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Establishing and then running a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) isn’t easy. . In this post, we’ll focus on one of them: improving internal communications. Let’s look at some common challenges there, and how to solve them.
Manage rapid growth with these internal communication techniques

Effective internal communication tools

Establishing and then running a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) isn’t easy. Statistics show that most SMBs eventually fail, and sooner than you might think. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that within a given 10-year period, 70% of all businesses founded in the first year will fail. The failure rate increases steadily by year*, meaning that even if the business survives year one, each year after is just as important. Webex offers a solution that allows your entire team to harness the power of video, voice, messaging, and more from a platform that’s easy to use on any device.

There’s no obvious solution for avoiding failure, or else everyone would already be doing it. Instead, companies have to do the hard work of sustaining growth and profitability even in the face of multiple headwinds, such as hiring staff, buying insurance, and expanding into new markets. Keeping the growth engine going requires diligent action on multiple fronts. In this post, we’ll focus on one of them: improving internal communications. Let’s look at some common challenges there, and how to solve them.

1. Creating and following a clear communication plan

According to the Gatehouse State of the Sector 2018 report, 31% of internal communicators in North America did not conduct any formal planning. That means their communications are often reactive instead of proactive. Whether it’s communication during a crisis or just a routine event like managing a hiring process, inadequate planning for internal communications may leave employees confused.

A better way forward is to create and share guidelines for internal communications. It’s important to take a collaborative approach to such planning, by gathering input from all stakeholders and setting up a common shared resource that everyone can go back to. Look for a solution that can simplify this task by making it easy to share, find, and organize files in dedicated spaces accessible by entire teams.

2. Eliminating operational silos between departments

Silos – i.e., de facto separated units, cut off from the organization at-large – aren’t just issues for large enterprises; emerging businesses can struggle with this issue as well. For example:

  • An SMB’s finance department might be disconnected from its other teams, creating significant consequences for the entire company.
  • This may lead to accountants and planners making decisions without knowing the full picture of what’s going on elsewhere in the firm.
  • As a result of inaccurate budgeting and forecasting, an SMB with already-thin margins may feel even more squeezed.

Silo elimination requires better collaboration. Entire collaborative movements, like DevOps in software development, have emerged to address the silo issue in particular. But suitable tools are needed, too.

Integrated solutions for messaging, calling, white-boarding, and more help address silos by putting all important information and context in one place. Collaborators can enjoy a single “version of the truth”, instead of working on redundant and possibly disjointed workflows.

3. Consistently distributing feedback to employees

SMBs live and die by the engagement of their employees. Since their teams are relatively small, it’s especially important for each member to be as engaged as possible. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done, due to issues such as inconsistent delivery of feedback.

A Zenger Folkman assessment found that employees working under managers who provided clear, actionable feedback were three times more engaged** than leaders who weren’t. In fact, those leaders who weren’t great at providing actionable feedback had employees who were three times more likely to quit.

Consistently providing feedback can seem challenging for busy managers, more so if they have to oversee employees who routinely work outside the office. Weaving in tools such as video conferencing and instant messaging can make feedback delivery more streamlined than simply relying on emails (too easily overlooked in many cases) or in-person meetings (often hard to schedule and coordinate).

4. Creating infrastructure to support remote and mobile workers

For some time now, non-traditional remote and mobile working arrangements have been gathering momentum. Giving employees the flexibility to work from virtually anywhere has distinct benefits for them and for the SMBs that employ them. It can reduce costs for travel and office space, improve morale and productivity, broaden hiring searches, and enable more practical expansion.

If there’s a catch, it’s that employees can often feel lonely and disengaged outside the office. Buffer discovered as much in its 2019 State of Remote Work report, in which loneliness and communications and collaboration were cited as the top challenges when working remotely. These challenges of disconnection can dampen the prospects of a business.

The good news is that boosting engagement is realistic with modern collaboration software. Setting up a video conference can make a group of participants feel like they’re in the same room even when they’re far apart. Likewise, using unified collaborative spaces for file sharing and instant messaging can lessen a remote employee’s feeling that they’re somehow missing out on important information and context.

How to upgrade your internal communications

Realizing and addressing these challenges will set your business up for more sustainable success.

Learn more by getting started with a free plan today!

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*Failure rate of businesses in the first year

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A broadcasters How to Guide to live stream Webex

Learn more about the broadcasting world, with step by step guides to stream Grid View, Overlays and to simultaneously stream to YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook with Webex.

Webex stream to YouTube.

Do you listen to podcasts? Watch YouTube or even Twitch? Then let me take you behind the scenes into the world of the tools used in live streaming. In this article, you will learn how to use the video meetings application, Webex, and set up virtual backgrounds, live stream in grid view, add overlays, and even stream to multiple platforms simultaneously. There are more things to learn when it comes to streaming, but this article is meant to get you comfortable with live streaming as a broadcaster. If you want to learn the simple way to live stream, check out this blog.

Below is a diagram of the various streaming workflows and applications you can use to achieve the broadcast of your choice. This guide is broken down into three sections: Live Speaker Overview & Setup, Broadcast Software Setup, and Streaming Platform Setup. Each section will go over the installation and configuration process to set up your live broadcast.

Live streaming tools and application workflow.

If you are new to streaming, check out this blog first on how to plan and set up your first Webex live stream.

Overview: Broadcast & streaming platform features

There are many other applications out there that can achieve your use case. This guide is not meant to be the ultimate solution, but more of a way to get your feet wet on streaming. Once you have decided what you want your broadcast to look like and how you want to stream it, this feature matrix helps break down various broadcasting software features from VBrick, REC.VC, OBS, and Restream.


Streaming Tools Feature Breakdown.

Section Topics
1. User 1 — Host: Install OBS, Loopback; Webex Tips & Tricks
2. User 2+ — Panelists and Virtual Background

Participant practice session. Webex Desk Pro (right) and Webex DX80 (left).

We will now break down the first column of the live streaming workflow. This section will go over OBS, Loopback, and Webex tips and tricks for the host and also tools that panelists can use for virtual backgrounds.

1. User 1 — Host: install OBS, loopback; Webex tips & tricks

You can refer User 1 as part of the studio crew or the video producer. They have three main tasks. They are to run OBS, Loopback, and manage the Webex panelists. The Webex host won’t participate in the video feed. This user will only manage the panelists, push users in and out of the Lobby, remove the floating icons, mute users, and pin the main video users in the grid view. Below is a short list of things the Host has to do.

Install OBS
To minimize Murphy’s law, make User 1, the dedicated machine to run OBS or Open Broadcaster SoftwareUser 1 will have a dedicated laptop to stream to the various platforms like YouTube. This must be a very high-end device as it will be streaming 1080p, which can max out its x264 encoder or GPU. Without a good laptop or machine, there can be a huge impact on the system, causing the framerates of your video to suffer and making the whole experience unenjoyable for the viewer. This software will provide the Grid View, or some would like to say Hollywood Squares or the Brady Bunch view. Basically, OBS is your desktop screen capture application that will send a stream out to your platform of choice. The Broadcast Software section will go over the setup process of OBS.

Install Loopback
Next, install Loopback from Rogue Amoeba. This is not a free application and it is a Mac app that reroutes audio from one piece of hardware or software to another. It’s best to think of it as a software pipe that pretends it has a hardware device on each end: audio input on one and audio output on the other. This application will be used to reroute audio from Webex to OBS. I also use this to also stream Spotify into the meeting and use my Cisco Headset 730 to monitor the session. We will go over the setup of this in the next section. Note: There’s a lot of other free virtual audio drivers out there, and for non-Mac users, you can use VB Cable or Virtual Audio Cable.

Webex Tips & Tricks
There are a lot of things to think about now that you are a broadcaster. A few things to be aware of:
CPU – 
Shut down unnecessary applications as OBS will consume a lot of CPU resources especially if you don’t have a dedicated GPU on your machine. It’s best to use devices with an NVENC H.264 New (GPU Encoding for Nvidia Graphics Cards) or an AMD H.264 (GPU Encoding for AMD GPUs).
LAN – 
Avoid WiFi. Hardwire if necessary as this is a live stream.
Disable VPN – You want to remove as much latency as possible.

Improve and control your meeting experience. Follow these steps to set up your stream. Here, you want to Mute users joining your meeting and disable sharing in the event someone accidentally shares their desktop. Once you have your Webex Meeting desktop application open, proceed with these settings.

Step 1: Go to Participant -> Mute on Entry and enable it and also de-select “Anyone Can Share.

Enable Mute on Entry & Uncheck Anyone Can Share.

Step 2: Go to View -> Show or Hide Meeting Controls. You want to enable this. In the following picture, you’ll see the meeting controls. You want to hide that during your broadcast.

Uncheck to Hide the Meetings Controls.

Step 3: Understand the Host Lobby feature. Here as you can have speakers rotate in and out of your call and you can control who is showing up on the video grid by pushing them into the Lobby.

Waiting in the Lobby function.

You can also move people into the lobby once they are done speaking by right-clicking on the participant name.

Move to the Lobby feature.

Step 5. Leave the Host “Un-muted” in Webex. If you do not, then no audio will pass through OBS and to the other panelists. Also, you don’t have to worry about any noise being picked up as the physical microphone is not connected to the virtual driver.

Unmute & Lock this thumbnail setting.

Step 6. As you hover your mouse over the participant, you can select “Lock this thumbnail video on a specific participant.” This option can lock the video focus of the main video on a specific participant, or the active speaker. Pins can help you determine whose video you and your participants see.

TIP: If you will be moving people in and out constantly or doing any of the above, then the Host privilege should be passed to another participant and you would leave Webex in full window mode for the OBS setup.

2. User 2+ — Panelists and virtual background

For your other users speaking on the live stream, the best hardware to use is a dedicated video device. I prefer using a Webex Room USB or what I’m using is a Webex Desk Pro as my dedicated SIP endpoint. It’s a 4K display that has a 12 MP HD camera, 71-degree field of view, 8 element microphone array with audio fencing with low audio latency, auto-framing, auto-focus, 3.1 directional speaker array, and overall fewer points of failures since I don’t need other external devices like hardware switchers, encoders, O/S and other applications running in the background found on a PC. Basically, think of the Desk Pro and Room USB device as a high-end dedicated webcam with a ton of advanced features. If you are using a laptop, make sure you have a headset. I have a Cisco Headset 730. It is boom less design coupled with adaptive noise cancellation and background noise reduction. If you don’t have a nice high-end headset, then a regular mobile headset can work very well too.

Virtual Backgrounds, Chroma Key: For your panelists’ that do not have access to a premium video conference unit, then a basic webcam or DSLR would work as well. With the USB functionality, you can use OBS Chroma Key, Manycam, or Snapchat’s Snap Camera to provide virtual backgrounds. These are some of the many applications that are out there, but this article won’t go into a deep dive into this.

Webex Desk Pro with Virtual Backgrounds.

TIP: Note that when you’re live streaming using a software encoder, you’re already putting the computer’s CPU at additional load. Most virtual background software apps require extremely beefy CPUs like a quad-core 4th-gen Core i7 or 3GHz processors with 8 cores or more. In this article, I have my Cisco Webex Desk Pro with the built-in background filters for my stream. It won’t consume any CPU cycles on my laptop since all the work is done on the endpoints NVidia GPU chipset.

Manycam

Manycam is a live-streaming service and a program that allows users to use their webcam with multiple different video conferencing applications and video streaming applications simultaneously for Windows and Mac computers. In this article, I will just focus on the virtual background setup.

NOTE: With one of the latest Webex Desktop updates, a new “hardened” security compilation method on OS X was put in place so that only libraries that are signed by Cisco or Apple are loaded. This applies not only to Manycam but other third-party applications such as CamTwist, Ecamm, CameraLive, EpocCam, Snap Camera, etc. Since they are from third parties, the Webex Desktop app (for Meetings and Events) will not allow them to load. The way to bypass this is to use the browser version for Webex Meetings.

Step 1. Open Manycam and go to Presets and Add a Video Source -> Webcam
Step 2: Go to Chroma Key -> (Toggle On) Virtual Background -> Blur or Replace to select your background in the drop-down window.

Background blur and Virtual background features.

Step 3: Open your browser. Since I’m using chrome, so go to the toolbar and enter -> chrome://settings/content/camera and select ManyCam Virtual Webcam

Google Chrome camera settings.

Step 4: Open up Webex in browser mode. Once you have set that up, you will now see the Manycam Virtual camera video sent to Webex Meetings.

Webex Meetings, browser mode with Manycam virtual background.

Section Topics
1. Admin — Webex Control Hub setup
2. Webex Direct Stream to YouTube
3. Loopback Audio Setup
4. Broadcasting Specs & OBS Setup
5. OBS: Audio
6. Audio Check
7. OBS: Grid View
8. OBS: Overlay
9. OBS: Direct Stream to YouTube

This section will be about User 1, the Host, as that machine will handle these configurations below. This section also demonstrates the “Direct Stream” YouTube use case and using OBS.

1. Admin — Webex Control Hub setup

Webex Control Hub: With the video hardware in place, your Webex admin needs to enable the RTMP streaming services in the Webex Control Hub.

Enable Common Platform Settings and End-User Settings. (Gif)
  • Go to the Webex Meeting Sites -> Common Settings and then check off the services you want. Personally, I like to enable everything to give the user all the options. Here you can enable IBM Video Streaming, Facebook Live, VBrick Rev, and “Other Streaming Services” which is the RTMP option for YouTube, Periscope, and Facebook Workplace.
  • Next, you have to enable Live Streaming for the End User. Go to “User” and the person you want the service enabled for and click on “Cisco Webex Meetings.”
  • Next, click on “Advanced User Settings and Tracking Codes
  • Once here, click on “Enable Live Streaming

End-User Streaming Test: Once the admin settings are completed, you can go test it out. Note that this is a “Direct Stream” setup.

Starting a live stream. (Gif)
  • Start Webex Meetings and then go to “Start Live Streaming.”
  • Then go to the streaming service you want to use. Here we will stream to YouTube which is found on “Other streaming services.”
  • Finally, add the streaming service information in the fields below. The next section will outline how to stream to YouTube and what data to enter in the fields. We will come back to this section later.

2. Webex direct stream to YouTube

The YouTube Live module can be used to broadcast to both desktop and mobile devices. This section shows how to obtain the Stream Name and Stream URL from YouTube Live as well as set up the Custom RTMP account. Note that if this is your first time doing a YouTube live stream, your account may take up to 24 hours to be approved and provisioned.

  • First, go to studio.youtube.com -> Create -> Go live
  • Go to Stream -> New Stream -> Create Stream. Make sure to enter the appropriate information such as Title, Description, Public or Private, and other options for your use case. For this exercise, we will pick Private to test the broadcast. Once you click Create Event, YouTube saves the changes and you’re almost ready to stream.

YouTube Studio New stream setup.
  • Next, you will copy the YouTube RTMP information and go back into the Webex Streaming Meeting fields. Remember that the Stream Key is a “key.” Keep it private.
  • Copy YouTube: Stream Key -> Paste into Webex: Target stream key
  • Copy YouTube: Stream URL -> Paste into Webex: Target stream link

API Key from YouTube to Webex.
  • Everything is now configured. You’re almost there. It’s now time to make sure that YouTube is receiving your live stream and that everything looks how you expect.

Preview the Live Stream: The YouTube Live Studio Event page is the best place to preview your video to see how it will appear when you go live. Note that the video preview is not available immediately after the stream is started. Depending on network bandwidth, it might take a few seconds to a few minutes after starting the stream until YouTube indicates that the stream signal is being received. Refresh the page at intervals to check.

  • When YouTube says the signal is Good, you know Webex is sending your video stream to YouTube.
  • Click Preview to prepare your stream for preview on the Live Control Room page; YouTube processes the stream for a moment.
  • Press play in the preview player to begin to play the event preview.

  • That’s it. You started your first stream! Just double-check and verify the “Stream Status” section for any problems or warnings. You can see that the live stream also includes a “via Cisco Webex” overlay in the top left corner.

3. Loopback audio setup

Now on to setup Loopback which will be used to bridge the audio from Webex to OBS. From this section forward, you want to make sure Webex is running.

Step 1: Make sure the Webex Meetings application is open. Then add the Cisco Webex Meetings app by clicking on the “+” icon in the Sources area.

Step 2: Edit the driver’s name by clicking on the pencil or edit icon. Here, I named it “Webex Live Stream Audio” and this will be exposed into the systems device drivers as this name. Note, going forward I will call Webex Live Stream audio, WLSA going forward.

Add a Virtual Driver name and add Webex as a Source.

Step 3: Once the Meetings app is added, click the down arrow and un-check “Mute when capturing”.

Step 4. Then go to your Mac. System Preferences -> Sound -> “Input” as well as “Output”. You will now see “Webex Live Stream Audio”. Make sure to select this for both.

TIP: Webex is optimized for speaking. If there is any other noise like a guitar or music, Webex will think it is background noise and will try to remove it. So if you want to stream from Spotify, just stream a podcast.

4. Broadcasting specs & OBS setup

OBS is a switcher, compositor, and renderer. There are OBS plugins that do a ton of cool stuff with the right support applications and has a steep learning curve. What I’ll share is just a tip of the iceberg of what OBS can do, but for now, we will just stick to a big use case, which is the audio setup, overlay and grid view.

First, to have a stable stream and avoid dropped frames, the information below will help you choose your encoding, resolution, bitrate, and framerate settings. These tweaks will provide the right balance live stream, internet speed, and your computer’s hardware. Here is a great article on the OBS forum with their Stream Bit Rate Calculator that you can calculate for your own broadcast.

OBS Stream Bit Rate Calculator.

I used a 2017 Macbook Pro, 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel i7 for this setup. Based on my Speedtest results and x264 specs. This is what I entered into OBS.

Step 1. Go to Settings -> Output Mode -> Advanced:

Enforce streaming service encoder settings: Un-check
Rescale Output: Un-check
Rate Control:
 CBR
Bitrate: 4000 kbps
Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds
Preset: Ultrafast
Profile: Main

OBS Output streaming settings.

Step 2Go to Settings -> Video:

Resolution: 1280×720
Downscale Filter: Lanczos
Framerate:
30 fps

Video Settings.

5. OBS: Audio

Now that Loopback’s drivers are installed, let’s now configure OBS.

Step 1: Open OBS and go to Settings. By default, OBS isn’t in Studio Mode. This is the view you are seeing below. You will have two screens. The right screen will be the active scene for your Webex meeting. The left screen shows a preview of the editable scene. There is a Transition button in between the two screens. You can choose the Transition button to edit a scene before you show it to your audience.

OBS in Studio Mode & Settings button.

Step 2. Select WLSA at: Audio -> Devices -> Mic/Auxillary Audio -> Webex Live Stream Audio and Advanced -> Monitoring Device -> Webex Live Stream Audio.

6. Audio check

With Webex running, make sure you set the Speaker and Microphone to WLSA.

Webex audio settings.

To close out the audio setup. Remember that there at least four different applications to configure to make sure that audio from Webex is streamed to OBS and to YouTube.

7. OBS: Grid view

Let’s now set up OBS to capture Webex Grid View.

Step 1: Once we add users to the call, we can enable Grid View in Webex Meetings.

Grid View toggle.

Grid View in 2×2 format.

With Webex now showing grid view, you need to open and configure OBS to stream this format out.

Step 2: Open OBS.
Step 3: Go to Sources, click the “+” button, and select “Display Capture” and create a Name if you like and click “OK.” Note that using the “Display Capture” which provides the best streaming results with minimal latency vs. the“Window Capture” option in OBS.
Step 4: Select the Display where Webex is on. I have a dual-screen setup so I select Display “0”.
Step 5: Go to Crop -> and select “To Window”.
Step 6: Next go to Window -> look for “Window: [Cisco Webex Meetings]” and select OK. You can now see that OBS is only capturing Webex and there is a red box on the black screen. The black screen is the area that will be captured and sent to your streaming platform.

Display Capture settings.

Step 7: With OBS open and now with users and the screen resized, you can see that it is capturing my desktop. On the left side is Webex Meetings and the Participants list open shown by the red arrow in Figure 1 below.
Step 8: In the OBS picture below, you can drag the window you want to broadcast by selecting the red borderlines in the right picture in Figure 1.

In Figure 1, you will see OBS only capturing the grid view. Obviously, you don’t want to share the Participants list. You will see with the red arrow that the rest of the Webex Meetings window isn’t being, meaning it won’t be part of the broadcast. This enables you as a host, to control the participants during your live stream. Overall, you just want to share the video.

Figure 1: Webex Meetings being captured in real-time in the OBS in Window Capture view.

Tip: Depending on your setup, you can change your video layout and learn to use the “Fit to Screen” option. To access this feature, Right-click window you want to select and go to “Transform” -> “Fit to screen.”

8. OBS: Overlay

  • To set up an overlay or watermark image. Go to Scene -> “+” icon -> and give it a name like “Live Stream
  • Next, we will add an image. For this example, I will use a “via Cisco Webex” overlay.
  • Go over to the next box, Source -> “+” icon -> Create New -> and give it an image name.
  • Next, you can resize and move your overlay to where you want it to appear on OBX for the live stream. Here, I placed the logo in the top left corner.

Scene Setup, Source Overlay, and image resize. (Gif)

Step 3: Make sure to bring the image to the front. Right-click on the image by going to “Order” -> “Move Up.

Overlay image “move up” feature.

Once complete, you can now see the overlay with Webex Grid View.

Grid View + Overlay.

9. OBS: Direct stream to YouTubeStep

Step 1. Finally, enter your YouTube API Key and click OK.

OBS Stream Settings for YouTube.

Viola! Congratulations on your first Grid view with an overlay live stream. Click “Start Stream” to begin streaming!

YouTube Studio Live Stream.

TIP: To ensure a smooth stream, check the stats in OBS to make sure there are no dropped frames. Go to: View -> Stats.

You will want Dropped Frames to be at 0%, this is the number of frames that you have dropped total. If frames are dropping that typically means you are over tasking your computer or internet. If you’re dropping frames, you can try setting your “CPU Preset” in OBS’ Output settings to something faster.

You will want to keep your CPU to be less than 80%. If this reaches 100% it can result in dropped frames. You can try setting your “CPU Preset” in OBS’ Output settings to something faster if this is an issue.

There are several articles online that can help you tweak these settings.

OBS Stats.

Section Topics
1. REC.VC: Grid View & Single Stream
2. Restream.io: OBS & Multi-stream

This section will cover streaming using REC.VCOBS, and OBS with Restream. As mentioned before, each application purpose based on your use case.

1. REC.VC: Grid view & single stream

The platform from MNS.VC is the simplest and quickest way to stream up to a 5×4 layout directly from Webex Meetings and even Webex Events. This can be hosted privately on REC.VC or publicly live-streamed to third-party RTMP destinations including Facebook, Workplace, and YouTube.

REC.VC captures the video, audio, and content by being a SIP/H.323 video participants in the Webex session. How does this look like? Take, for example, seven people are in a meeting with REC.VC. From your endpoint, you will only see 6 people and not yourself (unless you activate self-view). It is the same with REC.VC, it is just another endpoint receiving the video composition from Webex, excluding itself. Below is an example of the formats you can achieve.

Credit: MNS.VC — WebexGrid View layout examples.

Step 1: Sign up for a 14-day trial here.

Step 2: In the REC.VC user interface, enter your video address (SIP or H.323 URI) of the meeting. In the PIN field, enter the PIN with the format you want. The video composition can be preconfigured to one of the other Webex Video Layouts.

Step 3: Go to Source -> Video Conference.

Step 4: Toggle “Stream” to “On

Step 5: Enter the RTMP URL from YouTube.

Step 6: Go to studio.youtube.com and find your RTMP stream URL and Stream Key and copy them into the RTMP URL of REC.VC.

REC.VC RTMP setup.

Step 7: Enter the video address (SIP/H.323 URI) in the Source Address.

REC.VC Source & PIN configuration.

Step 8: Figure out your streaming format. Enter the PIN for the layout you want to achieve.

REC.VC PIN format.

Video layout setup via PIN codes.

Step 9: Click on the STREAM button.

Step 10: Go back to YouTube to check your steam. You will have to wait a few seconds to see it start.

The video layouts covered in this post is when content is not shared in the video meeting. If you want to share content, you can learn more here.

Finally, if you want to stream to multiple platforms simultaneously, that is possible with REC.VC by just adding another REC.VC SIP participant in the meeting.

TIP: For those with a dedicated Webex Rooms device, check out this cool live stream, One-Button-to-Push Macro from MNS.VC that uses a Touch10 to start a YouTube broadcast.

2. Restream.io: OBS & multi-stream

Restream is another cloud application that allows you to broadcast Webex on as many streaming platforms as you want simultaneously, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. Once you have everything in Section II set up, you can now begin this multi-stream.

Step 1: Sign up for a Restream.io account.

Step 2: Set up the streaming platforms you want. You will have to authenticate to these services.

Restream integrations.

Step 3: Once you enable the streams you want. You will also copy the Stream Key and paste it into OBS.

Step 4: Open OBS and go to Settings -> Stream -> Restream.io — RTMP and Paste the key and click OK.

OBS & Restream.io stream key setup.

Step 5: Once you are back at the main OBS Studio window, go to Start Streaming to begin your stream.

Start Streaming with OBS.

Now you’re all set! Your stream is seamlessly delivered to all your connected platforms.

Below you will see all the applications working together to stream to YouTube. Congratulations and welcome to the world of broadcasting!

Studio Dashboard: The final product stream to YouTube.

Conclusion

Don’t be overwhelmed. You can do this! Just practice and experiment. Once you have all this configured and setup, to execute another live stream only takes <5 minutes. Streaming can be confusing at first, but it’s not as hard to learn. These techniques can add some variety and creativity to your live stream and these are just the basics. It doesn’t have to be expensive and too difficult to set up, although every bit of effort you put in will show in the final product.

Happy streaming!

If you have questions, leave a comment. If you find this article helpful, please follow me on here and share this blog! 👍🏼

🐦 Twitter: @joshreola


Community Support

Have additional questions or want to learn more about Webex? Join the Webex Ambassador Community on Webex Teams and sign up as a Candidate and be a part of a global community of over 2,700 champions.


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May update of Webex Teams

MESSAGING

Introducing app update controls in Webex Teams

This May, Webex Teams admins will have access to product controls which will allow you to choose how often the app gets updated for your users. Options include updating the app monthly or quarterly. This means, if desired, you can reduce the number of updates presented to users. With this, you’ll also be able to defer the deployment of updates by up to four weeks for the monthly update option or two weeks for the quarterly update option. This gives customers a chance to complete any required validation of the new software update. For more details, check out this blog.

Isn’t there a space for that? (Windows and Mac)

We are all guilty of accidently making a new space where we could have re-used another. This feature will help you with that. You’ll get a chance to re-use old spaces as you’re trying to create a new one. If there is an active space with the group of people that you have staged, you’ll see a list of spaces you’re already in with those people. Similarly, when you start typing a space name, you’ll be shown a list of spaces with similar names that you are already in. This helps reduce the creation of unnecessary, duplicate spaces.

Create a Space

A new reaction! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

You can now express yourself even more using reactions. If someone made you laugh with their message, simply react with our new (Haha) emoji! In addition to that, our existing Happy emoji becomes Smile and the Surprised emoji becomes the Wow emoji.

Development Agenda

‘Seen by’ for read receipts (Windows and Mac)
You might now notice the words ‘seen by’ appearing next to your read receipts in a space. This is to make it quick and easy for first time users to understand what the avatar read receipts are.

MEETINGS

See more people at the same time (Windows)

It’s here! The long-awaited grid view for Webex Teams meetings will be landing into your Windows app this May. You’ll now be able to see up to nine people at once during a meeting, making it that much easier to collaborate. The option will be available on the top right of your meeting window.

Grid view for Webex Teams

A new look for an in-space ‘meet’ (Windows and Mac)

Before, the green icon on the top left of a group space for starting an ad hoc meeting was a combined video camera and phone icon. This has changed to be more descriptive and understandable to users, it is now simply ‘meet’. You will see the same icon when you start a search and hover over a space to start an ad hoc meeting.

CALLING

Webex Calling

Fewer clicks to make a call (Windows and Mac)

You don’t have to click meet icon first and then choose whether to make the call with audio only or share your video. You can make that choice right away.

Single number reach (Windows and Mac)

With Single Number Reach, all incoming calls to your users’ work phones ring other numbers at the same time. You can add any numbers you want in your call settings.

We already support this feature in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on desktop. Check out this help page for more information.

Pull a call from one device to another (Windows and Mac)

You can easily move an active call from one device to another. Take a call on your mobile app, and when you get to the office, simply pull the active call to your desktop. The active call moves to the new device and ends on the old device.

High Definition (HD) video (Windows and Mac)

You can enable or disable HD video. Just click your profile picture, go to Settings (Windows) or Preferences (Mac), select Video, and then enable or disable the setting. You may want to disable HD video if your computer CPU is running high or you want to save network bandwidth during a call or meeting.

Direct callback from your call history (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap and you can call someone back…simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call the person back at the number they called you. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

We’re also making this available in Webex Teams calls.

Voicemail in Webex Teams (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

No more missing calls in Webex Teams. If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling) on your iPhone, iPad, or Android, you’ll see a red badge counter (Message Waiting Indicator) next to the Calls tab letting you know you have a voice message. If you want to listen to your messages, go to the Calls tab and click on Call Voicemail to dial into the voicemail system. From your voicemail system, you also can record a personal greeting, delete a message, and so on. After you listen to your messages (from the app or your desk phone), the red badge counter disappears.

We already support this feature on desktop. See this help page for more details.

Merge two calls (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re on a phone call and you receive an incoming phone call in Webex Teams, you can merge the two phone calls into one and have everyone in the same phone call.

We already support this feature on desktop. For more information, take a look at this help page.

Start a conference call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

We’re making collaboration even easier. Need another opinion while you’re on a call? You can add up to 6 people while you’re in a 1–to–1 call.

We already support this feature on desktop. See this help page for more details.

Call statistics (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re in a call or meeting, you can tap More button (three dots button) to check call statistics, such as packet loss, latency, and resolution rate.

View full screen share (iPhone and iPad)

When you’re in a call and the person you’re chatting with shares their screen, you can see what they’re sharing more clearly. Rather than their screen and video taking up equal real estate, their screen takes up your full view while their video just takes up a small space in the corner.

Switch to and from a bluetooth device during a call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

During a call, you can switch from your headset or speaker to a Bluetooth device with the tap of a button.

Unified CM

Use desk phone control for Webex Teams calls (Windows and Mac)

When you’re connected to your desk phone from Webex Teams, you can make and answer Webex Teams calls. The audio and video goes through your desk phone but you can still share your screen from the app.

Use Health Checker for phone services status (Windows and Mac)

If you’re unsure whether you’re Phone Service is working properly, you can check out the status of your phone connection from the app. On Windows, click your profile picture and then go to Help > Health Checker. On Mac, go to Help > Health Checker. Health Checker tests your connection and lets you know if there’s a problem.

Fewer clicks to make a call (Windows and Mac)

You don’t have to click meet icon first and then choose whether to make the call with audio only or share your video. You can make that choice right away.

High Definition (HD) video (Windows and Mac)

You can enable or disable HD video. Just click your profile picture, go to Settings (Windows) or Preferences (Mac), select Video, and then enable or disable the setting. You may want to disable HD video if your computer CPU is running high or you want to save network bandwidth during a call or meeting.

Direct callback from your call history (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap and you can call someone back…simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call the person back at the number they called you. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

We’re also making this available in Webex Teams calls.

Call statistics (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re in a call or meeting, you can tap More button (three dots button) to check call statistics, such as packet loss, latency, and resolution rate.

View full screen share (iPhone and iPad)

When you’re in a call and the person you’re chatting with shares their screen, you can see what they’re sharing more clearly. Rather than their screen and video taking up equal real estate, their screen takes up your full view while their video just takes up a small space in the corner.

Switch to and from a bluetooth device during a call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

During a call, you can switch from your headset or speaker to a Bluetooth device with the tap of a button.

INTEGRATIONS

Webex App Hub exposure in clients

Quickly launch the Webex App Hub straight from Webex Teams! The new “Apps” button in the bottom left will help you find Bots and Integrations such as Jira Cloud, Salesforce, Trello, RSS Bot and many more!

Jira Server Bot
The latest updates to the Jira Server bot for Webex Teams support 2-way functionality, making it easier for your entire team to build, monitor, and release software in a timely manner. Now you can create issues like bugs, tasks, and stories from any space as well as setup real-time notifications for issues in your Jira project. Quickly see what’s been updated recently, assigned to you, or even list issues you’re watching from within a Webex Teams space. Learn more on the Webex App Hub.

Learn more on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams

Learn More

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams product update controls

Love your meeting!

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Woman at computer whitebaording
RoomOS May update

We are already at the end of May! I hope everyone is staying safe and sound. The RoomOS team have been working hard to release a mix of features for you, to enhance your personal mode experience, up your co-creation, and make life a little bit easier for administrators.

Activity indicator

Ever been in an interactive whiteboarding session and wondered who is annotating or drawing? We thought so. With Activity Indicator, the initials or the avatar of the people who are adding to the whiteboard will pop up next to their input. This is especially useful when you zoom into an area and want to be aware of the bigger picture. Click here to learn more.

Activity Indicator showing whiteboarding session with avatar of people drawing

No auto wake-up for personal mode devices

Room devices in personal mode can often be found in open office areas or home offices. These devices often turn on automatically when they detect movement – something that is useful at the office, but can be distracting at home. Imagine your device turning on every time your child runs past it, or your cat jumps on top of your desk? Pretty annoying. To fix this, we’re turning off by default the auto wake-up feature for personal mode devices.

Participant list improvements

We also made some improvements to the participant list display when in a meeting. Now, you can see the domain of external participants on the roster list, and see who is paired to a shared Cisco Webex device!

6 participants

Webex Edge for Devices – Read only configurations

We want to make sure that all our customers get to experience cloud benefits, no matter their deployment type. Webex Edge for Devices allows customers to view their configuration settings directly in Control Hub. This allows for greater flexibility, as customers with an on-premises registered device can see the configuration in Control Hub, which is a cloud feature. This brings more value into the single pane of glass for all administrators, regardless of deployment type.

Webex Edge for Devices – Proxy support

We also added proxy support for Webex Edge for devices, the same as for devices registered to the cloud.

That’s it for this month – but stay tuned, as we have loads more in the pipeline.

Learn more about Webex Edge for Devices

Learn More

See all the Webex RoomOS releases

Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams: Working better together

Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

Read more
Book named Indistractable by Nir Eyal, sitting on a table
Webinar: Indistractable — How to control your attention and choose your life

Webinar with best-selling author, Nir Eyal

Tomorrow.. Tomorrow.. I’ll love ya.. Oh wait. I don’t know you (or maybe I do). But that’s not the point.

Tomorrow is an exciting day! Webex is hosting a webinar with best-selling author, Nir Eyal. And trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

For years, Eyal has immersed himself in the psychology of distraction and even wrote a book about it called: Indistractable. Tomorrow, he is going to let us in on his research.

Key takeways

We’ll learn:

  • Reasons why we get distracted
  • Why we don’t do the things we know we should do (think: eating healthy, exercising, getting good sleep, etc).
  • How to master the internal triggers that make us uncomfortable
  • Cool tricks/ways to make a pact with yourself to do the work you say you’re going to do
  • How to cultivate self-compassion
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

Register here today: https://use.webex.com/webinar-indistractable-with-nir-eyal

Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Time: 12 PM ET

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3 business communication barriers you can break down with video conferencing
Video conferencing and the generational divide

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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

Learn More

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Young woman sitting on the window sill, using her laptop.
Webex Device Management – The power of search!

Advanced search feature in Webex Control Hub

There has always been a debate about hierarchical folders vs. indexed based searching. When we developed device management features in Webex Control Hub we really wanted administrators to have easy access to any information they might need. Because of this, we decided to implement an advanced search feature to allow for multiple ways to manipulate and view your devices list view. This allows admins to quickly find the devices they are looking for.

implement an advanced search feature to allow for multiple ways to manipulate and view your devices list view. This allows admins to quickly find the devices they are looking for.

Enhance and simplify the admin journey

Let us take a quick look into how we can use the devices search functionality to really enhance the administrators journey on an average day.

When you load up the devices page you can click on the search bar to expose a list of potential filters. The first one is a brand new one that we recently released, called “Type.” This allows you to quickly filter on “Webex Rooms” , “Headsets” or “IP Phones”. This acts as a quick way for administrators to filter the view to look at the devices selected.

Product Tab lets you specify the exact type of device grouping you are looking for

 

The Product tab is lets you specify this even further by the exact type of device grouping you are looking for. For example, you can select Webex Boards. You can also combine these filters, so let’s say we want to file all the Webex Boards which are “Online with Issues” – this can be done by combining both of these functionalities together!

Real-time issue searching

However, it is not just about finding devices that are online or offline or in a specific grouping. One of the features that makes the devices search so powerful is real time issue searching based on the issue diagnostic. This means we can easily see which devices have the same issues. This can be really useful if there is an issue at a certain location and we can easily narrow down which devices in that location have the same problem.

Real-time Issue searching

 

Search by location

One of the questions I get all the time is: “How do I find the devices that are in the New York vs. London offices?” This can be easily achieved using a feature we call tags, where you can place one or multiple tags on any device. This feature allows you to have multiple ways to search and slice and dice the view to get what you want. Maybe you place one tag for location and another tag on the device to explain that it is in building A on campus? The possibilities are endless. Tags can also be searched via our developer APIs check them out at here! (Link to https://developer.webex.com/docs/api/v1/devices )

Search by Location

This is just some of the ways you can use device search to enhance your admin workday, quickly finding the right device to configure, monitor or troubleshoot! Stay tuned for more new features coming to Webex Control Hub for device management in the near future. These are just some of the tools available for Webex Rooms customers in Control Hub and we are adding more updates monthly to What’s New in Cisco Webex Control Hub

Get Control Hub today

Learn More

Click for all of the Webex Control Hub updates

Fast track your adoption with Cisco Webex Control Hub

Improvements over RoomOS releases from Control Hub

Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

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Blog_Mothers_Day Flowers with a banner
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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Excited girl sitting on floor by laptop and a cup of coffee and lifting books
Improve engagement with students with these tips

Tips for better student engagement

One of the growing concerns for instructors delivering online lessons is how to understand if their students are engaged and how to increase engagement in class. At Cisco Webex Research, we spoke with 34 students and instructors to understand what helps students to be engaged during an online class. One of the things that stood out is how the class behavior is different based on the class size.   

Here are some tips to help your classes, based on the number of students in them. 

Improve engagement with students with these tips

  • Small- sized classes (Less than 10 students): Small sized classes open up the possibility of a discussion-based class which is great to increase engagement. A discussion-based class will provide the opportunity for each student to talk about their perspective. Encouraging students to have their video and microphone on ensures they take the class from a quiet space that enhances their focus. Another method of encouraging participation is having students share content during class, and having them lead the discussion.
  • Mid-size classes (10-30 students): Typically, in mid-size classes, instructors tend to have a discussion-based class along with group work where students work in break-out groups. In these classes, sharing content with students as well as the video of the instructor will help increase engagement. Additionally, having students turn on their video while they ask questions will help other students know who is asking the question. Another method of improving class participation is by engaging with students via chat – answering their questions or sending out a poll will drive students to ask more questions via chat if they are hesitant to turn their video on.
  • Large classes (Greater than 30 students): A pattern seen in large classes is that all students tend to have their videos and microphones off. In such a class environment, it helps to ensure the instructor has their video turned on. Most of the students prefer to ask their questions via chat, and to keep the class engaged; it is necessary for the instructor to monitor the chat and interact with students on this channel. An additional way to improve engagement in class would be to work with a group of students and have them present some portion of the lecture. 

We would love to hear from you. If you are an instructor or student who would like to share about your online learning experience, please email us at webexresearch@cisco.com

Connect with all of our blogs in the series here 

Learn More

Webex Integration Partners join Cisco in offers for education

Higher education, meet Webex

Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

(Contributors: Varshine Chandrakanthan, Kathryn Parkes and Mani Pande) 

 About the Cisco Webex Research Team

Kathryn Parkes, Senior UX Researcher
Kathryn is an experienced user researcher based in Dublin, Ireland reporting into San Jose. As a member of the UX Research team, she leads research projects across the Webex Suite working with various Cisco Collab teams in Ireland, US and across Europe. The team use a broad variety of research methods, including user interviews, usability testing and benchmarking studies, to get a deep understanding of Webex user needs.

Varshine Chandrakanthan, Designer User Experience
Varshine loves observing people and their actions – hence she decided to become a User Researcher. She is passionate about creating an impact to people’s lives and loves to volunteer for education and human rights programs. Her interests include designing tattoos, illustrating for books, eating cake and meditating.

Mani Pande, User Experience Manager
Mani leads the user research team in San Jose. Her team is responsible for understanding the needs of Webex users to inform product strategy and direction, and ensure that the software we ship is not only simple and easy to use, but also delightful. You can find her and her team members huddling with Webex users understanding how they use our software and mapping opportunities of improvement. In another life, Mani worked as a reporter for the Times of India, India’s largest selling newspaper, covering media and crime. Outside of work, Mani loves to travel, cycle, run and cook. She posts photos of food that she cooks and places she visits on Instagram.

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Microsoft + Cisco . A telemedicine appointment with a doctor online.
Cisco + Samsung, innovating healthcare

Re-imagining healthcare

The healthcare landscape is changing faster than ever before, and the industry is looking towards the return to a new normal for patient care. Daily tasks of our international healthcare heroes, have become hazardous and very involved, requiring extreme working hours and costly protective gear.  

Hospitals are constantly looking for new ways to physically distance their staff from patients in order to minimize the spread of virus and the risk of being exposed within care facilities. Ultimately, facilities affected by the shortage of protective gear need to turn to new and creative solutions that will help reduce the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, or gloves, yet still provide personal care for patients at an increased volume.  

For patients being treated at these facilities, many are experiencing lonely and isolating times, as interaction with staff have become strictly minimal and, more importantly, families are prohibited from visiting.  

Connecting with technology 

At Cisco, we take connections” very seriously, even beyond our network. Keeping humans connected is in our DNA. With this in mind, we have recently joined forces with Samsung to develop a zero-touch solution that will allow facilities to continue caring for their patients, while keeping staff safe and families connected. Cisco collaboration has brought together Cisco Webex Teams and Samsung Knox Configure on the Galaxy Tab Active2 tablets, to enable clinical staff to conduct virtual consultations and daily virtual rounds with the patients at their facilities.  

The solution features the use of Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 tablets (managed by the Knox Configure tool) in examination (consultation) and patient observation rooms. The Samsung devices run a custom version of Webex Teams in kiosk mode, allowing the patient to connect over video with their care givers (and families) without having to touch the tablet in any way.  

Virtual Consultations  

Male doctor working on desk with laptop computer and paperwork on his desk. Medical concept by doctor on computer in office with stethoscope over hospital background.For virtual consultations, patients showing up for an evaluation at healthcare facilities  can wait at a fixed or mobile station with a mounted Samsung Tab Active2 running Webex Teams. Once the caregiver is ready for the consultation, they can open Webex Teams on their personal device, navigate to the “space” dedicated to that virtual consultation room, and start the call. At this point, the Samsung device on the patient side will ring for 5 seconds and join the video call automatically. The other clinical staff that are also part of that space will be able to join the ongoing consultation and interact with the patient as well, keeping the consultations dynamic and collaborative.  

Keeping Families Connected 

If the patient is admitted for observation (and quarantine) at the facility, the clinical staff will be able to keep a line of communication with the patient’s family by messaging over a Webex Teams. This way they’ll be able to keep them informed on when it’s time for the patient’s virtual checkin.   

Virtual Rounds  

Much like standard physical check-ins, clinical staff can perform daily rounds on their floors by dialing the Webex Teams space associated to the patient’s room. During their virtual consultation via the Samsung device, the care giver can invite family members to the video call, creating an instant and seamless connection to their loved one. 

 “Samsung has partnered with Cisco to jointly develop a solution to help medical institutions safely provide care during the current public health crisis. Samsung is pleased to have  our technology help bridge the distancing measures now pervasive in hospitals so that patients can safely connect with their families and their healthcare providers. – Taher Behbehani, General Manager and Head of Mobile B2B, Samsung Electronics America 

Learn How to Connect 

We’ve created tailored documentation that will help all those involved set up and use this solution.  

Visit the solution site to learn more and get started by registering for a Webex Teams trial and a Samsung Knox trial  

If you are a large healthcare facility and need help discovering what solution fits your needs, contact your Cisco account manager, partner or your Samsung account manager to get information regarding Samsung Tab Active2 tablets, Knox Configure, or Webex Teams.  

For information on Cisco Webex and HIPAA compliance, see Protecting Your Webex Healthcare Data.

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Young hipster man with tattoo sitting on floor and playing acoustic guitar
Times are changing, so is music

Virtual music change

Usually at this time of the year my friends and I begin the banter and planning associated with our annual pilgrimage to the Isle Of Wight Festival. Although we weren’t able to participate this year, I am always seeking ways to keep music an active part of my life.

Live music especially is an important part of my life. The energy and anticipation in a room just before a band comes on is electric. The difference between a great gig and an “Epic Gig” is marginal but in my opinion, the venue, sound system, and people form an essential combination to reach “Epic Proportions”.

I was a bit cynical about the virtual gig concept. How can it possibly be the same?

No people, a tinny sound, and I’m in my front room!

Support with playlists

Then Chris Martin partnered with Global Citizen. Seeing the performance in a stripped back and relatively unproduced manner reminded me just how good Coldplay is. It even made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

So much for no energy! Those tunes touched me, and the atmosphere came from the situation we all find ourselves in.

A few days later I decided to create a playlist ‘Isolation Station’ for my team- just a few songs and a little irony to put a smile on their faces.

Finally, one last virtual music event that really reset my perception that I needed to be in the venue, surrounded by like-minded souls was the Hacienda House Party, a live dance music event based around some of the original superstar DJ’s of the Hacienda in Manchester, England. This event provided my family with a backing music soundtrack for a lovely sunny Saturday. It was brilliantly produced and when pumped through the home sound system, it sounded awesome! Boom, we were raving at home.

Together at home

And whilst I’m waxing lyrical about virtual music events, check out the links below that caught my eye- irony and comedy in musical form.

Oh My God (Stay Home Edition) | Kaiser Chiefs

Reworking of a great anthem following a tweet by a fan to a UK radio station

The Rolling Stones perform “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” | | One World: Together

Check out Charlie Watts drum kit! I’d love to know the story behind this. Taken from the Global Citizen gig at the weekend which Cisco sponsored.

As the Chilli Peppers once sang “Music the great communicator.”

Live From Home weekly livestream

At the other end of the spectrum Cisco has done a good job of using Webex to showcase performing artists of all practices during the weekly series, Live From Home. Presented by AppDynamics and Cisco, Live From Home is using Cisco technology to directly benefit the performers and to provide top-notch entertainment for the public. They are also fundraising for art charities in need. My favourite was ‘Indie Night’. It certainly inspired me to pick up my guitar and start dusting off the old campfire favourites!

We all get so much from the arts which we can often take for granted. Streaming lets us listen to what we want, where we want, whenever we want, and whilst that is a good thing, it’s live music that now really keeps artists afloat. It’s not just for the mega bands touring the world on private jets, but more importantly it’s for the bands and musicians playing at bars and small venues, who are completely shut down for now.

In the clear

So, when all this is over and we can actually go to a venue with a sticky floor and a musty smell, let’s go show our support and help the next Coldplay or Billie Eilish breakthrough.

You can do that on May 5th during the Live from Home event on Cisco’s Virtual Experience Hub for the public.

To conclude, my perceptions were proven wrong….virtual music can move me and bring entertainment to the masses. Music plays such a huge part in all our lives, whether you play it, write it or just hum along because you don’t know the words, it’ll put a smile on your face or a tear in your eye. Right now, the power music has is remarkable and can help us all get through this together.

Stay Safe and tune into the next Live From Home event on 05/05

Learn More

How Live from Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community 

The ultimate Webex Events guide: From start to stream in under 2 minutes

Live streaming with Webex Meetings for your virtual events: What’s new and how to use it

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Securing users and devices in Webex

Common security challenges with users and devices

Today there are too many security challenges to the applications used by organizations, and many different vectors need to be secure:

  • User identities
  • Content
  • Devices
  • Transport

Security challenges to the applications.

The way that we protect the applications is crucial. We need to protect the application access, but also the identity of the user.

It is the job of the IT manager to prevent rogue agents from hijacking user identity and have access to all the different resources that the user is entitled to.

Identity theft has been identified in the Verizon 2019 report as the most common data breach, and if we add phishing attacks and stolen password, we get more than 50% of them. (1)

Breaches. Top threat action varieties in breaches

Protecting user identity

IT departments already understand that passwords are no longer an efficient way of protecting user identity.

It is difficult to manage application access based on passwords, as there are too many challenges:

  • Strong password complexity makes them hard to remember
  • Passwords should be unique to each app, which make them hard to remember
  • Passwords should rotate often which makes them difficult to manage and remember
  • Password manager web utilities can also bring security breaches

When deploying Webex, Cisco always recommends that our customers deploy it with a stronger authentication solution; at the same time, we recommend that the devices where Webex applications run are secure.

Strong authentication solution

Many customers want to enable all their applications with stronger authentication. Organizations realize that identity theft is the biggest security concern, and the traditional mechanisms for authentication are no longer effective.

Our customers talk about multifactor authentication (MFA), which means that their users need to provide two different types of authentication. There are three types of authentication mechanisms:

Strong authentication solution

Many vendors deliver these kinds of solutions; normally, we see them associated with Identity Provider (IdP) solutions. Those authentication policy servers, enforce the right authentication policy based on the different factor (location, application type, device type, etc.)

Today there is another trend in the identity market, where authentication mechanisms are people-centric and follow the Zero Trust mode. This allows secure connections to all applications (whether on-premises or in the cloud) based on the trustworthiness of users and devices. The Zero Trust mode enables the customer’s IT to set and enforce risk-based, adaptive access policies, and get enhanced visibility into users’ devices and activities. This concept is also known as Adaptive Authentication.

Cisco Webex right architecture

Cisco Webex has the right architecture to support the Zero Trust mode and allow secure connections based on the trustworthiness of users and devices.

Device validation and health

Device Validation and Health

Device assessment is a must in today’s organizations, identifying risky devices, enforcing contextual access policies, and reporting on device health.

Today organizations are mandated to follow many compliance goals, and they can achieve most of those using device access policies.

Verifying device health before granting access, to preventing exposing your applications to potential security risks is one of the best practices in modern application deployment models.

There are multiple types of devices that an organization’s users utilize every day when they use collaboration tools. Some of the devices are managed by the IT department, which already delivers some security insurance – but it isn’t enough. Some are unmanaged and owned by the employees, which brings interesting challenges from a security perspective.

Corporate managed devices/applications

CorporateManagedDevices:Applications

Normally there is a mix of solutions that can be used for corporate or managed devices, depending on the device type.

Some organizations use MDM/MAM for mobile devices, which allows them to create policies for the corporate application, for example:

  • Forcing PIN-lock
  • Preventing copy and paste
  • Disable screen capture
  • Remote wipe
  • Preventing tampering with devices
  • Requiring a minimum version of OS
  • Support for ECM
  • Requiring a minimum version of the corporate application

But since IT departments don’t manage only mobile devices, we also need to find a solution for desktops, and there we need to make sure that the corporate – managed applications are also aware of the security policies, and those apps could be aware of features like:

  • Versions of Browsers
  • OS versions and type
  • Disk encryption
  • Status on OS, Browsers, and Plugins
  • Firewalls
  • Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware

The protection of the application can be done by using the validations when the user logs in to the applications or during the application usage. The right mechanism, method, and deployment model needs to be chosen by IT administrations when they are in the deployment stage of those applications. The application vendors need to support any policy defined by the IT departments of those customers.

Cisco with Webex Collaboration doesn’t mandate any security strategy to protect the application, but we can integrate with any policy defined by our customer.

It is important that any application that deals with all the IP (Intellectual Property) produced by a company can follow all the policies that exist for devices and applications.

Non-managed devices

non managed devices

Devices that are owned by the users should not be excluded from the usage of a collaboration application. Examples of that are home computers, personal tablets, and mobile devices. Those devices are especially relevant in scenarios of working from home.

That is why corporate applications need to do extra check to make sure that they follow the minimum-security requirements imposed by the company security policies, for example:

  • The device has the firewall turned on
  • The device has an endpoint security tool, to protect against malware and viruses
  • The device doesn’t have a tampered OS

Normally these kinds of policies, for devices that are unmanaged, need to be enforced at login time.

Device/application visibility

Device:Application Visibility

One of the fundamental principles of good security is to understand your environment. But as environments get more complex with increasing reliance on cloud applications, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) allowances, and mobile and remote work, it’s progressively more difficult to gain that understanding.

For IT administrators, it is important that they have visibility on what devices each application is running; they also need to have visibility on the major characteristics of those devices.

Endpoint visibility also helps you understand and track important user behaviors such as how quickly end-users update their operating systems, browsers, or plugins. It also builds an understanding of when and how frequently end users log into work applications from their personal devices. Tracking these behaviors not only helps you set informed access policies but also helps tailor a more empathetic approach to different groups of users.

When it comes to security, trust Webex

Whether it’s the security of the Webex application itself or securing the devices that connect to it, Cisco Webex has security and privacy built into its DNA. Cisco has invested heavily in building a culture of security with the right checks and balances in place. Webex chooses secure default settings out of the box, thereby enabling users to start collaborating freely without having to worry about configurations. At the same time, Webex delivers a great user experience – one that doesn’t compromise security. That’s collaboration without compromise. That’s the Cisco security difference.

To learn more about Security and Compliance settings, go to the Cisco Webex Control Hub web page.

Resources

(1) Verizon 2019 report

Learn More

Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

Collaboration Without Compromise: A Security-First Approach to Remote Working

The World Has Changed — Security Should Transform to Stay Ahead

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April update of Webex Teams. Man using laptop at home
April update of Webex Teams

Another month and another exciting update of Webex Teams! Let’s talk about this April’s new features…

MESSAGING

Webex Teams Supports XMPP Messaging (Windows and Mac)

Are your colleagues using Jabber, Pidgin or another XMPP app? Now that Webex Teams supports XMPP, you’ll have the ability to send a plain text message to someone using an XMPP app. Your administrator can enable the XMPP communication and ensure that you can only communicate with people on XMPP apps from specific domains or organizations.

Webex Teams Supports XMPP

 

Webex Teams Supprts XMPP Messaging (Windows and Mac) _2

 

Make the Most of Your Message Area (Windows and Mac)

In group spaces (especially larger ones), when lots of people leave or are added around the same time, your message area can get clogged up with notifications that – maybe – aren’t all that important to you. Sometimes, this can cause you to lose context of messages sent before or after these in-space notifications. From now on, you’ll see these notifications grouped and collapsed, with the option to expand if you want to see more detail. This allows users to focus on the important stuff.

 Make the Most of Your Message Area (Windows and Mac)

Actions on Any Message (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

Sometimes you need to add a comment or context to a meeting that has been scheduled. Now you can! With this update, you’ll be able to perform all your messaging actions on a calendar invite in a space. This includes starting a thread, quoting or flagging the calendar invite when it appears in a space. On desktop, you’ll also be able to forward the calendar invite information to another space.

Actions on Any Message (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

 

Edit Message on Mobile (iPhone, iPad and Android)

How often do we send a message on mobile before we see we’ve misspelled something or forgotten a word? Too often!

We introduced Edit Message on desktop a while back, and now we’re excited to announce the arrival of this feature on mobile. No matter the mistake, you can now go back and edit your message as soon as it’s sent. No more embarrassing blunders! After you confirm the update, a note next to the message indicates that it’s been edited.

April Updates

CALLING ­

Webex Calling

Audio Quality Enhancements

Opus codec for calls is now supported between Multiplatform Phones, Webex Teams, and room devices. You’ll experience better sound quality and lower bandwidth usage.

Desk Phone Control (Windows and Mac)

Dial a number from the app on your desktop and your call goes through your desk phone. Pick up your handset, use your headset, or talk over your speakerphone on your phone.

We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling). We already support desk phone control in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this article for more information.

Transfer a Call (iPhone, iPad and Android)

Sometimes if you’re on a phone call, you need to transfer that call to someone else. Now you can. You’ll also have the chance to let the person know why you’re transferring the call to them.

Add a Pause to a Dial String (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

You can add a pause to an entered phone number, which you might need if you’re joining a conference call and need to enter numbers in response to the automated system. You can add a comma (,) to the number, which gives a 1-second delay in the dialing. You can add several commas in a row to extend the delay. You could enter something like: 95556543123,,,,56789.

We already support this feature in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help page for more details.

Emergency Calling (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If you make an emergency call in Webex Teams, the call is made using your device’s phone app, making it easier for Emergency Services to pinpoint your location through your network carrier.

Pull a Call from One Device to Another (iPad, iPhone and Android)

You can easily move an active call from one device to another. Take a call on your mobile app, and when you get to the office the office, simply pull the active call to your desktop. The active call moves to the new device and ends on the old device.

Direct Callback from Your Call History (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap to call someone back! Simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call that person back at the number they called you on. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

Unified CM

Auto-Discovery of Service Domain (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Your admin can make your life a lot easier by getting your service domain added automatically to your Phone Services settings in Webex Teams. That way, you don’t need to manually enter a domain and can sign in right away to use the advanced calling features available to you.

Adjust Your Device Volume and Preferences (Windows and Mac)

Get a wide range of audio options during your meetings or calls. When you’re in a call, you can adjust the speaker or microphone directly from the call or meeting window by clicking the three dots menu button and selecting Audio Options. You can also choose your preferred speaker and microphone, so that any new plugged in devices don’t get automatically selected. If you wish to go with your operating system’s devices, you can choose Use system setting and Webex Teams will follow suit. You can also access these options in Audio Preferences.

Make it Easier to Handle Calls from Anywhere (iPad, iPhone and Android)

Don’t worry about missing that important phone call because you’re away from your desk. You can have your work calls ring any phone number so when you get a call, Webex Teams rings plus any other numbers you set up. Unless you’re setting up phone numbers, you no longer have to go to settings.webex.com to turn on this feature. You can turn it on straight from the app.

We already support Single Number Reach in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. Check out this article for further information.

Direct Callback from your Call History (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap to call someone back! Simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call that person back at the number they called you on. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

Check your Voicemail (iPad, iPhone and Android)

No more missing calls in Webex Teams. If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams on your mobile, there will be an option in your Calls tab to manage your voicemails. There’s a red badge counter that lets you know how many voice messages you have. You can check out the details of a message, play it, mark it as read, delete it or call back the sender. After you’ve listened to your messages, either with Webex Teams or your deskphone, the red badge counter disappears.

Answer Calls without Sharing Video (iPhone, iPad and Android)

Bad hair day? On-the-go? You can choose to answer every Webex Teams call without sharing your video.

We already support this feature in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help doc for more details.

Emergency Calling (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If you make an emergency call in Webex Teams, the call is made using your device’s Phone app, making it easier for Emergency Services to pinpoint your location through your network carrier.

Forward your Phone Calls to Another Number (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If you’re going to be away from your desk but don’t want to miss an important phone call, you can forward your calls to another phone number. Or, if you don’t want to be interrupted, you can send all your calls to voicemail instead.

We already support Call Forwarding in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. Take a look at this help doc to find out more.

SECURITY

HITRUST certification for Webex Teams

“Developed by healthcare and IT professionals, the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) helps organizations by providing an efficient and prescriptive framework for managing the security requirements inherent in HIPAA.” (Source: HITRUST)

We know how important security is to our users. We are proud to announce that in Webex Teams, we are now HITRUST certified. This certification supports customers who must meet HIPAA compliance, such as in the healthcare industry. This work validates HIPAA compliance on Webex Teams, Control Hub & Webex API as certified platforms for storage of Personal Health Information (PHI). This expediates contracts & security reviews in addition to ISO27001 certification and SOC2 Type II reports.

HITRUST certification for Webex Teams- Wording TBC

For more information on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams, check out our help page 

Learn More

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Webex Meetings April 2020 Update: Better usability and more intelligence for smarter meetings
Webex Meetings April 2020 update: Better usability and more intelligence for smarter meetings

Webex Meetings is evolving every day to meet the needs of our customers especially with the rise in remote working. New features being released this month span from enabling more live streaming capabilities to support virtual events, to control hub enhancements for more secure meetings, to short cut integrations with Slack for improved usability, to enabling a better mobile meeting experience with more intelligence. In addition, we’ve expanded language support to now include Czech, Polish, Romanian and Hungarian – starting first on the mobile app and will soon to the desktop app.

Live stream your virtual events

One of the most significant features of this update is the ability to live stream Webex Meetings and Webex Events to more streaming platforms. In addition to existing support for Facebook Live, IBM Video Streaming and Vbrick, we are now also support streaming to YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Workplace for Facebook, and any other platform that supports the Real-time Messaging Protocol. With the number of virtual events on the rise, Webex Meetings and Webex Events are providing many more options to help you reach the widest possible audience. You can read more details in my recent blog on planning large virtual events.

Control Hub enhancements: Have you ever experienced an issue during a meeting and then have it disappear when IT comes to help? I think we all have, so we created a solution for this. As a new feature in Control Hub, IT admins can now join an “in progress” meeting from the troubleshooting page and experience the problem for themselves. Since more and more business-critical meetings are taking place via video conferencing, there has been an increased need for IT to be able to monitor those meetings and jump in to assist if things are not going well. This gives the IT admin more insight into the problem that the meeting participants are experiencing, ultimately allowing for a quicker resolution process.

Refining Webex integrations for better usability

Slack just recently introduced new shortcuts that provide simple, visual ways to interact with apps from anywhere in Slack. Users can quickly access shortcuts using a new lightning bolt icon next to the message input field, which gives you a pop-up menu with the following Webex actions:

  • List recordings
  • Schedule meeting
  • Show upcoming meetings
  • Start Webex meeting
  • Version information

When you select the action you would like to take, for example Start Webex Meeting, you will choose which channel or 1:1 conversation in which you would like to start the meeting, and then the Start Meeting/Join Meeting buttons will be displayed in the selected conversation. These shortcuts make it easier than ever to access Webex Meetings within the Slack channel – and it means no more slash commands.

WebexMeetingswithinthe SLACKchannel

We’ve also done more refinement with the Microsoft Teams integration, including the ability for hosts to share recordings directly within a Microsoft Teams channel. All meeting participants who are also in the MS Teams channel will be able to play the recording once it has been shared. This convenience means attendees will have recordings at their fingertips rather than having to go searching through email for recordings. In addition, meeting start/end notifications for meetings taking place in a Webex Personal Room will appear in the channel conversation stream.

WebexPersonalRoom

Smart mobile enhancements

This month, we’re bringing a number of features to make your mobile Webex meeting even more intuitive with low battery detection, People Insights on mobile, deeper Ford Sync 3 integration and video pin capabilities:

  • Webex Meetings will detect when your phone battery is low, proactively offering to turn off video and switch to audio only mode. This is available for iOS and Android devices. This feature is created to minimize disturbances during a meeting
  • Mobile Webex Meetings users will now be able to view People Insight profiles in the mobile app instead of being redirected to a browser. You now have everything you need to be prepared for a meeting in the mobile app. Meeting with a new co-worker or customer? Join the meeting prepared with some background information that will help break the ice.

Background Info

  • You can already start or join a Webex meetings from any Ford vehicle with Ford SYNC® 3 AppLink® enabled. While listening to a meeting, users will now be able to view who is actively speaking from their Ford SYNC 3 touchscreen without touching or looking at their phones.

Ford SYNC

This feature will help you be more in tuned with whoever is speaking while you’re participating from the road.

  • Video pin support: When hosting a meeting, it can be important for everyone to view the same speaker or content. Now on mobile, hosts can now pin a specific video for all the attendees to view. Keep everyone on the same page and help your meeting participants follow along.

For more details about Webex Meetings, please visit the Webex Help Portal

Learn More

See all the Webex Meetings updates here

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Serious woman using laptop checking email news online sitting on sofa, searching for friends in internet social networks or working on computer, writing blog or watching webinar, studying at home
How to create a video conferencing agenda

Hold engaging video calls with a meeting agenda ahead of time

Meetings can be a waste of time if not run properly. In fact, a 2019 study revealed the cost of poorly organized meetings would be $399 billion dollars, in the United States alone (1).

An important way to ensure meetings run smoothly and efficiently is to set an agenda prior to the call. Setting an agenda is important, so all attendees can come prepared. Often participants join a meeting, not knowing how to prepare, or what the meeting will be about. And as a result, a follow-up meeting is needed, making the first meeting more of a time-suck than a productive call.

Prioritize your time and energy

Before setting an agenda, consider these three things:

    1. Understand that you don’t have to solve every problem in one meeting

Think about what can be accomplished.

Meetings have different goals and priorities. While some are brainstorm meetings, others are status updates, or presentations on collected information or metrics data. The list goes on, but a single meeting shouldn’t try to fit everything into one. Before you set an agenda, understand what type of meeting you want to have. This will aid in how attendees prepare beforehand and in knowing how long to set the duration of the call.

      2. Consider making meetings shorter

Participants may be more engaged and less likely to multitask in a shorter meeting, knowing they can get back to their work.

Video conferencing calls don’t have to be a designated 30 minutes or 1 hour long. Yes, it’s true that sometimes that amount time is needed, but consider other approaches. For example, let’s take a brainstorm call. Try setting the meeting for 20 minutes and have participants come prepared with ideas they can share for the first 10 minutes. Then, in the second half of the call, have people try and think of additional ideas as a group. After the call, you can narrow down the ideas and send them out, and let people vote. Or set up a second, 10-minute call to walk through the top three and do a final vote.

For a read-out call, sometimes people fill space with information that is too in-the-weeds if there is not clear direction given. Consider setting a shorter call and instruct the presenter to give the top three bullet points and top three lessons learned. Or top three things that can be improved upon. This will shorten calls and keep people focused. If people are interested in more information, they can follow up outside the call.

3. Don’t be afraid of trial and error

Meetings can look and feel different. Try various methods to see what works best for your company.

People work in different ways. What may work for someone, may not work for others. After a meeting, ask for feedback. You may be surprised in what people have to say.

How to plan for and contribute to meetings

What should your agenda look like?

Based on the meeting type, consider:

  • What is the objective of the meeting?
  • How long the meeting should last?
  • How many people need to be on the call?
  • Who will need to talk/present?
  • Should everyone on the invite actually be on the call? (this is important because you don’t want people to feel like their time is being wasted)
  • How long each of those people need to convey information?

An example agenda:

Objective of call:

Example Agenda

At the bottom of the agenda (or within it), you can request what each person needs to do to prepare, or what they need to bring to the meetings. For example, do they need to send slides over beforehand? Should they come with one question to ask, etc.?

Additionally, it’s important to let presenters/participants know how much time they have, beforehand. In fact, to keep a meeting on track, you can give a 2-5-minute warning before the transition to the next topic and presenter. Because everyone will have seen the agenda and time allocated, the switch will be smoother and it won’t feel like someone is being cut off.

One last note

Remember, meeting templates can look very different based on the type of meeting. So, create yours to fit your business needs and detail it with as much or little information as it needs. You can experiment to see what works better with your employees.

Preparing for every meeting with a clear objective and thoughtful agenda will ensure a more productive and efficient use of time for everyone involved. Taking the time up front, will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of each and every meeting.

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

Reference

(1) 2019 study on poorly organized meetings

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Irene and Troy
Irene and Troy – A Webex wedding!

A virtual wedding on Webex

Irene Ingham and Troy Mitchell entered 2020 as a newly engaged couple with all the excitement and anticipation of being wed in the company of loved ones. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, a monumental pivot would be required if the wedding were to take place and so the couple decided to get married on Webex.

“This simply worked for us because we were able to share this special day with my entire family from the comfort of their own homes.” said Irene, “A lot of them are on the East Coast and my dad is older, so we knew that travel would not be easy. This was the best way to get everyone together and we were able to include more people than would have otherwise been possible. Plus, it gave us all something to look forward to! Most importantly, I was still able to get married and we were able to do it in a truly memorable and unique way thanks to the support of a company I love working for, Cisco.”

How one connection changed everything

Irene, a communications manager at Cisco, met Troy two years ago on Bumble, the social networking app where women make the first move and must initiate the conversation. Needless to say, that first conversation took place and the couple began their dating journey as they bonded over similar interests including their Christian faith and love of family, fitness, food and fun. Irene shared that she’s never laughed as much as she has with Troy and that this light-hearted, joyful approach to life is what made the shift to a virtual wedding so easy.

“At Bumble, we’re believers that one connection can change the course of your life, and we love that Irene and Troy are a great example of this,” said Chelsea Cain Maclin, Bumble’s Vice President of Marketing. “During this time, we see that our community of 90 million worldwide is practicing physical distancing at home. That said, we don’t want our users to distance socially just because they’re physically apart. It’s incredible to see how our community is being creative during these times, whether it’s by going on a virtual date with someone you matched with on Bumble or an entire virtual wedding experience.”

Focusing on an authentic experience for the couple and their guests

The wedding took place on Friday, April 24th in the scenic backyard of Irene and Troy’s El Dorado Hills home. Physically present with the couple were two of their daughters, Alexis and Sage. Everyone else, including family, friends, and colleagues, joined online. Everyone was dressed in their own wedding attire, brought their own drinks to toast, and watched the nuptials via a private Webex video sharing session. In preparation for the big day, Cisco went the extra mile to ensure an intimate experience for all the guests of this online wedding experience. The Cisco collaboration team provided the couple with a Cisco TelePresence SX10 Quick Set, a video system that sits atop a flat-panel display, and uses a VPN router for remote control of the camera during the wedding. With the display positioned in front of the couple, it was as if each excited attendee was actually there, celebrating this moment with the couple in their own backyard.

Cisco TelePresence SX10 Quick Set

Blessing for the union goes beyond measure

Weddings are one of life’s most joyous occasions and this wedding was no different. While friends and family joined from all over the country via Webex, everyone brought their love and joy to share with the couple. Joining from South Carolina, Irene’s father was unable to physically walk his daughter down the aisle and instead provided a recording to be shared with all expressing, in his wonderful Greek accent, the depth of his love and happiness for Irene. “I said Dad, just say what you’d say if you were standing at the altar giving me away,” said Irene.

Angelo Kornaros

Guests get transported to the ‘I do’

The ceremony incorporated as much of their family as possible. Irene’s brother, David Kornaros, ordained minister and Cisco employee officiated the wedding over Webex from South Carolina. Irene’s other brother Steven joined from Mariposa, California, and with his two daughters serenaded the couple with a wedding song. Special video messages expressing their joy for the couple were sent by Irene’s parents from South Carolina, Troy’s parents from Nevada, and their two other daughters who were in Washington and Texas. With over 200 people attending the virtual wedding from their homes across America, this was truly a country-wide gathering with social distancing of one to 2,400 miles.

webex wedding party

“We both love hi-tech and have always worked for innovative companies so it’s perfect that we have the opportunity to get married in such a unique way.” said Irene, “One of the things I love most in our relationship is that we’re always trying to find the positive in situations. Video conferencing is part of our daily work life, so we’re very comfortable bringing our wedding into a virtual setting where we can share our joy and make it fun for everybody, including ourselves.”

webex wedding

A Webex reception to remember

To round off this incredible occasion, Cisco and Bumble joined forces to bring the happy couple and their virtual guests one final surprise. Joining live from Nashville via a Cisco Webex Desk Pro was Billboard’s Top New Country Artist and ACM New Male Artist of the Year nominee, Jordan Davis. Irene and Troy enjoyed their first dance as husband and wife to the hit, Slow Dance in a Parking Lot which was then followed by 2 group dances (Singles You Up & So Do I).

Jordon Davis

With so many events having been cancelled or postponed, this wedding is a great example of how technology and creativity can come together to deliver a uniquely beautiful and memorable moment that brought joy to the couple and all who attended.

“We are so grateful that Bumble brought us together to fall in love and that Webex was there to help us tie the knot.”

See how others are staying connected with their #LifeonWebex

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How videoconferencing supports the triple bottom line.glass planet in a forest with sunshine - Usa map
How videoconferencing supports the triple bottom line

Here at Cisco we are all about collaboration – especially real-time, face-to-face collaboration. The adoption of video collaboration technologies also has important implications on a company’s triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. So, in the light of Earth Day 2020 we thought we would reiterate some of the benefits video conferencing technologies bring to businesses, the people that work for them, and for the planet we live on.

People

Video conferencing empowers people to own their schedule, better integrate their work and personal lives, and offers them the freedom to get stuff done wherever they are. Employees are not only employees, they are parents, siblings, friends, errand-running multi-taskers that need the flexibility of structuring their own workdays. In a study by Forrester on the economic impact of deploying Cisco Webex Meetings + Webex Rooms, companies  found that employees described that the “simplicity afforded by being able to start meetings and share content from a mobile device or to connect to a Webex video device makes movement between the home office and work office effortless.”

Cisco Webex Meetings + Devices also removes some of the barriers that comes with siloed organizational structures. Video provides a human-centric way of collaborating, and allows employees to make deeper connections within the company by reading into body language and non-verbal cues. The importance that connecting with and trusting your colleagues holds for wellbeing in the workplace cannot be underestimated. When physical lunchbreaks and watercooler conversations are out of the question, employees can still meet face-to-face with videoconferencing technologies. See how to create a virtual watercooler with your team (internal and/or external members).

Staying up to date with technology in a fast moving world, concept. A young Asian woman is using an innovative future technology to view her phone data and functions in holographic display around her

Planet

One of the most crucial benefits that videoconferencing can have on the planet, is reduced CO2 emissions from business travel. With Webex Meetings + Webex Rooms, you can interact with colleagues, partners and customers from remote corners of the world with the touch of a button. International, executive, c-suite meetings shouldn’t be equivalent with airline miles: with dedicated room systems such as the Cisco Webex Room Panorama, you can meet eye-to-eye and feel like you are in the same room from across the globe.

According to the 2017 data from Global Workplace Analytics, remote workers have the same effect on air quality as planting a forest. They also estimate that remote workers who work outside of the office 2-3 days a week have the potential of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons every year. By deploying and adopting Cisco Webex video collaboration software and hardware you are empowering your employees, helping reduce travel-related greenhouse gas emissions, all whilst experiencing true meeting magic.

Cisco Webex video collaboration software and hardware.Cropped shot of a handsome young man making notes while working at home

Profit

Then there’s profit. Not always the most exiting topic, but it is something that is essential for maintaining a healthy business. Forrester found that businesses that implemented Cisco Webex Meetings + Devices reported productivity increases from reduced time starting meetings, saving over $21.3 million dollars in productivity costs.

Further, less miles travelled means bigger travel cost savings: “After organizations got a taste for how real the video and holistic collaboration experience was, they started exploring ways to reduce travel costs. Interviewees reported IT teams choosing to hold annual meetings virtually instead of in-person, saving over $100,000 in their first year.”

Read the full Forrester TEI report here

Learn More

What Earth Day, Day, and Carbon Footprints Have in Common

How Cisco Moved its Entire Workforce to Remote In 10 Days  

Enhancing Sustainability and Social Responsibility Through Collaboration with Cisco Webex

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

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

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

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

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

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

No boundaries

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

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

Get started with whiteboards

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

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

It’s alive!

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

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

Share It

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

Examples of where to use whiteboards

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

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

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

Experience the future of work with Webex

Learn more

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

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Webex Teams — say hello to the new in-space design

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Working remotely with Webex. Office desk workspace and table background from top view above flat lay objects. Modern minimal design desktop for creative working. Minimalism concept.
Tips for WFH when everyone else is home

Stay on track from home with Webex

So, you’re working remotely how’s it going? If you’re like most people, its an entirely new experience. If you’re like me, you’re dealing with parenting, homeschooling, limited personal space, and cabin fever, all while keeping up with work. 

I’ve been a remote worker for six years now, thanks to tools I use every day like Cisco AnyConnect VPN, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Webex Teams. The transition to working remotely was easy for me back when I was all alone in my home office, my husband was away working in his office, and my kids were in school. Now that everyone in my household is working and schooling from home, I’ve had to make some adjustments. 

I’ve gathered a few real-world tips here for any of you who, like myself, are not only remote working, but also at-home parenting, teaching, self-caring, and everything else we’re doing in our homes now. 

1) Wake up, take a shower, and get dressed

  • Keeping some semblance of a normal routine has been crucial for me. I’ve gotten some time back in the mornings since I’m not getting my kids up, making them breakfast, and getting them off to school early in the morning any longer. Now, I get to enjoy a shower, drink my coffee, take care of my appearance, and revel in a little quiet time before all my new “coworkers” are awake and my workday begins.
     
  • When getting dressed, I go for a “business on top, yoga on the bottom” look. I’m on video meetings all day long, so maintaining a professional experience is necessary (usually, I can only be seen from the waist up). However, there are times I have to stand up and walk around, so being appropriately dressed on the bottom is important! No one wants to be that Webex legend who was on a meeting with no pants. Yikes!
     
  • I recommend dressing all your new “coworkers,” too—kids, spouses, partners, or anyone else who’s at home with you. Unexpected cameos in video meetings are common, and we’re guessing your family doesn’t want to be Webex legends either. Here’s my husband crushing the look. 

I recommend dressing all your new “coworkers,” too—kids, spouses, partners, or anyone else who’s at home with you. Caroline Wright's husband wearing a dark blue jacket a lilac button up shirt with purple and lilac tie wearing khaki shorts

2) Make it clear to family or roommates when you’ll be available and when you will be in meetings

  • I have a 14yearold, a 9yearold, and a 47yearold. They all need me or want to speak with me throughout the day. I have learned to set clear expectations for when I’ll be available and when my office is off-limits. I typically accomplish this by yelling at everyone about five minutes before my meeting starts: “I am about to start a meeting! I’ll be done at 3 pm!” or “I am in a customer/public meeting until noondo not come in my office, and NO FIGHTING!”
     
  • This won’t always be successful. My sons and husband have wandered into my office at times. If this happens to you, don’t sweat it. Life happens. Everyone is settling in to this new way of working, so forgive yourself and others if this happens to them, too. If your kids are feeling lonely, share your space with them. My younger son likes to bring his laptop into my office and sit next to me doing his quiet work while I’m on my video meetings–he knows how to stay out of camera view, and it’s fun for me to have him there beside me, both of us working sidebyside.
     
  • Be aware that others are in the same boat, juggling kids and priorities while doing their best to show up professionally as well. Grace and patience are something we all need to keep in mind for ourselves, as well as the people we’re working with.

3) Make the most out of your remote work environment

  • If you’re going to be on video meetings, make sure you have soft, natural lighting and that your surroundings are “video ready. Working from your bedroom? Make your bed and scoot that pile of dirty laundry out of view. Working from a shared space? Buy a screen to place behind youit will block out any of your surroundings so the focus can be on you. Many online retailers sell a variety of beautiful folding screens that can be used while you’re working and folded and put away when you are done. 

CarolineWright'ssonphotobombinghermeeting. Son peaking in from behind the door wearing red hoodie while Caroline wearing a white dress jacket and black glasses sees reflection and shows a smirk

  • A personal video endpoint device like the Cisco Webex DX80 is a gamechanger, but video works great with laptops and mobile devices, too! For the best video experience with any device, ensure your video camera is at an ideal level. You’ll want your camera at or above eye level to avoid the unfortunate “camera up the nose” look or the dreaded double chin.

    If you don’t have a fancy laptop stand, use a stack of books, puzzles, or an empty box to ensure your laptop and camera are at an appropriate viewing angle. You want to make sure you show up nicely in your video view. Before joining a Webex Meeting, you will see a preview of your video, which is the perfect time to adjust your hair or your camera angle.   

remote office laptop atop board games including roundies and cadoo on top of a foldable table and rocking chair used as a deskchair

  • Anywhere can be a remote office. Use what you have!
  • Use a headset. I love, love, love my headset. It has excellent noisecanceling capabilities, so when my kids decide to reenact WWE or my dog goes crazy barking at squirrels, that background noise doesn’t make it into my meetings. As a best practice, I keep my line muted when I’m not speaking or presenting. When I do speak, it’s great to know those noises won’t become a distraction for the other folks in my meeting. The headset also helps me tune out the distractions that may be happening in my house.

4) Block out time on your calendar for lunch and breaks

  • Seriously. Do this. Especially if you have kids who aren’t old enough to make their own lunches, launch their virtual classroom tools, or just need some hugs during this crazy time. Blocking out time on your calendar helps ensure you are taking care of yourself and those who depend on you. It also lets coworkers know when you’re unavailable. Take a break. Eat lunch with your partner or kids, walk outside (six feet away from others, of course), put that stack of laundry in the washing machine.

I hope these tips will help you adjust to working remotely. Please reach out to me with any questions on how my family and I are making this new life work for us. We’re not perfect, but we’re making it work, and I’m happy to share our experiences. 

Learn more with guidance on working remotely

Learn More

Embracing the rise of remote working 

How video improves communication during any conference call

Getting more done in less time with Webex

About the Author, Caroline Wright

Caroline WrightCaroline leads the Enablement efforts for Cloud Collaboration Customer Success at Cisco. She is passionate about creating a welcoming culture where ongoing development and education deliver a world-class Customer Success team for Cisco’s Collaboration suite.

Before Cisco, Caroline had over 10 years of SaaS industry experience in sales, customer service, and training. She lives in Holly Springs, North Carolina, outside the state capital of Raleigh with her husband, two sons, and their dog. She loves going to the beach, traveling, reading, 90’s hip hop, and honing her mad trivia skills. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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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.

Learn More

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How to launch a community with Webex Teams. Young woman looking at video
How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Learn best practices and the tools needed to use Teams like a boss

Webex is known for the Meetings platform, but the newest addition to Webex is a complete collaboration platform called Webex Teams. Teams is a messaging app with video conferencing capabilities built-in. It is an extremely secure solution with bots, integrations, desktop sharing functionality and more. This article will go over what Webex Teams is and how to use it when starting a virtual community as a resource space for a FAQ, office hours, or even an office watercooler. Don’t know what Webex Teams is? Here is a quick overview.

 

Why Webex Teams over Facebook Groups or other chat apps

  • Facebook is a great tool and I use it for my family and friends, but it can be too distracting to get work done as you can get constantly wooed away by shiny distractions in the news feed and sidebar.
  • Extremely secure. Our model has a core layer and a security layer that are kept separate from one another. See Security Whitepaper.
  • We don’t sell and collect data
  • Video, whiteboarding and desktop sharing is native within the app
  • No multiple account logins or workspaces. You can have different people from different companies join your Webex Team space without switching between different organizations to messages users. Email doesn’t function like that. Neither does Webex Teams.
  • Teams can also display the presence status of end-users if they’ve been away, are in Do-Not-Disturb state, on a video (orange camera icon), sharing their desktop (red rectangular icon) or on a phone call. The bottom image provides the avatars of end-users that have read your messages, such as green as available or red crescent moon for Away/DND.
No alt text provided for this imagePrescense Notifications.
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Read receipt avatars.
  • Webex Teams is FREE
  • No messaging search limits or restrictions
  • Search everything.  Searched keyword, user, date, or another parameter. Attach files, like PDFs and Word docs, and search within those files too.
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Search tab and options.

A virtual community use case – Webex Ambassadors

We will use the Webex Ambassador Community as a case study for this article. Webex Ambassadors started as Spark Ambassadors back in 2016 as an internal Webex community of developer evangelists and it has evolved and grown over the years. This community now has over 2,600 members globally. It also includes various Special Interest Group spaces for various topics. I will break the article down into five categories to start your community.

  1. Promoting Your Community
  2. Setting up Webex Teams
  3. Managing Your Community
  4. Bots & Integrations
  5. Tips & Tricks

Promoting your community

Landing page

The first thing you want to do is have a site that gives users an overview of what they are joining. You can check out ambassador.webex.com. Here is our “Join Now” call to action button to join the community.

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Code of conduct & community guidelines

These are policies or best practices for your community. You want to make sure you cover rules of engagement, ethics and legal issues, spam, and how users can post. Here is an example of the Ambassador Code of Conduct & Guidelines. Every user must agree to the code of conduct before they can join the space. This is listed in our web form.

Inviting users & automation with a sign-up form

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Here are some cool tricks you can do with Webex Teams workflow integrations. Having an auto-sign up using Typeform or Google Forms is rather easy. Applications like Zapier or Built.io makes it a lot easier to integrate these applications. For example, you can have a workflow that once a person signs up on Formidable Forms, they are added into a mailer, like Mailigen, then added to Smartsheets and then finally added into Webex Teams.

We have other ways end users can join your community spaces such as using the bots and integrations. We will dive more about this in the Bots & Integrations section.

Install the desktop & mobile Teams app

First, download the Webex Teams app. You can use Teams on multiple devices, from the browser on your computer’s desktop to a mobile phone. It’s best to use the native desktop app instead of the browser as it will have more features.

Setting up Webex Teams

  • Create a team, a space and add moderators. The video below will show how to create a team and a space. If you need an overview of what a Team and Space, it is explained hereWebex Jargon: In the Webex world, we call “channels”, “spaces” because we associate them to physical spaces, but just virtualized. If you ever have to use the Webex app with a Webex Rooms video device, you’ll see it associate to a space (not using Bluetooth) using ultrasonic frequency pairing for desktop sharing and video conferencing purposes. That office space also has a physical video device tied to that virtual space in Teams. Check out a demo here.
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Note: Cisco Intelligent Proximity pairing uses high-frequency sound in the 20kHz to 22kHz audio frequency range to establish a connection. Here, Webex Teams is my app to control my work from home device, the Cisco Webex Desktop Pro.

Here is a quick video on how to first create a Team and then a Space in Webex.

 

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  • Create a space. Click on the “+” icon to create a space and give it a name. Here we will call it “Webex Community.”
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  • Add members. Next, go to “Members” and add a team member. You can add them by entering the user’s email address.
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  • Add moderators. Once you add them, you can “right-click” on the name and “Assign Moderator of the Team.”
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  • Manage & customize your space. Here we will add space icon images and disable the function of @all as it can be annoying if there are thousands of people in a space being notified. We will also recommend converting the “General” space into an “Announcement Mode” space. If you need to share important information with your team, without the distraction from other conversations happening in the space, you can use announcement mode in any moderated space just for announcements. On teams, the only space that’s moderated is the General space so that’s the only space where you can use announcements. Only the space moderators can post in Announcement Mode spaces.
  1. To enable, go to the General space -> Moderator settings -> “Disable @mentions to all” and “Turn on Announcement Mode.” Once enabled, users will see this notification.
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  • Add a space name and image. You can change any space name except the General space for your team. Furthermore, any member can change these details unless the space is moderated, then it must be done by a moderator. You can also change a space picture, by uploading a picture for the space. The file has to be under 10 MB and ideally a square image between 200×200 pixels and 1000×1000 pixels.
  1. To change the Space image, go to Edit space settings -> Click on the camera icon and “Add Image.”
  2. To change the Space name, double click the space field to enter a name.
  • Public or private spaces. Creating a moderated space means that only moderators can add users to the Team. By default, all spaces are a Private space or an invite-only space. Public spaces can be created if you add the EURL bot, which we will discuss later. Overall, this is how you can control who joins your community.
  • Enable restrictions for guests in Team spaces through Webex Control Hub. Webex Control Hub is the administrator portal page to configure Webex. As a moderator, you don’t need access to this, but if you want to set various global permissions, you need to ask your administrator to grant you access to set this up. One example is to control how people are added as guests to team spaces, they aren’t members of that team. You can prevent these guests from adding and removing participants, changing the space name, and editing space settings.
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  1. Go to admin.webex.com -> Services -> Scroll to “Team Guest Restrictions”
  2. Toggle Enable restrictions for team guests to on.

Managing your community

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  • Multiple moderators. As your community grows, it is ideal to have multiple moderators to help monitor if chats are in compliance, to delete inappropriate messages, add or remove bots, and to perform backup moderator tasks. Bonus Tip: Try to have moderators from different parts of the globe to cover various time zones for additional support.
  • Post rules on a monthly or quarterly basis. It’s always good to remind your community the do’s and don’ts when posting in a space. Here’s an example of what we send in our Ambassador space. Note that this is a template using Markdown formats and then how it would look like rendered in the space.

Hello 👋🏻 Ambassadors, we want to share a few **Ambassador house rules!**

**Rules** 📜

  1. 💬 Before asking questions in a space, please check Google or specifically the [Help Portal.](help.webex.com)
  2. ❓If you can’t find your answer, post your question in the appropriate community space. For example, technical questions should be posted in the Engineering space.  Learn about these Community Spaces [here.](https://ambassador.webex.com/webex-teams-communities/)
  3. 👊🏻 To help us keep it fun, helpful, safe, and friendly, we ask that you comply with our [Community Code of Conduct.](https://ambassador.webex.com/code-of-conduct/)
  4. 🙊 Do not use the **@all command, create a new Space, add bots or add users to the Spaces without [signing up as a Candidate.](https://ambassador.webex.com/ambassadors/)**
  5. 🤔 If you have support questions, including certificates, please direct your message @ModeratorName.

Let me know in a DM if you have any other suggestions or have questions.

**Have a great weekend.**


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  • Notifications. A space can get noisy especially with thousands of users messaging. You can customize how you want to be notified in a space.
  1. Go to the Space -> Settings Icon -> Notifications. As a moderator, I only respond to @Mentions only.

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  • Place a spotlight on power members of your community. Whether you’re highlighting customer stories, testimonials, or users who represent success, take an opportunity to frequently recognize stars in your own community.

Bots & integrations

Below are some essential bots to help you start and grow your virtual community.

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  • Email2Teams bot. The email2teams bot will take all the participants in an email thread and migrate the conversation to Webex Teams. This is a great way to invite new users to Webex Teams as anyone not already signed up for Teams receives an email invitation. Once registered, they’re automatically added to the space. Here’s how to use the bot.
  1. Open your email. In the ‘To’ line, add the emails of the users you want to invite in the space. In the BCC line, add “bot@email2teams.com” (the ‘To’ & ‘CC’ fields won’t work).
  2. The bot receives your email, creates a Teams space with the ‘Subject’ as the title, then leaves.
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  • EURL. The EURL bot is short for “External URL.” The intention of this bot is to create a public space and provide a URL where users can click the link, enter their email and join the space. Let’s add the bot, “eurl@sparkbot.io” to the space.
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  1. Once you add the bot to the space, it will provide you various commands. Here we will open up this space externally to users outside our organization email domain, which is capitalfactory.com.
  2. To add external users outside capitalfactory.com, type “Eurl internal off”
  3. The URL that was generated is: https://eurl.io/#vHLeL9CMF Feel free to join the space to test the bot out.
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  • Once you click on the EURL link, an end-user can join this space by clicking on the URL that was generated. You can learn more about the bot here on the Webex App Hub.
  • Power Pack. This is a very handy tool that is used to invite new users to a new space or into an existing space. It is a free service that bulk add users by uploading a CSV file. You can also send broadcast messages to multiple spaces at once. Learn more about the bot here.
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  • Translate bot. There are a lot of translator bots on the Apphub like Chinese, German, Filipino, French, and more. You can add these bots into a space. Here is an example of an English to Spanish bot for our LATAM Ambassador community. You just @mention the bot and enter the text you need to be translated. You can learn more about the bot here.

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  • Inquire bot. This bot isn’t meant to be deployed in large spaces, but it has been proven useful in areas where there needs a way to track FAQ or in this case bugs. In this example, this is an internal space to post bugs for Webex Teams. You can see users posting images and answers and then engineers and product managers posting an answer in the space and it automatically ties into Jira to create a case. The Inquire bot is a knowledge base bot and has three main functions.
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1) Ask Questions – Capture questions that were asked inside a Teams space. Here the end-user is asking to file a bug and is @mentioning the Inquire bot.

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2) Get Answers – Provide a way to answer those questions and ensure the original questioner receives the information they need. You can @mention the bot and answer in the space, or you can click on the “here” link and answer on the web as well.

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3) Gather Knowledge – Assemble a knowledge base of all the information that is gathered amongst Teams spaces. You can also export the FAQ to a CSV file.

You can learn more about the Inquire bot here or check out the demo video below.

  • Webex Ambassador welcome bot. This is just an example bot to welcome new Ambassadors to our Webex community and outlines a set of rules to adhere to. The bot will 1:1 the new user that is added to the space and send them this message. The bot monitors new memberships and must be in the same space the end-users are joining. The code is on Github if you would like to implement it for your own community.

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Tips & tricks

  • Space titles with EURL. Having a title is important. If you want an external space and not having people to @mention the bot to know what the space URL is, it’s best to add it in your title. Here is an example title for the xAPI Developer space with the EURL link.
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  • Use reactions as a way to poll users or use Pollbot. Here is an example to use the “thumbs up” as a way to poll users. You can use reactions or if you want to get more detailed you can use various applications like PollBot or you can use free web polls like Polltab.
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  • Use threads. Make sure people are aware of the “Reply to Thread” option to keep communications easy to read. Just hover over the message and the “reply” arrow will appear.
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Reply thread conversation.
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  • Support spaces. Within Webex Ambassadors, we created a specific space for support. On our website, we specifically told users to join this space for issues with their certificates or application. This helps cut down noise in the General or main community space. You also want to make sure your moderators will be seen by your end-users as support. Be prepared for this.
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  • Create a space directory. There are a lot of communities and spaces you can provide for your company by creating a directory website. These spaces, people can join by click on the”Join” created by the EURL bot. You visit this actual site, here.
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Final thoughts

Overall, this is just a quick way to start a community in Webex Teams.

If you have questions, leave a comment. If you find this article helpful, please follow me and share this blog! 👍🏼

Bot credits

Thank you for the following people making the Ambassador Community bots. Note that if the bot isn’t on AppHub, it isn’t Cisco TAC supported. Cisco owned Integrations include: Email2Teams. This bot was created by former Webex Innovation Team Member, Marcello Federico. The following bots were funded by the Webex Innovation Team and created for Ambassadors: EURL bot created by Cisco TME Randy Birdsall; Power-pack.io created by former Cisco SE, Brad McAllisterInquire Bot, created by former Webex Innovation Team Member, Aman ChabraWebex Ambassador Welcome Bot on GitHub, created by Cisco SE Marcel Neidinger.

Learn More

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

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams — say hello to the new in- space design

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Make online learning more effective with these best practices. Young woman student working on laptop sitting in library at home
Make online learning more effective with these best practices

Implementing best practices in online learning

As more and more learning moves online, educators and students are scrambling to figure out how to make online education effective. The research team at Cisco Webex spent time with educators and students to understand their needs and challenges in the online learning environment. Based on the interviews with 39 educators and students in the US and Europe, we have compiled a list of best practices that could help educators and students to get the most out of online learning.

Educators:

  • Test Class If this is your first virtual class, then do a test class with a colleague. This will help you get acquainted with the meeting tool. Test out scenarios that includes sharing screen, muting the microphone, turning off and on the video and muting students
  • For the actual class itself, join the meeting 10 minutes early and ask your students to join early as well to iron out any audio or video issues before the beginning of class.
  • Effective role-taking If taking attendance is required for your class – call out names and have students feel comfortable talking through their microphone. This is more effective in a small class scenario.
  • Class engagement To ensure class engagement, structure your class into 15-20 min intervals spaced by activities that involve discussion with everyone. Additionally, ensure you content is a mix of one-way lecture as well as content sharing (using screen-share) which can bring variety to the class.
  • Improve engagement Class engagement can also be improved by having students type their questions into chat. Have the chat panel open and try and keep an eye if questions are coming in.
  • Having your video on during the lecture will help students feel comfortable about sharing theirs and help them be more engaged. See how video improves communication during any conference call
  • Encourage your students to have their video on – this will help you understand how to the class is feeling and also help students be more focused. See how turning on your video is a better way to communicate.
  • Record classes so students can go back to it when in need
  • In case of ambient or background noise coming from one of the participants in the call – as a host you can mute that participant during class or even mute all if needed.
  • Schedule office hours online with students to ensure they are doing okay with the transition to online classes. This also presents an opportunity for students to provide their feedback
  • If possible, end class 5 minutes early so students have the time to switch to their next class in time.

Students:

  • Thwart technical issues Check your audio and video settings to ensure that they are working properly. If possible, join the class a few minutes early to triage any technical issues.
  • Chat Use the chat option to interact with your peers as well as your educator. Check out how to get started with Webex Online Classes
  • Office hours Connect with your educators 1:1 during office hours for follow-up questions and clarifications.
  • Video on Keep your video on so your instructor as well as peers can see you. However, if you experience bandwidth issues, turn off your video so you don’t miss out on the class.

Please be on the lookout in this space as we share more tips on how to improve online education experience based on our research and connect with all of our blogs here.

Learn More

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 About the Cisco Webex Research Team

Kathryn Parkes, Senior UX Researcher
Kathryn is an experienced user researcher based in Dublin, Ireland reporting into San Jose. As a member of the UX Research team, she leads research projects across the Webex Suite working with various Cisco Collab teams in Ireland, US and across Europe. The team use a broad variety of research methods, including user interviews, usability testing and benchmarking studies, to get a deep understanding of Webex user needs.

Varshine Chandrakanthan, Designer User Experience
Varshine loves observing people and their actions – hence she decided to become a User Researcher. She is passionate about creating an impact to people’s lives and loves to volunteer for education and human rights programs. Her interests include designing tattoos, illustrating for books, eating cake and meditating.

Mani Pande, User Experience Manager
Mani leads the user research team in San Jose. Her team is responsible for understanding the needs of Webex users to inform product strategy and direction, and ensure that the software we ship is not only simple and easy to use, but also delightful. You can find her and her team members huddling with Webex users understanding how they use our software and mapping opportunities of improvement. In another life, Mani worked as a reporter for the Times of India, India’s largest selling newspaper, covering media and crime. Outside of work, Mani loves to travel, cycle, run and cook. She posts photos of food that she cooks and places she visits on Instagram.

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The Ultimate Webex Events Guide from Start to stream in under 2 minutes. Happy smiling business man using digital tablet
The ultimate Webex Events guide: From start to stream in under 2 minutes

Using Webex Events to live stream

In a digital-first world, companies are rethinking their everyday means of communication. So in a time when digital events are becoming more common, how can we continue to enjoy the physical events, digitally?

Cisco Webex has several solutions to help address this. Here, I’ll walk you through how easy it is to use Webex Events, or known as Webex Event Center, to do a live stream. This blog came about after assisting Capital Factory, USAF and AFWERX, to virtually host their SXSW conference. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Tech & Logistics Dr. Will Roper were among the main speakers for this live event. In less than 48 hours of planning, they were able to virtualize an 8-hour event using 15 different Webex Event panels, which hosted over 122 panelists, and 184 Webex attendees. This also included a Webex integration into a Youtube live stream bringing together close to 5,000 people from different parts of the world. You can check out Capital Factory’s blog on how they pulled it off here.

Capital Factory & AFWERX Live Stream

Here’s a great overview of what Webex Events can do.

Scoping your event

The first question I get about live streaming an event is, “Why should I use Webex instead of Facebook Live, YouTube, or other live streaming services?” The simple answer is this: if you want to bring in multiple people around the world in a panel format, do live audio Q&A, and also stream out to attendees, this is the best solution. Furthermore, with Webex Events, you can also have up to 200 dedicated endpoints to be in the Panelist meeting. Endpoints will always provide the best audio and HD video experience in meetings. However, you can also use an HDMI/USB Camera switcher or adapter card if you do not have a Cisco endpoint and use your own video camera to record the event. Below is a list of the main differences of Webex Meetings vs Webex Events. Note that you still can use Webex Meetings for Live Events.

Webex Events vs Webex Meetings

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Virtual event planning

Let’s take a step back on what Webex is. Imagine that you were at the physical event and on-site. You would have to visit each floor or room to see the actual event. Here, we created 15 different Webex Event links or URLs. Imagine these links as a “virtual room.” You will provide and invite your panelists and attendees to these links. Since Capital Factory had 15 different panels, 15 different Webex links had to be generated.

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If you’re curious, how Capital Factory structured the event, you can see it here.

Understanding Webex Event roles

There are four main user roles in Webex Events. The Attendee, which is the viewer joining your event and then the Panelists, which include the Host and Presenter. Below is a consolidated list of the roles of the Panelists. Think of the Host as the admin or creator of the event that can mute, un-mute, expel users, start the recording, and answer Q&A’s. The Presenter has some of the same capabilities as the host, but you want to have a specific user focused on their tasks for the online event. We recommend a minimum of two Panelists (Host + Presenter) if you want to have a smooth event. Learn about the roles here.

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Setting up Webex Events

For the purpose of this blog, we will just focus on the main setup options. The configuration below takes less than 2 minutes.

  1. Go to your Webex site and click on “Webex Events”. Typically, it would be yourcompany.webex.com.
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2. Once in the Webex Events section, go to “Schedule an Event.”

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3. You will notice a lot of options to schedule your event. The red arrows are the main touchpoints to configure in order for you to start your meeting. Once you are done with your settings configuration, click on the “Schedule This Event” button.

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4. You will now see your Event Information. You can always go back to “Site Events” to see your scheduled events. You can manually start your event by going to the “Start Now” button.

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5. The Webex app will now download and install. In this setup, I used my Webex Desk Pro as my video endpoint. You can see the other button options as a Host.

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You can use the “Start Practice Session” feature as the “backstage prep” for your event. This is where the Panelists can talk with each other before and after the panel and the Attendees cannot hear what’s going on.

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You can control the Attendees and participants for the event with the “Mute on Entry.” The “Unmute All” is used if you want to open the floor for audio Q&A.

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Webex Events also has a few cool features if you need to quickly add a Panelist. You can provide the Panelist the SIP or phone dial information and Panelist password by going to the top left, Information or “i” icon.

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Finally, you can also email a Panelist the Webex Event information or if you are in a pinch, in the unfortunate event a Panelists PC reboots or crashes, there is the option for Webex to call their phone and automatically join.

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Joining the event

Attendee View

This is the email invitation that the attendees will receive once an event is scheduled. Note that the event password is in the email.

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Upon clicking the big green “Join event” button, the Attendee will now enter their information and event password. You can join by downloading the app which is done automatically as you hit the “Join Now” button or you can use WebRTC by clicking “Join by Browser.”

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Desktop App

This client is in WebRTC mode. Once in the meeting, you can use the Q&A panel to ask the Panelists questions, raise your hand, provide feedback or even take polls.

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Apple iOS Mobile app

Here you can see the join flow and the variety of options that you have with the mobile app. Webex is also supported on Android as well.

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Once the event has ended, the platform can automatically send out surveys and you can configure various “Call to Actions” such as a website popup.

Integrate with YouTube and other platforms

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You can integrate Webex to YouTube or Facebook Workplace using partners like VBrick or REC.VC. Take note that VBrick only supports Webex Meeting Center, not Event Center. REC.VC supports both since you add REC.VC as a participant into Meetings or Events (as a Panelist) and it streams it out to their service.

Below is the setup page of REC.VC. You can add any SIP or H.323 endpoint and even enter a PIN. All video can be recorded on their platform if you want to keep your video private. You can join the Webex Teams Community here to learn more. You can start using REC.VC immediately by signing up on their 14-day Free Trial.

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Recording

Webex can record your event and transcribe your meeting. This becomes very helpful if you want to search for various keywords and jump to specific parts of an eight-hour-long event. If you want to keep your meeting internal, you can use the native recording functionalities in Webex, or use VBrick or REC.VC. The downside of external third-party platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live is that your content is now public and is owned by the 3rd party streaming platforms.

Free Webex & resources

Sign up here to get Webex for free. This package gives you desktop and mobile access for 100 participants, toll-free dial-in, screen sharing, recording and more.

Also, check out our Webex Business Continuity Resources Planning site. It has advice and technology recommendations for dealing with operational infrastructure challenges during this period of Remote Work with great end-user “how-to” guides.

[Update March 24]: Here’s a nice recording that goes into a deeper dive on Webex Events Training. Check it out here.

Cisco Offering Webex Events 3000 Free to Customers

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Cisco is also extending an offer of providing Webex Events 3000 to customers for free. One month of service is provided for one (1) Named User and must be renewed and approved if the extension needed. Webex Audio (if required) can be added at Standard Discounts. Of course, customers can choose to use VoIP only at no cost if they choose to. This offer needs to be ordered through the partner.

Community support

Join the Webex Ambassador Community on Webex Teams and sign up as a Candidate if you have questions.

Final thoughts

Live streaming a panel isn’t difficult once you go through a practice dry run. Cisco is here for you during these hard times. Please read the blog from our CEO, Chuck Robbins, about our commitment to you.

Overall, this is just a quick overview of how to use Webex Events. To learn more, please go to help.webex.com. If you need immediate access to Webex Events, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to host one for you.

Stay tuned for more blogs on live streaming best practices. If you have questions, leave a comment and share this blog!

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How Live from Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community

3 tips for managing a virtual get together

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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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Webex Integration Partners join Cisco in offers for education

When people are working remotely or engaging in distance learning for the first time, they face a bit of a learning curve to become proficient and productive. The same goes for organizations, as they learn and truly understand what it takes to respond and support these new requirements.

As you may have seen in the blog from our SVP and GM for Cisco Collaboration, Sri Srinivasan outlines what we at Cisco Webex are doing to proactively expand our meeting capacity to respond to the incredible volume of new users looking to take their work and daily activities online. Cisco is committed to helping through this difficult time, and one way we are doing so is by expanding on capabilities for the free Webex offer, in all countries where it is available.

Announcing Webex Ecosystem integration offers

This free offer has inspired many of our Webex Ecosystem partners who build upon our unified platform, to create offers of their own, helping in this time of technological need. Our software partners have joined with us to provide unique and even free offers to protect and enable distance learning, while minimizing the disruption that comes with the change.

When addressing the needs of educators, the power and extensibility of the Webex platform delivers the best in class distance learning experience for the instructors, students and IT staff. Specific to education, our Webex Ecosystem is stepping up to provide integrations with these fantastic solutions:

VBRICK

When a larger live stream event is needed to communicate to the student body, faculty and staff, Cisco’s partner Vbrick has a free limited time offer for schools looking to leverage live streaming events, to replace cancelled large-scale destination events.  This is a simple, effective and easy way to reach out and communicate to the education audience. Also, in Webex Meetings there is a new streaming option for Vbrick Rev from the native Webex Meetings client.

Learn more about Vbrick Free Large Event Streaming.

INVOLVIO

Higher education institutions around the world are moving teaching and learning to completely online methods. To help institutions deliver continuity, community, and support for students who are newly virtual, Involvio is introducing “Remote Campus.”

Remote Campus helps institutions rapidly deliver the core components of the campus experience to students on their phones anywhere they happen to be. Through integration with Cisco Webex and the Cisco Webex Education Connector, students can easily stay connected on video and seamlessly join live classes from anywhere. Remote Campus is free for all Involvio customers, regardless of license tier, and discounted for all Cisco Webex customers.

Remote Campus App

 

VYOPTA

Potential challenges in supporting remote learning and instruction have also become a great concern for IT administrators.  IT departments want to deliver best secure experiences as well as provide proactive support in this new era of online education.  Vyopta offers help in a few valuable ways such as providing student attendance compliance reporting, ensure high quality video performance, tracking student engagements with the meeting platform and more.  They’ve launched a free plan to help measure engagement of students in virtual classes, and monitoring call performance and quality with their special offer. Be sure to check out their upcoming webinar with Cisco’s own Dr. Lance Ford on distance learning.

Thetalake provides a purpose-built compliance product suite for automatic policy detection of regulatory risks, compliance workflow, and archiving for video marketing, video conferencing, and audio recordings. They are offering their Compliance and Supervision Suite for Webex Meetings/Teams at no cost for 3 months

Thetalake

Ensuring students, faculty and institutions are well protected, tools are needed to detect risks in audio, visual, document, spoken, shown, and shared content in audio and video content.  Thetalake provides a purpose-built compliance product suite for automatic policy detection of regulatory risks, compliance workflow, and archiving for video marketing, video conferencing, and audio recordings.  They are offering their Compliance and Supervision Suite for Webex Meetings/Teams at no cost for 3 months.

Appspace

For those students and faculty that have on campus commitments, it is important to keep information visible and available.  Many schools have enabled digital signage on campus devices with key messages and reminders. Appspace provides a Coronavirus playlist for signage on Webex Devices service for free up to 25 devices to Educate students and faculty with an informative channel about protecting against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Okta

For IT staff’s deploying new services can be overwhelming. Okta provides efficient process to rapidly deploy Webex organization wide and simplify end-user adoption.  This offer has been made available at no cost to easily onboard users to new Webex service with seamless SSO and full provisioning and security.

Prezi

Moving from the physical class to a virtual is an adjustment. The need to make online learning engaging can be a real challenge. Prezi Video helps you create compelling and creative video content for students in online learning environments. Present or record with your content right alongside you on the screen, so you can maintain a human connection with your students without losing important context and visual aids. Make classroom/training presentations more fun and engaging using Prezi with Webex Video.  Get your free account and check out the blog on best practices in education.

Make classroom/training presentations more fun and engaging using Prezi with Webex Video. Get your free account and check out the blog on best practices in education.

Kaptivo

For instructors that relish teaching in a more traditional method by using whiteboards, Kaptivo will connect your analog whiteboard to Webex Meetings and post to Webex Teams to create a digital classroom. To assist teachers/staff who are new at providing  remote learning, Kaptivo is offering a free whiteboard for those working from home who purchase a Kaptivo camera.

Kaptivo-ad-animated(1)[2]

 

CirQLive

If your school uses an LMS (Learning Management System) that is not covered with the Webex EDU Connector, or you have other requirements, CirQLive is offering free usage of their Webex LMS integration platform for 90 days. They are also offering consulting services that include best practices in online learning.

With the combination of Cisco’s powerful Webex platform and these unique partner integrations, students and teachers can quickly ease into the transition of remote learning and get back to what really matters. IT admins can also feel confident that these solutions have the right level of security and control to protect their education environments. Learn more about our partner solutions by visiting the linked partners.

For questions on the above Ecosystem offers, reach Cisco’s partnership team at webex-ecosystem@cisco.com

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

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

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

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

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

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

Build your team 

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

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

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

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

Create a purpose

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

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

 

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

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

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

Stay in sync 

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

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

Participants

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

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

Get started

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

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

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

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

Partner with Cisco and have a true global reach

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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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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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3 tips for managing a virtual get together. A group of friends hanging out and drinking wine. Four young women in the webex meetings space. Wine glasses are put in the air to toast.
3 tips for managing a virtual get together

Meet by virtual means

Working from home? Me too.

It sounds pretty fun (and definitely has MANY perks), but can also get a bit isolating.

As remote working trends continue to increase, the shift from the office to the home “office” can feel big if you’re used to frequent water cooler conversations, taking  lunch breaks with your colleagues, and planning happy hours after work. Even for a regular “work-from-homer,” I still find myself going a little stir crazy every so often.

If you’re missing your friends or colleagues (who may also fall into the friend category), here are 3 tips for hosting and/or attending a virtual get-together:

Plan a time

If you’re with your colleagues, look at their calendars and find a time that works. You can even use a team collaboration space to suggest times, using reaction emojis, like the thumbs up, to let others know if a specific time works for you. If you don’t have visibility into calendars or a space with all invitees, texts or survey’s work as well.

Assign a host

This person is in charge of figuring out the time, sending out the invite, remembering to show up. Like a host at a party, they can greet people who join the call and mediate if everyone starts talking over one another. Prior to the call, or at the start of the call, it’s important to lay out a set of “guidelines” as well as what they should expect.

For people who have never joined a video conferencing meeting before, you can let them know in advance that they may need to download the app (if joining from a phone or new device). And it’s fun to see everyone, so encourage them to use a device with a camera.

Because there can be background distractions and noises, ask attendees to keep themselves muted until they would like to talk. In addition, unlike normal happy hours or get-togethers, side conversations are near impossible. On a video conference, they tend to result more in people talking over one another. If this happens, suggest that people try the chat tool to either directly message one person, or the entire group.

If you’re the host and need to leave early, you can assign a new host.  That way the call won’t end for everyone.

Change the layout

Webex offers three views: active speaker view, active speaker and thumbnail view, and grid view. Instead of just seeing only the person talking, change to the grid-view where you can see up to 25 different screens. This view allows for you to see everyone’s reactions and makes it feel much more like you’re all together in person. It can also help in seeing if someone is trying to talk or when someone is finished talking, limiting interruptions.

Don’t forget your snacks and drinks! Host a virtual cheers at the beginning of the call, just like you would normally if you were in person. Don’t let the computer screen prevent you from ordinary get-together rituals.

As for planning your next get together, do it before you go! Use the polling tool to suggest times and have everyone vote in real-time.

Little things can go a long way in starting a get-together, especially for those new to the video conferencing arena. So, do you think you’re ready to virtually hang out with your friends? Start planning!

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

We hope these tips help your next get-together run smoothly! See how @bshaughn of NYC consultancy makes virtual happy hour’s happen

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Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

Easy remote device management

Managing Webex Room devices is as simple as using them! Using Webex Control Hub, administrators are able to configure and troubleshoot devices remotely. Regardless if you have direct network access to the device, here are 3 tools to help configure and troubleshoot devices.

1) Advanced configurations

First tool I will mention is about configuring devices. While the out of the box experience for Webex Room devices will work for every standard workload and workflow, sometimes you need to modify a certain configuration for a specific workspace. A lot of administrators are used to using the on-device web interface, but with Control Hub you can change configurations in seconds directly in the portal. Click on any Webex Device and open up “Advanced Configurations”. You can apply hundreds of configurations directly here. Keep an eye out as we make it even easier to modify bulk configurations in the near future!

Advanced Configurations experience for Webex Room devices showing search bar for configurations available with the Cisco Webex Board status, the users name, the IP address, and the applied changes

2) Manage logs

The next tool is a brand new one we just released! We heard from customers and partners that it was hard to troubleshoot devices that were not on the same network as the administrator. We got you covered – it is now possible to troubleshoot issues quickly and more efficiently. Manage Logs is now available in the Devices page to allow you to easily generate and download log files which can be used to self-troubleshoot or reference with TAC if you need to contact us to help!

Generate logs by the Cisco Webex Cloud screen showing blue button to generate log, the tiem, feedback ID, action and the ability to download and refresh as well the the blue close button

3) Troubleshoot calls

The final tool is how administrators can troubleshoot calls directly in Control Hub for Webex Meetings. Call Diagnostics in the Troubleshooting section has got a recent improvement to let you search not just by User or Meeting ID but also by the Device Name. This will allow you to view live data updated in 60 second intervals. You can access information like packet loss, jitter or even resolution.

Diagnostics troubleshoot screen in Control Hub for Webex Meetings showing the video quality, status, and threshold exhibiting in a graph with blue, green and purple lines

These are just some of the tools available for Webex Rooms customers in Control Hub and we are adding more updates monthly to What’s New in Cisco Webex Control Hub

Learn about how Webex Rooms can help face to face collaboration even between thousands of miles or kilometers (for those fellow metric people)

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4 tips to run a great meeting

Bring productivity back to your meetings

The prospect of having to sit through a meeting doesn’t always excite everyone. Although meetings have the potential to be fun and collegial gatherings that also help move projects along, many of them don’t live up to that promise.

What can go wrong in a typical meeting?

Sometimes, meetings can consume a lot of time and make participants feel disconnected from what’s going on across the company at large:

  • In fact, unnecessary meetings are the No. 1 time-waster in most offices, accounting for untold hours and billions in wasted productivity every month.
  • As much as one-third of all meetings in a given month are deemed unproductive, and it’s not hard to see why: Between late starts, unfocused agendas, and outdated collaboration tech, many participants can’t stay engaged.
  • Unproductive meetings exact steep costs in other ways, too. For example, a “1-hour meeting” is actually much longer, since it takes that amount of time away from everyone who joins it. So, if there are 10 attendees, the meeting is actually consuming 10 hours that could be channeled elsewhere.
  • Along similar lines, traditional meetings require office space. A conference room that someone might be using to take an important call instead has to be devoted to a big gathering that could end up not being all that productive anyway.
  • Remote workers can feel isolated when meetings aren’t engaging. Inadequate communication/collaboration as well as loneliness are among the most cited drawbacks to working remotely, and how meetings are run is a big reason why.

On the bright side, meetings don’t have to be unproductive. With the right tools in support of a coherent strategy, you can run meetings that cover everything you want while keeping everyone engaged. And now, with so many people working from home, it’s important to understand how to help employees feel connected. Here are four proven tips for taking your meetings to the next level.

Tip #1: Send a written agenda in advance and establish context

Why are so many meetings unfocused? Because no one, other than maybe the host, really knows what’s going to happen or who is participating.

That’s why it’s important to send out an agenda containing the main points you want to cover in the time allotted. In Webex, you can add an agenda directly to your meeting invite.

Having an agenda creates structure and helps you maximize the time you have. Once you write everything down and ensure it’s covered point by point, you might even find that you have time left over and can end the meeting early, which is good news for everyone’s productivity as they can get back to other tasks.

As for establishing context about who will be in the meeting, this is where cognitive collaboration solutions can make a real difference. These AI-driven platforms can pull information from multiple sources, such as public social media profiles and various directories, to create context and enable more seamless collaboration

Tip #2: Make it easy to join the meeting

How much meeting time is lost to simply trying to get the session started? Invitees may have to dig through their inboxes to find the dial-in or link, and even when they have it ready they might need to jump through a few hoops first.

Downloading applications and plugins, entering a PIN, finding a compatible device – these complications make meetings overly complex and less useful. To get things back on track, think about simplifying the join process.

A collaboration platform like Webex lets you invite anyone and everyone with a simple set of steps. Most of the time, it’s just a singular “step” – tap or click the button to join when it’s time. Whether someone is using a PC, Mac, phone, tablet, or standard-based video conferencing system, participation in straightforward.

Tip #3: Use video technology, if appropriate

Video conferencing provides benefits that no other meeting technology can:

  • First, it’s the best way to feel like you’re in the same room as everyone else despite being physically far apart. HD video and audio allow for high-quality interpersonal connections in meetings.
  • Second, it lets attendees see reactions and body language in real time. Those insights are missing from conversations that happen over email, chat, or traditional phone call, and they are valuable for bridging cultural divides.
  • Third, it goes hand-in-hand with collaboration capabilities such as screen sharing and recording. A video meeting can benefit from the real-time sharing of an application, document, or entire screen, plus it can be easily shared later with anyone who couldn’t make it

Video meetings are good for many different use cases. You can set up one to touch base with internal staff, recruit and interview candidates for open positions, host a webinar, and much more.

Tip #4: Follow-up as needed

When a meeting ends, sometimes the host will send an email that summarizes what happened and provides a link to the recording. This is a good approach, since it reinforces what was covered and can be especially useful for people who weren’t able to join.

There are other ways to follow-up beyond just email, though. A recording of the meeting can be very informative, plus there’s the option to use a chat app to share additional collateral and thoughts in real time. With Cisco Webex, you can follow-up with ease and host the most productive meetings possible.

Learn more by getting started with a free plan today!

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Connecting one Pilates enthusiast to another. Pilates instructor holding pose on a yoga mat on a wooden floor with legs at a 45 degree angle and hands lifted two feet off the ground wearing plum-colored yoga pant and multi-color athletic shirt and her blonde pony tail and ear buds exhibiting a slight sweat
Take instruction to Webex: Connecting one pilates enthusiast to another

Virtual instruction

“Whoever thinks 10 seconds goes by fast has never done Pilates.” Thankfully Ursula’s Pilates studio didn’t let too many seconds go by before figuring out how to keep her clients engaged when unprecedented times shut down fitness studios in Germany.

Ursula has run her own Pilates studio for the past 10 years, investing in new equipment and constantly building and increasing her client base. So, when she had to temporarily close her studio doors, she had to think hard about ways she could continue her Pilates training.

With her husband working for Cisco, it was a no brainer that he encouraged her to use Webex.

Streaming live Webex lessons to engage in real-time

Implementing Webex has allowed Ursula to continue instructing her Pilates lessons. Not only can she instruct her clients on the next move, but she can perform live demonstrations, checking that her clients are doing the moves correctly and safely, not hurting themselves. The 2-way conversations enabled by Webex allows for a far richer experience than a normal prerecorded video. With #LifeOnWebex, her clients can have real time conversations, build relationships and keep up with each other as they normally would within the walls of her classroom.

Her clients remain fully engaged during the virtual Pilates sessions, keeping spirits high, hearts strong and minds healthy during these unprecedented times.

Times like this require thinking out of the box. Taking lessons virtual with Cisco technology has opened new doors for Ursula and her clients. Noticing new members have joined her classes has made Ursula realize that not everyone can travel to the studio every day. Ursula plans to expand her business model by adding virtual training sessions along with her in-person lessons when the studio reopens.

Webex has helped Ursula continue her business, strengthen the health and immune system of her clients, and provide some peace of mind.

A free Webex Meetings Plan can help keep your business fully-engaged

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

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

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

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

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

Connecting your team  

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

Get some space 

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

Create a space and a meeting in one step 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask COVID-10 Collab

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

Be genuine and be yourself 

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

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

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

 

Stay active, have fun 

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

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

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

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

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

Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter: Managing a remote team

 

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March update of Webex Teams. Smiling woman sitting at her computer facing a colleague and smiling while talking wearing a white button up shirt
March update of Webex Teams

It’s here! This month’s update marks the arrival of the highly anticipated new in-space design! To get this exciting update with lots of other cool new features, download the latest version of Webex Teams from here.

MESSAGING

A brand new in-space design (Windows and Mac)

Get ready to become a lot more productive! We’ve redesigned how you work inside a space. Now, you will experience a sleek new layout with all your most important in-space features and actions just one click away. The aim of this new design is to improve discoverability and usability as well as to make the app truly scalable.

If you would like a detailed description of everything that’s changed with this design update, this blog walks through everything step by step.

For an at a glance visualisation of what’s changed, check out this dedicated help page.

A brand new in-space design (Windows and Mac)

On the go custom status (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

In February, we made it possible to add a custom status on your desktop. Now, you will be able to do the same on mobile. If you’re running late, stuck in traffic, or out for lunch, you can let everyone know right from your mobile. Access this feature on mobile by clicking your avatar. Any status you set will stay active for up to 7 days unless you clear it.

On the go custom status (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Turn off @all mentions (Windows and Mac)

We all know someone who is a little too fond of using @all mentions. In larger spaces, this can be really distracting and almost feel like spam in your inbox. Now, in moderated spaces, moderators will have the ability to disable @all mentions for everyone in the space. This toggle is available on desktop in Space Information under Moderator Settings. When turned off, a notification is sent into the space to let everyone know it’s no longer possible to @mention to all in this space.

Turn off @all mentions (Windows and Mac)

Organize your spaces (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)
For anyone who hasn’t yet discovered this great way to organize your spaces list, Separate People and Spaces will be turned on by default. This can be easily turned off by clicking on your filters at the top of your space list and unticking ‘Separate People and Spaces’ or by going to your appearance settings. Users who have already toggled this feature will see no change.

CALLING

Webex Calling

Forward your calls (Windows and Mac)

If you’re going to be away from your desk but don’t want to miss an important phone call, you can forward your calls to another phone number. Or, if you don’t want to be interrupted, you can send all your calls to voicemail instead.

We already support Call Forwarding in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help doc for more information.

Let’s make it a conference call (Windows and Mac)

Collaboration just got easier. Need another opinion while you’re in the middle of a call? You can now add up to 6 people while you’re in a 1–to–1 call.

We already support conference calls in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help doc for more information.

I have a voicemail! (Windows and Mac)

No more missing calls in Webex Teams. If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling) on your desktop, you’ll see a red badge counter (message waiting indicator) next to the Calls tab letting you know you have a voice message. If you want to listen to your messages, go to the Calls tab and click on Call Voicemail to dial into the voicemail system. From your voicemail system, you also can record a personal greeting, delete a message, and so on. After you listen to your messages (from the app or your desk phone), the red badge counter disappears. Get more information here.

Unified CM

Is that another voicemail? (Windows and Mac)

If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop, you’ll now get a dedicated Voicemail tab to manage all your voicemails. There’s a red badge counter that lets you know how many voice messages you have. You can check out the details of a message, play it, mark it as read, delete it or call back the sender. After you’ve listened to your messages, either with Webex Teams or your desk phone, the red badge counter disappears. Get more information here.

Let’s make it a conference call (iPad and Android)

We’re making collaboration even easier. Need another opinion while you’re on a call? You can add up to 6 people while you’re in a 1–to–1 call.

We already support conference calls in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop.

Merge two calls (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re on a phone call and you receive an incoming call in Webex Teams, you can merge the two phone calls into one and have everyone in the same call.

We already support merge if you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. Check out this help doc for info.

INTEGRATIONS

New ServiceNow Bot for Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

Integrate Servicenow with Webex Teams today using the new Servicenow Bot from the Webex App Hub. Easily create, update and resolve incidents directly from any group or 1:1 space. Talk to your Servicenow admin to get custom real-time notifications keeping your team in the know whenever there’s a new situation. Learn more here.

To see this great new feature in action, check out this video.

 

Connect Smartsheet with Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

 

Connect Smartsheet with Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

Do you use Smartsheet for project planning and tracking? Now, you can connect Smartsheet with Webex Teams using the new Smartsheet bot. Easily setup real-time notifications for sheet changes, comments added, or even new sheets shared with you all from a Webex Teams space. Now you can quickly add comments, rows, and even share a sheet with a colleague using the latest bot. Get started with more details on the Webex App Hub here.

New ServiceNow Bot for Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

 

For more information on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams, check out our help page here.

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See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams — say hello to the new in- space design

Working smarter anywhere — Working remotely

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6 tips for working from home with kids. Father Works On Laptop As Mother Helps Son With Homework On Kitchen Table
6 tips for working from home with kids

As more people than ever embrace remote work, our next challenge is mastering the art of working from home…with kids. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your little ones entertained and you productive while working remotely.

1) Answer the why first 

Depending on how old your kids are, they may or may not fully understand why they’re home from school or why you’re at home (but still working). Take the time to set some rules and expectations on what normal looks like now. Be clear on when it’s ok to make noise—or not—or when you’ll be available to sit and do activities with them, what situations mean it’s ok to knock on the door and when you need to be quiet in the house.

For example, telling them that you’re working from 9-12 and 1-5 lets them know that you are going to be busy throughout the day during those times, but they can expect to see you for lunch. For older children, setting simple rules like ‘a closed door means you need it to be quiet during calls’ could be all it takes to keep your sanity throughout the day. Many of our coworkers set a policy that the kids need to send a message online or open the door quietly to get your attention if the door is closed.

2) Set a schedule 

Keeping a routine is hard in this new normal, but a necessity for some kids. We’ve found that taking some time to plan out a schedule so they get used to waking up, doing planned activities, studying, and going on walks really helps keep things as normal as possible.

Another option is to let the kids set their schedules and timers using connected devices. For example, they can tell in-home smart devices to set a timer (or use the kitchen timer) throughout the day to keep them on track.

3) Work as a team 

With so many companies encouraging or mandating remote work, you may be lucky enough to be working at home with your partner or have friends or family able to help. If so, plan who will have some downtime to entertain the kids and when you can switch off.

If you have a big meeting that requires no distractions or unnecessary noise, consider arranging an activity for the kids to go outside to play (if available). Other activities like board games or specific school assignments can leave you some quiet time to focus. Big siblings (depending on their age) can also be enlisted to help with the younger kids throughout the day. Click to find other great ways that technology creates better interpersonal connections.

4) Talk with your manager about flexibility 

With so many of us working remotely, most leaders are anticipating and accepting the challenges of working remotely, including dealing with distractions. If your kids are up early and don’t nap until the afternoon, work with your manager to schedule essential calls around that time. Or ask for non-traditional working hours so you can maximize your time when your children are sleeping at night.

You can also explain that they’ll be running in and out of the room throughout the day and to not be surprised when one of them makes a cameo on a video call. You may be surprised with how many of your coworkers are in the same situation and open up conversations you would never have had in the office! At Webex, we welcome kids or pets as part of the work from home experience! Check out this article on getting the the most out of work-life balance.

5) Never stop learning 

Whether you regularly homeschool, your child’s teacher has sent home digital or physical schoolwork, or you just want your kids to keep learning while home, there are a few ways to engage your kids in learning. Set times throughout the day for reading, completing assignments, doing puzzles or other activities that challenge their mind, or any other learning-related activities they can do. If you have a tablet or computer, set aside time for your kids to play a fun educational game—they’ll be learning, but really, it’ll feel like fun (and keep them occupied).

6) Keep them busy 

Managing kids while working can be a challenge, so our design team made a quick set of coloring guides for kids of all ages (and adults, too). Download your set and print it out for a few minutes of peace today! Have any other tips to share about how you succeed working remotely? Let us know by tagging us on social media with the hashtag #lifeonwebex.

Download your free cs.co/kidspack today!

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Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

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Keeping our distance doesn’t mean we can’t stay close
Keeping our distance doesn’t mean we can’t stay close

Together, Remotely

Many of our colleagues in the US, EMEAR and around the world are currently facing the twin challenges of working from home to keep essential communications up and running, AND the difficult task of keeping their children entertained during school shutdown.

The design team at Cisco thought we’d help with two simple ways to keep them and their children entertained: first we made a colouring book with signage and characters from our Webex Teams app, to help connect children to their parents work. We also made a collaborative playlist that anyone can join, so we can all jam along together while we work!

Read the full article https://medium.com/cisco-collaboration-design/together-remotely-e25ee3c7425a

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Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

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RoomOS Monthly Update: March 2020. Close up of a young man working in an office
RoomOS Monthly Update: March 2020

This month, the software team have been cooking up some real treats for you guys.  In March, we are focusing on making the way you collaborate with your personal mode Webex Room devices more seamless and efficient, as many of us find ourselves working from home. If you do, check out some tips and tricks on how to work remotely.

The first two features are cloud benefits, whilst the latter two are available for both cloud and on-premises.

Guest code for wireless sharing

Most offices receive a constant flux of people. When these people come into your office for a meeting, it can be rather tedious to ask them to download an app in order to wirelessly share to a room device. Many times, they also require access from an admin to download new software on their work laptops, which is not the most practical thing in the world when you are a guest at a different office. This new feature allows guests to just go to a website and enter a code found on the device, and by doing this they can wirelessly share to a device, with the only requirement being a good internet connection. Whether they want to share an app, the entire screen or just a tab from their browser, it can be done with a simple step.

Guest Code for Wireless Sharing

Easily join your personal room in personal mode

In January, we released wireless sharing for personal mode from the Teams App. We really want to make it easier for you to get stuff done from your personal Webex Room device, so this month we are releasing a Personal Meeting Room (PMR) shortcut in personal mode! Joining your Personal Room is now quick and straightforward – only a click away. You just click the Webex button, and you should see a green button next to your Personal Room address at the bottom of the page. Click it, and you are in your PMR. Easy, right?

Easily Join your Personal Room in Personal Mode

Joining personal room from inside the Webex button

When you click the Webex button, you can now choose to write a Personal Room URI. Previously, it used to be only digits, but now you can use actual words, which is great news for those of us who struggle to remember long strings of random digits (aka most of us). Because of this, you can make a call from your previous dialing history, so if you have dialed a Personal Room before, it will be saved in the history of the Webex button and auto-populate as you type. This feature is available for both on-prem and cloud devices.

Meeting title privacy

There are many different reasons to why people wouldn’t want the titles of their meetings to be publicly displayed. Maybe you are discussing a sensitive topic such as a workforce reduction planning, or maybe one about employee appraisals and salary negotiations. Either way, you might not want everyone walking past the booked meeting room to know what the purpose of the meeting is. To solve this problem, we are providing admins with an API setting on the device, so that the meeting title will be hidden. This feature is available for both on-prem and cloud devices.

That’s all for this month. Stay safe and take care of each other.

Click to learn more about what Cisco Webex is doing to support our customers in these unprecedented times.

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See all the Webex RoomOS releases

Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams: Working better together

Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

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Higher education, meet Webex. Woman remote working and taking classes online
Higher education, meet Webex

Cisco Webex collaboration solutions for education

Imagine ivy-covered buildings, students playing frisbee in the quad, and hoodies emblazoned with school colors. What comes to mind? For many people, it’s a college or university campus. For me, however, higher ed is connected classrooms, mobile-friendly interactions with faculty, and taking my university with mewherever I am.  

Students today expect a seamless and personalized digital experience from colleges and universities, from their initial application to their last day in the classroom. As a former digital communications professional at Ivy League and Big Ten universities, I relied on Cisco Webex collaboration solutions to make digital interactions more human. Whether you’re a faculty member looking for ways to connect your classroom or an administrator looking to build connections on campus and in the world, Webex can help you to innovate your institution.  

Student-centered enrollment Choosing a college or grad school is a stressful process, from applications and costly campus visits to understanding financial aid and selecting a school that is the right fit. . Studendt sitting on floor of hallway with an opened journal looking at her phone waiting for school to start

Studentcentered enrollment  

Choosing a college or grad school is a stressful process, from applications and costly campus visits to understanding financial aid and selecting a school that is the right fit. Admissions offices can easily center the enrollment experience around student needs with Webex Meetings and Events. 

Connect with prospects around the world by using Webex Events. You can host online info sessions and potentially reach applicants who might not be able to visit in person or connect with your Admissions team at a local college fair.  

Planning a virtual admitted student day or decision day? You can drive meaningful interaction with admits by using Webex Events to host Q&A panels with current students, sit in on a faculty lecture, poll parents and partners on their thoughts about supporting their loved one in school, and much more. No need to worry about picking a date that doesn’t compete with other campus events or decision deadlines—everything is recorded so you can share the link whenever with whoever might need it. 

For moments that matter, Webex Meetings can be a powerful tool for creating personal connections and involving your campus community in recruitment. With Meetings, you can cut down on the carbon footprint of admission interviews, have face-to-face conversations during sensitive financial aid counseling sessions, host virtual campus tours with student guides, or attract your top applicants with one-on-one coffee chats with faculty or the Dean. The options are limitless. 

Connected classrooms and campuses 

Surveys have shown Gen-Z students prefer video-based learning more than previous generations—but is your institution prepared to adapt? If you’re transitioning to virtual learning, Webex Meetings and Teams are the perfect combination to keep your classroom connected, so learning doesn’t have to stop. Plus, Meetings and Teams work seamlessly with popular learning management systems (LMS) such as Canvas, Moodle, Sakai, or Blackboard with the Webex Education Connector 

If your institution has multiple campuses, bringing your school communities together—culturally and logistically—can be a challenge. Webex Meetings and Devices can seamlessly bridge the distance across locations. Need some ideas to encourage cross-campus collaboration? Connect students through club meetups or student government summits, expand access to guest speakers and special events, or enable cross-disciplinary faculty connections to propel innovative research—all with Webex.  

Whatever your role in your higher ed community, there’s a way you can use Webex to innovate the student experience and improve collaboration across campuses. Webex is a proud educational partner for many institutions 

I’m proud to now work for Webex, at the intersection of human and digital interaction. Now I want to hear from you: how will you use Webex to revolutionize the higher ed experience?   

Learn how you can keep your classrooms connected so learning doesn’t have to stop:  https://www.webex.com/webexremoteedu.html

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Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

Teachers, here’s why you need Webex

Howe Public Schools uses video conferencing to create more opportunities for its students

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Spring forward to better meetings across time zones
Spring forward to better meetings across time zones

Cross time zones with better meetings

Love setting your clocks back each fall to gain that extra hour of sleep? Hate setting them forward each spring and suddenly having less time to rest? Love it or hate it, the beginning of DST each year is a good opportunity to adopt best practices for scheduling video conferencing meetings.

While businesses like retailers widely like DST, it’s not universal – not even within the U.S. For example, states including Arizona and Hawaii do not observe DST at all, creating yet another ripple in the complications that can affect schedules each March and November, when most places in the Northern Hemisphere “spring forward” and “fall back,” respectively.

The stakes for adept scheduling have only gotten higher as more organizations have embraced remote work policies, leaving them more reliant than ever upon geographically distributed employees across multiple time zones.

Tips for better meetings

Let’s look at six tips for scheduling and conducting your meetings the right way in this context:

1) Check in with remote workers about what times work for them

A big part of working remotely is the ability to set your own schedule. Even if there are formal company rules for which hours you need to be available, there’s still a lot more flexibility than in a traditional office environment.

As a meeting scheduler, you have to navigate the many complications that can arise from workers operating during different blocks of time each day. One possible solution is to ask everyone for multiple times that would work for them and finding one that overlaps or is close enough.

2) If in doubt, fall back to some generally good meeting times

If your organization is based in the U.S., you have four contiguous time zones to account for along with ones unique to Hawaii and Alaska. Setting up a meeting when you have employees spread across these time zones can be challenging if the above technique – asking for availability times – doesn’t work out that well.

Fortunately, you can usually default to some times that almost always work for multiple time zones. For example, 2 p.m. Eastern is a popular meeting time slot, as it translates to 1 p.m. Central, 12 p.m. Mountain, and 11 a.m. Pacific – all prime working hours. If you have employees in Hawaii or Alaska, moving the meeting to 3 p.m. Eastern will likely work, too.

3) Use online world clock tools for international meetings

Things become even more complex when you have meetings that involve people in different countries, as the time zone gaps can be considerable. Maybe you’ve hopped on an 8 a.m. call in the U.S. for a meeting with someone in the European Union – that can be less than ideal for late-risers and people accustomed to starting work at 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m, for instance. And DST, especially in the spring, can make these types of rise-and-shine meetings even tougher to get through.

This is where it’s useful to have access to a world clock tool. Many are available, both on the web and within various apps, and they’re handy for exploring how various meeting times would work worldwide. World Time Buddy is a prime example of a free world clock that lets you search for specific time zones and places and then compare them so that you can draw up an invite that, at least in theory, works for everyone.

4) Collect questions and input from anyone who can’t make it

Not everyone can make every meeting, regardless of how well it’s scheduled. But that doesn’t mean they have to be left out entirely. One way to include them is to solicit their feedback, questions, and other input beforehand so that all of it can be addressed and discussed during the meeting.

Afterward, the responses to their input can be included in an emailed summary of the meeting or, better yet, a full recording of the session.

5) Record the meeting for easy sharing later on

Sometimes, it’s just not possible to find that Goldilocks meeting time for all of your employees. But all is not lost. Recording a meeting and sharing it with anyone who wasn’t there or who simply wants to review what was said makes it easy to keep projects and conversations going.

So, make sure when you’re reviewing a video conferencing solution, be on the lookout for features like recording capabilities compatibility with multiple devices and OSes, as well as screen sharing.

6) Make it easy as possible for participants to join

Time zones are just one factor in meeting scheduling. For example, if you make it difficult to join by requiring a lot of complex steps – e.g., entering a PIN, requiring specific video systems, etc. – then it’s inevitably going to be more difficult to get all remote and mobile employees on the line.

Modern collaboration platforms make it simpler to schedule and run meetings, during DST and outside of it, too. Employees can join from their mobile devices, laptops, desktop, and video conferencing systems with just a tap or click.

To learn more about how to get the most from your meetings, get started with a free plan of Cisco Webex today.

Learn More

Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams: Working better together

Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

 

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School with connected Webex icons. At all levels of education, technology is not only a wish but a necessity.
Teachers, here’s why you need Webex

Classroom supplies and Webex

Every school year, teachers create a sacred list of school supplies they need for the year. Mine typically included tissues, hand sanitizer, sticky notes, whiteboard markers, and other standard supplies. As a former teacher—Mrs. Hamill—I always started my school year off telling parents to review “The List” and thanked them for their support. While I always appreciated any help I could get, I just recently realized what had been missing from my list: technology.

Webex collaboration tools

Ever seen Webex on a teacher’s wish list? I sure haven’t, but I wish someone would have shared the need to eliminate the endless bullets (or stars if you’re fancy) and replace them with one request: Cisco Webex Meetings and Teams. I wish I knew how much time, money, and valuable teaching time I could have saved by requesting Webex collaboration tools. I’ve saved you the time and written the list for you today—you’re welcome.

Fostering healthy, safe, and supportive learning

We’ve all seen a teacher’s wish list before: as a parent looking at a take-home folder, in the store shopping, or broadcast over TV and online advertisements. Educators prioritize keeping students healthy, safe, and cared for while teaching. The tissues, hand sanitizers, and markers are a good start, but they do run out, need resupplying (insert begging over many emails), and do not support significant classroom needs.

“How do I help the student who didn’t use the hand sanitizer and is out for the next week?”

“How can I revolutionize the use of sticky notes when we’re striving to be a green school?”

“How do I host an important study session when the state just closed down for a snow day?” 

Teachers, here’s why you need Webex

Importance of technology in education

At all levels of education, technology is not only a wish but a necessity. Had I known this when I was teaching, I could have shortened my list and added Cisco Collaboration tools, Webex Meetings, and Teams to the top of my classroom and school’s priorities. Unfortunately (an understatement), I didn’t know the answer was Cisco Webex collaboration solutions. Before exiting education, I had the opportunity to adopt and deploy Webex in an education environment. This is where the list started to shrink. Sticky notes, whiteboards, and markers are built right into the product. Connecting with kids, parents, and colleagues remotely with just one button to push? Check! Where were these amazing tools when I was teaching only two years ago? It doesn’t matter, because what I didn’t know then, I do know now.

I wish I had Webex Meetings

Webex Meetings offers teachers a way to connect easily with students anywhere, anytime. Teachers never stop teaching. The bell may have rung, and the students have gone home, but there is still loads of work and planning that will go on into the night, bleeding right into the next day. Teaching remote is not an issue for an educator. I would have loved to host office hours or answer a student’s question in real-time from the comfort of my couch.

If the school called a snow day, I would have been able to keep the momentum going, not having to play catch up upon my return. Webex Meetings allows you to play video and enable audio, use chat, and share screens. It’s so simple and a great way to stay productive.

Parent or student can’t make it to a school conference to discuss academic progress? Say hello to Webex Meetings. It allows for more flexibility and personalized attention whenever needed.

Large scale? I know, first-hand, administrators, board office personnel, superintendents, content coaches, and more don’t have the bandwidth to attend every professional development session, curriculum gathering, or state-wide initiative meeting in person. With Webex, however, I can include all those parties. Everyone is where they need to be. You truly can be in two places at once.

And I’m just getting started.

Workflow, working in a group, and collaboration- peace of mind

Webex Teams is the epitome of collaboration. The integrations are endless, and there is no disruption or pause in the workflow when working on Teams.

One of education’s best practices is “group work,” as the facilitator roves the classroom to check in on table talk that nurtures productive discussion. Webex Teams allows leaders to use Team spaces as breakouts, which allows for even more focused, quiet conversations, and personal teacher attention. I would bop in and out of spaces to check in on my students and their shared efforts.

Gone are the days of leaving the classroom (a big no-no) and running down the hall (also a demerit) to quickly collaborate with a colleague. With Webex Teams, all of my peers are at-the-ready. I juggled being the basketball coach, literacy chair, social committee member, and bus duty scheduler, which meant I talked to a lot of people throughout the day. That’s a lot of emails and way too many forbidden hallway trips. Webex Teams was where my communication and collaboration should have (remember this is a wish list) lived.

Final thoughts

All in all, my wish list looks different these days, and that’s because I have been able to cross off the majority of the list items previously mentioned with one solution: Cisco Webex Teams and Meetings.

Today, I still teach and train others, but I do it remotely, from home. I connect with people across the world, and there is no time lost. I have only invested in one box of tissues in five months, and my germs are my own, so a travel-sized sanitizer fits the bill. I still utilize sticky notes, markers, and whiteboards as they’re available in-product.

Before, when I was confined to one room all day (except for those quick escapes), I never dreamed that teaching remote would be possible. Now, I know and believe anything is possible with Webex.

Consider adding Cisco Webex to your wish list, because the school year isn’t over yet! Who doesn’t love crossing off more than one list item at a time?

Click to take advantage of Webex Meetings and Teams for FREE in your classroom.

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Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere- Working remotely

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remote working
Working smarter: An interview experience from a (super fun!) virtual team

My virtual team experience

I graduated in May of 2019, and along with my peers I faced the daunting pressure of figuring out my next step.  Like many that were in my shoes nine months ago (or still are now), the end of the road in academia didn’t present a clearly defined transition into adulthood. Unless your major led to medical school or law school, graduation looked more like the edge of a cliff, and not the top of a podium.  

millennials and Gen Z entering the workforce and webex technology

If the shoe fits…

I scrapped the ‘logical next step’ option and did the next best thing: I looked for a workplace that would have the best environment in which I could grow, learn, and challenge myself. And with luck, I would also love my coworkers, and have fun while achieving all of the above. Yeah it sounded impossible to me too. 

Status update: currently self-appointed CFO (Chief Fun Officer) of new recruits. I’m growing, learning, challenging myself, loving my coworkers, having fun, AND writing this blog. How you ask? It all started with the interview. I knew from my first conversation with Cisco that it would meet what I was looking for.  

Ready, set, recruit

My experience was typical – a 5% response rate to job applications: an email here, a link to a video conference there, a phone call.  Aside from the occasional email chain, there was no channel for me to communicate with those involved in the recruitment process, let alone a channel to get to know potential team members. In such a time of uncertainty, the lack of visibility added to my stress. There was a clear separation between me and my potential prospective employers I would just need to wait until someone communicated at me. That’s until I started my interviews with Cisco. Only then did it dawn on me that when a company interviews you, you are interviewing them too; you can’t just want the shoe, it must fit on your foot. 

My virtual recruitment adventure 

My recruiter and potential team members asked me to create a free Webex Teams account on teams.webex.com. This was unusual, but I was open to this interview process. Immediately, the interviewer leading my interview process began a conversation with me one-on-one and added me to a ‘space’ titled ‘Welcoming Ana Vincenti’ (that’s me) with the other members of her team she would eventually want me to connect with. A space, just for me? I was already feeling special. 

Next thing you know, I was welcomed with confetti, gifs, emojis, and enthusiastic messages from the team that they were excited to meet with me. And for the first time in an interview process, I felt (dare I say it) good. Being added to the space made me feel like I was already a part of the team, even if just as a guest for the time being. It removed the walls that I had consistently felt in all other interview processes — it’s like I was invited into the same room where everyone else was, as an equal.  

In Webex Teams you can search from thousands of Gifs to find the perfect expression of yourself at any time.

The team continued to use the platform to schedule video meetings with me directly in the Webex Teams app (I was using the online version). Outside of our scheduled interview times, the team made a point to let me know they were available to answer any questions that came up. All I had to do was message them directly on Teams. And the cherry on top of it all? The entire process happened completely remotely. I was traveling for quite some time when this opportunity suddenly popped up. Worried about how it would affect my candidacy, the team said, ‘we’ll meet you wherever you are, whenever you’re available,’ and that’s exactly what they did. 

virtual interview with a unicorn on top of computer.png

The virtual interview process!

My first interview was with who is now my manager and took place while I was squatting outside in front of a Prada (classy, I know) in Milan, on my phone. I had my video on, looking as one does with the beloved combination of 90-degree heat and humidity. I was candid and let her know it was the only place I could find reliable WIFI. I made it clear that I very much took this opportunity seriously, despite how my video looked. She laughed, inquired about my travels, and we continued with the interview. That right there, was the beginning of what sealed the deal for me. More video interviews, gif exchanges, and messages later, I became a part of the Cisco family.  

Day-to-day

Once things slowed down, I started thinking about what my day-to-day would look like. The only question I had about integrating into the team was…’so…how tall are all of these people in real life?’ I had not a doubt that I would fit in with them on day one. I already had ample opportunity to connect with them through video, messages, and gifs (usually a clear indicator of one’s personality). By the way, I still don’t know how tall all my coworkers are.  

Some of the people I work with weekly are in Europe and Asia. You heard me correctly; I get to work with people across the globe. Not bad for my first job! That was a goal of mine for way later in my career, but Webex Teams has made it possible from the get-go. This technology makes it so exciting to go into work each day. Or rather, not to go into work, because if I don’t want to leave the house, my team and I stay connected through Webex Teams. We trust one another to get our work done no matter where we are.  

Takeaways

I took so much away from this experience. Check out some of my takeaways below:

1) Life after college. Six months in, I love my first post-graduate job. Webex Teams made the transition between candidate Ana and employee Ana seamless. I communicate with my team even more closely than I did on day one.

2) Video is key in communication. Video is key in communication. From the first interview —  on the floor in 90-degree heat (I wouldn’t recommend this, but desperate times call for desperate measures), I was able to be candid with my future team. Seeing their smiles, make eye contact, and hearing their laughs was pivotal in making me feel comfortable with the team, role, and Cisco as a whole. Ultimately, it allowed me to perform better as a candidate, as I was able to present myself just as I would in a live situation, even though I was far away. It also gave me a much more holistic picture of my future employer and was key in winning me over as a candidate.

3) Be candid, open, and welcoming of new ways to operate (especially when they challenge status quo). This is not a ‘typical’ interview process, or a globally deployed way of working. However the technology is perfectly built to support it and makes for a wonderful experience. I was unsure what this new interview process would look like, nor how I would adapt to having a virtual team. But I embraced it with open arms, was honest about how it was new for me, and the team reciprocated. This a lot of trust between us immediately, which set the foundation for the incredible experience I’m having with the team today. 

Adopting collaboration technology is easy and fun

So, business owners (and future employees), if you are still on the fence about adopting collaboration technology, I hope I’ve made the value clear. This easy-to-use platform was key in engaging me from the get-go, and I can guarantee it will have an impact on other millennials and Gen Z entering the workforce. The flexibility, ease, and comfort it provides in communication is a differentiator that businesses must invest in if they plan to engage top talent. And quite simply, it makes people happy. I’ve been able to meet faraway coworkers’ families, stay home when I need to, worked in different locations, and met so many people from all over the globe, all without missing a beat. Technology keeps the work excitingeverywhere, all the time. Let’s make excitement in the workplace the norm.

We’ve created a page with more guidance for end users and people managers on working remotely at https://www.webex.com/webexremotework.html 

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Working smarter: Managing a remote team

Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere- Working remotely

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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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Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

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Featured image Webex
Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

There is an unprecedented increase in remote working happening worldwide, which is growing exponentially daily. Today, due to global circumstances resulting from COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease), many who are working from home are not doing so as a perk, but as an imperative.

Let’s start with some facts

  • Traffic on the Webex backbone connecting China-based Webex users to their global workplaces has increased as much as 22 times since the outbreak began.
  • During the same time period, we also saw 4 to 5 times as many users in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, with the average time spent on Webex video meetings doubling among users in those countries.
  • On average, free sign-ups in impacted countries are up 7 times over pre-outbreak sign-up rates.

Cisco’s proactive plan

With the recent uptick in Italy and additional countries, Cisco continues to actively monitor global traffic trends and usage worldwide, and have a proactive plan to support our customers with their changing needs. It’s our priority to enable people to work from anywhere (including home), anytime, and on any device so they stay connected with their teams and can continue their business operations. As the market leader, we’re enabling this in multiple ways.

Effective immediately, we’ve expanded the capabilities on our free Webex offer in all countries where it is available, not only those impacted by COVID-19.  Full details on the offer and eligible countries are available here

The additional features include:

  • Unlimited usage (no time restrictions)
  • Supports up to 100 participants
  • Offers toll dial-in (in addition to existing VoIP capabilities).

Additionally, through our partners and the Cisco sales team, we are providing free 90-day licenses to businesses who are not Webex customers in this time of need. We’re also helping existing customers meet their rapidly changing needs as they enable a much larger number of remote workers by expanding their usage at no additional cost.

Expanding our worldwide meeting capacity

We’re also proactively expanding our worldwide meeting capacity, scaling up further in the United States and Europe, working with non-governmental organizations to enable schools (among other use cases), while partnering closely with our customers who are rapidly scaling up their work from home efforts.

Around the clock assistance for all business needs and continuity

Our team is working around the clock to ensure your business needs are met. Most cloud services plan and size for peak volumes – not only infrastructure but also the network capacity required. Cisco is continually improving our worldwide connectivity by working with carriers to assist with last mile connectivity, to reduce latency between our end-users and the Webex cloud. This work is enabling organizations, like The Nestbitt Center and Expert Systems Limited (both based in Hong Kong), to help their people stay connected and productive.

We are happy to support The Nestbitt Center, an organization that works with young adults with physical and mental disabilities. Like all schools in Hong Kong, the Center had to suspend their day program. Videoconferencing has enabled them to continue delivering sessions, and enabling the rollout of future therapeutic services including music, speech and language therapy.

To ensure business continuity, Expert Systems Limited have chosen to implement a two-team system by which each team alternates daily between working from home and the office. Despite less physical interaction on any given day, the collective team is experiencing a historical high in team engagement.

Our team in China

Our own team in China is also using Webex (you may think of Webex as just conferencing – but Webex includes video meetings, persistent chat, specialized work from home video devices and calling) from their homes in Hefei, Hangzhao, Suzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities. It’s incredible to witness this team’s high spirit and comradery as they work together not just in their business dealings, but also in banding together as one family, deeply connected to their communities and each other.

 

Closing thoughts

Cisco has been in this business longer than any other vendor on the planet. We are doing all we can and are prepared to help through this trying time. We will continue to provide our point of view, timely updates, and practical advice on remote working and much more. (See additional online resources below.)

In the meantime, our thoughts are with all those who are impacted.

Additional resources and practical advice on working remotely

 

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working smarter anywhere - working remotely
Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely
Just because you aren’t in the same room, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great face-to-face meeting experience. In a physical conference room, you would be able to see each other, write notes, talk, share content and use a whiteboard.  You have the virtual equivalent of all those activities, in Webex.
Here are ways you can ensure you’re set up for success when working remotely:

Check your background 

Dedicate a space in your home that’s ergonomic, comfortable and productive. Avoid or remove any clutter in the background that can distract others in a meeting. Try facing a window for natural light, or have a lamp nearby, so your team can clearly see you on video.  

Minimize meeting distractions. 

Some background noise is inevitable in our homes.  Even with doors closed, the best way to keep noises from distracting others on the call is by putting yourself on mute when you’re not talking.  If you need to – ask for a moment to address the source of the noise so that you can keep their focus on you.   
 

Get headset up for success!  

Being on mute still won’t stop noises from your own surroundings distracting you.  Investing in noise cancelling headphones or a headset is a great way for you to keep focused on the task at hand.  Ask your IT team about options for headsets at your company. 
 Investing in noise cancelling headphones or a headset is a great way for you to keep focused on the task at hand. Ask your IT team about options for headsets at your company.

Take care of you. 

Being in the office gives teams cues to get coffee together and take breaks.  Without in-person social interaction, it’s easy for hours to pass without taking the same breaks you may in an office. Take regular moments to stretch out your body and schedule in virtual coffee chats with team members in between meetings.  
 

Vulnerable video 

In person, people are automatically engaged as they can see your reactions.  Sharing video can be intimidating at first, but your team will soon get used to sharing video in engaging, interactive remote discussions.  Be brave and turn on video in every meeting.  
Sharing video can be intimidating at first, but your team will soon get used to sharing video in engaging, interactive remote discussions. Be brave and turn on video in every meeting.
 

Need to tap a colleague on the shoulder?  Start with 1:1 chat.  

In an office, getting a question answered starts with looking around to check who is free. Setting a custom status lets people know what you’re up to, for example: “Out for lunch 🍽️.”  You can check your colleague’s availability easily in Webex Teams.  Even if your colleague is in an active call – a conversation can still start by messaging in a 1:1 space. If you need to escalate to a live call, simply click the green call icon in Webex Teams or share your Personal Meeting Room (PMR) details with them.  
  

The Team Huddle:   

Just like ad-hoc in-person team meetings gather everyone who may be free at once in a physical location, calling a space in Webex Teams virtually connects your team by calling them on any device at once.  In Webex Meetings, your Personal meeting room (PMR) is just like your in-person office desk.  The URL stays the same so you can easily share it, allowing your team to join your virtual room in an instant.    
 

Sharing is caring  

Maintaining attention in a virtual meeting is no different than in person.  Sharing your screen or presentation and using annotation on your content helps remote participant stay engaged and follow your points.
  

Ideas on the fly 

Just like in a physical office – sharing ideas on a whiteboard is a key part of working together.  In a virtual meeting,  it is even better!  In real life, you risk a white board being erased or written over.  When you whiteboard virtually, you can feel confident your ideas are saved, and pick up where you left off, by opening any whiteboard you’ve previously created and edit it in real time.  

Express yourself 

When messaging, remember your colleague can’t see your reactions.  If a picture tells a thousand words – then a Gif is a great way to express yourself.  In Webex Teams you can search from thousands of Gifs to find the perfect expression of yourself at any time.      

In Webex Teams you can search from thousands of Gifs to find the perfect expression of yourself at any time.

Let’s Celebrate!

Being remote doesn’t mean you need to change your team culture.  While you may not have a cake to share – you can still celebrate those moments that matter, like birthdays, delivering a project or achieving a goal – virtually!  Turn on your cameras and schedule time to connect as a team over video. take a look at this baby/bridal shower, and costume party
We’ve created a page with more guidance on working remotely at cs.co/webexremotework
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February update of Webex Teams
February update of Webex Teams

This months’ update brings presents in the form of presence! There’s lots of other cool new features to talk about this February…

MESSAGING

Know who’s available at a glance! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Before this update, it was quite difficult to see other user’s profile pictures when they were in certain presence states. Some availability overlays – like in a meeting or presenting – covered their entire avatar. When we set about solving for this, we undertook a larger redesign effort of user presence across the app. This involved a visual refresh of the iconography as well as new availability color states so others can quickly see if you’re free or not:

  • Red – a user has either put themselves into ‘Do Not Disturb’ or is presenting. They won’t receive push notifications.
  • Amber – the user is either in a meeting or on a call. They will receive notifications but may be slow to respond.
  • Green – the user is active and ready to receive your message.

February Webex Teams update: Know who's available at a glance

Let everyone know what’s on your mind with a custom status (Windows and Mac)

Popping out for lunch? Working remotely? Really busy? Share any status you like with your colleagues to give them more context as to why you’re late for a meeting, not at your desk when they’re looking for you, or simply how your feeling today. This is a quick way to let everyone know what’s going on with you with just one update. To start, you’ll have the option to select any of four pre-defined custom statuses. If you decide to get creative with ‘Set a new status’, these custom statuses will be saved to replace the pre-defined options.

Custom status in Webex Teams

Decide when to be disturbed (Windows and Mac)

When you set yourself into ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND), you were restricted to a set list of options to choose from. What if you wanted to set yourself into DND until your next meeting? Or until the end of your working day? Now you can. With this update, we’re giving you the option to set a time to choose how long you want to be in DND for. If you happen to get your work done quickly, you can easily ‘clear’ your DND availability in the same way you set it.

decide when to be disturbed and Webex Teams

See more spaces with much less scrolling (Windows and Mac)

Some people like to have lots of information available to them at a glance. In Webex Teams, something we hear regularly as a pain point for people is that they simply can’t see enough spaces in the space list at once. This February, you will have the option to put yourself into ‘Compact Mode’. This new option is available by going to Settings Appearance. You will be able to see lots more spaces without having to scroll as much!

See more spaces with much less scrolling (Windows and Mac)

Collaborate on your Box files in Webex Teams (Windows and Mac)

If your admin has enabled access to this and you have the necessary Box app permissions, you will now be able to share, preview, view and co-edit your Box files all without having to leave the Webex Teams app. You will also be able to upload files directly into Box from the app, making co-collaboration on documents that much easier.

Visual updates to screens (Windows and Mac)

Webex Teams has gotten a lot more colorful this month with the addition of our feline mascot, Quinn! You can now enjoy new illustrations on the Create a Space, Contact a Person, Forward a File, and Create a Team screens. You’ll also see Quinn when you’re doing a search or looking at some of our empty state screens.

All the amazing new illustrations you’ll see across the app in coming months were drawn by our incredibly talented Visual Designers.

Collaborate on your Box files in Webex Teams (Windows and Mac)

Keep control of your spaces in a team (Windows and Mac)

Sometimes people get added to a space within a Team they aren’t a member of. Now, we’re giving admins the power to choose what these Team ‘guests’ can do. If enabled, Team guests won’t be able to add or remove people, change the space name, or edit space settings. Find more information on this here.

Screen capture anywhere, anytime (Windows)

If, like most people, you have a multi-monitor set up at your workstation, this feature is for you. Now, you can use the screen capture option in the compose area of Webex Teams on any of your connected monitors.

An enhanced system tray experience (Windows)

This month sees the addition of a right click menu on the Webex Teams icon in your Windows system tray (found next to the time/date in the corner of your taskbar). This menu offers lots of quick access options to useful menus in the app. If you’ve closed or minimised Teams are curious to see whether you have any new notifications, you can find your unread message count on this icon at any time.

Keep up to date with more notifications (Windows)

Get more notifications for new messages! When the Webex Teams app is closed to the system tray and you get a notification, the Webex Teams icon will reappear on your taskbar. You can decide how this feature works by going to Settings Notifications.

New Google tasks bot for Webex Teams (Windows, Mac, and Mobile)

With the latest update to the Google Tasks bot, you can now create, update and search for Tasks directly within Webex Teams itself. Keep yourself up-to-date on your to-do lists with real-time notifications like task updated or marked complete.

Learn more about it here and other Apps on the Webex App Hub.

New Google Tasks Bot for Webex Teams (Windows, Mac, and Mobile)

On-the-go reactions! (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

In January, we saw one of the most coveted features of modern chat apps appear in Webex Teams – Reactions. On mobile, we had the ability to ‘see and agree’. This meant you could add to a reaction in the mobile app when somebody added it on the desktop aps. This month is giving mobile users exactly what we want – the power to add reactions on mobile. Reactions are a fast, on-the-go way to acknowledge or respond to a message, making them the dream mobile feature. That’s why we are so excited to bring this to all our mobile users. Same as desktop, you can add a max of two reactions at a time to each message.

On the go reactions and Webex Teams

Separate people and spaces with tabs (iPhone and iPad)

On desktop, people are loving the people/spaces split. It’s a big help when you have lots of spaces to manage and keep track of. Now, you’ll be able to do the same on mobile. After enabling this through your settings, you’ll have the same three options as desktop – to view all your spaces in one list, to see a list of one-to-one spaces with people or to view the list of group spaces you’re part of.

Separate People and Spaces with Tabs (iPhone and iPad)

Find your favorite spaces faster (iPhone and iPad)

We’re making it easier for you to focus on those most important spaces on mobile. Let them take their well-deserved position at the top of the spaces list. You can focus on those conversations and get back to them quickly. Don’t worry; you’ll still see your other spaces too, right below your favorites.

Find your favorite spaces faster and Webex Teams

CALLING

Cisco headsets automatically added to Control Hub (Windows and Mac)

When you use your Cisco headset with Webex Teams, your administrator can now keep track of it in Webex Control Hub. This lets them track inventory and troubleshoot issues for you.

We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM and Webex Calling).

Merge two calls (Windows and Mac)

When you’re on a phone call and you receive an incoming phone call in Webex Teams, you can merge the two phone calls into one and have everyone in the same phone call.

We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling).

Call Waiting in Webex Teams (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re already in a call and someone else calls you, you can choose how you want to handle the incoming call. For example, you can put the active call on hold and answer the second call.

We already support call waiting if you’re using Calling in Webex Teams on your desktop. See Webex Teams | Answer Call Waiting for info.

We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) and Webex Teams (Webex Calling).

Transfer a Phone Call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

We’re continuing to bring more calling features to your mobile Webex Teams app. When you’re on a phone call, you can transfer that call to someone else. You’ll have a chance to let the person know why you’re transferring the call to them. (We already support transfer if you’re using Calling in Webex Teams on your desktop. See Webex Teams | Transfer a Phone Call for info.

We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM).

Curious about next months’ offerings? Check out this blog for details on the super exciting design update on its way to you!

For more information on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams, check out our help page here.

Learn More

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams- say hello to the new in-space design

Webex Teams product update controls

 

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Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education
Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

Webex Education Connector expanding the reach of the classroom

Collaboration in schools just got easier with Blackboard Learn + Webex Education Connector! For education institutes who have Blackboard Learn as their learning management system (LMS), they can now integrate Webex into Blackboard Learn via the Webex Education Connector. This allows the instructors and students to leverage Webex features and capabilities without downloading the Webex app. Instructors can schedule and start meetings within the Blackboard learn interface, while students can join meetings and view previously recorded sessions.  

The full set of capabilities includes:  

  • Schedule Meetings  
  • Start and Join Meetings 
  • View Recordings for past meetings 
  • Schedule Office Hours  
  • Create Teams and spaces 
  • Collaborate (Message, Call and File sharing) with students  

Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

But wait…. there is more!  

In addition to Blackboard Learn, we now also have an in-depth Recording Library. In education, recordings have many valuable uses. Recordings of existing sessions can be re-used in future semesters, they can be used as supplemental material in other class offerings, or as guest lecturer content worldwide Additionally, with the advancement of flipped learning (pedagogical approach to learning where students learn materials before class), recordings enable class time to be used in a different way, focusing on deeper understanding of materials and problem-solving activities.  

The Recording library allows an instructor to create a recording and publish it to their students in other classes with the following capabilities 

  • Allows an instructor to rename, view and delete their own recordings  
  • Ability to host a Webex meeting within a course for the purpose of capturing a Webex recording, without making the meeting it visible to the students immediately  
  • Ability to record a private Webex Meeting recording and share with students in single or multiple classes  
  • Ability for a student to view recorded Webex Meetings that the instructor has shared  

Ability for a student to view recorded Webex Meetings.

What’s coming next 

Since not every educational institute operates via the same methods, upcoming features will include more administration for LMS and granular control over classroom groupings. Administrators using the Admin Panel will be able to control what users have visibility to, whether it includes all the features within the Webex Education Connector or just a subset. This helps ensure compliance with educational regulations as well as simplifies the experience by removing unused features 

For schools using the ‘sections in classroom’ collaboration feature in Canvas (creating virtual teams), admins will now be able to apply divisions so that students in one section will not be able to see the spaces created by other sections. This helps keep student work only in their group, keeping groups focused.

For schools using the ‘sections in classroom’ collaboration feature in Canvas (creating virtual teams), admins will now be able to apply divisions so that students in one section will not be able to see the spaces created by other sections. This helps keep student work only in their group, keeping groups focused. 

Bring the classroom together with collaboration

By partnering with educational platforms like Blackboard, we are always looking to see how we can use collaboration to make the lives of students, teachers and parents simpler, easier and more accessible globally. From the classroom to graduation, Webex has you covered.

To keep up with the latest advancements in collaboration education check out Webex Education Connector site.

For more information, on Webex Education Connector see the following:

Learn More

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Webex Meetings February 2020 update: PIN-less join, Webex + Toyota, and more!
Webex Meetings February 2020 update: PIN-less join, Webex + Toyota, and more!

We have a great and varied set of video conferencing features coming out this month on Webex, but I probably caught your full attention at PIN-less. Couldn’t we all use one less PIN in our lives? Well, Webex is making that happen this month. The ability to dial into a video conference with a SIP device without needing PINs or keys is bringing some of the benefits of the cloud back down to earth. Users of cloud-registered SIP video devices within the same company already enjoy a very easy way to join meetings without cumbersome PINs or keys. We are now extending that capability to premises-registered SIP devices. This is especially useful for organizations that have a hybrid deployment of devices that are registered both to the cloud and on premises.

Extending great meetings to more spaces and places

The bulk of our February features is around bringing the best video conferencing experience to more people within the tools they use every day. Adding to the already deep bench of Webex Meetings integrations we’ve established, I want to share a very diverse set of integrations we’ve been working on – from cars, to contact centers, to smart phones, to productivity tools.

  • If you have a 2020 Toyota and you’re an Android user, Webex Meetings now supports Toyota Smart Device LinkIf you have a 2020 Toyota and you’re an Android user, Webex Meetings now supports Toyota Smart Device Link. From your Toyota dashboard, you’ll be able to list and easily join Webex Meetings. While in the meeting, you’ll be able to mute/unmute and hang up the call. This is a very similar experience to the Ford SYNC 3 integration that’s already available to Webex Meetings users today. The 2020 Toyota models supported include Corolla, Corolla Touring and Corolla Sport.
  • For Zendesk software users, great customer service can now include a live meeting. Once Zendesk support agents receive a customer ticket for follow-up, they can immediately launch a Webex Meetings Personal Room to start a video or audio call. This happens all within the Zendesk UI, so agents can continue to work within their familiar environment.
  • More than 2.6 million users have already downloaded the Webex App for Google Calendar, which lets you schedule and join a Webex video conference meeting right from within their Google Calendar app. We now have more advanced meetings settings in our Google Calendar Integration Phase II. You can now change audio types (such as PSTN, VoIP, etc.), set passwords, join before the host, specify alternate hosts, among other features that give you a richer Webex experience from within your G Suite environment. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, download the app from the G Suite Marketplace.
  • We are excited to announce support for Samsung Bixby, so just use your voice to join a Webex Meetings on a Samsung device. Simply say, “Hi Bixby, join my meeting” or a host of other Webex voice commands that can be found here (this feature is supported in the February update, but will be available pending final Samsung review).
  • We announced our deep integration with Slack last year, and we’ve since implemented a number of great enhancements. The latest for this month include the ability for hosts to share their recorded meetings in Slack with people (1:1) who are not in their channel. You can do this very easily by clicking “Share” from the recording and searching for the person to whom you want to send the recording. You can also provide feedback about Webex Meetings from within a channel with the command /webexhelp feedback. Then, you can use the drop-down menu to select the feedback type.

And more …

And, finally, if you’ve ever shared an image into a meeting from the Webex Meetings mobile app, you know there’s a chance it may be incorrectly rotated. Now, with the latest Webex update, you’ll be able to quickly rotate the shared image so it appears as it should. It’s a beautiful thing when technology works.

Now, with the latest Webex update, you’ll be able to quickly rotate the shared image so it appears as it should.

 

For more information on these features, please visit the Webex Help Portal – What’s New for the latest versions of Webex Meetings (40.2).

Learn More

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Webex Teams – say hello to the new in-space design
Webex Teams – say hello to the new in-space design

It’s out with the old and in with the new this March

There are several factors which can contribute to a large design update. It begins with user research which leads to a problem statement. It was in this way we discovered a few flaws with the old in-space menu design.

There are several factors which can contribute to a large design update. It begins with user research which leads to a problem statement. It was in this way we discovered a few flaws with the old in-space menu design. People struggled to find content, people, and access to calling and meeting options. Activities always seemed very ‘far away’ – it took several clicks to find and access Files or My threads through the in-space ellipsis menu. When you got to Files, there was then the problem of reviewing the content in the limited area available. Our research told us that the most valuable activities in Webex Teams were difficult to discover, took several clicks to access and did not have enough real estate for effective content review.

To validate our findings, we moved the Call/Meet button into the space header, just one click away for users. Feedback on this move was overwhelmingly positive and enough for us to undertake a larger redesign effort to address the remaining issues.

After months of careful feedback analysis, design and redesign, building and rebuilding and extensive user testing, we can finally unveil the sleek new in-space design coming to Webex Teams in March 2020.

Before

Webex Teams – say hello to the new in-space designAfter

Webex Teams – say hello to the new in-space design

At a glance, you can already see the differences. In-space actions that were once hidden away in the fourth column ‘ellipsis’ menu are now just one click away. You’ll also notice that that same menu button no longer exists. Let’s talk through all the exciting changes step by step.

Messages

Messages appear in the same area as before. The only difference is that you will now find it always just one click away as its own Messages tab.

People

The people list will appear in a tab. This tab allows for a quick review of how many people are in the space. The list itself now lives in the spacious third column area. You can scan through this list to review the contact cards of other people in a space. This will be especially useful when you just get added to a new space.

People The people list will appear in a tab. This tab allows for a quick review of how many people are in the space. The list itself now lives in the spacious third column area. You can scan through this list to review the contact cards of other people in a space. This will be especially useful when you just get added to a new space. Adding new people to a space is no longer restricted to the narrow area of the fourth column, users can now easily review as they go about adding people to a space.

In a one to one chat, there will be no ‘People’ tab. The value of reviewing the people list is lost when there is just you and one other person. You also cannot add other users to a one to one space. You can review other users’ contact cards at any time by hovering over their avatar in the message area or space list.

Moderators will be much easier to locate – just one click away – at the top of the people list in the ‘People’ tab.

Moderators will be much easier to locate – just one click away – at the top of the people list in the ‘People’ tab.

Content The Content tab will be home to Files, ECM, Whiteboards and Links.

Content

The Content tab will be home to Files, ECM, Whiteboards and Links.

Content will now be displayed in a grid layout. This allows for a quick review of all files shared in a space, making it much easier to find content. Hovering over a file offers the same options as before – jump to the message with which the file was sent or download. As files are the most frequent user navigation in relation to content, this will be the pre-selected option when users open the ‘Content’ tab.

Whiteboards have a similar layout to Files – a larger area for quicker review. The button to create a new whiteboard will always be the first option in the grid view. Whiteboards have a similar layout to Files – a larger area for quicker review. The button to create a new whiteboard will always be the first option in the grid view. To remove a whiteboard from a space, just hover over the whiteboard and click the ‘delete’ button.

Large grid view for quickly finding WhiteboardsURLs shared in the space will live in a dedicated Links section. They will be stacked and stretched across the full area of the third column. Having the extra space here makes the content of the links much clearer, making it easier for people to find what they are looking for. The same hover options as before will be present here – jump to the message sent with the link or copy.

Large Grid view for Quickly Finding WhiteboardsYour Enterprise Content Management (ECM) items will be found the same as before with your files. If you want to set up a linked folder to a space, this option will be found in the top right corner of the Files section.

Development agenda

Schedule

Schedule will remain in the same place in the third column under a dedicated Schedule tab. The in-space schedule shows all meetings organised within that space. Having this information one click away will ensure users are aware of important upcoming meetings. The User Interface (UI) of the ‘schedule a meeting’ and ‘space meeting information’ buttons have been enhanced for clearer legibility.

Our research told us that the My threads section in a space was being used as navigation, usually to jump to the original message thread. Because of this and various other feedback, we have moved My threads to be a button on the right of the space header.

My threads

Our research told us that the My threads section in a space was being used as navigation, usually to jump to the original message thread. Because of this and various other feedback, we have moved My threads to be a button on the right of the space header. Clicking this button will prompt a call-out, which users can scroll through to find the right message thread while not being removed from their current location in the space.

In the January 2020 update, we introduced a new button which allows users to quickly search through a spaces’ messages or content. This update sees that button move slightly to be next to the new My threads button in the space header.Space Information

Space information (or space settings) will be found in the exact same place as before. The icon has been updated to be an easy to understand settings cog.

Sounds like we have lots to look forward to this March. The new in-space design is guaranteed to make users more productive as they go about their day-to-day collaborative tasks in Webex Teams. Okay, now it’s time to get excited!

In the images of the new tabbed design, you might notice a ‘plus’ sign next to the Schedule tab. This is a placeholder for the new embedded apps feature which will not be in March but will be available very soon in an upcoming update. Keep an eye on our ‘Coming soon’ page for more details items like this here.

To find more information on this new design, please visit our dedicated help page here

Learn More

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At WebexONE, we’ll work as one and dive into the future of what’s possible.
WebexONE – THE collaboration event of the year!

The first-ever WebexONE

We’re pleased to announce and invite you to our first-ever WebexONE event, the premier collaboration forum of the year!

Held September 14-16, 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, WebexONE is a jam-packed, 2-day collaboration fest where you can immerse yourself in two days of learning with in-depth training, innovative insights, and direct access to experts. ​

Held September 14-16, 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, WebexONE is a jam-packed, 2-day collaboration fest where you can immerse yourself in two days of learning with in-depth training, innovative insights, and direct access to experts.

At WebexONE, we’ll work as one and dive into the future of what’s possible.

The next wave is here!

The next wave of cutting-edge collaboration technology is here. AI/ML, integrated experiences, extreme security, smarter devices and software all working in unison on a single platform to create experiences that are second to none.  Webex is the one platform for realizing the future of work and making transformation possible.

When we come together, we create, we inspire, we discover, we understand – and we bring the next wave of innovation. The future of work is working together as one.

At WebexONE, you’ll experience the power of people, place, and technology, together as one.

Join us. Amazing things happen when we come together as ONE!​

To learn more and reserve your spot, visit www.webexone.com

Want to share your story on how Webex has transformed the way you work? Apply to speak at WebexONE! 

Cheers,

Aruna

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How technology creates better interpersonal connections. In fact, solutions such as video conferencing and team collaboration tools with intelligence features are the most effective for connecting people regardless of their physical locations.
How technology creates better interpersonal connections

Using communication technology to improve relationships

Does technology bring us closer together? It can seem like a weird question to ask, since innovations like VoIP and real-time chat let us more easily connect with friends, co-workers, and others, even over great distances.

But not all technologies are equally effective at forming strong interpersonal connections, which are particularly important in workplace contexts. As more organizations turn to remote and mobile working arrangements, it’s crucial to branch out from the old standbys of email, phone calls, and in-person meetings and invest in alternatives that provide sufficient context and enable rich collaboration from anywhere.

In fact, solutions such as video conferencing and team collaboration tools with intelligence features are the most effective for connecting people regardless of their physical locations. As the 2020s begin, let’s explore some specific examples of how these technologies build connections that last.

Less time commuting, more time to focus on strategic projects

Long commutes have become facts of life for millions of workers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau,* the average Americans’ commute in 2019 is 27 minutes (just one way), up two minutes from 2009. While that may not seem drastic, over the course of a year, it totals 17 extra hours spent in traffic.

What if there were a way to spend less time in traffic or on the train? It would benefit both the environment and worker morale, as lengthy commutes are one of the main detractors from job satisfaction.

Collaboration technologies make it more practical to avoid commuting and instead work from virtually anywhere:

  • With chat apps, you can have a real-time conversation, share files, and search for specific assets from one interface with lots of context.
  • Video conferencing allows for face-to-face meetings even at a distance, in high definition and with sophisticated controls.
  • Cognitive collaboration solutions can pull information from multiple sources (e.g., public social media profiles and CRM data) to create context around any online meeting.

As long as a worker has access to the internet, these collaboration possibilities and others can allow for productive work, with no taxing commute required. Employees can build better working relationships, too, since the tools in question give them clear insights into what others are doing and thinking.

More eye contact and more immersive meetings through video conferencing

Video technology, in particular, is ideal for simulating the experience of being in the same room as the other attendees in an online meeting, even if everyone is actually located somewhere else.

A modern video platform has several key advantages over communicating via audio-only calls or emails and chats:

  • It allows for full visibility into participants’ reactions and body language This insight is useful for understanding how a meeting is really going, and can be especially helpful if there’s a language/culture barrier.
  • It helps curb multitasking Although the word gets a lot of lip service in resumes, multitasking is highly impractical in many contexts, as the brain isn’t that great at listening to a call and typing up an email simultaneously, for example. Video puts people in the spotlight and discourages multitasking, which in turn, increases productivity.
  • It’s usable from multiple devices, not just dedicated standards-based video conferencing systems PCs, Macs, phones, and tablets can all seamlessly join an online video conference with just the tap or click of a button when it’s time for things to start.
  • It’s integrated with other collaboration tech like screen sharing So participants can share their entire screens or desktops, or just a particular app or document as needed, to go in depth while on the video call.
  • It can support a variety of use cases, not just internal meetups For example, a video link could be set up for a webinar, training session, or social media broadcast. Accordingly, the clarity of video can build connections across multiple contexts.

Reducing reliance on emails and phone calls

Both email and traditional voice calls often leave a lot to be desired, in terms of how personal they feel as well as how effective they are in enhancing productivity.

Checking and digging through an inbox all day is a huge time sink, not to mention a somewhat impersonal way to interact with people – after a while, everyone can feel like just a name next to a message. Phone calls are similarly problematic and somewhat anonymous, although a bit better since you can at least hear what the other person sounds like.

While moving on from email has long been a priority for many workers and their organizations, only recently has doing so become really practical. Chat apps provide strong alternatives to rifling through emails or setting aside lots of time for phone calls. Messages can be exchanged in real time, so there’s not the delay of email. Plus, files can easily be shared in the conversation, while built-in search makes it straightforward to find what’s needed.

Workplace chat can work well in tandem with video conferencing, too, so that every meeting is set up for success and can be properly followed-up on. Cisco Webex provides the integrated collaboration capabilities, from video to AI-driven meetings, that your organization needs to ensure strong interpersonal connections between your teams.

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

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February update of Webex Teams to include
Webex Teams product update controls

You’re in control

Available to all customers with our May Desktop update, Webex Teams customers will have the ability to control product updates, allowing you to choose how often Webex Teams is updated for your users, providing you with the option to update the app monthly or quarterly. This will allow the number of updates presented to users to be reduced if desired. We’re also enabling you to defer the deployment of these by up to 4 weeks for the monthly update or up to 2 weeks for the quarterly update to enable your business to complete any required validation of the software update. These app update controls will be available through your Admin accessed Control Hub.

Continuous delivery of product improvements

We are witnessing the rapid growth and adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) apps in enterprises across all sectors. With an increasing shift of our workload to the cloud, already almost 100% of all enterprises are using some form of cloud service today.*

Our monthly delivery of Webex Teams adopts this SaaS model and provides users a monthly set of new features and content. With each monthly update of the Webex Teams desktop apps, an organization can easily stay up to date with the very latest features and fixes delivered by our product team, and we would always encourage customers and partners to stay on this cadence.

In fact, much of these improvements are delivered on our Webex platform which is continuously updated to deliver new end users experiences. Keeping on the latest app updates will ensure that your users can take advantage and enjoy these new updates.

Meeting business needs

We recognize that our customers wish to gain the advantages of continuous delivery but balance that with the organization’s needs to be in control of what software is deployed on their desktops and what user experiences are provided.

This balanced approach empowers administrators to meet the needs of stakeholders such as their Security Team but at the same time realize the benefits of managed continuous delivery.

What’s on offer

With these new changes we’re enabling an administrator to opt in and reduce the cadence of the Desktop app updates while also providing for a preview period prior to the rollout of the product update. This new product update program puts the control into the hands of the administrators as

they can choose through Control Hub to deploy Webex Teams at a cadence which works best for their organization. Our cadence options range from every month to every 3 months (Quarterly).

The preview period, defined through a deferral option on Control Hub, complements the cadence program which allows for an organization to preview the product updates prior to an organisation-wide roll out. This deferral window will allow the administrator to pass any required internal validation checks and also allow for the creation of any collateral to support a companywide update or roll out of Webex Teams. This deferral period can range from 1 to 4 weeks.

In Control Hub, administrators can review when any updates are scheduled to roll out to their organization, according to the cadence and deferral options which have been chosen. As normal, end users will receive the standard update icon in Webex Teams and the app will continue to auto update on restart.

Mobile

Our Webex mobile applications can be controlled via Mobile Device Management / Mobile Application Management solutions. More information can be found here

As we move toward a Webex unified application, you will see a continued evolution of the product update management program.

Further Reading
https://help.webex.com/en-us/1c148db/Configure-Product-Update-Controls-for-Webex-Teams

See how you can make teamwork your best work

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What are the configuration policies for Webex Meetings?

IT administrators can add configuration policies to devices that are enrolled in an EMM solution. Sign in to the EMM console and approve Webex Meetings from Managed Google Play. IT administrators can then add app configuration policies for the Webex Meetings mobile app. After a user installs Webex Meetings, their device automatically configures the app.

Read more
Our goal is to make the Webex Control Hub platform the single pane of glass for all sizes of companies from small and medium businesses, all the way up to large enterprises. Sometimes when you have a multitude of devices, and you want to set a new Signage URL on all of them – you probably do not want to do that one by one. In January 2020 we released the ability to bulk set Signage and Tags on devices, allowing admins to make bulk changes in a second!
Webex Control Hub device management enhancements

Control Hub for device management has changed a lot over the last 12 months, and what better way to tell you what you can do then a quick update on some of the biggest features we have released in the past year! Below you will find a subset of all the features we released. And what’s great about it, is that it’s only the beginning.

Taking control over Control Hub

Control Hub is the administration portal for all of the Webex Platform, it covers Calling, Meetings, Teams and Webex Rooms! When it comes to device management, Control Hub is the single pane of glass for all cloud deployments and recently with our new Webex Edge for Devices it can handle some of the On Premises workload as well.

One of most requested features was the ability to edit configurations on devices directly within Control Hub. We delivered this during middle of last year and thus allowed admins to modify settings like Default Call Rate. This even worked if the device was behind a firewall like home offices, giving admins the ability to manage their devices from anywhere.

One of most requested features was the ability to edit configurations on devices directly within Control Hub. We delivered this during middle of last year and thus allowed admins to modify settings like Default Call Rate. This even worked if the device was behind a firewall like home offices, giving admins the ability to manage their devices from anywhere.

The next feature we released was Alerts. This allows admins to get proactive notifications from our platform when a device goes offline or online, or has issues. This has been a popular feature to allow admins to remediate device issues before an end user reports it. You can learn more about this here.

Control Hub Alerts allows admins to get proactive notifications from our platform when a device goes offline or online, or has issues. This has been a popular feature to allow admins to remediate device issues before an end user reports it.

Making multi-device management a breeze!

Our goal is to make the Webex Control Hub platform the single pane of glass for all sizes of companies from small and medium businesses, all the way up to large enterprises. Sometimes when you have a multitude of devices, and you want to set a new Signage URL on all of them – you probably do not want to do that one by one. In January 2020 we released the ability to bulk set Signage and Tags on devices, allowing admins to make bulk changes in a second!

Our goal is to make the Webex Control Hub platform the single pane of glass for all sizes of companies from small and medium businesses, all the way up to large enterprises. That's why we we released the ability to bulk set Signage and Tags on devices, allowing admins to make bulk changes in a second.

One of the benefits of being on the Webex Platform is you never need to manually upgrade your devices! We deploy new software every 2-4 weeks and devices will upgrade over night between 00:00 and 00:30 local time and only when there is no activity. With that being said we wanted to give more control to admins and the ability to preview new bug fixes before they hit the main production systems. In December 2019 we released a new software management page to Control Hub to showcase when the current software was released and when the next version is coming, all together with patch notes.

One of the benefits of being on the Webex Platform is you never need to manually upgrade your devices! Stable Software. we released a new software management page to Control Hub to showcase when the current software was released and when the next version is coming, all together with patch notesIf that wasn’t enough, we also enhanced the amount of information you receive in the analytics and troubleshooting portals of Control Hub. Now device admins can see how their devices are being used in regards to Calling vs Wireless Share and more! This allows admins to really see the return on investment of their devices and help drive adoption services to locations where maybe device utilization isn’t as high as they expected.

Now device admins can see how their devices are being used in regards to Calling vs Wireless Share and more!When there is a reported problem on a meeting you need to be able to troubleshoot what caused the issue, sometimes you need to do that while the call is currently active! This is where our new troubleshooting feature comes to let you see up to the minute live stats from a Webex Meeting in Control Hub and see down to the finer details exactly what is causing the reported problem.

Last but not least is the ability to use public APIs to get information from Places/Devices and direct access the device via Cloud xAPI, because we built these APIs on our Webex Platform we can give authorization to third parties directly with our authentication model for Bots and Integrations thus opening up a world of possibilities.

Third-party integrations made simple

Last but not least is the ability to use public APIs to get information from Places/Devices and direct access the device via Cloud xAPI, because we built these APIs on our Webex Platform we can give authorization to third parties directly with our authentication model for Bots and Integrations thus opening up a world of possibilities. You want to poll the device for the last call packet loss? No issue! Or send a command to dial into meeting from a white glove service? We got you covered! Check out our APIs over at the Developer Portal.

This is just some of the enhancements we have made to the Webex Platform for Room Devices but we are just getting started, 2020 we will bring more enterprise level features to Control Hub like deploying Web Applications and more bulk configuration options! If Control Hub isn’t a daily tool in your arsenal to manage and monitor Webex Devices, hopefully this changes your mind.

Get Control Hub today

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Apply branding to your conference devices

How do you assign services to users in Control Hub?

After adding users, you can assign various Webex services to them. While you can edit the services for an individual user, it can be more efficient to edit multiple user’s services at once. To edit multiple users’ services, go to Users, click Manage Users, select Export and import users with a CSV file, and then click Export. In the file that you download, simply add True for the services you want to assign to each of your users. Import the completed file, click Add and remove services, and then click Submit.

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Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to think about how you can fall in love with your meetings again. Cisco Webex Meetings brings teams together, for collaboration that leads to greater business outcomes.
Love your meeting!

Spread the love with meetings

Valentine’s Day is more than just a chance to show affection to a loved one. It’s also a big holiday for shopping and gift-giving, even for single people – sort of like a mini Christmas.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 45% of Americans over the age of 18 (more than 110 million people) identified as single in 2017, a record high. But Valentine’s-related sales have not suffered despite the huge number of singles out there.

On the contrary, they were estimated at nearly $20 billion in 2018, with average per capita spending of more than $143. And it’s not all on greeting cards or chocolates: Gift cards, jewelry, and even pet treats all do big business each February.

What this trend shows us is that there is a lot of love in the air on Valentine’s Day, not just for your significant other, but for everyone you love in your life—and people tend to want to share that through meaningful gifts. This year let’s spread that love even further, into one of the most historically despised, but necessary areas of business—meetings. That’s right, it’s time to start loving your meetings again.

Love it or leave it behind: Why only the best collaboration technology will do

As the Valentine’s Day numbers above illustrate, shoppers don’t skimp on buying something that they think will really impress a significant other or friend. In other words, they don’t usually settle for a second-rate gift. The same principle should apply to tools for team collaboration and communication.

Think of your organization’s current approach to keeping everyone in the loop. Do you have the right technology in place to bring your teams together and keep them collaborating wherever they are? Is it optimized to make the most out of every meeting or communication? Or does it make you want to break up with your meetings altogether?

Name any fundamental flaw with a meeting (too long, not focused enough, etc.), and subpar collaboration technology will only make it worse. Let’s look at five common day-to-day challenges that are preventing effective meetings.

1. Too much multitasking, not enough participation

The problem: Streaming a movie or TV show on Valentine’s Day? It’s possible that you’ll look at your phone or tablet at some point, even while the video keeps playing. The same thing happens all the time with audio-only conference calls, as participants are directing their attention elsewhere. “Sorry, I was on mute” is often code for “I missed what you said since I was checking my email.” Multitasking is hard and bad for focus.

The solution: Setting up a video conference is a proven way to reduce multitasking since it lets everyone be seen. It’s also a good idea for executives and leadership to set an example by not using other technologies during an online meeting.

2. “We could have just covered this in email”

The problem: It’s a common refrain after an unproductive meeting: “This could have been done over email.” But why don’t more meetings just get offloaded onto email? Because email is a very limited communication medium, and not all that efficient. If your inbox is as filled and cluttered as mine, messages can easily get lost and overlooked, plus hours or days can pass between responses. No wonder companies resort to meetings instead, no matter the flaws involved.

The solution: Taking advantage of real-time chat can be advantageous both during and after a meeting. It’s more streamlined and richly featured than email and lets participants get answers quickly and in context. Modern chat platforms also make it easy to search for old content, share files, and conduct digital whiteboarding.

3. The meeting is too difficult to join and engage in

The problem: Sometimes, issues crop up before the meeting even begins. The process for joining one can be needlessly complicated, with required downloads and PINs or limited device support, so that participants need to be in a certain location to join.

The solution: Modern collaboration technology can make it straightforward to get started with any meeting. Multiple devices are supported and joining is as simple as tapping or clicking a button when it’s time. Mute and audio controls also make it simpler for the host to keep things moving once the meeting does begin.

4. There’s uncertainty on who’s in the meeting

The problem: Imagine a conference call with a lot of people on it. Someone starts talking and you have only a vague idea who they are, having only perhaps seen their name in the calendar invite beforehand. Then someone else joins in and you don’t recognize them at all. These gaps can be a distraction in a meeting, especially if the topic contains sensitive information. Also, it’s challenging to get people to participate if you cannot address them by name.

The solution: Increasingly we are seeing AI coming into meeting and collaboration technology, allowing advanced capabilities like delivering instant profiles of meeting participants pulled from social accounts and other directories. Or voice and facial recognition so you can match the name to the face. Accordingly, the meeting can flow better and have better engagement since everyone has some background information on each person and everyone can be addressed by their name. As the use of AI evolves, meetings are only going to get smoother and more productive.

5. Remote workers have too much trouble connecting

The problem: More people are working outside of traditional offices, which is great for flexibility. However, it can be challenging for these workers to keep in touch if the meeting software they’re supposed to use doesn’t work well across devices or allow for easy collaboration.

The solution: Collaboration tools should work equally well on desktops, phones, tablets, and video conferencing systems, as applicable. That way, they can support remote and mobile workers who might take calls on the go, at home, or occasionally at a company office, too.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to think about how you can fall in love with your meetings again. Cisco Webex Meetings brings teams together, for collaboration that leads to greater business outcomes.

Is today the day you fall in love? Let’s see, and try Webex for free.

Does Webex Meetings work with any popular learning management systems?

Webex Meetings has added Blackboard Learn to our already extensive list of popular learning management systems. With this integration, instructors can have the full Webex Meetings experience within the Blackboard Learn environment. Aside from being able to hold virtual classes for distance learning, instructors can also have office hours and ad-hoc meetings with students, and even message students – all within the Blackboard learning interface. These integrations give teachers and students a great way to connect within the environment to which they are accustomed.

Learn More

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Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

US Census Bureau

By the Numbers Look at Valentine’s

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If you haven’t heard of Gerard Adams, you should. Adams, 35, is an American entrepreneur. And more than that, he’s a dreamer, a leader, a philanthropist, and investor.
How one man became a self-made millionaire

Self-made millennial millionaire

Gerard Adams, did not take the “traditional route” to get where he is today.

If you haven’t heard of Gerard Adams, you should. Adams, 35, is an American entrepreneur. And more than that, he’s a dreamer, a leader, a philanthropist, and investor. His claim to fame happened at the young age of 24. He left college at Caldwell University to pursue his dreams, with the goal of finding a way to give a voice to the millennial generation.

Leaders create leaders

After a few failures, numerous obstacles, and moments of self-doubt, he founded EliteDaily.com, a news site targeted toward the newest generation entering the workforce. He knew his audience well and had an uncanny drive to succeed. With a lot of hard work, his venture paid off a few years later when Daily Mail bought his site for $50 million.

A millennial himself, he understands the generations’ desire to break molds, and a have/create purposeful work. He encourages people to take the road less traveled and believes wholeheartedly that your background doesn’t matter as much as your desire to succeed.

The millennial mentor

Since selling his company, he continues to innovate within his own brand, as well as investing in other companies. He has become known as The Millennial Mentor because of the persistent effort he places on encouraging others, both in the millennial generation, and outside of it, to go after their dreams.

Exclusive live coaching

On February 20, 2020 Cisco Webex is hosting an EXCLUSIVE live coaching session with Gerard Adams.

In this live event, you’ll hear firsthand from Gerard on how you can take your business to the next level. He’ll focus on how to become a powerful leader, drawing from his own experiences, and covering topics, including:

  • The rituals and habits of a successful leader
  • How to lead a team
  • How to lead a movement

Gerard will also take questions from the audience, giving you the chance to get personalized coaching and advice.

You can lead at any age, in any job, at any company. Don’t miss this chance to hear from a self-made millionaire on how you can advance your leadership skills.

Click to register today:

Topic: Becoming a Powerful Leader in Business and Life, a live coaching session with Gerard Adams

Date/Time: February 20, 2020, 10:00am PST

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You can also start a Webex personal room meeting or a Webex scheduled meeting from the Webex tab. To make it easy, you can invite all channel members by checking the box right under the ‘Start Meeting’ button.
Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams: Working better together

Challenging transitions

Earlier this year, I was super lucky to have the opportunity to visit some of our very important financial and federal customers in Washington DC and Baltimore. The goal was to conduct user research in order to understand their needs and challenges. It is always so valuable to hear customers’ motivations, opinions, and how they use our product first hand!

Of course, as a product manager, it is rewarding to hear the things that our customers love about Webex: how easy it is to schedule and join a meeting and to easily share content. But, it’s also important to hear the things they would love to see in the future and how they would like to see the product evolve. The customers we interviewed have end-users that use Webex Meetings for all types of different interactions: one-on-one meetings, team meetings, workshops, trainings, quarterly reviews, company all-hands. Most use multiple third-party applications before, during, and after their meetings, and the biggest pain-points they shared were around those transitions.

Simplifying customers’ day in the life

We asked our customers to tell us about their ‘day in the life’ and it was very interesting to see how many different applications they use to get their jobs done. For example, one manager told us that many of her meetings are impromptu as a result of a 1:1 or a group chat. So, for her, switching from her messaging app to starting a meeting on Webex happened many times a day. Everyone we talked to told us how important it is for them to be more efficient and ensure that the tools are simple to use and provide flexibility for their end-users.

Webex has one consistent and simple join meeting experience and the best mobile experience on the market, and now we are making sure that it is integrated with our customers preferred third-party collaboration tools. In my last blog, I shared how our integrations team has been building bridges for Webex and delighting our customers with a seamless end user experience. Today, I would like to tell you about another great project that has been in the works: the Webex Meetings for Microsoft Teams integration.

Boost productivity by bringing the power of Webex Meetings into Microsoft Teams

If you use Microsoft Teams to chat with your colleagues, you will now be able to schedule, start or join your Webex Meetings from without having to sign out of Microsoft Teams. This will definitely make the day in your life much simpler!

Watch the video:

Schedule, start, or join Webex Meetings directly from Microsoft Teams

We have created a Webex tab within Microsoft Teams that is super user friendly. You can schedule a meeting for the channel by selecting ‘Schedule’, then you can fill in all the details in the dialog pop-up. You can even schedule recurring meetings with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly frequency.

You can also start a Webex personal room meeting or a Webex scheduled meeting from the Webex tab. To make it easy, you can invite all channel members by checking the box right under the ‘Start Meeting’ button.

You can also start a Webex personal room meeting or a Webex scheduled meeting from the Webex tab. To make it easy, you can invite all channel members by checking the box right under the ‘Start Meeting’ button.

Webex personal tab

To make it even more user friendly, we also added your very own Webex personal tab, which you can quickly get to from the left rail in the Microsoft Teams app. From there, you can schedule meetings with anyone, whether they are in a channel or not.

Upcoming Webex Meetings list

From the ‘Upcoming Meetings’ list on the right side of the Webex tab, you can join your meeting by clicking on the ‘Join’ button, which will be visible once it’s time to join. If you are the host, then you will be also be able to start your meeting from the list.

From the ‘Upcoming Meetings’ list on the right side of the Webex tab, you can join your meeting by clicking on the ‘Join’ button, which will be visible once it’s time to join.

Notifications in your Webex Tab and in your Microsoft Teams channel

In the Webex tab, in the ‘Upcoming Meetings’ list, if a meeting has started, you can see the meeting time elapsed as well as how many people have already joined the meeting. And when you hover over the ‘People’ icon, you can see their names.

 In the Webex tab, in the ‘Upcoming Meetings’ list, if a meeting has started, you can see the meeting time elapsed as well as how many people have already joined the meeting. And when you hover over the ‘People’ icon, you can see their names.

In the Microsoft Teams channel, when a meeting has started from the Webex tab, you get a notification so you can join directly from there.

In the Microsoft Teams channel, when a meeting has started from the Webex tab, you get a notification so you can join directly from there

And when the meeting has ended, you get an end-of-meeting notification in the channel.

End-of-Meeting notification

If you have recorded your meeting, then you will receive a notification in the channel when the recording is available.

If you have recorded your meeting, then you will receive a notification in the channel when the recording is available.

Streamlining your day with Webex

By walking in our customers’ shoes from the first coffee and checking that first message of the day until they are ready to call it a day, I learned that streamlining the various transitions that they need to make throughout their day is definitely key to increasing their productivity. That’s why I am so excited to be able to announce this integration! The Webex Meetings for Microsoft Teams integration and many other integrations that we have been working are creating a cohesive ecosystem with the aim of enhancing our customers’ daily routines.

Please visit the Cisco Webex App Hub to learn more about the Cisco Webex Meetings for Microsoft Teams integration

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Communication is key to business. But too often, communication itself gets in the way of how businesses work. Whether it's aligning sales and marketing or coordinating on project workflow status, efficient and effective communication can be hard to come by. This is especially the case when companies are dependent on traditional conference calls, which can be limiting.
How video improves communication during any conference call

Top reasons why video conferencing benefits communication

Communication is key to business. But too often, communication itself gets in the way of how businesses work. Whether it’s aligning sales and marketing or coordinating on project workflow status, efficient and effective communication can be hard to come by. This is especially the case when companies are dependent on traditional conference calls, which can be limiting.

Communicating on strategy or instructions is improved with screen sharing software, which allows meeting participants to integrate video into the proceedings — the next best thing to being in the physical room at the same time.

Want to drive better internal coordination and collaboration while on a call? Consider these reasons for how screen sharing and video conferencing can improve communication.

Video reveals nonverbal expression

Body language and facial expressions matter. Yet these levels of communication are imperceptible on traditional conference calls. Video can make these nonverbal cues seen, which may help increase productivity and provide a better experience over other forms of communication.

When an office worker calls IT for help, for instance, the technical directions can become burdensome to explain over the phone. Also, with traditional calls, remote IT help doesn’t have actual visibility into the situation. Add video, however, and tickets can be resolved more quickly when IT can explain solutions by demonstrating the required steps or live trouble-shooting. These gestures are invaluable to helping a non-IT expert understand the instructions.

Video helps nurture client relationships

Communication in both sales and customer service is improved when video is integrated into processes. Video conferencing software can pay dividends early on in the sales process when reps can hold face to face meetings with prospects. This dimension of communication can help build trust and credibility — don’t discount the value of eye contact when listening to clients explain pain points or their company culture.

Video helps foster a better client experience, which can move the sales process along. Video also comes into play with customer service and retention. Having video on a quarterly or monthly update keeps the client relationship fresh, while also making it easier to explain performance metrics or other details.

Video facilitates creative team collaboration

It can be hard for a graphic designer to get their visual concept across when restricted to the format of the traditional conference call. While they may be able to see the image in their head, or even sketch it out on paper, the other meeting participants don’t have as great a level of insight, which can stunt collaboration.

Video can help solve this challenge by allowing creative team members to share their ideas and or workshop concepts with other attendees in real time and with the aid of a professional tool. A designer may use screen sharing to cast a video of them using a drawing program, while architects on a call could use a building modeling platform to collaborate.

Video provides indelible records

It can be difficult to record every word said on a conference call, even when meeting participants take scrupulous notes. There’s no such gaps or oversights when using the recording feature on a video call.

The preservation of video is a huge advantage to communication. Records-keeping processes are substantially improved and videos can provide reference for future users. For example, a video recording of a sales demo can be archived for training purposes. Besides helping provide ironclad history of instructions or strategy, video can also help with business continuity.

Video helps power remote workforces

Remote workforces are more the norm for businesses these days, from startups and small businesses to enterprise-level companies. Employers have been pressed with increasing expectations for flexible working arrangements, but they’ve also seen the inefficiencies such setups can lead to. Video-powered conferencing is a way to address those productivity drags head-on by giving remote, home-based, and traveling coworkers an engaging and easy way to communicate on a day-to-day basis.

Team members who are miles apart but working on the same project can use video to provide updates or otherwise coordinate on next steps. Video helps companies avoid some of the major pitfalls companies encounter with remote workforces. Managers who have video-based check-ins can better assess performance and help form bonds with a direct report who they’ve never met before.

Video improves onboarding

Onboarding is a crucial stage for both employees and clients. You want to ensure that new hires have the support and information to be productive, and that clients can realize value or return on investment. Information retention is improved with video, while sales reps or managers have a greater ability to course correct during the early stages of the relationship to avoid common obstacles. Familiarity is beneficial at such stages, but something that traditional conference calls can’t provide with only voice.

Video is a powerful and efficient channel for delivering communication. Businesses can leverage video conferencing and screen sharing in internal and external interactions. Interested in learning more about video features and the software needed to support such implementations?

Learn about our screen sharing solution or get started with a free plan today.

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Why screen sharing works better for sales than traditional conference calls

Make screen sharing work for sales

Sales meetings need to be well-oiled machines. Any hitch in the process can negatively impact the experience for prospective clients. With the traditional conference call, there’s a lot of risk that something could go wrong, whether meeting participants talk over one another or lack technical coordination.

Such meeting formats can derail the sales process quickly, yet many businesses still depend on traditional conference calls when customer expectations increasingly demand clear presentations and engaging experiences.

Bad meetings waste opportunities

Not only is such inefficiency harmful to the sales cycle, it comes with several costs. According to a report from Swiss online scheduler Doodle, the economic costs of poorly organized meetings in the U.S. reached nearly $400 billion in 2019. A less-than-satisfactory experience may lead to lost revenue opportunities, wasted time, and other costs.

A solution to the organized chaos of traditional sales conference calls is screen sharing. With the help of screen sharing software, sales teams can more effectively engage prospects over the phone and through shared on-screen materials.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why screen sharing works better than traditional sales conference calls.

Screen sharing facilitates efficient meetings

Disorganization is too often the natural state of conference calls without the aid of screen sharing software. Just think about how disjointed personal introductions can be when each new meeting participants dials in and there’s no certainty as to who is actually on the line. At a basic level, screen sharing works to provide this visibility into call attendance with a meeting room dashboard. Practically, this helps sales reps maintain better control so everything runs according to plan.

Coordination in online meetings is significantly improved through screen sharing when it comes time to look at a presentation deck or other piece of collateral. At this point, traditional calls pause as everyone shuffles through papers or frantically searches an inbox for an attachment they never actually ended up receiving, so then more time is spent forwarding a simple one-pager. Ten minutes later the sales playbook is out the window.

With screen sharing, sales reps can instantly cast their screen to others in the meeting room, ensuring they have access to the document that’s currently being discussed. This also ensures that participants can follow in real time, eliminating the disruption posed by questions like “What page are we on?”

Screen sharing improves communication with visuals

Your teams puts a lot of time into creating and personalizing sales presentations; screen sharing ensures that those efforts don’t go to waste. Everyone in the screen sharing session can view documents together. Multimedia can help add dynamism to a sales presentation, and there’s no way to guarantee on a traditional call that everyone is following along at the same rate.

Visual learning is important to overall communication, but especially for sales. Graphical elements presented through screen sharing can help illustrate numbers that lack life on a traditional sales call, as well as reinforce benefits and convey brand identity.

With screen sharing, you can integrate video seamlessly into a presentation without worrying about it crashing for other participants. You could even exit the presentation and easily pull up a YouTube video and have it stream to the entire audience. The power of visuals can truly be harnessed this way.

Screen sharing allows participants to go mobile

Sales reps and prospects are busy people, often on the go and traveling. That can make it hard if someone has to take a call while waiting at the airport gate or otherwise in transit and away from their work set-up. Screen sharing software tackles this potential problem by allowing them to call through a mobile app and view presentation materials through their personal mobile device or laptop.

This level of support is important for remote workforces, which are becoming the standard for many companies, rather than the exception. Enabling a sales staff to sell while on the road is crucial to seizing opportunities.

Screen sharing enhances the experience

Screen sharing and video conferencing make it feel like you’re in the same physical room as other participants (without the cost of plane tickets and hotel bills). In the sales process, fostering this type of close relationship is important to winning over leads, as well as maintaining existing accounts. You can put faces to names, which builds familiarity — and thus trust — with customers.

Not only does screen sharing improve coordination, but also collaboration. Sales people can pass presenter authority to other participants on the call. They could also deviate from the presentation to try to find answers to a question.

There are countless pitfalls to the traditional sales call, and sales teams needn’t try to continually dodge them. With screen sharing software, sales calls are better managed and more engaging, which creates an ideal experience for the prospect or client. Looking for a platform to enable to gain this capability? Cisco Webex has a reliable screen sharing solution to facilitate better sales calls.

Get started with a free plan today.

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Source: https://meeting-report.com/financial-impact-of-meetings/0

 

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We have built a new page in Webex Control Hub for Room OS devices to see what has changed since the last release, and what day these changes will hit your production system.
Improvements over RoomOS releases from Control Hub

Manage RoomOS software on Control Hub

A few years back, we started our journey to the Cloud. There are multiple benefits of having your room devices registered to the Cisco Cloud. We are serious about security, so when you migrate to the Cloud, we can push security updates and important software patches when needed, which is a capability that we are very proud of.

However, throughout the process of making the best and most secure software available we downplayed how important it is for admins to have as much visibility as possible. Visibility into what’s been fixed, what’s in the next release, when it will be pushed, and everything associated with deploying new releases. In the end, these devices are running in your network, and you are responsible for them. Therefore, we have made it easier to know when the latest software is available for your Webex Rooms endpoints.

We have built a new page in Webex Control Hub for Room OS devices to see what has changed since the last release, and what day these changes will hit your production system.

What’s new

We have built a new page in Webex Control Hub for Room OS devices to see what has changed since the last release, and what day these changes will hit your production system. This doesn’t stop here – we are also giving everyone the opportunity to have selected devices in an earlier build. We are calling this preview, and the idea is that admins have the opportunity to validate bug fixes and new features before deploying to production. If you find an issue you can simply click Report Issue directly in Control Hub to send us a ticket.

These changes are available today! Go to your Control Hub and find the new page and start playing with it, and of course provide as much feedback as possible so we can keep improving our tools.

Get Control Hub today

Learn More

Fast track your adoption with Cisco Webex Control Hub

See all the Webex RoomOS releases

Why Collaboration IT Administrators Trust Webex

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Ever get a message that you just can’t figure out how to respond to? If, like many of us, your answer is yes, then this feature is for you. This month, Webex Teams is introducing a new way to respond to messages.
January update of Webex Teams

DESKTOP

Respond with a reaction! (Windows and Mac)

Ever get a message that you just can’t figure out how to respond to? If, like many of us, your answer is yes, then this feature is for you. This month, we’re introducing a new way to respond to messages. Reactions are an exciting new feature which allow you to acknowledge your colleagues’ messages without even touching your keyboard. Choose from six different emojis and add up to two reactions to any message in a space. Reactions are also a great way to get quick feedback on an idea.

Choose from six different emojis in Webex Teams and add up to two reactions to any message in a space. Reactions are also a great way to get quick feedback on an idea.

Find Messages Faster (Windows and Mac)

Sometimes I find myself scrolling through the message history of a space looking for a certain message or file. This is time consuming and isn’t always the most successful method. Then I remember that we have a quick way to search in a space by using the ‘In:’ modifier in a search. This month, we’re making that search modifier much more convenient to use. You will find a magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of every space next to the call/meet button, and with one click, you can search through all the messages or content of the selected space. Talk about a time saver!

This month in Webex Teams You will find a magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of every space next to the call/meet button, and with one click, you can search through all the messages or content of the selected space. Talk about a time saver!

Tour Webex Teams (Windows and Mac)

New to Webex Teams? Don’t worry, our new in-app mini tours will help you find your way around. The first phase of these tours will include a tour of the app, how to contact a person or create a space, as a well as an option to practice starting a meeting. The goal of these tours is to make the onboarding experience quick and easy for new users. Users can find and access these tours at any time by clicking the ‘?’ help icon on the lower left corner of the app. The help center is still accessible through a link of this new widget. Over the next few months, you can expect to see new tours and help options added to this widget.

New to Webex Teams? Don’t worry, our new in-app mini tours will help you find your way around. The first phase of these tours will include a tour of the app, how to contact a person or create a space, as a well as an option to practice starting a meeting.

Pop Out Calls and Meetings (Windows and Mac)

We all like to multi-task. It’s something we’ve all learned to love in the modern work environment. Back in October, we made it possible to pop-out chats and spaces so you could focus on certain conversations. Now, your calls and meetings will pop out into a new window. This means you can be productive in Teams and present in a call or meeting at the same time.

Calling – When you’re calling someone, the call window will pop out, and you will be able to access all your calling features. You will still be able to respond to critical messages.

Meetings – After you click to join your meeting, the new pop-out window will let you choose your audio and video preferences for the meeting. So, if you don’t want to join with your video turned on, you can turn it off. When you have some downtime in your meetings, you can keep reading and responding to messages in your spaces.

New Salesforce Bot for Webex Teams (Windows, Mac, and Mobile) 

Now, you can create Salesforce Opportunities, Contacts, and even Tasks directly within Webex Teams. Leveraging the new Buttons & Cards framework, the latest Salesforce Alerts bot now lets you and your team members quickly choose from drop-down menus and lists to create and update Salesforce records instantly while also taking advantage of time-critical notifications.

Learn more about it here and other Apps on the Webex App Hub.

Choose from six different emojis in Webex Teams and add up to two reactions to any message in a space. Reactions are also a great way to get quick feedback on an idea.

Buttons and Cards School (Windows and Mac)

Have you heard about the new Buttons and Cards feature, but haven’t had the time to dig in and understand what it takes to add Buttons and Cards to your Webex Teams messaging application? Now there is a fun and easy bot that can teach you all about Buttons and Cards using… Buttons and Cards! If you already have some experience creating Webex Teams messaging applications and need to get up to speed on Buttons and Cards, this bot is for you, just add cardSchool@webex.bot to a space and take your messaging app to the next level.

New Design for Teams Tab (Windows and Mac)

This month brings a whole new visual design to the ‘Teams’ tab of Webex Teams. The goal of this change is help make it easier to find a team quickly.

This month brings a whole new visual design to the ‘Teams’ tab of Webex Teams. The goal of this change is help make it easier to find a team quickly.

Visual Improvements for Notifications (Windows)

The notification toasts you receive for messages, meetings and calls in Webex Teams will now be a lot clearer with new visual enhancements.

MOBILE

New Filter Navigation (Android)

Filters are moving onto the top right of your spaces list, the same as is currently in desktop. This makes it a whole lot easier for you to access your filters faster while on mobile.

Separate People and Spaces with Tabs (Android)

We’re giving you the option to choose how you view your spaces. You can keep spaces all in one list or you can choose to have them organized in tabs. The tabs allow you to view your group spaces separately from your one to one chats with people. You will also still have the option to view them in one flat list with the ‘all’ tab.

Keep Your Favorite Spaces at the Top (Android)

We’re making it easier for you to focus on those most important spaces. Let them take their well-deserved position at the top of the spaces list. You can focus on those conversations and get back to them quickly. Don’t worry; you’ll still see your other spaces too, just below the favorites in the list.

CALLING

Support for Bluetooth Cisco Headsets (Windows and Mac)

You can connect to the Cisco Headset 700 Series headsets using Bluetooth and make and answer calls, mute them, and put them on hold directly from the headset controls.

Share Your Screen While on a Call using your Personal Device (Windows and Mac)

Do you use your personal device to make calls? We’re adding a new Share option to Webex Teams for these calls. When you’re on a call using your personal device, you can choose to share your screen into the call without joining the audio and video of the call.

Lock Symbol for Secure Phone Calls (Windows and Mac)

When you’re on a secure phone call, you’ll see a lock symbol in the spaces list and in the call too letting you know that it’s secure. We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM).

Add a Pause to a Dial String (Windows and Mac)

You can add a pause to an entered phone number, which you might need if you’re joining a conference call and need to enter numbers in response to the automated system. You can add a comma (,) to the number, which gives a 1-second delay in the dialing. You can add several commas in a row to extend the delay. You could enter something like: 95556543123,,,,56789. We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM).

MEETINGS

Enhancements to Joining Meetings (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

We’re giving you more control over the video and audio options you can use before you join your meetings. You can now: join with your camera off, with your audio muted, or without audio at all. If you use Webex Meetings, these new features should look familiar to you!

Support for Local Calendars (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If your administrator enables Cisco Webex Hybrid Calendar Service, you can view your local calendar on your mobile device to the calendar in Webex Teams.

See how you can make teamwork your best work

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Wireless sharing from teams app into personal mode. You can also choose to share the full screen, or select an app from your computer. This gives you more control over what you share, and can spare you from the embarrassment of accidentally sharing pictures of your cat instead of the monthly revenue report.
Webex RoomOS: January 2020 update

Happy New Year! The software team here at Cisco are feeling fresh, rested and full of inspiration, and we hope you are too! This January, we have released two new features that will make things a little easier for both admins and end users.

Software Control

Admins want control over their software deployment. We get it. That’s why we are releasing a new section inside control hub. You can easily see the date of the next software release, and it gives you transparency into the bugs fixed by this release. We have also made sure to link to the website that contains the information about new features included in the release, so that you can stay in the loop about everything that is new. This new feature is bringing you closer to what you need.

We have also released a new Preview channel. This allows you to have early access to new software releases, and you can roll this out on a few endpoints of your choice. Usually this is available two weeks in advance of the official release. The Preview channel contains everything you would expect to know: the date of the next preview release, bugs fixed, and links to the features in the preview channel.

We value your feedback. It’s what makes us, and the solutions that we deliver better. That’s why we have added a Feedback button, where you can deliver your feedback to our business unit.

Wireless Sharing from Teams App into Personal Mode

When we released personal mode for devices, you were not able to wirelessly share into it. However, this has been on our agenda for a long time, and is finally ready to launch. So, we updated our Teams app so you can wirelessly share into your personal mode device once you are in a call! This really makes content sharing simple and seamless. Just how we like it.

You can also choose to share the full screen, or select an app from your computer. This gives you more control over what you share, and can spare you from the embarrassment of accidentally sharing pictures of your cat instead of the monthly revenue report. Trust me on this one.  You can check out the help article here.

Admins want control over their software deployment. We get it. That’s why we are releasing a new section inside control hub. You can easily see the date of the next software release, and it gives you transparency into the bugs fixed by this release.

That’s all for January, but we have a lot of more in the pipeline. You can expect Guest Pair and Share in the upcoming months – a feature that I know is highly requested.

Learn More

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On-boarding made easier through communication skills and collaboration tools

Starting a new job at a new company is exciting, but often comes with challenges. These can range from understanding your role to understanding your team’s role in terms of the broader scope of the company to even finding out who does what, and who to go to for specific requests. Not to mention trying to understand company lingo/new acronyms. It’s all a bit of a learning curve at the beginning.

And now, some companies have the tools and technology to hire employees to work remotely. Remote working comes with many benefits, but as a new employee, the aforementioned challenges can be made even trickier.

However, an article titled “Ramp Up Your New Employees Better with Great Communication Training,” details how companies can train and onboard new employees wherever they are, with communication skills, to avoid some of the challenges that come with starting a new job.

Cory Treffiletti, Global head of Marketing for Cisco Webex, says “Improving the on-boarding process pays clear dividends in the form of higher employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. And leveraging the same communication and collaboration tools the business relies on can make the process more effective while also preparing the employee for the working habits and culture of their new company.”

Read the following article to learn a bit more on how your company can leverage your collaboration tools to better onboard new employees.

Ramp Up Your New Employees Better With Great “Communication Training”

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Webex Meetings January 2020 Update: New improvements and new integrations for the new year
Webex Meetings January 2020 Update: New improvements and new integrations for the new year

In the first Webex Meetings update of the new decade, we’re taking on some irritations of video conferencing, such as when networks are lossy or when the background is noisy. Plus, we’ve added some new integrations and are sharing the next evolution of our VDI client strategy which will make Webex Meetings more accessible to you and easier for your organization to deploy.

Great video even when your network is not

If you’re working at home, at the airport, or at a coffee shop, we all know network fluctuations are a fact of life. And that means, the video you send into Webex Meetings is also at the mercy of those network ups and downs. Because our “workplace” is more and more variable these days, we’ve tuned Webex Meetings so that your video resolution is less sensitive to network instabilities. Now, the Webex desktop app only downgrades your video when packet loss or network delay is consistently degraded. So, you’ll be able to send stable video at high resolutions into your meeting even as the quality of the network fluctuates. This applies to both Windows and Mac desktops.

Background noise? No problem.

Speaking of working outside the office, it can also be noisy in all of those places where networks are iffy. We’re working to solve this with improved noise detection and suppression algorithms in Webex Meetings so that your voice won’t be negatively impacted by background noises. As a result, when you’re using the Webex Meetings desktop app with computer audio, your voice will remain clear even when the barista is yelling out the next order.

More Webex for better learning

Webex Meetings has added Blackboard Learn to our already extensive list of popular learning management systems. With this integration, instructors can have the full Webex Meetings experience within the Blackboard Learn environment. Aside from being able to hold virtual classes for distance learning, instructors can also have office hours and ad-hoc meetings with students, and even message students – all within the Blackboard learning interface. These integrations give teachers and students a great way to connect within the environment to which they are accustomed.

Webex Meetings desktop app optimized for VDI

We’re excited to announce beta trials for the Webex Meetings desktop app, which is fully optimized for VDI environments. With this optimization, when your users attend a meeting in a VDI environment, Webex Meetings routes all audio and video streams directly between the thin client and the Webex Cloud without going through a hosted desktop. There’s no requirement for Cisco Unified Call Manager or Cisco Expressways to deploy and use this app. This is initially available on Citrix-hosted desktops and Windows thin clients. If you’re interested in trialing this functionality, please reach out to your Cisco Collaboration account manager.

Additional info

For more information on these features, please visit the Webex Help Portal – What’s New for the latest versions of Webex Meetings (40.1).

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New collaboration technologies and nomad-style workers have changed the office environment. Huddle-spaces and hot desking are taking over the traditional stationary office set-ups.
Working at the intersection of design, function and technology: Salamander Designs and Cisco Webex Rooms

Technology alone is not enough

Work spaces should be a source of inspiration. But they can also be a source of stress, frustration and can put a damper on productivity if they are poorly designed. Ever had a “work from home” day impacted by clutter, outdated furniture and half-painted walls? Yeah, me too.

The same thing goes for the office. You want an office environment that inspires productivity. Stepping and almost stumbling across a set of wires to get to your next meeting, only to find that the set-up is all wrong and you can’t even get everyone on camera does not set you up for a great start.

A company that knows a thing or two about aesthetically pleasing, functional furniture is Salamander Designs. They offer huddle stations, mobile stands/carts, videoconferencing all-in-one solutions, and more. Founded in Connecticut more than 25 years ago, Salamander provides furniture that effortlessly integrates with technology – and fully Cisco compatible! Today’s workforce requires more from their employers; not only do they want flexible working arrangements and collaboration technologies that allow them to connect with those who matter, when it matters, but they also want to be in an office that is beautiful and functional. We met up with folks from Salamander for a little chat about all things design, collaboration technology and changing employee expectations.

Working at the Intersection of Design, Function and Technology: Salamander Designs and Cisco Webex Rooms

“Most often,  our clients have two priorities. One  is all about function and another one is all about design, and we want to get it right and completely satisfy both concerns.” – Scott Srolis, Sr. VP Sales and Marketing, Salamander Designs.

Preparing for the unpredictable

New collaboration technologies and nomad-style workers have changed the office environment. Huddle-spaces and hot desking are taking over the traditional stationary office set-ups. These changes are often cumulative or unpredictable – and it can get very expensive. Chris Discotto, Director of Sales for Salamander Designs, sees their furniture as a labor-saving piece, creating flexible solutions that save money in the long run: “When offices get redesigned, you can simply and easily reposition the cabinet, which is much more affordable  and faster than traditional construction solutions. If you redesign the office, you just change the location of the furniture, and we can also change the design.” 

Work-life compatibility

In this day and age, the discourse is no longer on work-life balance, but work-life compatibility. One’s work and private lives are no longer seen as two separate entities where if one holds more weight than the other the balance is off, but rather as something intertwined. Salamander Designs have seen this shift in the demand for a more domestic aesthetic in commercial places. As Chris mentioned: “We have seen a reinvention of market and meeting spaces. Things used to be very grey, there was only a focus on function, not form. But we have seen that employers want their employees to be more comfortable, everyone is working differently right now with different technologies, so there is a need for furniture to reflect and accommodate that.”

There are many things to take into account for organizations that are redesigning their spaces, starting to employ room systems or are at the beginning of their workplace transformation journey. Webex Rooms are designed with the end-user in mind and has fewer points of pain compared to other meeting and endpoint vendors. Don’t just take our word for it, 23 Red Dot awards speak for themselves. The same goes for Salamander Designs’ furniture solutions. They are intuitive, practical and integrate effortlessly with technology and decor. This frees up precious time, so you can focus on what really matters – getting stuff done.

Or, you know, spend your time actually painting the full wall.

Click here to learn more the Webex Room Series can meet you video-conferencing needs

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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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Our team not only runs on Webex, we are responsible for driving Webex adoption for the whole world. If anyone should be able to have the absolute best Webexcellent virtual planning session using the Cisco Webex collaboration suite, it was us.
Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

The beginning of the year is a contemplative time for me. I know I’m not alone in this – but my birthday is in early January so it adds another level of reflection. I like looking back on my year and planning what I’d like to focus on for this year. Last year I had ten intentions for the year and I kinda crushed them. Not bragging, just saying.

Webex online meeting tools

Lucky for me, my team also loves to plan our work and crush our plans. Our leadership team was set to meet in person for three days to plan our year, set goals, and, of course, bond during the process. But this year we decided to skip the trip and do the whole thing on Webex. How would this go? Our team spans three time zones and sitting in a Webex meeting for THREE DAYS… in a ROW could be mind-numbing. Our team not only runs on Webex, but we are also responsible for driving Webex adoption for the whole world. If anyone should be able to have the absolute best Webexcellent virtual planning session using the Cisco Webex collaboration suite, it was us.

Meeting walkthrough

We blocked our calendars for the full workday – but we chose to shorten the virtual planning sessions to be convenient for all time zones. Rather than requiring our West coast team to come to work at 6 a.m. or our East coast team to stay working until 7 p.m., we started the sessions at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time each day.

Having a shorter window of time required us to create a laser-focused set of objectives for our sessions so the time we spent together was the most efficient. Because we knew we didn’t have a second to waste, we came to the meeting prepared with our ideas and input…. And snacks and drinks within arm’s reach.

The truncated meeting window allowed us to do any required work before the next day’s session. The West coasters had a few more hours of the workday left each day and the East coasters could pick up the work when they got to work three hours earlier the next day.

The flexibility of the Webex meetings meant people could work from home or go into the office if they chose. One day a group met in the office and shared a conference room equipped with a Webex Board (and sandwiches for lunch).

To break up the “sitting in one place all day staring at the same screen” vibe – each day we broke into smaller discussion groups to deep dive on a topic or strategy for 30-45 minutes. Then we’d come back to the larger session to share. Some groups used Teams Calling to spin up an instant video call, and others used their Personal Room.

Whether we were in a conference room with a Webex Board or at home with our DX, our video default was always on. Even for snack time. The video wasn’t just a nice to have – it made sure everyone was seen and heard – even if they weren’t speaking. Video made it easy to see the head nods and the sentiment throughout the sessions. It also just made it fun.

Joining and meeting – made easy

The week before the session we used a Webex Team Space to plan and share all the relevant strategy documents we’d need to be familiar with. All the conversations and files and links were all in one place. It was easy while we were in the meeting to find and share our documents. Throughout the week we added new documents, notes, @mentions to track when tasks were assigned to people, useful links, and color commentary. We’ve continued to use this Space after our session to continue the work we’ve started. I know exactly where all the data is, I can continue to ask my team for input on the projects I’m responsible for completing and get answers to my questions in real-time.

Skipping the trip meant we didn’t interrupt our home life routines. We maintained balance. We all kept our New Year’s resolutions. For me, that meant I didn’t have to book travel, get a dog sitter, and I didn’t miss a day of my workouts.

Skipping the trip and meeting on Webex Meetings meant we didn’t interrupt our home life routines. We maintained balance. We all kept our New Year’s resolutionsThe session was a success.

In just a short time and with the help of Webex Meetings:

  • We invested three days to create a solid plan for the year. We set audacious objectives with aggressive key results (OKRs) to hold us to the same high standards we had in 2019.
  • We saved money that would have been used for travel, lodging, and food for twelve people for three days.
  • We reduced our carbon footprint by avoiding car trips, plane flights, the paper flip charts, print outs

What’s next?

If one of your objectives for this year is to have meetings that are supercharged– we got you. Check out our “30-day video challenge” kit and attend our “Thirty day video challenge” online class. Bookmark our revamped Webex adoption page to keep an eye on everything we add to help you collaborate even better in the new decade.

Sign up for the“Thirty day video challenge” online class

Or click here to try Meetings for free

Learn More

On line classes http://cs.co/onlineclasses

All adoption material  http://cs.co/webexadoption

30-day challenge ebook: https://ebooks.cisco.com/story/30dayvideochallenge/

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3 ways screen sharing software can accelerate your sales cycle

Screen sharing is one of the best ways for all meeting participants on a web or video conference to (literally) get on the same page.

It’s simple: Someone clicks or taps a button in the conferencing solution, and then they’re able to show everyone else what’s currently on their display. That could be a single app like a set of web browser windows, a document (PowerPoint deck, Google Doc, etc.), or even their full desktop. 

No matter what’s being shared, screen sharing sessions enable better collaboration. Think of how many times something got buried in your inbox, or was shared in a chat message, but you couldn’t seem to find later on. Screen sharing addresses those issues by allowing presenters walk viewers through a workflow or asset in detail, point by point, in real time.

Is screen sharing the solution to sales cycle difficulties?

It’s no surprise, then, that the distinctive features of screen sharing software can give a big boost to sales agents – a screen share can convey a lot of information very quickly and clearly. That’s perfect in the context of today’s often protracted and fragmented sales cycles: 

  • According to CSO Insights, almost half of all new sales to B2B customers take at least 7 months to close.
  • More than one-third of respondents (35.9%) felt that their communications with customers needed improvement.
  • Poor alignment between sales and marketing teams was another widely cited issue, with many salespeople pointing to lack of well-defined processes at their companies.

Screen sharing solutions can provide much-needed relief and support for sales agents facing these long cycles and communications challenges. Let’s look at three big ways that screen sharing capabilities can help accelerate and streamline sales. 

1. Seeing is believing

The brain is much better at retaining visual information than written or spoken words. By one estimate, it holds on to 65% of images after three days, but only 10% to 20% of non-visual data. 

For a sales prospect, this gap can be the difference between buying what you’re selling and taking a pass. Imagine only describing a product’s lifecycle and features to a potential customer (or sending an email about it), versus being able to actually show it to them in high definition.  

With screen sharing, it’s practical to give the prospect a full walkthrough. Along the way, the sales professional can demo key features in detail, answer questions, and generally give the lead better insight into how the offering works.

Screen sharing has become more popular for these types of in-depth demonstrations. At the same time, it’s important to look for screen sharing solutions that enable the most streamlined experience possible. Prospects should be able to join and participate with ease, e.g. with just the click of a button. That way, they can get right into viewing your screen share.

2. Personalization, made easy

Personalized demos close more deals. After all, every customer wants to know how the product/service being sold will address their particular pain points and benefit their operations. So what is the best way to personalize your sales demo?

One reliable approach is to focus mainly on the features that the customer is most likely to use. For example, if you’re selling accounting software to a client that leases a lot of its equipment, it would be important to highlight how the platform handles lease recognition and various forms of regulatory compliance.

Doing so is easier with screen sharing software. A versatile solution lets your sales team share a variety of assets that can clarify how pivotal features work:

  • By sharing your entire screen, you could show how to open the app, navigate to the correct interface, and perform test actions. 
  • Alternatively, you could share a video or animation that provides another look at how the product works in the real world.
  • Other assets like documents and applications can be shared to add more context and fill in details, for example in response to customer questions.

3. Demo from anywhere and any device

Like the workforce as a whole, sales teams are gravitating toward mobile and remote working arrangements. Allowing sales personnel to work from almost any location has its upsides and downsides, with key implications for an organization’s sales cycle.

On the positive side, the increased flexibility can help keep employees happy by letting them set up their own working environment and proceed at a more self-directed pace. However, there can be some risks when it comes to building camaraderie across the sales team and ensuring that sales professionals can stay productive anywhere. 

This is where screen sharing via a web/video conferencing platform can help. A solution like Webex lets you conduct an engaging sales demo, as long as you have a reliable internet connection and a mobile or desktop device to run the conferencing app. 

Such flexibility across devices can save sales teams the need to make costly trips to customer locations. Plus, high-quality audio and video alongside the screen share means that the online meeting can feel just like an in-office gathering.To learn more about how to use screen sharing for a better sales cycle, get started with a free plan of Webex today.

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Improving patient diagnoses with video conferencing
Improving patient diagnoses with video conferencing

Use of video conferencing in healthcare

Imagine you’re starting to experience pain in your neck. Or you’ve noticed that your lymph nodes are enlarged or swollen. Before panicking, you make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out. Once there, the doctor takes a biopsy and sends it to a lab to be examined and tested.

That’s where Dr. Lester Thompson comes in.

Dr. Thompson started his career as an orthopedic surgeon, but with a passion for pathology, he took a job with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) to render diagnoses and consultations on unusual diseases. After more than a decade, he started Head and Neck Pathology Consultations where he currently works today and has been for the past 16 years, as a consultant pathologist. Tucked away in Woodland Hills, California, he focuses his time and energy on head, neck, and endocrine pathology (think anything below the eyes and above the clavicles). Specifically, he provides a second opinion on pathology cases that are difficult to diagnose. In the nation, there are little more than a dozen other people who do what he does—and in that, there are even further subspecialties.

On a daily basis, he consults with hospitals around the world, primarily interacting with other physicians. Doctors/physicians take samples of tissue or fluids and send them to Dr. Thompson to examine if they are unable to come up with a diagnosis themselves.

Video conferencing with a microscope

Once sent the samples, Dr. Thompson uses his microscope to look for slightest variations between normal and abnormal to give a diagnosis. Once he comes up with a diagnosis, he sends the results back to the requesting pathologist, who then provides the results to the treating physicians who are working with the patient.

The step that enhances this exchange is Webex video conferencing. Pathology is an extremely visual field. Every color, border, size, and shape matters. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth even more”, explains Dr. Thompson. He started using Webex Meetings five years ago to meet with each physician and walk through his pathology reports. He has since taken video conferencing a step further. By attaching a camera to his microscope, he’s able to share his screen in real-time and point out the most important details on the pathology slide, sharing the features that led to his diagnosis. This provides real-time education for the physicians—well beyond anything a static written report could provide—and helps ensure accuracy in the diagnoses for patients going forward. The recorded meetings can be saved to use in further reference and education.

In addition, the security that Webex provides is extremely important in dealing with patient information and records. Because he has complete control over his screen sharing, he can ensure no identifying information is revealed. And with end-to-end encryption, Webex keeps meeting content secure at all times during the meetings.

A bridge from patient anxiety to assurance

While his work typically ends with the physician, he often interacts with the patient directly. One particular case was a little different.

Dr. Thompson received a consultation case for someone in Greece. It was a thyroid case and he was sent a small biopsy of a thyroid tumor to examine. He diagnosed it as an undifferentiated carcinoma, which is a rare and extremely aggressive form of thyroid cancer.  The patient had less than a few months left to live.

The doctor in Greece asked Dr. Thompson if he would be willing to speak to the family so they could better understand the severity of the tumor. Through a video conference using Webex, he spoke to the daughter. Rather than using obscure medical terminology, he chose instead to communicate the essence of time. He asked if there was something that her dad (the patient) had always wanted to do, but hadn’t yet done. Upon learning about a family vacation to Hawaii, he told them to do it in the next month or two. Four months later, the daughter sent Dr. Thompson a postcard from Hawaii, where their entire family, including her dad, got to spend time together on a trip they had always wanted to take—about 6 weeks before he died.

Dr. Thompson comments that Webex meetings are time-independent. You can join with anyone around the world, in any time zone and talk to them like you are there in the room. In this case, he was able to communicate with the patient’s family on a much more intimate level, delivering very sensitive and life-changing news. The video functionality allows for real conversations, and diagnoses and relationships to be formed. That is really powerful.

And, there’s more…

The qualitative use cases are numerous, but Dr. Thompson has also benefited in other ways. When he first started, he was being sent 70 cases per year. Now, he gets up to 1,300 cases per year. His caseload has increased by 10% every year for the past five years. And, with video conferencing and being able to talk to physicians individually, he is able to keep up with each case and provide them the care and time they need.

For Dr. Thompson, his job isn’t about curing everyone. It’s about giving the right diagnosis at the right time so a person knows and understands the next course of action- whether that be treatment, or in severe cases, how much time they may have left to live.

Webex video conferencing is the bridge. It can take a patient from anxiety and uncertainty to understanding and assurance in more ways than one.

Try Webex Meetings for free today and watch the video below:

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