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FutureVoices
Future Voices featuring stories from students and teachers from around the world

Future Voices Webex campaign

Education is a basic human right for all, and in the last year, the pandemic has only accelerated how we learn – forcing us to try new ways to both deliver and consume. The move to hybrid learning is also opening up new possibilities for future leaders and decision makers to learn and create.

Today, I’m excited to share that we have launched a new and exciting Webex campaign called Future Voices, launching in the UK today, to celebrate students in universities and educators worldwide, and giving them a platform, with Webex, to help them share their stories.

Inclusive future for all

Our focus is to amplify the voices of the Gen Z future workforce as well as their teachers. Our aim at Webex is to power an inclusive future for all by breaking down barriers across geography, language, socio economic level and personality type, giving everyone an equal voice to achieve greater productivity and build more engaged relationships.

With the future of work being hybrid, we believe we achieve more when diverse ideas and workstyles come together and everyone can contribute equally, fully, and as their authentic selves.

FutureVoices stories

Below are just three amazing stories from our young champions:

Zainab – First Year Apprentice is a university student with dyslexia and is using Webex transcriptions and recordings to make learning easier for her.
She is also a first-year apprentice during this pandemic and is balancing her first professional role with completing a degree, all while working from home.

Swen- Professor & Black Belt gamified his curriculum and used Webex breakout sessions to move his martial arts classes entirely online. Not only did he keep his students engaged throughout – but also won a University Teaching Award for his “out-of-the-box” efforts.

Allan- Network Expert hosted training sessions on Webex to turn teachers in rural Kenya into network administrators, enabling them to troubleshoot and fix network problems quickly. The Webex recording feature allowed him to share his sessions with those who could not join live.

Spread the word

Keep an eye on this space to look for more stories coming soon. It’s exciting to be able to share the stories of these young champions and we are humbled and honored to play a small part in elevating their voices.

Join (and spark) the conversation on the hashtag #FutureVoices on social media

Learn more

Future Voices campaign page

Future Voices video stories

We are all learning how to learn

Education Resources

What is distance learning?

Welcome to virtual learning

Cisco Webex Education Connector

Cisco Education Home Page

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Woman video conferencing and using noise reduction
Life happens. Background noise doesn’t have to

The Adoption blog series: Sharing our must-have features on Webex to make your life on Webex a little bit more easier and a lot more awesome

Taking the distraction out of background noise

Working at Webex means I’ve always worked from home (even pre-pandemic). But now it feels different, and I’ve been thinking about exactly why that is–it’s not just that we are working from home, but now we’re living our lives at work. My manager recently described it as “we’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” Personally, that couldn’t be more on point.

A lot has changed in the past 12 months, and while our team used to be focused on general Webex adoption, the needs of our users have changed significantly as the entire world moved to working virtually (for the most part). On top of that, I’ve also changed significantly. I took on my most important role to date: momma.

“Will my team think I’m unprofessional if they hear my dogs barking? What if the baby is crying so loud that I need to stay on mute and not engage as much in a meeting? Will it impact my career or brand?”

Working from home with a family

Charlie was born in July, mid-pandemic, to a changed world–a world where returning to work wouldn’t involve commute traffic, but rather focus on how I manage work time (and more importantly, focus time) amidst family time all in the same physical space—home.

Any parents among you know that returning to work is hard enough, but thinking that your baby’s cries, dogs barking, and day-to-day noises of running a home would be a feature in work meetings adds an additional layer of anxiety. I had visions of trying to soundproof my office, make sure doors were closed, and ask the teenagers in my house to keep it down when I have important presentations.

Webex is here to help

I‘m not alone. We hear from thousands of users in our Webex Community that transitioning to remote work 100% of the time has required an additional layer of consideration in so many ways we never thought about–from the basics of being heard to the advanced challenges of a fully remote team inclusion in brainstorming and more. We’re all in this together and Webex is here to help.

Announcing feature of the month series

Each month, we’ll be sharing our top features to make your life on Webex a little bit easier and occasionally a lot more awesome, starting with noise removal. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you’re missing out.

One day, after turning on noise removal, the baby was…let’s just say “approaching lunchtime” quite loudly and I apologized for the noise. My colleague looked confused: “I don’t hear a thing!”

What is noise removal?

It’s easy to confuse noise removal with noise cancellation. These are very different things! Noise cancellation is all about drowning out distractions (normally delivered via hardware like headphones or headsets by using white noise). Noise removal on the other hand is way smarter. It uses innovative technology from BabbleLabs to intelligently listen to the audio on a meeting and digitally remove distracting sounds. I’ve got to be honest and say I was dubious when I heard about it and worried it would be like many consumer apps I use that try to do the same thing, but the actual result is one person’s audio goes too quiet and I miss what they were saying.

See it in action:

I was amazed that after enabling noise removal, my colleagues could hear my every word despite the doorbells, and then, of course, my two colleagues barking at every car that drove by. I should also probably let you know that my colleagues consist of two dogs—a 16-pound pug and a 110-pound labrador. Everyone needs to be using this!

remove background noise UI and speaker and microphone

It really is very, very cool. If you find yourself working from home, this is a must-try feature from all of us here at Webex. If you’re already using it, share how for your chance to win a Cisco 730 Headset (also very, very cool..and a blog for another time). If not, we’ve made a handy guide to help you turn it on—check it out below.

Download my noise removal guide to learn more

About the author

Image of Heidi RhodesHeidi Rhodes, Leader, Digital Experiences and Enablement Mom. Wife. Passionate about the adoption of cool technology and helping Webex’ hundreds of millions of users all around the world. Heidi leads Webex Customer Success Digital Transformation, Digital Experiences, Training and Enablement Teams and posts from time to time on how businesses and individuals can fully use the power of Webex to connect, collaborate and achieve more.

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The rise of AI speech enhancement & better team collaboration

Experience the all new Webex

Webex Noise Removal- BabbleLabs| Unboxing [Video]

Resources

What’s new in Webex: March 2021

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

See What’s New in RoomOS

Still need help?

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Collaboration for the win
Webex lights up green for St Patrick’s Day!

Míle Fáilte (A thousand welcomes) to all our Cisco colleagues, partners and customers around the globe!

We are thrilled to announce that last week, the Great Place to Work ranked Cisco as the Best Large Workplace in Ireland 2021. Participating companies were ranked on their ability to create a positive and supportive workplace environment; with an incredible 91% of Cisco employees in Ireland agreeing Cisco is a great place to work.

“Winning the Great Place to work in 2021 is not only a testament to our employees and leadership but a testament to how Webex has enabled us to continue to grow a culture albeit virtually. Since March 2020, the pandemic has not stopped the Irish team having a fully engaged culture of trust –  what a great place to work is truly built on. Webex gave us a platform, be it on video or through messaging, to enable our employees to be there for each other either professionally or personally. This last year I would never have been able to do my job without Webex, it’s as simple as that!”

Sheila Greaney – Site Engagement Manager

One of the key factors that makes Cisco a great place to work is that each and every employee is encouraged to embrace their local culture. And today, March 17th, our Irish team celebrate St Patrick’s day. A day of festivities and joy for all as we remember the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick.

St Patrick’s day calls for us to don our finest green attire – with shamrocks and ginger beards highly encouraged. We dive deep into what it means to be Irish and dust off our dancing shoes to fully embrace our world-famous traditional music and rich culture. And this year was no different – not even Covid could stop the fun.

Being part of the Cisco family means we are all fortunate to have access to industry leading tools that maximise our virtual celebrations, making them 10X better than being in person and inclusive to our global teams. Here are just a few examples of how our teams made this St Patrick’s day one to remember:

Galway team Webex

Each year, our Galway team transform the Cisco office building green, but the way we work has changed dramatically this year. With Webex becoming our new virtual office, it only made sense that we light up Webex green too. For the first time ever, and for one glorious day only, the Webex you know and love, is turning green. This was available only to users in our internal Cisco trials, but who knows, it might be something we productise for this and other holidays in the future!

Webex lights up green for St Patrick’s Day!

Our internal fun didn’t stop there. The local Webex team created a selection of incredible Irish themed virtual backgrounds. Perfect to get everyone on meetings in the spirit of the holiday. Below are a few examples of what we created. We would love to see what you come up with – use #GRMAWebex to share your St Patrick’s day virtual backgrounds.

Co-workers at Cisco using Irish backgrounds in their meeting

On March 16th we also hosted a St Patrick’s Day Trad Fest – our first virtual St Patrick’s Day Festival where we invited all Cisco employees and their family members to join and learn the history behind Irish music with special performances from our very own Irish traditional Cisco band. All hosted on Webex!

St. Patricks Day Trad Fest

The band covered classics such as ‘The Kesh Jig’ and ‘The Lilting Fisherman’ – and our very own Rory Walsh gave a stunning vocal performance of ‘You Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time’. The band not only showcased their beautiful talents but were able to share a slice of our great Irish history with their fellow employees world-wide.

Cisco members of a meeting all playing instruments

And last but by no means least, it wouldn’t be a Cisco event if we didn’t have some star presence. Our lucky audience at St Patrick’s Day Trad Fest were blessed with an unforgettable performance from our special guest Noel Hill. Noel is an Irish concertina player from County Clare, who has enjoyed world-wide success and now teaches concertina locally and globally with the help of Cisco Webex. Noel’s stunning performance truly was the perfect highlight to end a fantastic Cisco St Patrick’s day.

We may not have been able to celebrate this St Patrick’s day like we traditionally would but, with the help of Webex we were all able to come together and celebrate our Irish culture as a team, in style! Truly enforcing how Cisco is the greatest place to work.

Don’t forget to share your virtual St Patrick’s day fun using #GRMAWebex

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Get the best video meeting experience with Webex Auto Configuration

Announcing the winners of Collaboration hackathon

Relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program

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Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Man sitting at computer looking at screen
What Stanford researchers don’t know: You can meet smarter to reduce video fatigue

Factors contributing to video fatigue

Meeting fatigue is real. And, in the era of COVID, “meeting” almost certainly means video conferencing. Stanford University researchers thought the problem was pervasive enough that they conducted a study to examine why too much video conferencing can exhaust the mind and body in what they say is commonly known as “Zoom fatigue” – although the researchers indicated this applies to all videoconferencing platforms. They arrived at four key factors that contribute to fatigue and even devised a way to measure it with the “Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue” (ZEF) scale:

1) Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense

2) Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing

3) Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility

4) Higher cognitive load is much higher in video chats

While researchers gave some useful tips to counteract these problems, they are only short-term fixes to a problem that is endemic to the current era.

The answer is to meet smarter so you can meet less

Some companies, including at Cisco where I work, are implementing meeting-free days to minimize burn-out. But giving people a break from meetings and then going right back to Zoom fatigue the next day is also not the long-term answer.

The answer is using video conferencing technology to let people meet smarter so they can have fewer meetings on a REGULAR basis.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but over the past year, Webex has been working on ways to help people spend less time in meetings yet be more productive. Some of these innovations include:

  • Using an in-meeting digital assistant to capture transcripts, notes and action items, so you can fully focus in the meeting and get more done
  • Automated post-meeting follow-up enables easy distribution of notes and tracking action items, which may negate the need to have additional meetings to move work forward
  • Advanced messaging and team collaboration features let you continue work projects before, during and after the meeting, so much of it can be done asynchronously
  • Round table & Quick Sync meeting templates give everyone a dedicated speaking slot and time allocation, so no one can hog the discussion which reduces time sink
  • Real-time translation helps to break down language barriers and aids understanding, so fewer meetings are required for additional clarification

 

See Webex infographic to learn more about smart video conferencing

 

My Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue score is very low

Out of curiosity, I took the ZEF survey just to see how I would score. And not surprisingly, it was very low:  I scored in the 8th percentile in Zoom fatigue, which means about 92% of people have more fatigue after videoconferencing than I do. I attribute that to three things:

  • My comfort with video having worked in the industry for more than 10 years
  • The intelligence in Webex which allows me to meet smarter on video and, thus, have fewer meetings
  • Working on a Webex Desk device, an all-in-one personal collaboration system that is comfortable to work on and contributes to less visual and physical fatigue

See how you score on the ZEF scale. And try Webex for free.

My score on the ZEF scale:

Stanford ZEF Scale Report
My score on the ZEF Scale Report

Resources

The all new Webex

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

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Making Video Fatigue a Thing of the Past— Webex Devices Deliver 10x Better Experiences

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

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