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conference room looking onto Webex devices with main meeting room
Facilitating a safe Return to the Office and creating an Inclusive Hybrid Work environment with Webex Devices

When the world went remote, companies were tasked with equipping their workforce with the collaboration tools they needed to work from home. However, we are slowly returning back into the office, and companies are now faced with another task – supporting a hybrid workforce.

Facilitating a hybrid work environment is no longer an option, but essential for a successful business and a thriving workforce. We need to ensure that remote workers feel included, and that office workers are able to collaborate just as well with their remote counterparts as they are with their colleagues in the office. Here at Webex Devices, we are always striving to create inclusive collaboration experiences for all – whether you are at home, in the office, or anywhere in between.

Making sure everyone is seen and heard with the Webex Room Kit Mini

The Webex Room Kit Mini is our entry level room device perfect for pervasive video collaboration in the hybrid workplace – already equipped with Webex Assistant for a touchless meeting join, and facial recognition to count the amount of people in the room, so you can ensure that capacity limits are being withheld.

Now, we are making the experience for the people on the remote end of the Room Kit Mini even better! We’ve added 5x manual zoom, making it easy for remote participants to see what matters; perhaps you want to show an early prototype of a physical product, or zoom in on a detail. This ensures that everyone can have a say regardless of their work location.

In addition to this, the audio pickup from the internal microphones will now be able to pick up audio clearly up to 4 meters from the device. At a time where there are strict distance requirements, this will make sure everyone in the room is heard clearly for the remote participant. The Room Kit Mini is now also shipping with the award-winning Webex Room Navigator touch controller with environmental sensors that helps ensure the wellbeing of your employees.

We are all adjusting to new cleaning schedules and many environments have heightened cleaning requirements. This is why we are now also offering the Webex Room Kit Mini with a metal grille. This new version makes it easier to clean the device, and for it to stay clean. Please follow our Cisco Guidelines for cleaning products to ensure correct and safe cleaning.

Webex Room Kit Mini

Bringing the new immersive into more meeting rooms

In the era of hybrid work, screen real-estate is a precious commodity. The majority of communication is non-verbal, and for collaboration to be truly efficient one needs to tune into facial expressions and body language. In addition to this, people need to have the same frame of reference – they need to view the same content! This is where multi-screen devices come in. Take for example the Webex Room Panorama. The Webex Room Panorama provides the ultimate immersive videoconferencing experience, built for the modern c-suite.

The Panorama is not only built for the modern C-suite, it is ideal for the hybrid workplace. With two screens for video and one screen for content, The Panorama allows for a rich hybrid collaboration experience – the people on the remote end can see everyone in the room and whatever content is shared, and the people calling in from the Webex Room Panorama can view people spread across the two video screens, and content from the content screen. We believe that everyone deserves to experience beautiful design and powerful functionality, so we’ve now made a low ceiling height version of the Room Panorama! This allows you to equip more of your meeting rooms with immersive video – the new low ceiling height version comes with two 82” screens for a fully panoramic video experience.

The Room Panorama now comes with the new, award-winning Cisco Microphone Array for crystal clear, directional audio. The Cisco Microphone Array recognizes which side of the table the speaker is on and uses advanced audio cancellation techniques to deliver clear audio to remote participants. Deployed together, Webex Room Panorama and the new table microphone helps create the best possible meeting experience for both in-person and remote participants.

Every meeting participant should be a first-class participant, no matter whether they are joining from home, the huddle room or the board room. Webex Devices provides inclusive experiences for everyone.

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Cisco and Prezi enhance the video collaboration experience
Cisco and Prezi enhance the video collaboration experience

Cisco Webex partners with Prezi to deliver an end-user video presentation solution with “the hybrid workplace” and a “10x better experience” in mind. Prezi provides an enhanced and more engaging virtual meeting by immersing the document content right alongside the presenter to capture and retain the audience’s attention.

What is the Webex and Prezi solution?

In an increasingly virtual world, Cisco Webex and Prezi Video bring people together to keep them engaged so that collaboration doesn’t just happen; it flourishes. Prezi Video transforms any content from any application into video-ready, professional graphics. Now your audience will not have to choose whether to concentrate on the speaker or the presentation. They will be able to see you and your content simultaneously, in the same frame. To make it easy for everyone to get started with this new way of sharing, the integration implementation is designed to be as simple as possible. All you need to do is open the Webex and Prezi desktop apps at the same time and import the content that you want to share.

Now you might be familiar with the amazing Immersive Share feature that was added to the Desk Pro. And maybe wondering, “what if you don’t have a Desk Pro?” To further our mission of creating inclusive experiences, we have partnered with Prezi so that Webex users who do not have a Desk Pro can also experience immersive share during their meetings.

Webex partnered with Prezi to deliver a new level of interactivity and engagement in Cisco Webex meetings, unleashing the potential of virtual collaboration. With Prezi as the global leader in virtual presentations and Cisco Webex as a market leader in secure virtual meetings, our products are better together as an amplified solution for our joint customers.

Prezi in virtual presentation

See the Prezi technology in action here for Mac users and here for Windows users.

Customer success stories with Prezi

Prezi Video and Cisco Webex Integration allows ConvergeOne to lead remote trainings  

ConvergeOne was looking for a fresh new way to conduct internal training and onboarding — the shift to a virtual model made it harder to keep remote audiences paying attention. ConvergeOne found that the combination of Webex and Prezi gave them something innovative and captivating for their training attendees. Not only did this solution increase audience engagement, but it also led to better absorption of the material and an enhanced learning environment.

Bret Lathrop, Senior Director Offer Management & International Alliance Practice at ConvergeOne said,

“Strong communication, collaboration, and connection are crucial in helping our organization deliver top-of-the-line solutions to our customers. The combination of Webex and Prezi Video has breathed new life into the way we conduct internal training and engage with our partners & customers and has empowered the team at ConvergeOne to be efficient, impactful, and successful.”

Prezi CEO Jim Szafranski says, “Prezi Video with Cisco Webex helps companies create more engaging video meetings for the new hybrid office. We are pleased to now be a part of the Cisco Webex ecosystem.”

What’s next?

As Cisco continues to develop the ecosystem and partnerships journey, Alyson Hoagland-Pace says, “Cisco has added a missing piece to the user experience by partnering with Prezi to deliver impactful virtual meetings. We are excited about what the future holds.”

Learn more about Webex and Prezi on App Hub or contact your Cisco representative for more information on how to take advantage of this partnership.

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Announcing a Webex special event | The blueprint for Hybrid Work. Made Real.

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Give every Webex attendee a voice: 3 ways Webex makes your virtual meetings and events come alive!

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Break free with breakout sessions
Break free from the crowd by enabling smaller breakout sessions for engaged and focused conversations

About the guest blogger

Getting a handle on engaging students remotely comes with its share of trials and discoveries. Kirsten Mortimer (she/her), Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, shares useful tips all educators can start applying in their classroom now.

Kirsten works with faculty and staff to increase their knowledge of, and proficiency with, technology tools as a member of the Learning Technology Center at the university. She has assisted numerous faculty and instructional staff with learning how to use Cisco Webex as well as how to leverage the suite of products to engage graduate and undergraduate students and enhance their learning experiences during the transition to remote delivery.

Engaging students remotely

Remote instruction using Webex Meetings provides opportunities and challenges for our precious instructional time.

I serve as the lead trainer for Webex Meetings at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, which provides the opportunity to work with many instructors on integrating breakout sessions to accomplish their learning objectives. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have also served as a technology coordinator for a fantastic, seasoned professor emeritus who teaches a few classes.

After first learning the functional aspects of using breakout sessions in Webex, I was ready to click ‘Start Breakouts’ with my class of instructors who would take what they’d learned from me to the wilds of their classrooms. Nervous doesn’t quite cover it!

Tips on smaller breakout sessions

Since that first training and after working with breakouts since the fall in tandem with my adventurous faculty partner, I’ve learned a lot. I highly recommend Beth McMurtie’s excellent article, How to Make Breakout Rooms Work Better, for details on what many of us have learned by trial and error. Here are some Webex-specific tips:

Partner with your students: One music instructor starts her class as a large group and then provides one-on-one instruction to students in a breakout room during the class. While most of the students work together in the main session on a piece, she and an individual dig deeper into that student’s needs. Music mode and the stability of Webex prove invaluable during these sessions.

Breakout session assignments

Use technology to save yourself time: When pre-assignment landed in Webex Meetings, our campus sighed a collective breath of relief. Creating lasting, community-building breakout groups became quick and easy. Pre-assignment makes project work, peer reviews, and complex assignments over multiple sessions more productive and less time-consuming. One instructor developed breakout session groups in his class that met once a week for a few hours. Students dug into complex topics much as they would have in person—virtually ‘moving around’ and being exposed to multiple perspectives during what could have been a long virtual class.

 

Thank you, Webex, for flexibility: While pre-assignment offers consistency, I’ve found that the ‘Reset’ button should be considered a friend. Depending on your class flow, you can start with pre-assigned groups and then shift to new, random groups for quicker exercises. This allows for students to engage with others and keep it fresh. 

 

Don’t be afraid to take chances: For the class where I serve as technology coordinator, Doc teaches in-person with half the class, while myself and the other half of the class join remotely. We send our “onliners” to breakout rooms often while in-person students participate in breakouts together. We get back together for discussion debriefs, often employing chat and a whiteboard to get us on the same page. After using breakout rooms during class, we see more student videos and experience more voluntary sharing by voice and chat. 

 

Stay tuned in: While instructors can join breakout sessions, this can be awkward and may stifle conversation. I’ve found that shared collaborative apps, notably Google Docs and Slides, allow me to keep tabs on student activity without joining the breakout rooms every time. These shared apps also provide documentation for when groups report back to the main session. In one icebreaker, students in the classroom lined up based on height and also birth months. To simulate this activity for our “onliners,” we lined ourselves up using Google Slides in a breakout. After joining the in-person group, we shared the screen to show them how we measured up!

 

Break out of the classroom: Campus leaders continue to amaze me with their creative uses of breakout rooms: student advising walk-in sessions, alumni awards celebrations, active writing groups, student organizations, conference sessions, campus working group problem solving, student government meetings…you name it! Engaging in meaningful experiences often extends outside the classroom.

 

While we want to be experts before trying new methods, I’ve found that the students I work with are willing to take chances, ready to engage with content in new ways and help develop creative ways to use breakout rooms. After all, our goal remains to help them find their voice in a flexible learning environment. 

 

Here’s a guide on how to use breakout sessions.

 

Share your story on the Webex community and read more on how other educators are using breakout sessions in their classrooms.

Kirsten Mortimer
Guest blogger: Kirsten Mortimer (she/her), Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

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Slido blog
Give every Webex attendee a voice: 3 ways Webex makes your virtual meetings and events come alive!

Virtual meetings and engagement are key

“Before you present to an audience, work the room, engage early and get a feel for how people are showing up for your presentation.” This advice came from a presentation class I attended years ago. I remember actually practicing the exercise in front of the class as I was being recorded. The reality is there was tremendous value in the exercise, and watching yourself on video afterward always felt more awkward than the actual exercise.

The 10x Better Experiences with Webex blog series has shown us that with innovations in artificial intelligence and a relentless focus on user experience, virtual meetings can actually be 10x better than in person. As part of this strategy for Webex, audience interaction and engagement play a critical role in fulfilling this promise.

Slido and Cisco joining together to connect like never before in virtual interactions

With the Slido acquisition, Webex has integrated the ability to connect in ways never seen before in virtual interactions. Whether you are in a weekly Webex team meeting, a town hall of a few thousand, or a largescale global physical, hybrid, or completely virtual event, the new Webex audience interaction capabilities will deliver higher levels of user engagement―before, during, and after your meeting or event.

virtual interactions

My team and I have been using Slido for a while now, and it’s a game-changer. Here are 3 ideas to improve your next presentation and deliver compelling interactions with your audience.

How are you feeling today?

Connecting with your audience early is a great way to understand how they show up and the mindset they are showing up with. Consider using a Webex word cloud to poll your audience and share how they feel. You instantly have your finger on the pulse of the audience and tailor your comments to their mindset!

Slido and Webex word cloud

Interactive Q & A

Cisco Webex ensures that everyone is equally included in a meeting experience at home, at the office, or on the go. Sometimes, audience interaction is better typed than spoken based upon location (or try out Webex noise removal ). With interactive Q&A during your meeting, now everyone can participate equally. In addition, you can enable attendees to participate anonymously for those sensitive questions or topics.

interactive Q and A and Slido

Transparency – Post Meeting analytics & results

With Webex, you have the capability to share the results of your audience interaction during and after the meeting. Providing the results to your audience ensures you value their input and they have been heard. In addition, as the presenter, you can collect post-meeting feedback on the effectiveness of your delivery and the value of the content.

transparency post meeting

Combining the all-new Cisco Webex and Slido’s audience interaction capabilities will make seamless collaboration and inclusivity a reality for meetings and events — whether in-person or virtual.

As a presenter, the audience will feel more connected to you, and your content will come alive. All that presentation training you did over the years on how to be a great physical presenter still holds true, but now you don’t have to be a mind reader and easily connect with your audience when using Cisco Webex and Slido.

If you are currently a Webex customer, get ready for the Slido integration coming this Summer as part of your existing Webex subscription, or try it today for free at Slido.

About the author

Brad is the Systems Engineering leader for Cisco’s Global Collaboration Sales organization. His team focuses on bringing Cisco collaboration technology to life for customers and partners. With 20 years of experience in Cisco’s systems engineering organization, Brad has worked across Enterprise, Service Provider, Web, Gaming and Cloud verticals. A CCIE at heart, he spends most of his time now on Cisco SaaS and application business workflows. As a people leader, Brad is passionate about building high performing, culture driven engineering teams that create and enable technology innovation, deliver on Cisco’s overall growth strategy and exemplify Cisco’s amazing culture. #WeAreCisco Follow Brad on his social channels: LinkedIn Twitter

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840 and 860(1).jpg
Deep dive into the new Wi-Fi phones

At Webex One in December 2020, Cisco launched the Webex Wireless Phone portfolio. As smartphones that connect to the network over Wi-Fi, the 840 and 860 deliver a voice, video, meeting and application platform in a mobile formfactor, which has long been desired by our customer base. Looking back at other product offers like the 8821 or 7925 models, it feels like a dream-come-true that Cisco has finally delivered this type of device.

As the son of a medical doctor and the brother of a registered nurse, I’ve seen and heard about many challenges faced by medical professionals. When I was kid, I used to visit my dad’s medical practice and spend time in the front office. Like most medical practices in the United States, my dad’s office was managed as a business. I remember hearing the mechanical clanking of the office manager’s typewriter as she kept the business running on paper and ink. When my dad upgraded to electronic records with the help of personal computers in the mid 1980s, I didn’t realize how that technology shift was a first step that would revolutionize the medical industry (hey, I was just a kid). Since then, medicine has seen a phenomenal shift to electronic data, with devices and applications at the heart of patient care.

Smartphone built for tough workstyles

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s medical professionals are facing more challenges than ever. Webex Wireless Phones help eliminate some of the challenges. These phones are built on Android and provide a platform to run applications from major healthcare vendors. PerfectServe and PatientSafe, for example, have both certified the phones for hardware and software compatibility. Other popular medical applications have been certified as well, and more application vendors will certify the devices in the months to come. And because the phones are Google Certified, administrators can push any third-party application to a phone to enable a patient care use case.

Pregnant Mother

Secure and reliable communications

While the phones provide a great experience in a medical environment, they can also be leveraged in other vertical deployments. One of the best features of the Webex Wireless Phones is versatility. Retail environments can benefit from faster customer responses, like employees using a phone’s barcode scanner to check inventory in the store or just answering incoming phone calls to address customer questions. The phones can also help in manufacturing, too, by providing users the ability to share photos or videos with coworkers to decrease production issues.

In addition to software capabilities, the phones deliver an amazing hardware experience.  They support swappable batteries, which means a user doesn’t have to change devices during a shift.  Plus, the phones can be cleaned with disinfectants to reduce the transmission of viruses, which is very important in relation to the global pandemic.  But maybe the best hardware feature is the IP rating of the phones – the phones can withstand drops and the 860 can survive submersion in water up to a meter deep for up to 30 minutes.

The days of mechanical typewriters may be gone, but products like Cisco’s Webex Wireless Phones are here to help people do their jobs, no matter the industry.

Learn more about the Webex Wireless Phone now

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Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

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

Explore daily product demonstrations

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Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Handwriting text writing Improve Productivity. Concept meaning to increase the machine and process efficiency Male human wear formal work suit presenting presentation using smart device.
Increasing the productivity of your employees

Productivity is a central concern for every business, regardless of size, industry, or history.

More productive employees generally equate to better business results, which is why increasing productivity is an important consideration for managers, supervisors, and leaders. Giving your employees the tools to do more and empowering them to feel confident in that ability can lead to some significant improvements. These actions are especially important as more staff members work from home, whether on a fixed or temporary basis.

Consider this advice as you look for ways to boost employee productivity.

Offer the right tools and support

Technology has not only enabled a wide variety of employees to work from home, but also allows these staff members to capably and dependably fulfill their professional responsibilities. Making sure your teams have the tools they need to perform to the best of their abilities is a simple step that supports productivity in the long run.

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to ensuring staff are equipped to handle anything that comes their way:

  • An internet connection is generally the responsibility of a renter or homeowner. However, there may be situations where staff working on projects that regularly eat up bandwidth could benefit from an arrangement that helps subsidize the cost of upgraded service and reduces the time spent sending and receiving files. This could include paying for part or all of the cost of an Ethernet connection or a mesh network to reduce slowdown and boost performance.
  • Hardware provided by your company, like a computer or mobile device, must support the programs employees need to complete their duties. Making sure they aren’t losing valuable time to slow processing speeds or becoming frustrated by error-prone hardware can definitely pay off. The basic tools needed for video conferencing – a camera and microphone – should also be considered, as this option is increasingly popular and effective for those working from home.
  • As with hardware, software must also align with the expectations placed on employees and empower them to work confidently and quickly. While specific needs often vary, videoconferencing software helps address a common need among nearly all remote employees. Be sure to select a program that supports a rich and immersive environment. Keep an eye out for features like virtual whiteboards, automated transcriptions, and other features that enable creativity, collaboration, and problem solving.

Image of young pleased happy cheerful cute beautiful business woman sit indoors in office using laptop computer listening music with earphones.

  • In case there’s a need for anonymous communication, a good whistleblowing system can provide you with the feature set you need

Focus on feedback

Communication about performance, upcoming projects, company initiatives, and many other important topics allows employees to feel connected to their specific roles and the larger company as a whole. Providing feedback to staff is a foundational part of the manager’s role in an organization. And as more and more employees work from home on a temporary or ongoing basis, it’s even more important to emphasize this type of communication.

Actionable feedback – the kind that employees can digest and then apply to their next relevant task – is vital. While it may be positive, negative, or a mix of the two, ensure your staff can draw meaningful, personal conclusions from such discussions and understand how to incorporate feedback into their work.

This is another area where the right video conferencing solution can go a long way toward boosting productivity. Managers can add more value to feedback by highlighting relevant documents or statistics through a screen share, for example, than they could on a phone call alone.

HR Daily Advisor highlighted how goal setting and performance analysis leads to more informed and productive staff.* Creating a rich environment for sharing feedback tied to goals and performance means less uncertainty and a clearer picture for how to move forward. Read how video improves communication during any conference call.

Streamline meetings and emails

Meetings and messages with a clear purpose and intent are invaluable to the regular and positive operation of a business. However, too many email notifications and time spent away from the task at hand can disrupt staff and reduce their productivity over time.

Inc. contributor Chad Halvorson highlighted excessive meetings and emails as two factors that can drive down productivity.** Even when organized or sent with the best of intentions, these events can be a distraction when they spring up too frequently.

Managers should consolidate messaging when possible. A message sent each day — or every few days  — with various notes that are important but not urgent is less disruptive than several emails throughout each day. A standing weekly team meeting that covers upcoming needs and past performance is more predictable and easier to fit into a schedule than several ad-hoc get-togethers about individual issues. Employees will have more productive time to focus on individual work and will still be actively involved in communications about their roles and many other concerns central to their performance.

There will always be situations where it’s imperative to immediately get in touch with an employee or bring a group of them together. Drawing a line between emergencies and something that can wait until the end of the day or the next team meeting is where managers can take an active role in enabling more productive work each day.

Increasing productivity can feel like an especially complicated problem for managers and company leaders. The good news is there are clear steps your organization can take to set employees up for success and help them do more of what they’re best at – even when some or all are working remotely.

Cisco Webex supports effective communication with secure and reliable connections for one-on-one and group meetings, some of the most important building blocks of increased productivity.

Get started with your free plan today.

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Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

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

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Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Sources

**11 Changes You Can Make to Boost Employee Productivity in 1 Week

*5 Ways to Increase Employee Productivity

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