help employees complete this kind of repetitive but important work more quickly and with fewer opportunities for error. This modest investment can cut down on the time your workers spent on such tasks, helping them avoid late nights and early mornings. It also removes a potential source of worry that can follow them home and disrupt their work-life balance. Learn how to work smarter and get more done with Webex in 2020.

Use tech to improve mindfulness and health

Technology doesn’t need to specifically address a professional responsibility or task to help improve work-life balance. Locating and vetting resources, then sharing them with staff as part of an employee wellness program, can provide benefits inside and outside of work time.

There are a number of potential apps that employees can use to address self-care needs and improve quality of life. Those interested in diet and exercise can use a variety of free meal and activity trackers, for example. Providing information and encouraging use without requiring it can help create a supportive and accepting environment. This shows staff that their employer cares about them and recognizes they lead lives where work is important, but not the only thing they want or need to address in their lives.

Another option to consider when it comes to these resources is apps that support mindfulness and a sense of presence. Forbes contributor Jaspar Weir, the founder of TaskUs, an outsourcing company, highlighted how his company uses the Headspace app to promote meditation. (2) Creating a sense of peace and presence in the current moment can help employees take a short break as well as better plan and complete their tasks for the day. Take instruction to Webex: stream live pilates lessons.

Empower them to use their calendars

Digital calendars are incredibly valuable tools for modern workplaces. A meeting organizer can easily check stakeholders’ calendars when inviting them to an internal meeting or discussion with a client. That’s not the only benefit digital calendars provide.

Encouraging staff to block off time for lunch and breaks in line with company policies can help them stay refreshed and organized throughout the day. It also provides a window to set up an appointment or check in with family and friends. With digital calendars already so prevalent, embracing this type of policy doesn’t require a major shift in organizational strategy. Employees just need to be encouraged to take advantage of this benefit early on.

Allow them to work from home

Technology has advanced to the point where professionals in many different careers can not only function but thrive when working remotely. Recent events have accelerated companies’ plans to expand work-from-home.

Solutions like video conferencing platforms connect staff to their colleagues, whether in the office or also working from home, in a much richer environment than is possible with conference calls or emails alone. The right video conferencing tool can even enhance collaboration and support recall through automated recordings and document sharing. Here’s more tips for WFH when everyone else is home.

Working from home has some obvious benefits when it comes to supporting work-life balance:

  • Staff can effectively work from wherever they are currently located. They may be at home, traveling as part of their jobs or even bringing their children to a travel sports tournament. As long as they have a computer and internet connection, they can perform capably in their roles.
  • Commuting is no longer a drain on time and energy. While staff still have to prepare themselves for the work day, they don’t need to spend the time and money required to drive to the office or make sure they get on public transit in time.
  • Employees can be present at their homes without having to take time off. A mild illness or appointment with a tradesperson doesn’t mean an employee can’t work. Caring for a sick child or training a new puppy requires some attention, but not enough to require many full days of time off. At the same time, these concerns often require a staff member to be absent from a physical office. With a supportive environment and the right technological tools in place, employees can make a seamless transition to working from home.

Technology offers crucial support for employers that want to improve work-life balance, from directly supporting staff as they complete complex tasks to allowing them to effectively perform in their roles no matter where they’re located. See more ways on embracing the rise of remote working.

Learn more about Cisco Webex video conferencing solutions and their role in enabling a better work-life balance: get started with a free plan today

References

(1) Work/life balance leads to successful work culture

(2) How TaskUs uses Headspace app to promote meditation

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4 way to use technology to grow your business
4 ways to use technology to grow your business

Increase your customer base

This is a good time to either own or work at an emerging business, as more operations find their footing in today’s digital-focused climate and carve out a space for themselves in their specific markets. According to recent Bank of America survey of small business owners, 73% of women and 66% of men plan to expand their business over the next 12 months.*

Having laid a stable foundation to establish your business, the next step is to grow and extend your reach. Tap into new markets, expand your customer base, and create new revenue streams to increase profitability. Cisco Webex provides a reliable communication platform to support your business goals and aspirations.

Latest SMB technology to increase profit

Resources may be tighter at a small- and medium-sized business compared with enterprises, but there are plenty of affordable ways to improve operations and expand your market footprint. In particular, the latest SMB technology can help organizations grow their business and rake in more revenue.

Keep an eye on these four technologies, in particular, to expand your business.

  1. Tap into social media

Social media is an important touch point for any business looking to engage directly with customers and drive more people to its products and services. Take the time to establish a presence on leading social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. These platforms are perfect for promoting new products, limited-time deals, and other enticing offers.

Growing businesses can also use social media to manage customer support tasks, addressing any questions or concerns users have in a public setting. It’s a great way to show potential customers the lengths to which your business will go to provide the best experience possible.

  1. Move to the cloud

It wasn’t that long ago that the cloud was viewed as a disruptive force in the business community. Today, it’s the status quo.

The cloud enables hands-off management of virtually any business process, as well as the scalability to expand functionality along with the organization. Even if your business is already using the cloud, there are likely more ways to take advantage of this technology.

With the sheer wealth of cloud-based services available, combined with their elasticity and reliability, moving core business processes to the cloud is a no-brainer for growing businesses.

  1. Ramp up your content marketing efforts

Virtually any organization that maintains a presence online conducts content marketing, whether they realize it or not. Running a brand website in itself is an act of content marketing. When done right, these efforts can raise brand awareness, increase your search visibility, drive high-intent search engine users to your site, and produce qualified sales leads.

There are a lot of different ways to approach content marketing: SEO-driven blogs bring users to your site, email campaigns nurture leads, and the aforementioned social media sites work to engage customers and promote content.

One important business tool that often gets overlooked is webinar software. Webinars are perfect for establishing brand authority in a particular field or market and directly engage with a large group of people, including both existing and potential customers. Demo new products, provide expert insights into the latest industry trends, or hold informational user group sessions – the possibilities are endless.

Cisco Webex Events makes it quick and easy to launch webinars supporting up to 3,000 attendees. SMBs can stream those sessions live to as many as 40,000 viewers, helping them grow brand awareness in new markets and expand their footprint.

  1. Take advantage of remote workforces

Thanks to the widespread availability of mobile devices, cloud services, and high-performance networks, businesses are no longer limited by the constraints of the traditional office. Flexible work schedules are quickly becoming the norm, with workers splitting time between their office, the road, or their homes.

Telecommuting enables SMBs to expand their talent acquisition efforts to new regions and markets and bring in the best employees possible. Remote workers can do their core job responsibilities from virtually any location, provided they have the technology and resources to stay in touch with office-based staff and other remote teams.

Video conferencing software that includes crisp HD resolution, an intuitive interface, and collaboration-building tools like real-time screen sharing allows remote employees to work together on shared projects anytime, anywhere.

Cisco Webex lets users record video conferences to share with team members who can’t attend them or want to go over the material covered at a large time.

The webinar capabilities discussed above keep remote workers in the loop and productive, as well. Use Webex Events to train your remote workforce, walking them through important onboarding materials, reviewing company guidelines, or bringing them up to speed on new product launches. Coordinate efforts with teams located on opposite sides of the country (or even the globe) to bring your entire operation on the same page.

Growing a business is far easier when everyone involved in its day-to-day operations has the tools and resources to communicate, collaborate, and work at the highest level possible.

Get started with a free plan today.

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*Survey of small business owners

 

 

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