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Happy Mother’s Day from Cisco Webex

Mother’s Day- a time to remember and celebrate

I am a mother. I have two beautiful daughters who are all grown up. Well, mostly. They are in college, but are now sheltering-in-place with me. What a blessing to have them back home! I still remember when I was pregnant with them – and especially my first. I wanted so much to meet her, but at the same time wasn’t sure I was ready for motherhood. Obviously, it turned out OK and I am grateful every day that I get to be their mom.   

 

The Ellen Show welcomes first-time expectant mothers!

Which is why I was so excited to watch the Mother’s Day Show on The Ellen Show last week – the producers brought 25 first-time expectant mothers together using Cisco Webex as the platform.  

These soon-to-be new moms joined from the comfort of their homes, laughing along with jokes about pregnancy and cravings (banana splits and pickles!).

These soon-to-be new moms joined from the comfort of their homes, laughing along with jokes about pregnancy and cravings (banana splits and pickles).

Making mom feel special

And because social distancing has put a halt to most baby showers, The Ellen DeGeneres Show threw one for all the guests, complete with gifts – all perfectly selected for first-time moms!  

I love that our own technology can play a part in celebrating Mother’s Day and making it special for these women.  

So, on behalf of Cisco Webex, and this mom, I wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day! 💐 

See how Cisco supports The Ellen DeGeneres Show 

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Irene and Troy — A Webex wedding!

How Live From Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community

In a world without sports, we can still live our best #LifeOnWebex

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Why remote work can be more productive work

Despite the fears of some business leaders, working from home doesn’t broadly correlate with reduced productivity or lower engagement. In fact, the right telecommuting policy can be seen as a major benefit and encourage workers to perform at or above the level of their colleagues who work in the company offices.

Let’s look at how remote work can be more productive work as well as address some of the traditional concerns associated with this strategy.

Concerns about working from home are generally not accurate

Hesitation around instituting broad work-from-home policies is understandable. Business leaders can quickly point to some potential issues that could arise from such an arrangement, from a lack of communication and connection with team members working remotely to concerns about reduced quality of work.

While these concerns are logical absent additional evidence to the contrary, there are a number of factors that support a modern approach to staff members telecommuting:

  • A range of tools exist to support employees as well as address potential accountability issues, if they arise at all. The right teleconferencing software, for example, offers video and voice connections, along with the ability to share presentations and automatically record calls for later reference, among many other valuable functions.
  • Work-from-home privileges don’t have to be universal or automatic. Businesses can easily create policies that require new employees to demonstrate competency and reliability before they are granted this option.
  • Providing opportunities for full-time remote staff to visit the office or gather with colleagues can help support the human element of working from home, building connections face to face and digitally that enable increased collaboration and other outcomes.

Productivity is another major concern that comes with a work-from-home policy. Allowing staff to work occasionally or on a regular basis from the same place they spend their free time might seem like it could reduce performance and create other negative outcomes. However, there’s plenty of evidence that a well-structured telecommuting policy can actually raise productivity.

Productivity gains tied to working from home

There is a wide variety of research that supports the claim that working from home allows remote staff to be just as or even more productive than their in-office counterparts. Although it’s difficult to make extremely broad assertions about the entire U.S. or global workforce due to variations in duties, experience, and the specific work-from-home policies of various employers, many studies find a connection between positive outcomes and allowing staff to work from home. Some examples include:

  • A study conducted by Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University business professor, and facilitated by James Liang, CEO of large Chinese travel agency Ctrip, included 500 employees and nearly two years of observation and data collection, Inc. contributor Scott Mautz explained. Bloom found advantages in terms of performance, attrition rate, and other key elements of operation among the group that worked from home. There was one major caveat: The stay-at-home group noted that 100% remote work began to feel removed from their colleagues, so Bloom suggested that partial telecommuting is the best path forward for many organizations.
  • A survey from work marketplace Airtasker highlighted a number of different advantages stemming from remote work that apply to both staff and their employers. It pointed to benefits that range from more time spent exercising and savings on commutes to the potential for reduced turnover, less daily unproductive time on the part of remote workers, and reduced distractions.
  • The Harvard Business Review looked at a study of a work-from-anywhere program offered to patent examiners who work for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This broader application of work from home rules allows the examiners to work anywhere that can address the basic needs of their role, like electricity and a stable internet connection. The Review found the employees using work-from-anywhere and work-from-home programs had productivity gains above in-office staff.

When structured thoughtfully, taking different employee roles, operational needs, and other vital considerations into account, work-from-home programs have the potential to boost employee productivity.

This is a benefit that, outside of the time spent structuring the policy and the provision of hardware and software that staff would also need to use in the office, also offers cost savings. Everything from a reduced need for office space to lowered HVAC costs can stem from allowing employees to engage in remote work on a part- or full-time basis.

It’s also worthwhile to note the value of working from home to many employees. Advantages such as eliminating commuting time and reducing spending on a personal vehicle or public transportation can be powerful motivators. Companies that offer the opportunity to work remotely can keep employees happier and more engaged while realizing productivity increases and savings of their own.

Setting employees up for success as remote workers

There are a few considerations that should be at the forefront when creating or updating a work-from-home policy:

  • Making the options for remote work clear to staff. There shouldn’t be any confusion about when or if staff are expected to work in person, and distinctions should be made for those working locally versus in other parts of the state, country, or world.
  • Providing the right tools to support telecommuting. Videoconferencing software, cloud-based applications and storage options, and similar needs must be addressed.

Cisco Webex supports a wide range of work-from-home strategies with immersive environments, document and presentation sharing, automated recordings and much more. Get started with a free plan today.

 

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In a world without sports, we can still live our best #LifeOnWebex
In a world without sports, we can still live our best #LifeOnWebex

Connecting fans with sports with #LifeOnWebex

So often, sport provides a respite from a chaotic world. It brings people together around a shared passion and offers a welcome distraction from our stressful lives. But what happens when that too goes away?

Today, the importance of technology in bringing people together has become more apparent than ever, which is why we have been working hard over the past few weeks to leverage our partnerships across the sports and entertainment industries in meaningful and relevant ways. By working together with our partners at the United States Golf Association, City Football Group, Jimmy Kimmel Live and more, we’re trying to bring some of that connection to fans around the world and showcase what #LifeOnWebex is all about.

Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:

Connecting players with fans

Together with New York City Football Club, we launched a program entitled “The Friendly Match” connecting players from the club with local fans via Webex to help lift their spirits. I highly recommend checking out this heartwarming kickoff to the series and stay tuned for episodes all week long on both NYCFC and Cisco’s social channels. Plus, check out NYCFC social channels as host Ian Paul Joy interviews players multiple times per week via Webex.

Best of golf

We partnered with golf influencer Erik Anders Lang to host the largest pro golfer podcast ever via Webex, featuring seven of our #TeamCisco ambassadors. The group discussed everything from how they’re keeping busy, to swing thoughts, dream destinations and more. #Squadgoals, indeed. We’re also supporting GOLF.com’s new project “That’s Debatable,” where GOLF editors are using Webex to face off in a March Madness-style bracket debating hot topics in the game.

Keeping Hollywood connected

We’re also keeping Hollywood connected by helping shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live broadcast remotely. We’ve been working with Jimmy Kimmel Live for six years now, and like many of our customers, they use a mix of Cisco Webex devices and collaboration software. Check out the clip below of Jimmy interviewing Ellen DeGeneres via Webex in a recent episode.

Supporting what matters

Finally, we were honored to be a part of in Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home special event that supported the World Health Organization’s global fight against the pandemic. The event featured incredible performances by artists like Lady Gaga, Chris Martin, John Legend, and more, and raised more than $125M towards the fight against COVID-19. If you missed it, you can watch the performances from the event here.

Be sure to stay tuned to the @Webex channel over the coming weeks and months to see how our partners and athletes are living their best #LifeonWebex.

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How Live from Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community. Banner that reads Live From Home . Cisco's first music virtual event. A weekly virtual series to inspire hope through the performing arts with AppDynamics and Cisco Webex. Background picture of a 70s theme looking living room with green furniture yello pillows, turquoise crystal lamp and a beagle dog curled up on the couch with sleepy eyes
How Live From Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community

Front row seats at Live from Home

Cisco has always believed in using technology to improve lives around the world. What better way of doing that than combining music and technology to deliver a performance?

LiveFrom Home Event

On April 7, 2020 Cisco Webex and AppDynamics worked together to put on an event that paid artists in need and gave 653 people the unique experience where you can support artists and nonprofits from the comfort of your home while getting a “front row seat” to weekly concerts.

The event, Live from Home, was streamed on Webex Events and gave four artists the chance to connect with a virtual audience through music. While watching the performances, the audience then had a chance to donate to the nonprofit of the week, Blue Bear School of Music!

“The caliber of talent for the first Live from Home series was amazing. It was inspiring to connect to other employees across Cisco through music performances. I’m happy to work at a company that cares about the community and gives me the resources to help out of work artists during this difficult time.” –  Trish Chan, Director of Web and Digital Marketing at AppDynamics.

LiveFromHome

The debut of the series was hosted by LA-based comedian, Catherine Adell, whom you might have seen in Jim Carrey’s Kidding on Showtime. Artists Ashley Campbell, Julian Velard, Ari Hest, and Barnaby Bright come from all over the United States; New York City, Massachusetts, and Arizona with one thing in common. No place to perform and a home with just the right setup.

LifeFromHome2

“Just because we’re sheltering-in-place, doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying life. I’m very proud that the Webex platform is able to connect these artists to a large audience and bring a little bit of fun into our lives.” – Aruna Ravichandran, VP, Global Marketing, Webex/Collaboration.

While most of us might say we use Webex to connect with colleagues, we think Live from Home encompasses what #LifeonWebex really means.

People and community.

The Cisco community is huge. We think through showcasing these artists live from home, we just made it bigger.

So be sure to mark your calendar for our upcoming virtual events!

Jazz Night

Cisco's First Music virtual event. Neon signboard with microphone in round frame. Nightclub with live music icon. Glowing street sign of bar with karaoke and live singers. Sound cafe icon. Rock show poster. Vector illustration.

Event: Jazz Night

Day: April 14th

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: vma0414 (8620414 from phones)

Kids nightHow Live from Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community. family father and son baby listening to music with headphones in the dark night

Event: Kids night

Day: April 21st

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: TBD

Cisco's first music virtual event. heart shape on a music note book. shallow DOF

Event: Classical Night

Day: April 28th

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: TBD

Virtual platform on Virtual Experience Hub

And guess what? Live from Home will be the first program streamed through the Virtual Experience Hub for the public. The Virtual Experience Hub is an effort from Cisco’s Growth Marketing organization to offer users a robust virtual platform that bridges efforts across the physical and digital landscape by providing users an exceptional customer experience for events.

LiveFromHome3

Stay tuned

These are the future dates and themes for the public events. More information to come, so stay tuned!

Event: Special 2H Program

Day: May 5 th

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: TBD

 

Event: Musical Theater Night

Day: May 12th

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: TBD

 

Event: Comedy Night

Day: May 19th

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: TBD

 

Event: Dance Night

Day: May 26th

Time: 5-6PM PT / 8-9PM ET

Event Password: TBD

What’s next?

Music is meant to be shared and experienced together. So be sure to check out the next Live from Home event on April 14 and invite your family and friends.

Support Live From Home Performance Series Fund

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The weekend's here. Happy indian woman look at webcam doing job interview videochat
How to have fun, virtually

Level up your remote collaboration

Enjoying a nice meal together, going out for happy hour, or even hosting a game night are all fun ways to get together with friends and family. But how do you have fun when everyone is in different locations or you just want a night in to yourself? As pioneers of remote collaboration, Cisco Webex is full of fun ways to connect. Here are some of our favorites! 

Work out with friends

Did you skip your morning workout? No worries! Find online workouts and keep yourself accountable by virtually meeting with your friends while you all work out. Into pilates? Take instruction to Webex: Connecting one pilates enthusiast to another.

Start a virtual book club

Who doesn’t love cuddling up in a cozy blanket and getting lost in a good book—it’s a great way to escape without leaving the couch. Now, you can make reading social by establishing a virtual book club. Create a space in Webex Teams to choose a book, then brew some coffee or tea, and dive into a new novel. Next, schedule a time with your friends for a review of your book over video. 

Go on a virtual tour

Want to examine fine works of art, explore historical sites, or see what NASA astronauts see in space? Most of us can’t jump on a plane and fly to the Louvre for the day, but you can still explore this famed museum and more with virtual tours. Many of these institutions are offering free online tours, and the best part is that you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas!  

Digital dinner dates

Too tired to go out or maybe you’re not feeling the best? Don’t miss family dinner or date night—make it virtual instead. Meet virtually with friends for your weekly Taco Tuesday or happy hour, grab virtual coffee with your mom, or even send recipes to your friends and compare how your creations turned out.

Break up the workday with memes

If you’re new to working from home, we suggest breaking up your work messaging and conversation with more social discussions. Don’t forget to include memes. Here at Cisco, we keep each other laughing and stay connected by sending GIFs and emojis on Webex Teams. Find out about how to be genuine and be yourself  

Virtual movie night

Swap the movie tickets for the remote and your couch. Use Webex Meetings to virtually attend the movie with friends and add in commentary. If you want to make it a virtual date night, include a meal before or after the movie using video to join your virtual date. Wine goes well with this, too! 

Find your inner child with crafts

When you want some quality you time, look no further than your kid’s craft room (or a hobby store). Pick up some markers and a coloring book or a paintbrush and canvas to create your next masterpiece. Or, if you prefer, pull out some of those old recipe cards and cook up something delicious! If your friends have kids, video is an excellent way for them to connect and do similar activities together to maintain social connections. Here are 6 tips for working from home with kids when your virtual weekend comes to an end.

Host a virtual party

Large gettogethers can be tough with friends and family all living in different cities, but with Webex Meetings, virtual parties are simple. Host special events like birthdays or a bridal shower with fun virtual games or play virtual charades or online games together over video. 

Pamper yourself

We can’t imagine anything more luxurious than a night of pampering after a long day of work. Light some candles, soak in a bubble bath, give yourself a manicure, or whatever self-care looks like to you. If you want some company, you can chat with friends virtually while giving yourself a manicure (that you can show off once you’re done!). 

Attend virtual concerts

Thanks to social media, more and more artists are hosting virtual concerts. Live stream a show by yourself or video chat with friends throughout the concert to enjoy it together.  

Learn something new

Curious about how coding works or how you can better understand data? There’s a class for that! With so many free resources for learning new skills, you can make time at home productive. 

There are hundreds of ways to stay connected, and we’d love to hear yours. Share your stories on social media using #lifeonwebex

And if you don’t already have Webex, you can sign up for the free offer, with an unlimited meeting time!

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Happy asian teen girl student making video call to distant friend looking at camera waving hand, smiling female youtuber vlogger saying hello to webcam making video blog recording vlog, portrait
How to get more comfortable on a video conference call

Video conferencing calls can understandably make some people nervous. After all, enabling a video feed in a group collaboration session gives others direct insight into what you look like, as well as the background environment you’re operating in.  For shy participants, video conferencing can seem like a major hurdle to overcome, and can be far less preferable to alternatives like phone calls or email discussions. However, there are many benefits. Let’s explore the benefits of video conferencing, as well as tips to get more comfortable showing your video.

The benefits and challenges of video conferencing

Video conferencing has become a lot more popular over the years. Previous technical issues related to video quality and ease of access have mostly dissipated, as numerous devices have become more than capable of supporting a high-definition video feed. According to Wainhouse Research, 94% of organizations utilizing video conferencing say it increases productivity (1). Every minute spent in an unnecessary meeting is one that could have been spent on a more worthwhile task.

How does it help in this way? First, it reduces distractions by effectively requiring everyone in the video meeting to focus on the task at hand, instead of extensively multitasking as is possible when on a call or team chat. Video also lends itself well to demonstrations and the use of visual aids, for example, during a webinar or presentation. Finally, setting up a video link can provide useful context and clarity for remote workers who otherwise might not see other team members that often.

Still, being on camera (which is what dialing into a video conference entails) isn’t easy for everyone and can make video conferencing dreadful. So, let’s look at some tips for becoming more comfortable when on a video conference.

1.Use notes to keep your thoughts on track

Discomfort while participating on a video call often causes shier participants to lose their trains of thought. This makes sense, because they’re probably thinking primarily about the pressure and scrutiny of the meeting and only secondarily about what’s being discussed.

Overcoming this issue is easier with written or typed preparation. Sticky notes or comments and questions written down in a digital notes’ application and open in another window/app can help. They provide a reliable framework that the user can work within while on a video call.

Basically, preparing and using notes helps participants avoid awkward silences and the discomfort that comes from feeling like they can’t contribute to the conversation.

2. Set up the right environment before the call begins

Some of the pressure that comes with a video conference might stem from anxiety about what the participant’s environment looks like. In 2017, there was a famous incident involving an international relations professor participating in a video interview with the BBC, when one of his children entered into the frame and interrupted the conversation (2).

The disruption became a popular social media meme for a while, but it underscored a key risk that people sometimes contend with on a video call: Worrying about what’s going on in the background or how their workspace looks.

Fortunately, these fears can be somewhat alleviated through preparation. Pay attention to the lighting and to what’s behind you when your face appears on the video feed. Choosing a quiet room with a door may be beneficial, since it will minimize noise and give you more control. For instance, you can prevent others from walking behind you while you’re on camera or making noises that might distract participants. Here’s more on how you can work smarter anywhere when working remotely.

3. Make use of mute and pause controls

Like phone calls, video conferences always come with the possibility of unwanted background noise (e.g., dogs barking, kids playing, outside traffic, etc.) that can disrupt the session. Moreover, with video there’s the additional risk of on-screen distractions.

This is where the mute and pause controls within a video conferencing solution come in handy. Modern video conferencing lets callers mute their own audio and if you’re the host, of other participants, too. Muting minimizes noise and is especially useful for participants who aren’t currently speaking.

Pausing a video feed works in a similar way. During a video conferencing session, it’s possible to stop the video feed at any time and then resume it as necessary. That allows for greater privacy, which less-comfortable participants could use for a quick break to regroup.

4. Do a practice run with a friend or co-worker

Some of the discomfort that people might initially feel on video conferences can be traced to simple unfamiliarity with the format. A person who doesn’t join these meetings regularly might feel anxious about participating since the entire setup seems intimidating to them.

Practice is a good solution to these sorts of concerns:

  • First, it lets participants get familiar with how the interface and underlying technology work, including the in-call controls for muting and pausing.
  • Second, it lets them get used to how they look on a camera and what others can see in the background.
  • Third, it lets them rehearse what they might say and become more comfortable with the idea of speaking on camera.

Webex makes the video conferencing experience as easy and intuitive as possible, from start to finish.

To learn more, get started with a free plan of Webex today.

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Resources

(1) Wainhouse Productivitiy Research

(2) BBC interruption video

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Embracing the rise of remote working. Japanese man in casual clothes using a laptop and his son using a smartphone on the desk. He's working and doing childcare at home.
Embracing the rise of remote working

Is remote working the new norm?

Even if you don’t consider yourself a remote worker per se, you’ve likely done work beyond the confines of a traditional office. Quickly checking email on your phone, brainstorming ideas for an upcoming pitch, or joining a conference call while on your commute – these are all tasks that can be done well, from anywhere, with no need for either a work PC or a dedicated desk.

A very brief history of telecommuting

The trend toward frequent and full-time remote work began decades ago in the U.S., but only reached escape velocity relatively recently. The 1970s oil crisis, the surge in traffic gridlock (a term that was, coincidentally, coined in the ‘70s, too), and the rise of stay-at-home parenting all contributed to the very early growth of telecommuting. Then, technology caught up.

Tools such as real-time workplace chat, video conferencing, web conference calls, and more are now readily available and make it much easier for employees to stay in the loop no matter where they are. These solutions enable richer, higher-quality interactions than were possible using just emails or phone calls.

Why remote work is worth supporting

Recently, some companies have had to make a sudden shift to remote work. But for others, this shift was already taking place:

  • Global Workplace Analytics estimated that the number of businesses offering telework options to employees increased by 40% from 2014 to 2019 (and now even more in 2020). (1)
  • Meanwhile, between 80% and 90% of the workforce would like to work remotely at least part of the time.

5 perks of remote work

What will the workplace of the future look like? How should your organization approach remote work arrangements? Remote work offers many benefits to everyone involved. Let’s look at five perks:

  1. Lower costs

Think of the typical SMB’s budget and what it goes toward. After the mostly locked-in expenses of salaries and benefits, some of the larger line items will usually include travel and real estate.

Telecommuting helps curb these expenditures. Instead of needing a sprawling office, an organization might choose a smaller, denser space with the assumption that many of its employees will be working elsewhere much of the time.

Likewise, the company travel budget can be trimmed. Traditionally, meeting with a colleague or client basically required taking a road trip or booking a flight. Not anymore. With video and HD voice, it’s possible to have a virtual conference call meeting that feels like being in the same room, all at a much lower cost than actually traveling.

  1. Improved morale, with less turnover

Why do people leave their jobs? It’s complicated, but long commutes are definitely a common reason why.

According to a University of West England survey, adding 20 minutes to a commute had the same negative effect on job satisfaction as a 19% pay cut for the study’s subjects. No one likes being stuck in traffic. (2)

Remote workers don’t have to confront this issue. As long as they’ve got a stable internet connection, they can work from home, a public place, or a nearby branch site instead of making the long trek into HQ. That’s good news for morale and for their chances of staying at the firm.

  1. Increased productivity

Working remotely can boost productivity in several durable ways:

  • Since commutes become less grueling or even non-existent, employees have more time to focus on their work.
  • The distractions of some types of office spaces, like having to contend with constant noise from in an open floor plan layout, are eliminated entirely.
  • Remote workers can use devices they know, plus utilize the full bandwidth of their internet connection since there aren’t sharing it with potentially many others.
  • Individuals with health conditions that might be difficult to deal with in an office, or worsened by a commute, can more easily take care of themselves.
  1. More opportunities for expansion

Allowing employees to telecommute can double as a company expansion strategy to new locales. If your business is growing and looking to target customers in different markets, then remote work lets you recruit workers with more flexibility and fewer limitations.

Of course, there are still some constraints, like needing to be incorporated in each state in which you conduct business operations. But having telework options available means that it’s more practical to create lob listings with broader appeal. Candidates can apply without needing to price in the cost and time associated with a commute.

  1. Better time management

Not everyone is a morning person. But commute-driven jobs almost require you to be one.

Impact of flexible work schedule

With remote work, there’s more flexibility in how an employee sets and uses their hours. Telecommuters have more discretion over when they start work and take breaks, allowing them to be productive on their own schedules. And, as we noted earlier, they have more time to begin with due to not commuting or having to constantly tune-out various in-office distractions.

What you need to get the most from remote work

There are a few things that flexible working arrangements need to succeed. The first being the leadership support to create a culture that encourages this type of flexibility. Establishing trust and accountability from the top down, is critical to foster a remote working environment. You also need the right collaboration solutions. The ability to easily create and join a video conference call, plus add context through messaging, digital whiteboarding, and file sharing, is essential.

With the right approach and the right technology, you can create a culture that embraces the remote workforce—and positively impacts the business.

If you are new to remote we’re here to make the change easy. Check out more ways to keeping you connected to your team

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References

(1) telework options to employees increased by 40% from 2014 to 2019

(2) commute time and job satisfaction

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Working smarter- Managing a remote team
Working smarter: Managing a remote team

Managing a team is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences you can have at work.  Its widely known that employees often choose to stay with a company based on their experience with their direct manager.  The way you form a team, share goals and work together through challenges creates a culture that out-lives deadlines. But what happens when a team takes on a new challenge the experience of working together remotely?  

Here’s our top tips on effectively managing a remote team: 

Lead by example 

If your team is new to remote work – they may have questions and nervously look to you to set the new cultural normsIs it ok if my team sees my home in my background?  What if there’s unexpected interruptions like a dog barking?  As a leader, you set the tone for the transition.  

  1. Sharing video is the new face to face.   Seeing you on video regularly is reassuring and gives you the chance to use your full communication skills – your gestures, tone and message are better received when your team can see the full picture.  
  2. When messaging, remember that your team can’t see your reactions. Give your team more context on the intent behind a message by choosing from thousands of Gifs in Webex Teams to express yourself.When messaging, remember that your team can’t see your reactions. Give your team more context on the intent behind a message by choosing from thousands of Gifs in Webex Teams to express yourself
  3. Share moments that matter.  In the office, colleagues regularly spend time celebrating birthdays, family news and personal moments that matter.  When remote – your role as leader is critical to maintaining the connections – by creating time in existing meetings to connect on non-work news or scheduling entire sessions to celebrate team news, like this virtual baby/bridal shower! 

Get social 

In an office environment, you interact with your team inbetween your weekly scheduled meetings and 1:1’s for example, when you arrive in the morning, get coffee or go to lunch.  There’s no reason the water-cooler conversations need to stop when you’re working remotely.  

  1. Let’s get social!  In Webex Teams, create a space under your team for social interaction, like sharing family news, team member adventures or whatever becomes the topic of the day.
  2. During 1:1 team calls, make sure you and your team member both turn on video.  Whether it’s a project update, milestone or a more difficult coaching session – seeing you face to face makes all the difference. 

Here’s our top tips on effectively managing a remote team when a team takes on a new challenge - the experience of working together remotely. Two people talking face to face on a remote meeting

Remote control your project  

Your team may be concerned about moving away from an in-person experience, where they could talk on the fly, share an idea on a whiteboard and access you for help whenever needed.  However, In many ways, working virtually on a project provides many new ways of working for your team and much more accountability, and visibility in to work in progress for you 

  1. Kick off with a bang!  During your project kick off meeting, leave time for open ideation – just like you would in an office.  Leave space in the agenda for using a virtual whiteboard to brainstorm on ideas.   anyone can contribute from their device and best of all – you can feel confident your ideas won’t be erased as they are saved and can be reopened whenever you need them.Ideation with using a virtual whiteboard to brainstorm on ideas. Man using Webex Teams remotely and ideating with a team
  2. Create space to catch up.  Bringing together content, with messages, links and real time meetings in a Webex Teams space is a project gamechanger.  Even if you step away to deal with other priorities – you can check back into the project space at any time and catch up on the background conversations you missed – something that’s not even possible in a live office. 
  3. Being available in one click is invaluable when working remotely.  Even when you’re in a meeting – your team can still reach out to message you 1:1 and you can view it and reply when you have a moment. If they need to escalate – share your personal meeting room (PMR).  For your team – Knowing you’re available on video on any device and can easily add others to the call will leave them confident they can rely on you, even when remote.  

Stay connected

Working remotely doesn’t mean that your team should feel remote.  Stay connected through celebrations, deadlines and watercooler conversations – on any device.   Your leadership, support and use of Webex Meetings and Teams means your team can be set up for success from wherever they may be.   

We’ve created a page with more guidance for end users and people managers on working remotely at cs.co/webexremotework

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Advice for leaders: 7 ways to create a positive work environment
Advice for leaders: 7 ways to create a positive work environment

The link between employee satisfaction and performance is undeniable: Happier employees are more productive and engaged in their work, stick with a company for a longer period of time, and produce better results than their discontented peers. A 2018 Gallup study even found a connection between employee satisfaction and business revenue, with high-engagement workplaces reporting 21% higher rates of profitability.

There are a lot of factors that determine employee satisfaction, from salary and benefits to commute times and workload. Managers and department heads don’t always have control over those issues, but they can help cultivate a positive work environment to boost employee morale, reduce workplace stress, and increase staff satisfaction.

Here are seven considerations for how to create and maintain a positive work environment for all employees:

1. Establish and maintain a positive attitude

Company cultures are created from the top down. When leaders come to work with a positive attitude and consciously reinforce that mindset, often that positivity rubs off. Treat every problem as an opportunity to improve the business and don’t get discouraged by setbacks. 

Employees look to their supervisors to set the tone for workplace culture, so if managers, department heads and other organizational leaders unfailingly project a positive outlook and willingness to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they will soon follow suit.

That being said, every staff member contributes in their own ways to the company culture. New hires are likely to take their cues from their fellow co-workers rather than a department head, for instance. When everyone comes to work with a positive attitude, it feels like anything can be accomplished.

2. Create an open-door policy

Division between management and staff can breed resentment and discontent. Employees want to know that they can take any problem or complaint to their supervisors without facing a lot of scrutiny or judgment. An open-door policy helps establish trust with workers, showing them that they should always feel comfortable coming to their supervisors for guidance and assistance.

Maintaining an open-door policy is easier said than done, especially for managers with high workloads and busy schedules. Consistently encouraging employees to come by their manager’s office with any problems they have is worth the effort, though. It helps foster a more collaborative workplace culture that prizes two-way communication.

Open-door policies only work when employees take advantage of them. All staff members should feel comfortable taking any concerns they have to their supervisors, especially if it involves morale. 

3. Redesign the office layout

Cubicles and dedicated workstations may be the status quo in offices today, but that setup isn’t always the most conducive for encouraging employee engagement and productivity. Creating a more comfortable work environment that allows staff members to stretch their legs and get a change of scenery can result in a more positive, active, and collaborative workplace. Employees won’t feel as if they are chained to their desks, giving them the space to find the right working environment that maximizes their productivity.

If it’s in the budget, consider other workplace perks like complimentary coffee, snacks, and drinks, or setting up a relaxation space or office gym. 

4. Invest in professional development

Employees who feel like they are treading water with their careers are more likely to express discontent and unhappiness. Presenting staff members with a clear track for professional growth and advancement gives them a clear purpose and goals to strive for. 

Provide hands-on training to develop employee skill sets, especially in areas of the business they are interested in but may not be directly involved in. For instance, if a member of the sales team wants to transition to a career in marketing, enlist the marketing department to hold training sessions on marketing fundamentals. Let them shadow marketing calls and meetings to get a better sense of what the day-to-day realities of that work is like.

Businesses can also encourage employees to earn professional credentials, perhaps even paying program fees and expenses. Business leaders who show staff members that they are dedicated to their professional development can better cultivate a positive work environment.

Employees should be sure to pounce on professional development opportunities when they arise. It’s easy to put off certification programs or turn down additional training sessions because of responsibilities both on the job and outside of work. Take the time to pursue professional development whenever possible, regardless of the career stage.

5. Celebrate wins and accomplishments

Employees want to feel valued by their supervisors and business leaders. Positive reinforcement is a very important aspect of creating a happier workplace. When staff members go above and beyond the call of duty, recognize their efforts. Good job performance should always be rewarded – if not monetarily, than at least with some hearty kudos.

Celebrate organizational wins, whether it’s completing a project on time and under budget, meeting quarterly revenue goals, or exceeding customer or client expectations. Employees will enjoy coming to work more if they know their managers appreciate all of the hard work they put in to their assignments.

Staff members should feel to congratulate each other on their successes as well. It helps create a more inclusive and close-knit working environment when everyone’s ready and willing to throw some kudos around. 

6. Manage employee workloads

Maintaining a strong work-life balance is a very important aspect of employee satisfaction and happiness. Employees who are overburdened and spend too much time in the office are more likely to burn out and look elsewhere for work.

Although many industries have seasonal peaks that inevitability ratchet up workloads – and workplace stress – managers should do what they can to evenly spread out assignments and never ask employees to take on too much. Keeping workloads manageable helps reduce stress and employee turnover.

Staff members should keep an eye out for their co-workers and look for signs of work fatigue or burnout. If someone’s struggling, offer to pick up some of their work to help shoulder the load. More seasoned employees can also serve as mentors to new hires, teaching them the ropes and helping them establish successful work routines.

7. Encourage organizational collaboration

A little autonomy is often a good thing for employee morale, but too much can make staff members feel isolated and overburdened. Facilitate cross-departmental collaboration whenever possible – not only will it bring more perspectives to projects and assignments, but it will help create a more cooperative and positive work environment. 

Business leaders can push that collaborative spirit further with the help of unified communication solutions including video conferencing, audio conferencing, and cloud-based collaboration platforms. Regardless of where employees are located, they can always put their heads together to solve problems, hold brainstorming sessions, and complete projects.

Bringing staff members together through reliable, high-performance video and audio conferencing tools cultivates a more inclusive work environment and promotes better teamwork. When employees feel like a valued and respected member of the team, they are far more likely to be engaged and productive in their job duties.

Taking the time to promote a positive work environment is well worth the effort, boosting employee satisfaction, increasing staff performance, and encouraging a business’s best employees to continue growing with the organization.


Webex, a leader in video conferencing. Try for free today.

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Powering team collaboration

Despite what a guy in my position likes to believe, technology is not the-end-all-be-all to a remote team’s success. Trust me – having the right collaboration tools is super important, but those team collaboration tools are there to enhance and enable the true foundation to any business – teamwork. After all, real-time engagement via video conferencing or chat with your remote team wouldn’t mean much is you can’t say, “we accomplished something just now.”

Teamwork is a collective role; everyone plays a part, but not everyone performs the same way.

On April 11th, Influencive partnered up with Cisco Webex on Facebook Live, discussing how you can be a productive team player by finding the right work environment that works for you, having a focused mindset and strategy, as well as implementing the remote tools that allow you to collaborate with your team and work towards success – anytime, anywhere.

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Team collaboration for Small Business
5 ways to “weatherproof” your work life with team collaboration tools

From iced-over bridges to snow-covered highways, Old Man Winter has had a firm grip on most of the country recently. And while that may mean a snow day for some, for many, the work day must go on.

Thankfully, video conferencing and team collaboration tools like Webex Meetings and Webex Teams are available to keep teams connected and work moving forward. And even though snow is a rarity in San Jose, over the years, I’ve learned lots of work life “weatherproofing” tips that keep productivity up when inclement weather keeps you away from the office.

1. Morning Consistency is Key

It’s totally understandable how blustery weather would make you want to stay bundled up in your pajamas or work from your laptop in bed. But if you’re working remotely due to the weather, keeping to your morning routine as much as possible can mentally set the stage for a more productive work day.

If you normally exercise outside in the mornings, but can’t, do a quick workout in your living room to maintain your normal pre-work routine. Go to your closet and get dressed, even if you’re just going down the hallway to your home office. Whatever it is that you do to kick off your work day, do it! It will kick start your mind into work mode.

2. Keep Your Desk Ready-to-Go

Speaking of your home office, the moment you hear bad weather may keep you housebound is the time to ensure your work space is work ready. National Clean Up Your Desk Day was great inspiration for me to take a few moments to declutter my home office space. Everything is now in its place, which saves me a rush cleaning job when impromptu WebEx meetings have to happen. An added bonus? Studies show that a decluttered workspace leads to more productivity.

3. Check Your Tech

One minute before a remote meeting or video conferencing call begins is not the time to discover your technology has gone on the fritz.  If weather is keeping you housebound, you’ll need to rely on your tech tools to stay connected, so make it a habit to ensure any and all technology software and hardware you use is online and ready to go when you need it.

4. Plan B & C & D Location

If bad weather knocks your power or causes internet connectivity issues for example, having a nearby location to work from is a must.

A nearby coffee shop or even a library are just a couple of options. Wifi is often free and nothing beats a hot cup of coffee if you’re forced to travel to another location.

5. Set Expectations and Boundaries

You know when you’re working from home that you’re actually working. But does everyone else?

When bad weather keeps people who do not work remotely inside, it’s easy to see how they may not understand how you could be carrying on your work day as normal. If you have children, they’re probably home with you if the weather is bad and may not understand that yes – you have real work to do. In these instances, set boundaries and expectations early so everyone understands that even though you’re physically at home, you have to remain focused.

There is definitely something to be said about maintaining a work-life balance, so be open and communicate to your children or friends when you can chit-chat, play games or watch a movie with them.

Has bad weather kept you in the house recently? Share how you’ve been able to stay in work mode with me on Twitter @WebEx, with #WinterWork.


Don’t let the weather keep you from your work. Click here to try a 30 day free trial of Webex teams.

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How to unplug on your summer vacation

It’s a yearly tradition in our family. We pack up our camping gear and make one last frantic run through the local grocery store before we head into High Sierra Music Festival. Bring your sleeping bag and join our family to disconnect from your 9-5 responsibilities. Oh, and don’t worry about bringing your phone; you won’t need it out here.

I treasure this annual chance to disconnect, but I also understand the hesitation to do so. The business world is more connected than ever before. I know the feeling of not wanting to miss a thing, especially with how face-paced today’s work world can be – “What if I miss a cool marketing opportunity with my team?” It’s like work FOMO.

But the technology that tempts us to constantly connect also gives us the freedom to take a break:

  • Collaboration tools mean that I can trust my team to jump on any time-sensitive opportunities without missing a beat.
  • With the right tools, everything will be waiting for you when you return. Your teams can record meetings with WebEx so you can jump in without missing a beat.
  • With Cisco Spark, everything you need to catch up is in one place. Find where you left off and scroll down – it’s that easy to get up to speed.

It might seem like even if you can step away from work, your mind will always be at the office. Check out these tips to overcome the temptation to take the worries of work with you.

Before you go:

  • Communicate with your team. Let them know when you’ll be heading out and getting back.
  • Recap and fill your teams in on the status of your projects.
  • Leave contact information to connect people who may need to find the right resource.
  • Make a note about your trip in the Cisco Spark space associated with those campaigns. It’ll be easy to pick up where you left off.
  • Set your ‘out of office’ in email and in Cisco Spark. Be sure to include when you’ll return and a contact to answer any immediate questions.

When you get back:

  • Block off an hour of time to get caught up. Reserve time on your own calendar to read emails, scroll through Cisco Spark, and watch any recorded WebEx meetings.
  • Connect with your teams for any high priority messages.
  • Let your Cisco Spark spaces know you’re back and catching up. Use this time to ease back into work.
  • Keep your vacation photos handy! Take breaks during the day to remember the great times with your family.

Being able to relax, recharge and get a new perspective is going to help you a lot more than chiming in on small things during your time off. Be brave and don’t check email; maybe even turn off your phone!

Enjoy the show, enjoy the music. You literally earned it.

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Faster collaboration for global teams

When an opportunity presents itself, great teams know that collaboration is essential to bringing the best work to life. But when your team is located across the globe, staying on the same page can feel like an uphill battle.

Nate Franklin, a product marketing manager, works with an integrated global team on cutting-edge, fast-paced projects. In his Two Minute Take, Nate talks about how the right technology tools keep work-streams moving quickly, and his team’s unique culture alive.

Learn how to bring teams closer together with real-time connections through Cisco Spark and WebEx, so you can work seamlessly with people across the world.

 

Learn more about how Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark work together.

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