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In-app meeting scheduling
Mark messages as unread, In-app scheduling calendar, Webex on Linux and more in the Webex app May update

Webex app May update 

In the blink of an eye, we find ourselves in May. Time moves fast and so can our workdays. This month’s release is focused on several features that allow you to work smarter and make better use of your time. By introducing features such as mark messages as unread, select your landing tab, and navigation history, Webex now enables you to stay focused and keep important workflows top of mind. 

MESSAGING IN WEBEX

MEETINGS IN WEBEX

CALLING IN WEBEX

WEBEX PLATFORM NEWS

MESSAGING IN WEBEX

  • Let’s face it, work conversations can get overwhelming and sometimes we forget to follow up with someone. One way to solve this problem is by flagging messages, which Webex currently allows you to do. Now Webex has added the ability to mark messages as unread. This feature is a great complement to flagging at keeping conversations top of mind and acting as a reminder to go back and follow up on important items. When you mark a message as unread, you still leave a read receipt in the space, but your view of the space will display the message as unread. 

Mark as unread in Meetings

  • We all have our different styles of working – some use Webex mostly for calling and others prefer using messaging for team collaboration. Now Webex allows users or admins to select your default landing tab. This means each time you launch Webex you will land on your landing tab of choice – saving you time switching between tabs and keeping you focused on what matters most to you. 

Select Your Default in Meeting

  • Team collaboration is great. Workflows can move faster, and we can communicate directly with the people most important to our projects. However, when working across many spaces and 1:1 chats it can be timeconsuming tracking down the space you need. Not anymore! Webex has added a new navigation history feature that shows all the spaces you have been working across – just like a browser experience. 

MEETINGS IN WEBEX

  • Constantly switching apps to schedule a meeting wastes time and energy. With Webex, you can now schedule a meeting directly within the Webex app. Before, you had to leave the Webex app and use a thirdparty calendar to schedule a meeting. Now, the new in-app scheduler brings it to you so you can set up, update, or delete your meetings in no time. Simply go to the Meetings tab and tap Schedule, then select a date, time, and participants. To be mindful of others, you can view your invitees’ availability so you can select the most convenient time. See your own work week at a glance in the app calendar to ensure you customize your schedule the way you want. Once everyone receives their invite, they can RSVP directly from within the app. 

In-app Meeting

  • Webex has become the new virtual office. Generating meeting recordings and transcripts on the fly was just the beginning. Now keeping track of meeting attendees has never been easier. If a meeting or event requires registration, you can export the registration report in CSV format as the host. In this report, you can collect names, email addresses, dates and times of registration, and the approval status of each participant.

Export registration report

CALLING IN WEBEX

  • To enhance your experience when working from home or in the office with an external web camera, the Webex app is now fully integrated with the Webex Desk Camera. When used together, the Webex Desk Camera privacy shutter serves as the master switch for video in the desktop app. When the shutter is open, you can control your video being shared from within the app. When the shutter is closed, your app video will turn off locally and the remote calling or meeting participants will see your image icon providing a clear indication your video has been turned off. This integration provides you with an extra layer of privacy and control how and when you want your video shared.   

woman on computer sitting at her desk

  • Today, working together can be from anywhere that works for you and sometimes that means working on the go. With Webex, you have the same experience no matter where you’re working or what device you’re using.  Controlling your shared content during calls from your mobile is now easier than ever. You can now stop sharing in mobile on Android and iOS mobile devices. You’ll also see an icon that an active share is ongoing and easily stop the share without going back into the app. This feature is also available for meetings. 

stop sharing in mobile on Android and iOS mobile devices

Webex app with Unified CM: 

  • Mobile Remote Access (MRA) registration failover: Experience better quality and performance if your network components go down. Failure detection and recovery occur faster ensuring a more reliable connection.
  • You can now access detailed diagnostics information right inside the Webex app. Enabling you to facilitate and have access to performance information, such as memory utilization, CPU usage, configuration information, media statistics for calls and devices when paired, and call statistics. You can export this information and share with your IT admin to streamline any troubleshooting and diagnosis as needed. 

diagnostics information inside the Webex app

WEBEX PLATFORM NEWS

  • Due to popular demand from our Webex user community and to provide an inclusive experience for all our customers Webex will now be supported on Linux. In this first phase, we will be supporting core Webex capabilities including, 1:1 app-to-app calling on Webex, joining meetings, and messaging. Unified CM calling support is coming soon. This is just the beginning of our journey with the end goal to have feature parity with Mac and Windows. 

Linux

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What’s new in Webex: May 2021

It’s all new in the new Webex

What’s so NEW about the All New Webex?

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colleagues meeting using Ava Robotics
Webex and walk: Mobile, intelligent collaboration for hybrid work

Youssef Saleh

Guest Blogger

Youssef Saleh is Co-Founder and CEO of Ava Robotics. Youssef is an entrepreneurial leader with a passion for turning ideas into profitable and growing businesses. Prior to Ava, Youssef was SVP and GM of the Remote Presence Business Unit at iRobot, where he was responsible for iRobot’s leading-edge autonomous robots for commercial applications. He also served as VP/GM of Telepresence & Vertical Solutions at Polycom.

Ava Mobile Telepresence is a SolutionsPlus Partner — now available on GPL

The time to bridge the gap between workplace expectations and conditions is now–and every day moving forward. The global workforce has never been more aware, and yet so uncertain. What we DO know is that every single business, to some degree, must account for hybrid collaboration. Regardless of whether it’s for our own employees, customers, partners, or clients, we must do more to enable and empower people to work how they work best. This priority has been past-due for many years.

Cisco’s 2020 Global Workforce Survey reports:

98% of the workforce expects future meetings will involve remote participants.

96% expressed a desire for intelligent collaboration technology.

How companies satisfy the desire, need and flexibility for access isn’t just a Covid-response success metric, its more; adopting and integrating more hybrid work processes and technologies will largely dictate overall viability and market leadership.

Ava Robotics and doctors sitting at a table

Ava and Cisco Webex evolve collaboration technology, together

Since the inception of Ava’s intelligent workplace robotics technology at iRobot, Cisco was identified as the best possible partner to advance workplace productivity. Not only because Ava was built with a full Webex integration for best-in-class video conferencing, but also because Cisco sets the industry standard for secure, trusted technology.

It’s not about wanting to meet. It’s about wanting to be. What happens spontaneously and organically before the meeting, or after the meeting, for example, has always mattered as much as the meeting itself. Cisco and Ava have shared a mission that empowers people to own where and how they collaborate, long before pandemic times. The need to improve the workplace with intelligence, inclusivity, and mobility is not new–but the receptiveness to this technology, is.

See how Ava + Webex expands sales capabilities at real estate leader SIGNA Group

As a member of the Cisco SolutionsPlus Partner network, Ava Mobile Telepresence allows Cisco customers to extend their collaboration capabilities, expanding operations and improving employee/customer experience.  

Ava Mobile Telepresence as a feature of Webex introduces limitless opportunities to expand collaboration for the hybrid workforce.

Global re-evaluation of budget, responsibility, and sustainability

Returning to the workforce survey, 77% of large organizations report that they will be increasing work flexibility. For each organization, “work flexibility” will have its own unique expressions and integrations within their existing technology and workflows.

No matter where a company may be along their return-to-work timeline, the new prioritization for agility, safety, and sustainability will endure. Corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives are no longer in the back seat. However, it’s important to also recognize heightened budget consciousness in these still-very-uncertain times.

Man on screen of a robot

What is so powerful about Ava + Webex, for both customers and Cisco representatives, is its accessibility and ease of use. Ava Mobile Telepresence fits seamlessly into what a business is doing right now. There is no extra framework or new IT resources (human or systematic) to introduce in order to get started.

Also related to new workplace priorities, emphasis on overall experience for both internal and external human resources, is literally changing the design of every workplace. The movement toward more human-centered design is visible across industry workspaces: factory floors, healthcare patient facilities, corporate offices, event venues, real estate properties, and more. And this design must address presence disparity, accounting for those on-site, as well as those who are virtually present.

Ava enables collaboration in Cisco global offices

For successful hybrid work, Cisco outlines three steps:

  1. Support remote employees
  2. Plan a safe return to work
  3. Deliver intelligent workplace experiences

As a feature of Webex, Ava Telepresence Robots deliver on all three of these steps by offering: meaningful collaboration experiences for remote workers, a socially distant, hands-free solution, and intelligent, fully-autonomous robot. In addition to promoting mobile, independent physical presence through our partnership, Cisco embraces and uses Ava technology in their own global offices.

Cisco has deployed Ava robots in San Jose (US), Toronto, Dubai, and Manchester (UK). These robots enabled hybrid work and operations for Cisco prior to the pandemic and continue to connect teams and welcome customers on-site for tours and events. Additionally, Cisco will use Ava Mobile Telepresence to apply their 3-step hybrid work approach in its own offices.

Walk through Cisco IXC Dubai with Ava:

Emerging stronger and smarter

Many businesses are confident that they will, in some ways, come out of these disruptive, uncertain times better than they were–whether it be faster, more open, more dedicated to their people, or, ideally, all of the above. As part of the Cisco SolutionsPlus Partner network, we intend on offering Cisco customers a useful, meaningful way to achieve their hybrid business goals.

To learn more about what Cisco and Ava are doing together, visit our Ava + Webex page, or send us an email at molly@avarobotics.com

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

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talkshow 3
Remote working in the new normal era: how do you do that?

Remote working will continue. The crisis has shown that far more is possible than we’ve ever imagined. It has significantly reduced the resistance to remote working. Many organizations are finding more ways to reinvent themselves because those who adapt to the new normal have the best chance of entering the post-COVID era with a head start. But how do you avoid returning to the old patterns?

Hybrid working already existed pre-COVID. An example of this is blended learning, an innovative mix of online and offline learning. In the financial world, video banking was on the rise. And in healthcare, people were already experimenting with video consultations. However, there was resistance to change, mainly because of the need for personal contact.

It has become evident by now that we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Many employees believe that they work much more effectively at home. The idea of being stuck in traffic again is a nightmare for many people. Going to the office remains necessary to ‘connect’ with colleagues, but this does not have to be every day. Many companies are anticipating this and are already disposing of office space.

A crisis: the right time to seize opportunities

Organizations that embrace hybrid working do so because they see opportunities to reorganize work and private life. Sometimes literally: by adapting their offices to meet the social distancing rules. Some have not wasted any time-transforming their business.

Others need a bit more time. Retailers are many of their physical stores but are now making more profit online. The reason is that companies came up with new opportunities. In the sports industry, brands succeeded because they developed and promoted a home workout app.

In care for the elderly, smart glasses are making a comeback. Wound care nurses use those so that experts in the hospital can watch and provide remote support. It saves patients a trip to the hospital, reducing the pressure on healthcare, where parties already struggle with staff shortages.

The event sector sees possibilities in the long term to reach a larger target group with, for instance, hybrid conferences. Both visitors at the location and people at home participate. Event organizers also can invite more (international) speakers if they are unable to travel.

Embrace the positive aspects and leave the past behind

Organizations discover through trial and error what does and does not work. The challenge is to learn from positive experiences and disregard the negative ones. Cisco is deeply committed to ensuring the well-being of its employees. It is important to provide good conditions and resources to ensure a safe environment for remote working, both digitally and physically. The use of video screens prevents employees from spending their days bent over their laptops.

Furthermore, Cisco pays attention to creating a good balance between work and private life. Attention to exercise and taking breaks. The aim is to ensure that the conditions are suitable for every employee to perform their job. At the office, at home, or on the road.

Digital transformation: it’s all about the content

The lesson learned by front runners in remote working is that digital transformation is not an end in itself but a chance. They benefit from new opportunities by putting content first and using technology to support this. An increasing number of people are becoming convinced of this.

Would you like to know more about the impact that the changing working environment has on business operations, work activities, and people? How to stay in touch with customers, students, or patients if you are increasingly dependent on online contact? Cisco has made a talk show about ‘The communicative connection,’ in which we talk to the experts Noreena Hertz, Jet de Ranitz, Francoise Wiedenhoff, Wilbert Mulders, and Kim Dijksman.

Click here and get inspired!

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Meeting fatigue? Aren’t we all experiencing it?

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Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

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Talkshow2 and future of work
Working remotely: 6 tips to maintain high involvement

In the new normal, working remotely is the norm. This triggered many positive effects. For example, people are often far more productive at home than at the office and experience a positive work-life balance. However, there is also a downside: the lack of personal contact with colleagues can lead to people feeling lonely. In this blog, we list six tips to help ensure that the positive effects take precedence.

When the pandemic led to a wholesale switch to working remotely, many people suddenly discovered its benefits. No longer stuck in traffic jams and to be better focused. Many remote workers have found a better work-life balance because they now have more freedom to divide their time, now and then go for a walk or do some household chores.

Fatigue is increasing

However, in the meantime, many people who are working remotely are also experiencing remote working fatigue. Primarily through the lack of personal contact. Many people who work remotely feel lonely. Several other drawbacks are also becoming apparent. Some people have difficulty dealing with the boundary between their work and private life. They work longer at home and open their laptop again during the evening.

Man taking glasses off at computer with his head down and taking glasses off

Include welfare as part of a strategy

In the future, people will want to retain the benefits and not be affected by the drawbacks. It, therefore, looks like we are going to continue with hybrid working. This means working at home, on the road, and in the office.

However, ensuring that hybrid working can function in practice without compromising the welfare of people who are working remotely requires a strategy. Of course, no two organizations are the same, but a couple of tips are always helpful to increase involvement and avoid fatigue.

  1. Include moments to enquire how someone is doing. Ask if people have sufficient screen breaks and take enough exercise.
  2. Introduce a buddy system and form couples who keep an eye on each other.
  3. Create moments for small talk before a meeting or at the end of the week with a virtual Friday afternoon drink.
  4. Avoid that people working from home feel less included. Go out of the way to make them feel valued.
  5. Arrange for people to occasionally meet each other in the office without it becoming too busy. This ensures the much-needed variety.
  6. Organize workplaces in the office to meet each other at a distance to brainstorm, eat together or just chat. This results in renewed energy and dynamics.
  7. Find time for remote team building exercises. Connecting and getting to know teammates outside of meetings is important, too.

Gain experience and find the right balance

The new hybrid working is all about finding the right balance. It forces everyone to think about when a physical meeting is necessary and when a virtual meeting is better. Only one thing helps to identify what works: gaining experience.

Would you like to know more about how you can ensure that employees continue to work effectively? Or about which strategic choices are appropriate? Watch our talk show ‘The digital transformation’ in which we discuss these issues with the experts Noreena Hertz, Edwin Prinsen, Patrick van der Duin, Jan van Ginkel, Tim Toornvliet and Kathelijne Drenth.

Click here and get inspired!

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What’s possible when the worlds of sports and technology play together…

Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

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Woman pointing to her desktop sitting at her chair
14 ways to refresh your collaboration experience

Introducing Collaboration Systems Release (CSR) 14 for the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) applications system

The feeling in the air this Spring brings a welcome sense of hope and promise, as our businesses and our lives gain a greater sense of “normal” after a year full of extreme chaos. I hope you feel it too. Which makes now a wonderful time for Cisco to introduce our Collaboration Systems Release (CSR) 14, for the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) applications system.

For enterprises and organizations, the importance of a digital strategy, one that elevates the quality of your “work from home / work from anywhere” initiatives has never been greater. This applies to all sectors, from government, education, healthcare, retail and everything in between.

Cisco recognizes the daunting challenge our customers’ technical leadership teams face. You have to reimagine your collaboration and applications strategy for the future, while continuing to deliver innovation, with security, across your network applications landscape. Part of this conversation invariably leads to the topic of cloud adoption, in terms of how broadly to adopt cloud applications, which applications specifically, when, and how will the cloud apps integrate with each other, as well as with the apps that remain on-premises.

UCM is an exceptionally versatile unified communications platform, in that it provides the most complete set of enterprise-class unified communications and collaboration features on the market. UCM supports these features across on-premises, cloud and mixed, hybrid deployments, on a global scale. This makes for a richly rewarding and desirable application for enterprise adoption.

CSR 14 builds value for our customers and partners by combining the Cisco development efforts across all the applications that make up a complete Unified Communications Manager system.

Which means there’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to share at least fourteen improvements we’ve made, to ensure users and administrators get a top-quality experience that serves their everyday work realities now.

Better resiliency for workforce mobility

(1) For mobile workers, CSR 14 supports the latest changes in the Push Notification Services used by the latest iOS and Android mobile OS. Users of the Webex or Jabber mobile apps need their clients to be at CSR 12.8, or CSR 14 to continue to make/receive calls and messages on their mobile clients.

To improve reliability for your mobile users, we’ve added high availability (2) to our Mobile Remote Access feature, using Expressway. In the event of a failure in the data center, users will be able to quickly recover to their back up calling servers. (3) We’ve also added fast failover support for Jabber IM&P clients.

CSR 14 is ready to support handover (4) between LTE and WiFi networks. As mobile users move out of range of their WiFi network, they will be able to automatically switch to their cellular network to maintain their call, without interruption or a need to call back.

UCM 14 provides higher server resiliency and scalability (5), with Tomcat containerization, to ensure web application and client stability. We’re adding the container model to our UCM architecture to bring a higher level of reliability to all your collaboration workloads.

Superior experience for end users

We’ve enriched the calling experience of using the Webex app with UCM, adding features end users will enjoy every day. For example, background noise cancellation on calls, so your callers are not impacted when you’re in a noisy environment. We’ve also brought in features to the calling experience, previously only available in meetings, such as using virtual backgrounds during calls.

All distributed workers will be glad we’ve done the groundwork in CSR 14 for (6) synchronization of UCM phone presence with Webex on the back end, so the presence state and DND settings in your Webex contact list accurately reflect the current status of your contacts.

nurse looking at results on a Webex DX

Beyond the addition of all the new Cisco endpoints and high-quality Cisco Headsets, with patented Clear Voice audio technology, we have added support (7) for the AV1 codec. The AV1 codec delivers high quality video in low bandwidth situations, which happens often in remote work situations.

CSR 14 offers unified messaging support for Google Workspace (8) and increases the scale for Office 365 users, so you can keep pace with your office suite choices.

Safety, security and reliability

We seem to be crossing the curve for getting the workforce back into offices. Administrators are keen to ensure their office environments are safe. Employees can now use their wireless Cisco headsets for touchless login to their shared workspace IP phones (extension mobility).

The new paradigm of mobile and remote users creates new demands from the security and compliance perspective.

We extended SIP OAuth for IP phones (9), to make it super simple to encrypt phones for signaling and media traffic and meet GDPR, PCI and other infosec requirements.

For E-911 compliance, Cisco Emergency Responder (CER) has been available, communicating with your switch infrastructure, to determine the location of your end user phones, to ensure 911 responders get dispatched to the correct location.  Now, (10) with CSR 14, the next time you update your switch infrastructure, CER will automatically migrate your configuration, eliminating the need for manual data entry. We’ve added “write” APIs to CER to simplify E911 management in your deployments.

CSR 14 is the best release to meet the new regulatory requirements around E911 call handling for phones.

For our federal customer base, UCM 14 is already FIPS certified and on path for full UCM DoD APL certification.

Cloud-connected control

One important area of our focus has been on building an effective bridge between cloud and on-premises systems and applications. As a result, last year, we introduced Webex Cloud-Connected UC.

Cloud-Connected UC offers many of the advantages of a cloud platform, while serving your UC systems, whether they reside on-premises or in the cloud. Cloud-Connected UC lets you connect one or more of your UCM clusters to the cloud, so you can enjoy a consolidated view of your UCM systems operations, through your own private Webex Control Hub portal.

The interactive operations dashboard in Control Hub delivers analytics with insights into the overall health of your UC deployment. This brings a broad set of metrics to your fingertips, including details about call quality and any call failures, along with insights into things like asset usage and endpoint inventory. You will gain useful background knowledge regarding feature usage, including mid-call features, and traffic patterns, so you can quickly identify any route optimization adjustments you may wish to make.

Look closer with Web Real Time Monitoring Tool

One way to extend the value of the analytics insight gained with Cloud-Connected UC (11) is through the Web Real Time Monitoring Tool (Web RTMT), which lets you drill-down deeper into the operations of your UCM network. If you see an issue in the operations dashboard, with a single click, you can investigate the details behind the alarm, discover the root cause and quickly begin your remediation process. The new Web RTMT is a browser-based console, with a fresh look and feel you will appreciate.

Cloud migration readiness

Another way to use knowledge gained from Cloud-Connected UC analytics, is in discovering your organizational readiness for a cloud migration. Whether that means a migration from Jabber to the Webex app, or migration from UCM to Webex Calling, there will be a wealth of information available to help make your migration process smoother. You will want to employ our new (12) Migration Assistant tool, to help you navigate the migration process and avoid complex and costly mistakes.

Now it may surprise you that you can get everything I’ve just described in Webex Cloud-Connected UC for free as part of your UC subscription. That’s right. Cloud-Connected UC is currently offered at no charge. So talk to your account team about how you can start using it.

Administrative simplicity

Beyond what I’ve already covered, system administrators will see these additional improvements with CSR 14. First is a substantial reduction in the number of certificates to manage (13), and a reduction in service restarts needed for certificate updates. Plus, you will get centralized certificate management, with a single point of control – Webex Control Hub.

We’ve increased cluster scale (14) and density by 25%, so you’ll be able to configure more users per cluster, thereby reducing cross-cluster management overheads. Customers who have increased their mobile worker count in the past year will see value, as they can use the additional cluster capacity to support more roaming Webex app or Jabber clients and Extension Mobility Cross-Cluster (EMCC) users in their network.

Plus, it is now easier to refesh your clusters on a new data center, on-premises or in the cloud, with UCM 14 support of native tooling (15) for data export and import, during installation. One last point for administrators, we’ve made it even easier for end users to self-manage their own desk phone refresh process.

Ok, so maybe that was more than fourteen, but as you can see, there’s a lot of value packed into CSR 14, designed to improve the collaboration experience for everyone.

To learn more, please talk to your Cisco account team and visit our CSR 14 webpage.

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7 breakout sessions tips from K-12 and higher ed educators

Foster inclusive and cognitive presence in your classroom with Webex

Virtual and hybrid learning during the pandemic has put many educators to the test. While most in-classroom activities don’t necessarily translate to virtual learning quickly, some schools have discovered different approaches to push the same in-person engagement strategies in their virtual classrooms with Webex breakout sessions.

Participants in Webex

Tips to getting remote learning right

Five educators share how to integrate pre-pandemic methods into distance learning:

  • Host trade symposium – High school students who haven’t be able to attend in-person events can learn from working professionals in various fields, such as construction, electrical, plumbing, project management, automobile maintenance, and other professional trades. With multiple breakout sessions running, students can get detailed information about the job skills and educational requirements and tips on what skills they can gain in high school to prepare for the workforce.
  • Organize team competitions – Our school runs a “Battle of the Books” where students learn how to work together to leverage each other’s best reading and memorization traits while engaging volunteers from local military bases and retirees. Students compete based on facts they remember from 15-20 books they have read in the past school year. They meet in one room at their site and join as a group at the beginning of the day. After reviewing the rules and schedule, they’re assigned breakout rooms with 2-3 teams per room. A judge and scorekeeper lead the breakout sessions by asking questions and keeping score. The top two teams in each grade level compete against each other to determine the winner for that grade level.  Kathy New, Colorado, USA
  • Focused group sessions – Our students discuss interview techniques to simulate and practice different management interview styles with multiple interviewers in a COVID-safe, remote way in breakout sessions. The professor separates in-room participants into smaller physical groups and remote participants break out into smaller virtual groups. All participants can return to the meeting at any time. An educator can use a separate personal device connected to the same session to quickly check on virtual groups and provide encouragement and support as they would for in-room participants.  David Arnold, Wollongong, Australia 

Breakout session

  • Foster connections – Break large-setting conversations into individual 1:1s for students to explore ideas they may be hesitant to discuss with the whole classroom. Alternate your students to teach them leadership skills, gradually build their self-confidence, and help them feel connected and empowered during these times. Of course, teachers can visit or remain outside the room to facilitate healthy conversations.  Elane Kalavrias, Ontario, Canada
  • Student choice – Create as many opportunities as possible to empower your students to own their development. Break out your class into topics of interest or project choice to drive a more interactive group work environment during class time. Subject-based breakout sessions can become part of your classroom cadence while your students are learning at home.
  • Prepare with your support staff – Use paraeducators to answer questions or advance ready learners. They can work with small groups in a virtual setting while still being connected to the entire class. Laura Hamill, Michigan, USA
  • Mentoring and coaching – Create a space in every session for private conferencing with students during class time. This space can give students a chance to take a breath and conference with you about a behavior issue, test results, and more. Individual sessions are good for morale and can help you gauge how students are doing emotionally so you can follow up with those who need your support. Breakout sessions can also be helpful for peer review before and after a formal presentation or when students hear the study from a subset of their class. Mary Schlegelmilc, Nebraska, USA

What’s next?

Your students were born in the technology age. Giving them control and the space to show their learning style in real-time will spark their creativity and curiosity to learn more. With breakout sessions, you can seamlessly foster engagement in your physical and virtual classroom. Download the guide to start engaging your students.

Want to share your story? Visit the Webex Community to share and read about others’ successes

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About the author

Vanessa PhilogeneStoryteller. Digital experience strategist. Vanessa is obsessed with psychology and human behavior. She leverages empathy to humanize Webex endpoints and features across industries. On the Digital Experience and Enablement team, Vanessa delivers experiences that enhance customer-facing solutions and drive ongoing engagement.

 

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Talkshow with hybrid working using Cisco technology
Hybrid working: three tips to keep it safe, healthy and productive

The future of work is hybrid. We currently no longer need to join the daily traffic jam and can work more remotely. Offices will still exist but will function more as meeting places. This transition demands extensive digitalization, which provides opportunities but also presents many challenges. After all, people have to work safely and without affecting productivity. In this blog, we provide three tips to make a success of the new way of working.

The transition to a hybrid model of partly working remotely and partly at the office was already underway, but this was greatly accelerated by COVID 19. Hybrid working is here to stay. Organizations are now searching for a strategy, a blueprint for the future. Here are three tips to achieve the most significant benefit from the new situation:

1: Facilitate people who are working remotely

Make sure that people can easily connect. Many organizations quickly implemented a digital platform at the beginning of the crisis, to continue to work. They did not bother to check whether it was the best option. For good cooperation, there must be is high-quality image and sound. Additionally, people must also quickly join meetings without having to bother about pin codes and login codes. It must be easy to share a screen or apply a virtual or blurred background. Smart features, such as the automatic transcription of videos and audio files, save users a lot of time.

A good IT infrastructure provides people working remotely with a better user experience and increases security levels. This aspect is essential now as many organizations worry that an increasing amount of digital activity occurs outside the office environment, which was considered secure. With the right connections, a well-equipped network keeps threats at bay and forms a sound basis for data-driven working. This is one way to make better and informed decisions.

2: Ensure a safe return to the office

It is sometimes necessary to meet in person at the office for a brainstorming session or just a project kick-off. It must be possible to make this concerning rules for hygiene and social distancing safely. Much can be achieved by just taking practical measures, such as creating one-way walking routes or reducing the number of desks per square meter. Technical solutions such as the non-touch operation of elevators and smart cameras that check whether there are too many people in a single room can help also.

Man sitting in office with face mask spread apart from the next cubicle

3: Promote personal welfare

Many people thrive on working remotely since they can work undisturbed and with total concentration. But some people take fewer breaks at home or who extend the working day until late in the evening. It also happens that people working from home feel less included. Or that they are too shy to speak up during a busy video meeting. Managers must have the skills to keep people who work remotely involved and give attention to personal welfare. A chat before starting a video meeting slightly softens the lack of contact with colleagues. Technology can also eliminate concerns. For example, smart software that ‘sees’ that someone has raised their hand and informs the moderator that someone has a question or wants to respond.

Would you like to know more about the impact of hybrid working on the future? Please watch our talk show about ‘Hybrid working,’ with experts Noreena Hertz, Kim Grondsma, Ger Baron, and Jacco Saaman.

Click here to watch the video and get inspired!

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Bridging hybrid classrooms with the Cisco Webex Board

What’s possible when the worlds of sports and technology play together…

Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

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NBC sports and Cisco
What’s possible when the worlds of sports and technology play together…

Hybrid sports and collaboration technology join together

The great Billie Jean King, sporting legend and one of the 20th century’s most celebrated tennis players, once said, “sports are a microcosm of society.”

The idea that sports reflect the best of the world we live in, and capture the human spirit in a common pursuit, really resonates with me.

Though I am not a sporting fanatic, I am a technology fanatic. I see how the two disciplines share common philosophies of human connection, collaboration, and the never-ending quest for excellence. Both sports and technology have the power to bridge divides, forge common ground, and improve the human experience. Sports, like technology, has united nations, communities, friends, and adversaries in the spirit of comradery – pushing the boundaries of greatness and optimism.

Whether on the pitch, on the court, on the course, or on the racetrack, sports are, and will continue to be a huge part of our local and global culture. Technology and sports, together, not only provide a new innovative outlet for recreation and connection, but the power to build a more inclusive world.

Team DSM

 

NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California team up with Cisco Webex in pursuit of hybrid sports experiences

NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California are the latest in a series of strategic Cisco partnerships in the new world of hybrid sports. This partnership, which goes live today, marks the fourth sports collaboration in 2021, between Cisco Webex and major sports empires, such as McLaren Racing, PGA Golf Australia, and German pro cycling team, Team DSM.

For many people, the absence of live sports has been a significant void during these challenging times. Cisco’s mission is to bring sports to the masses, and to make the experience as interactive, exhilarating, and inclusive as the in-person experience.

This partnership with NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California is a natural extension of that mission. Fans can get in on the action with game highlights, player-to-audience interaction, and promos surrounding their favorite Bay Area teams and athletes. Specifically, Cisco is now the official video-conferencing technology partner for NBC Sports Bay Area’s coverage of the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants, and NBC Sports California’s coverage of the San Jose Sharks. Over the next 12 months, fans will see Webex technology in action as part of pregame and postgame video conference interviews as well.

As Jordan Knopf, Vice President of Sales for NBC Bay Area Sports and NBC Sports California said: “Innovation through technology is at the core of live sports coverage and critical to delivering on our commitment to produce the highest quality, most engaging experience for sports fans throughout the region. Partnering with Webex allows us to provide those rich experiences for fans.”

Cisco Webex and the PGA of Australia teamed up to present “The Players Series,’ a new series of tournaments that brings Australia’s leading male and female golf professionals, together with elite amateur junior golfers to compete in the same field for the same prize purse, using technology to enrich the experience for the tournaments junior golfers by connecting them directly to professionals in various mentoring opportunities on and of the course.

The innovation continues

Fans may have missed out on the live sports experience during this past year, however, you can expect that technology innovations will continue to create new experiences, where fans can engage within their communities, and feel connected to their favorite sports teams and heroes. The Silicon Valley is the epicentre of technology and some of the greatest sporting teams in history, so you might say we’re perfectly matched to bring hybrid sports to the world.

Be sure to look for the Cisco Webex logo at the upcoming NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California events!

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Powering People First Blog series that focuses on increasing and promoting personal well-being and building better quality connections and a more inclusive work experience for all

WorldTour Team DSM takes to the road with Webex for a new hybrid sports experience

Creating Exhilarating and Exciting Experiences with Cisco Webex and McLaren Racing

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Personal Insights in People Insights
How People Insights will help empower a more inclusive and engaging work experience

Empowering inclusive and engaging work experience with People Insights

If you tuned into Cisco Live this week, you’ve heard loud and clear that the future of work is hybrid – and the future of collaboration must be more inclusive and engaging to make this new working model successful.

Whether you’re working at home, in the office, or both, teams and projects can pull you in multiple directions. How do you keep from burning out while maintaining an inclusive workplace?

Advancements to the People Insights feature

We’re excited to announce that People Insights is expanding beyond profiles with a new set of features that provide customized insights designed to empower people and teams to thrive in this new era of inclusive collaboration – right from your Webex app. People Insights will provide detailed, private insights to you and your team to help you manage work-life balance, carve out focus time, and develop stronger and more effective working relationships.

Watch the latest episode of Designing the future of work where Jeetu Patel (SVP & GM Security & Applications, Cisco) and Gianpaolo Barozzi (Sr. Director of People & Communities, Cisco Webex) shares with us the genesis and demo of People Insights:

People Insights help prioritize well-being at work

From your collaboration preferences, to meetings you join, and the network you build – every decision you make on how you spend your time and connect with others affects your output.  People Insights helps you reflect on how you spend your time.

  • How often are you accepting meetings you never attend?
  • Are you often sharing your video?
  • How many meetings are you attending during your downtime?
  • Who do you spend the most time with?

Manage your time with Webex

Webex will provide these valuable insights to help teams take control of their time. When teams spend their time effectively and achieve work-life balance, they can focus on the work that matters most, continue to build important connections, and nurture those relationships.

Quiet Hours and People insights

Privacy First

And this information is presented to you and only you. Your personal view of People Insights will be as unique as you are. No one else has this information, and no two views of insights will be the same. Each individual can set personal preferences and goals and take action directly from the Webex app.

Privacy first

Intelligence vs Scoring

At Webex, we believe in empowering individuals and teams with intelligence – not a score. People Insights is a visual representation of how you collaborate and spend your time. Work isn’t restricted to scheduled meetings within your org chart. Work is asynchronous. Our collaboration network and work output are fueled by ad-hoc phone calls, multiple messages, and introductions to new teams and people. By seeing how you spend your time, you can decide what is right for you.

Goal Setting and People Insights

Do you want to be more respectful of other people’s time? Set goals for joining and ending meetings on time, adding agendas to the meetings you host, or respecting others’ downtime.

Do you want to be more engaged during meetings? Set a goal for how often you speak up or turn on your video.

Webex is taking a people-first approach to empower inclusive collaboration and build engaging work experiences. People Insights from Webex will help:

  • enable seamless cross-collaboration
  • ensure individual wellbeing and encourage healthy behaviors
  • enhance work-life balance
  • build quality connections
  • empower diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • maximize time on projects that matter most

Cisco is rooted in our people-first culture and approach, and our product vision is the same. Empowered individuals make stronger teams, and stronger teams build better organizations that innovate and power the economy.

We’re looking forward to working with some of our top customers to help shape the future of People Insights for you!

Go to Webex.com for more information

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

Reimagine the Future of Work series announcing the availability of solutions that are purpose-built to help companies transform how they work while keeping employees safe, connected and productive.

Cisco Webex Powers Personal Well-Being, Higher Performing Teams and Inclusive Collaboration [Press Release]

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Webex Beta Program
Meet Webex Beta

Introducing Webex Beta

Today, we’re excited to introduce Webex Beta, a new early access program that replaces our Early Field Trial (EFT) and Early Adopter Programs (EAP). Webex Beta provides Webex Admins and Partners a better way to discover and apply for early access to Webex Apps, Devices, and Services, providing you with a unique opportunity to share your feedback directly with our product teams.

The voice of the customer has always been a crucial element of how we design our customer experience, and Webex Beta now ensures it’s an intrinsic part of how we bring our products to market.

If you’re a Webex Admin, you can now discover the available and upcoming Product Beta’s and ensure you and nominated users in your organization can access the latest innovations across the Webex portfolio before they are launched.

Better together

How to quickly create a company culture in a growing business

The Webex Beta program is designed to empower our customers. We value your insights and are excited for you to partner with our product teams to help shape the future of work. Your voice and experience are vital to shaping the Webex of the future and ensuring we deliver your needs.

In return, we’ll ask that you provide continuous feedback and ensure that the full range of users perspectives are represented – it’s a significant commitment you’ll need to make but one that can deliver substantial rewards.

Get to know Webex Beta

As part of your Webex Beta membership, you’ll also have to opportunity to be part of both our Webex Community and Webex Ambassador programs, enabling you to connect with others using Webex in your industry and beyond.

These will provide you with enhanced access to our team and invites to events which are exclusive to these programs.

Our future vision – Hearing every user’s voice 

A key part of the Webex Beta program is ensuring we gather the broadest possible range of insights, matching the diversity of those who use Webex daily. Hearing everyone’s voice ensures our products can be more inclusive and considerate of the full range of demands our customers have.

To ensure we have the opportunity to hear everyone’s voice, we’ll be working this year to expand Beta participation, including the ability for users to enrol directly, with Admins’ consent where appropriate, of course. Learning from users from every industry, line of business, region and ability has been a key part of many of our customer touchpoints, and we’re working to ensure our global customer base is more fully represented in our Webex Beta early access programs too.

How do I join?

As an Admin, getting started today with the Webex Beta Program is simple.

Just go to beta.webex.com and follow our three-step process. We’ll see you there.

Watch the video to learn more:

Learn more

What’s new in Webex: March 2021

Relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program

Innovations from Webex Experts: How Webex Aha! came to be

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Hackathon deco art
Announcing the winners of Collaboration hackathon

Transforming ideas into reality

The workplace is constantly evolving. The way we work is forever changing and advancements in technology are moving more rapidly than ever before. Innovation is key, but where does it come from and more importantly, how do we develop it into a reality?

At some point we have all had that great idea, that one lightbulb thought that could change how we work, make a process faster or save ourselves some time. The problem is that we don’t always have the resources, background or skillset to make it happen, often leading to missed opportunities. But not at Cisco. This is where innovation is born.

Building on the success of our 2-day Hackathon event hosted in San Jose in July 2019, Cisco SVP Javed Khan held our first-ever virtual Collaboration Hackathon series in late 2020 to early 2021. The series featured one hackathon for our internal colleagues and one for external innovators – organised by Product Manager Ivy Pham. Individuals and teams were welcome to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. The only criteria to take part: a passion to innovate and a desire to make a change.

“During these challenging pandemic times, seamless and secure virtual experiences are more important than ever. This virtual hackathon is a fun way our community can come together to develop solutions that will make virtual communication and collaboration ‘better than being there’.”

Javed Khan

SVP/GM, Collaboration 

Reimagining what is possible with our internal hackathon

The internal hackathon was open to all Cisco employees, harnessing the strength of our global workforce to provide diverse perspectives on the future of our industry. As a result, we had over 820 participants with nearly 500 submissions!

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. All ideas were welcome at the hackathon, but to help guide our hackers we created 3 key themes – Experience, Next Generation and Cross Architecture.

Experience – Focusing on our end users’ and customers’ experiences. Keeping this open to interpretation, participants could focus on day-to-day activities, operations and even analytics. Basically, keeping our customers top of mind and developing solutions to ensure they have the best experience possible.

Next Generation – The possibilities are endless when it comes to advancements in technology. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed how we all work, but we have only begun to scratch the surface. Here participants had the opportunity to create solutions that enable our users to work smarter, not harder.

Cross Architecture – The power of Cisco is the strength of our vast portfolio. Collaboration is just one aspect of this. Imagining innovative and creative concepts to integrate with our portfolio is game changing. This could include security, data, mobility and more.

Here are some of the solutions from the hackathon that blew us away:

Checklister

Webex is a great tool for collaboration via messages. To-do list applications are great tools for tracking ongoing tasks. Checklister would automatically suggest to-do list items to the user and allow editing before storing the message as an action item. The to-do list store could be native to Webex or third-party integrations.

Checklister

Webex Haiku

While business’s adoption of video calling tools for customer service is on the rise, not all people are avid computer users. This translates into frustration when joining Webex meetings. Cisco Webex Haiku is an online drag-and-drop editor for creating your own Webex client portal, as simple and powerful as your business needs it.

See the full list of winners below:

Hackathon Prizes

Global innovation at our external hackathon

We know that great ideas come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes a totally fresh perspective can reimagine how we work and the tools we use. With this in mind, we opened the external hackathon globally to people over the age of 18. Similar to our internal hackathon, we encouraged people to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. Everyone with an interest in innovation was welcome. As a result, we were delighted to see an enormous interest in university students signing up to take part (over 1100) – after all, they are the future of our industry.

To help guide our external participants we also provided two optional themes. The first was Cisco Webex and Collaboration with a key focus on the end user experience. The second was social good – creating new solutions that have a positive impact on people, society or the planet. In total we had nearly 250 teams participate and a whopping 60 winners. Below are a few highlights and the full winners list:

Sanitary Pad Dispensing Machine

The idea is an affordable and easy to operate sanitary pad dispensing machine. The project has been designed with the motive of providing 24/7 availability of sanitary pads to women, especially in rural regions where there is a lot of social stigma attached to this particular issue. One of the main objectives of this project was to make the topic of menstruation more mainstream so that parents could talk to their daughters more freely, friends could support each other, and women would not feel ashamed of something that is natural to them and a part of their life.

Webex Knowledge Extractor

This is a tool that integrates with Webex and allows questions and answers to be displayed and indexed for search based on threaded messaging. The dashboard interface will allow the end user to login via OAuth and select a room to be analyzed for Questions which have been answered by experts, then export to Excel or import into external systems for knowledge base articles.

Joey Notifications

Never miss a beat with Joey Notifications in Webex! Joey is the perfect solution to make working from home more people centric. Set reminders to stretch and take care of your health throughout the day. Joey is designed to engage you with little tips such as yoga videos or recipes and uses AI image detection to evaluate your health. Joey Notifications is the perfectly tailored plugin for you and your team!

1st prize

2nd prize3rd prize

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of innovative and creative ideas submitted during the hackathon series. Some of these amazing ideas will be put forward to our collaboration group and considered for further development.

Hackathons are just one of the many events we hold each year to spark innovation within our organization.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events and one day your idea could become part of our collaboration offering!

Resources

The all new Webex

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Workspaces
Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

You may already know that Webex Devices provide a great collaboration experience for people working from home or in the office, but did you know they are also equipped with powerful sensors?

Sensors aren’t just for data enthusiasts or those responsible for workplace optimization and safety. They can provide critical and timely information to employees which can drive behavior, build trust and at the end of the day, create an amazing workplace experience.

Have you ever been in a meeting room that felt crowded or stuffy and you just needed a few minutes to break away? Sensors, analytics, and automation solve this issue by giving people the information they need to make informed decisions about where and how they work.

A common argument against sensors is that they are expensive, difficult to install and require a team to track, manage and optimize spaces. That may be true for ad-hoc devices, but Webex Devices come equipped with powerful sensors out of the box, so you can easily gain the insights you need to optimize every workspace at no extra charge. It’s all included in the video conferencing device — no extra installation, no data scientists, just reliable insights.

We recently discussed how sensors and workplace analytics can help deliver a safe return to the office. Now, let’s take a closer look at how various roles can benefit from sensors:

The office worker

For users, the complexity of sensors, data and analytics are always hidden. For example, if there are too many people in a room or the air quality is poor, the sensors in the Webex device will measure the conditions and an alert can be delivered straight to the video conferencing device, a Webex Room Navigator on the table or even a 3rd display.

The messages and warnings are fully customizable so organizations can adapt messages to the characteristic of the room. For example, the alert can notify people in the room to open a window if there is one, use another room and provide direction to the closest available room, or reduce the amount of people if the threshold limit is reached. The possibilities are endless, and it can all be automated, so no one has to sit in front of a screen all day monitoring and manually alerting people.

The HR and facilities representative

If you are in human resources or the facilities department, Webex sensors and analytics enables you to know if workers are staying in a healthy environment and whether the criteria for comfort, safety and energy are met. And historical data and insights are reported directly into the Webex Control Hub Workspace tab so you can have a full view of how environmental factors are trending.

Sensors and analytics in Webex Control Hub
Fig 1: historical environment metrics
historical utilization metrics
Fig 2: historical utilization metrics

Optimizing workspaces with Webex sensors

Webex Devices provide various types of sensors for ensuring safe and productive workspaces. These are the sensors available today:

1) Presence & people count for real estate optimization

Spaces are rarely used to their full potential; they are often overused or underused which can lead to productivity loss. Some rooms could be divided, while others should be augmented. Space optimization has a direct impact on energy and the cost of real estate, but more importantly on employees’ productivity and wellbeing. People count in Webex Devices uses AI to accurately detect humans, whether they are facing the Webex Device or not. This data makes it easy to plan and optimize spaces based on usage trends.

People Count Sensing
Fig 3: People count sensing used to regulate the room density

 

2) Temperature & humidity for reducing the risk of virus transmission 

Temperature and humidity need to be thought of simultaneously because the one affects the other. While temperature is mostly a human preference, maintaining a temperature of 21 to 25 degrees Celsius for a person sitting still is deemed productive.

Research also points at regular burst of cold air to improve productivity. With regards to humidity, we need to be more prescriptive. Usually, humidity levels between 30% and 60% are recommended, as it’s considered most healthy for humans.

Itchy eyes, throat irritations and respiratory symptoms have been associated with unfavorable humidity levels. And more recent studies also show that the level of humidity has a direct impact on the propagation of the Covid-19. They suggest maintaining relative humidity levels between 40% and 60%.

3) Air quality & VOCs for preventing air saturated with pollutants 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are present in furniture and carpets, cleaning products, perfumes, when food is cooked and in human breath. When they accumulate in a room, they can cause irritations, headaches, and loss of concentration which results in discomfort, productivity loss or even danger.

Poor air quality can often be circumvented with better ventilation. Tracking people count and air quality simultaneously can also help you find root causes and possible adaptations.

The Webex platform APIs also enable the automation of these processes, so the data can be rendered and acted upon. Both the Webex Desk Pro and Webex Room Navigator are enabled with TVOC sensing. Values reported in the Control Hub follow UBA reference levels and indicate 5 different levels of air quality.

4) Noise measurements for designing comfortable spaces

Noise at work is one of the major causes of dissatisfaction. It can hinder productivity, focus, memory retention and mental arithmetic.

Webex measures two types of noise, the overall noise produced by people, tools, and the building itself, and the ambient or background noise produced by the HVAC systems, for example. Isolating noises will help better understand the kind of annoyances people are confronted with and how they can be resolved. The WELL Building Institute recommends no more than 35dBA background noise in conference rooms.

5) Good acoustics for improving intelligibility and reducings strain

Bad acoustics in rooms generates reverberance that causes fatigue. Meeting rooms with glass walls are a typical example. The WELL standard recommends reverberation times of less than 0.6 second in conference rooms.

While this is uncomfortable for workers inside the room, it is even more so for people who are on a call and sitting in the far end where it becomes difficult for the brain to process and separate sound sources. We’ve all experienced this “speaker in a box” feeling.

Webex Devices measure the RT60 (reverberation time) on a regular basis without emitting testing sounds.

In addition to these environment sensors, Webex Devices can also report on the activity and status of a room. APIs give access to information such as: ongoing calls, presentation sharing in and out of call and booked rooms., This information can be used to better understand how rooms are used.

The right sensor at the right place

Analytics from Webex Devices come from multiple sensors within our device portfolio. People count is an attribute of the Webex Room and Board series. Usually located against a wall, centered and at bodies’ height, it is the best placement for recognizing and counting people. Air quality, temperature and humidity on the other hand are located inside the new Webex Room Navigator, on the table, and closer to where people are sitting, hence reporting conditions as they are experienced by people themselves.

Sensor Information in Navigator
Fig 4: The sensor information displayed in a Navigator on a custom panel
Sensing capabilities supported in Webex Devices
Fig 5: Sensing capabilities supported in Webex Devices

 

In the past, organizations concerned with environment health and space optimization invested in sensors for the workplace, but for many, the cost of acquisition, integration, licenses, and maintenance was often a deterrent. With Webex Devices, rooms enabled with collaboration technology now double as a smart sensors hub and provide the analytics and insights you need to continuously monitor and optimize spaces.

Webex Devices have sensors built-in, securely reporting on your network and into a dashboard — so don’t wait, get to your Webex Control Hub now and watch those Workspaces in action.

To learn more about sensors and analytics, read The Collaboration How-To Guide for the Hybrid Workplace.

Learn more

Innovations from Webex Experts: Making Devices even better

Securing users and devices in Webex

Cleaning shared touch-screen devices

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Webex video conferencing meeting with colleagues using Webex Devices
Innovations from Webex Experts: Making Devices even better

The Webex Ambassadors Program is a global community of Webex loyalists who receive custom Webex learning paths to help further their careers, earn rewards, and influence the future of collaboration. Our Webex Experts are a top-tier group of members who offer thought leadership and act as counsel to our product and customer adoption teams. In this series, we’ll explore their contributions to the Webex ecosystem and hopefully inspire you to do more than you ever imagined possible with Webex. 

Webex Expert Bobby McGonigle makes using Devices easy 

As an introvert, I never expected to be as active in the Webex Community as I am. Once I got involved, I learned so much from other members, but I also enjoyed addressing challenges, building knowledge of new use cases, and practicing developing in the Macro Editor.

Before I became a Webex Expert, I began my career as a video conferencing service technician in 2017 with a mere three months of IT experience. I worked previously at a local grocery store as a deli clerk for seven years but landed a great internship, which landed me my current role.

At the time, we had approximately 200 Cisco endpoints online, half of which were online at the medical school while the other half were scattered throughout campus. Since then, we have added nearly 200 more Room Devices and within Central IT/Admin, I have personally installed nearly 60 percent of those new systems—jumping from 12 to 130 systems. We also have 13 other schools that are implementing their own projects.

As we continued to grow, my team’s ability to support users became less manageable. We were a small but mighty team of three, but we were never able to get our users to get through training. Instead of scheduling further training, I made it so easy for users to use the rooms that absolutely no training would be required.

How? I taught myself how to write JavaScript and how to use the new Macro Editor, which allowed me to fix common issues. This gave my team the freedom to dive into higher priority tasks. When the Macro Editor was first released in CE9.2, I didn’t know how to code, so I self-taught myself on my train commute every morning and evening. This is how I was able to create new and better experiences for our user community.

Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to overcomes was teaching users the difference between a telephony number and a SIP address in Webex invites. Users thought the call button was for traditional phone numbers (no matter how many times we explained that it was for both). To address this issue, I created a school-wide macro—the Launch Meeting button—that matched the users’ expectations when they entered a room.

When users selected the Launch Meeting button, they were greeted with an option that only required the meeting ID. The @so&so.com was added automatically. Students either had a Webex link or an invite from a different solution, but they were all able to join meetings without issue. After implementing this solution, I shared it with Webex Experts and published my work on Github so anyone could use my code. I even made one that works on 80+ Sx10’s, even though the Macro Editor doesn’t exist on those systems.

Computer set up with devices
Enrico’s USB lab

Another project I worked on, and one of my favorites, is my Tic Tac Toe game. It shows how you can use macros to change the user interface dynamically to help streamline the user experience. All collaboration doesn’t need to be solely work-related; building relationships with colleagues is just as important, so I wanted to create a game for coworkers to enjoy together in a conference room.

Now that I have a few projects under my belt, I have started working with Cisco’s very own Enrico Condedera on his Project USB. We have learned from fellow experts like Jordan Eliason and his USB Dante project for the Room Kit Mini and John Austin, which has led us to make a few revisions to our own project. I have also been asked by Dustin Baker of the Webex Devices team to contribute a Join Zoom example to Cisco’s Devnet.

I have learned so much as a Webex Expert, but what I really value is the ability to give back. I have been able to do so not only in my professional role, but also in the community I have built with fellow experts, Webex product teams, and everyone else using Webex Devices. It has been such a fulfilling and fun experience.

Enrico Conedera, Webex TME, partners with Bobby to improve products at scale

I couldn’t help but laugh when I learned that Bobby’s work experience was primarily as a deli clerk. My first real job was as a Pest Control Field Representative, also known as an exterminator. I single-handedly fought off all the cockroaches of Santa Monica. Once I got sick of the cockroaches, I began working with Cisco. I came in from the audiovisual side, sneaking in with the Tandberg acquisition. With so many smart network people around, I had to up my game.

As a technical marketing engineer (TME), a big part of my job revolves around ensuring that our products are usable in the field. When COVID-19 hit, video collaboration changed seemingly overnight. Suddenly, every conferencing provider was busy, and everyone needed to collaborate visually. The result? Rapid growth of island technologies that don’t actually talk to each other. For example, Zoom users can’t talk to Microsoft Teams users or BlueJeans users. Pexip and others like it had already specialized in acting as gateways between these islands, but with COVID, Cisco Webex users were getting invited to meetings on other conference services and couldn’t attend.

Until very recently, we existed primarily in a world where we could interoperate with other video conferencing manufacturers like Poly or Lifesize, using standards from the ITU-T and IEEE. The need to be able to meet with customers, partners, and supply chain organizations, became even more critical. Our solutions needed to be easy to meet regardless of the conferencing solution.

To solve for this, Eivind Fiane Christensen and other product managers brought together people from many different disciplines within Cisco to design a new product, the Room Kit Mini. The ability to join any other conferencing provider while using the Room Kit Mini’s intelligent camera and beam-forming mic array was a major requirement for launch. This feature, known as USB Passthrough, was a big step in the right direction.

Existing Room Kits didn’t have the hardware capability for the USB Passthrough, so I looked into the Vaddio AV Bridge product set. I wasn’t too familiar with it, but I was somewhat certain that I could hook it up to a Room Kit Pro and have that same feature: the ability to use your laptop to connect to Zoom while using SpeakerTrack, PresenterTrack, all the microphones and loudspeakers, and the screens that were already part of the Room Kit Pro installation. I then realized that I could do this with all of the Room Kit endpoints. That was a cool moment.

While it took me a while to figure out how to do this, I got it working manually by running API commands one by one to reconfigure the systems to work while I needed it for the USB Passthrough. All I needed was a macro to automate everything. But how? I don’t know how to write macros.

I reached out in a Webex Teams space that I had created to see if anyone could help me write the macro and that’s how I met Bobby. I knew what the macro needed to do, and he knew how to write the macro to do everything required. JavaScript is fussy, but Bobby made it look so easy.

It didn’t take long for us to release a V1 of the macro. It worked remarkably well and has enabled ease of use for third-party USB capture devices for our catalog of video endpoints. This technology even works with some of Cisco’s older products, like the MX700, MX800, and SX80. In our V2, it will include more options for third-party USB capture devices and more documentation on setup and usage.

The most difficult part of the whole process was configuring the software application to use the correct USB camera and microphones but knowing that I have Webex Experts like Bobby eases my mind. Our experts help us solve problems like this so much faster.

Enrico's science project for a passive USB gateway
Enrico’s science project for a passive USB gateway

In closing

Some of our very best ideas come directly from the Webex Community. We evangelize our Webex Ambassadors to crowdsource solutions to common problems and to share use cases and challenges. We cannot overstate the value our Webex Experts (like Bobby McGonigle) provide by creating integrations and co-creating solutions alongside Cisco. Join the USB project with Enrico and Bobby here

If you love finding solutions to problems and want to join an incredible group of talented Webex fanatics, enroll early in our Webex Ambassadors Program. Level up your knowledge. Your network. Your voice.

About the authors 

Enrico Conedera

Enrico is a senior engineer in the CTG Business Unit at Cisco Systems.
He has worked in the audio-visual field for over 30 years, for companies such as Electronic Arts, PictureTel, Polycom, MCI, and Tandberg. Having been with Cisco for fifteen years, he concentrates on Cisco Best Practices for Audio Visual Integration.
A former professional musician, he is a singer / songwriter, plays piano, and runs sound for live concerts.

Bobby McGonigle

Bobby McGonigle

Bobby McGonigle: Bobby has been a Webex Expert since 2019. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.

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Webex technology ecosystem – The gold standard for video conference experiences with Webex devices

Securing users and devices in Webex

Cleaning shared touch-screen devices

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Doctor using device standing in a hallway
How can screen sharing be used in healthcare?

Screen sharing in healthcare

Healthcare and wellness have always been among the most promising use cases for screen sharing, video conferencing, and real-time collaboration technologies. As long ago as 1996, in the influential David Foster Wallace novel “Infinite Jest,” the near future was imagined as a time when half of the population worked from home, relying on a combination of high-speed internet and “screens so high-def you might as well be there” to partake in many daily activities, including exercise and interactions with healthcare professionals.

In the real world, modern telehealth isn’t so different from that fictional portrayal. It connects patients and providers regardless of their respective locations via high-quality video and audio links. Moreover, demand for telehealth has increased dramatically since 2010 as hospitals and doctor’s offices have sought to expand their reach and make life easier for patients. The American Hospital Association found that the share of its members offering telehealth services more than doubled between 2010 and 2017, from 35% to 76%.

What does telehealth look like in practice? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described three main modalities of telehealth: synchronous (e.g., real-time collaboration), asynchronous (for instance, using a store-and-forward portal to upload images for later evaluation), and remote patient monitoring (RPM) via specialized sensors and other equipment. In this post, we’ll look primarily at synchronous telehealth, particularly the use of screen sharing to augment an audio or video consultation.

The versatility of screen sharing in healthcare

In general, screen sharing is the go-to mode of collaboration for use cases such as:

  • Walking a meeting’s attendees through a slide deck or other document point by point.
  • Demonstrating an in-depth workflow, such as how to use a certain application or operating system feature.
  • Coediting a document in real time, with audio, video, and textual feedback integrated into one convenient interface.

For healthcare in particular, the use of screen sharing is somewhat similar — it’s still a way to provide real-time explanations, supported by documents — but it’s also different in important ways.

For example, the classic slide presentation so prevalent in other contexts is useful here, but it often takes a back seat to other formats. Health-oriented screen sharing is frequently focused on the exchange of other types of documents and information, such as test results, medical charts, images, and treatment protocols. Rather than having to go into a physical office to access and talk about these assets, all interactions can be done via screen sharing software, in high detail and in real time.

train healthcare staff

This setup supports more efficient patient-provider interactions, as well as enhanced collaboration between healthcare professionals themselves, who may use a screen share platform to exchange observations and notes. The numerous features available in modern screen sharing solutions — including HD video, enterprise-grade security, and meeting recording — make these applications suitable for:

  • Virtual consultations.
  • Training and education sessions.
  • RPM and other remote treatments.
  • Annotations.

Let’s examine each of these forms of collaboration in more detail to see how they work in practice.

Virtual consultations

Connecting with a provider via screen share has been a breakthrough for patients who are located very far from the nearest provider or are otherwise limited in their access, for instance because of an epidemic that makes in-person trips inadvisable. A screen share can add important context to these meetings. A physician might use the screen sharing functionality of the meeting software to show a patient a list of steps to take for their condition, like medication options.

A similar workflow can also improve internal collaboration for providers such as hospital systems. More specifically, assets like X-rays and biopsy results may be screen shared via special internet-connected medical equipment, so that teams can make informed decisions without having to coordinate their schedules for in-person meetings.

doctor in front of computer gesturing with hands

Training and education sessions

Screen sharing has always been a prime format for delivering how-tos and instructional guidance, and healthcare is no exception. By setting up a screen share, groups of nearly any size — from a small team to an entire facility’s staff — can connect in real time to see and listen to a presentation.

This setup saves everyone a trip to a physical location. The ability to record screen-share sessions and distribute them later via email or chat also makes screen sharing a great vehicle for continuing medical education and certification.

RPM and other remote treatments

The RPM market is growing rapidly. Worth $15.8 billion in 2017, it is projected to almost double in value by 2023, to $31.3 billion, according to one assessment from Research and Markets. Typically, RPM happens in the background of a patient’s daily life. Devices such as continuous glucose monitors and physical activity trackers collect and transmit information. In turn, this data offers important insights into the current states of a patient’s conditions and which, if any, treatments make sense.

A screen share can be a useful addition to an RPM regimen. A patient might show their mobile device’s screen to a provider so that they can see the complete results from a relevant app. Screen sharing platforms usually offer flexible sharing options, letting participants show their entire screens, a chosen app, or a selected window or tab.

patient using phone and showing screen

A full screen share may be the best option in some cases, but it comes with a few risks, including information leakage and possible disruptions from notifications. Since compliance must always be top of mind in healthcare contexts, every screen share should be carefully managed.

Annotations

Coediting is a top use case for screen sharing overall. For healthcare workers specifically, the real-time characteristics of screen share software make it possible to synchronously annotate images and other documents instead of doing so asynchronously via other channels. This workflow can allow for better clarity and fewer miscommunications.

With screen share software like Webex, your healthcare organization can ensure high-quality connections from anywhere.

Learn more by getting started for free today.

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Screen sharing how-to guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

Personalize your team meetings with these top four screen sharing features

Why screen sharing works better for sales than traditional conference calls

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Webex technology ecosystem – The gold standard for video conference experiences with Webex Devices

Overview 

With so many 3rd party integration options in the video conference marketit can be hard to know at a glance what the best product integration is. What are the best room booking applications out there? What is the best LCD display that works well with Webex Devices? 

Here in Oslo, Norway, not only do we have Red Dot award-winning devices, we are also building the best meeting experiences through our new Webex Technology Ecosystem program – technically certifying partner integrations for Webex Devices. Our open platform allows our technology partners to create integrations to the Webex Platform to best solve customer use-cases. In order to provide the highest levels of security and best end-user experiences, the Webex Technology Ecosystem Program was created to validate third parties that their integration is adhering to our security, user experience, and supported API methods. In addition, the benefits of certifications include an online community and Cisco product team support, validated tests done by a 3rd party firm, AVDR, and overall helping drive down integration costs. 

We launched two logo tier designations to certifications:    

  • Webex Certified  A third party solution that has achieved the most stringent of all testing by the Webex Device Business Unit. 
  • Webex Compatible – A third party solution that meets the minimum requirements for integration.

Moving forward, there will also be a third-tier for certification which will be a self-supported knowledge base community that will soon launch on the Cisco Webex Communities portal.   

Cisco approved products & vendors 

Below you will find the solutions that have achieved certification status. Currently, there are only two Certified categories: Displays and Intelligent Workplaces. The other categories will only have Compatible logo status. As we progress, we aim at adding more categories and technology partner solutions to the Certified logo. 

Webex Device certified and compatible categories 

  • Cameras 
  • Content Experiences 
  • Collaborative Workplace 
  • Displays* 
  • Easy Join Services 
  • Intelligent Workplace* 
  • Room Booking 
  • Team Communications 
  • Workplace Analytics 

*Webex Certified logo categories 

Some of the partner solutions shown are also part of the Cisco Solutions Plus partnership program.  If you want to know more details of the certified partner solutions and categories, please visit: http://cs.co/certifiedvendors 

Certification process 

Below is the certification application journey for the Webex Technology Ecosystem for Webex Devices. As you can see it is a multi-step process to onboard. 

If you are a vendor seeking to join the Webex Technology Ecosystem program, please visit this link. 


Additional Resources 

For Customers:
Cisco Webex Integration Partners
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collaboration/webex-rooms-integrations.html
Webex Devices Certification Vendor List
https://cs.co/certifiedvendors

For 3rd Party Vendors:
Webex Devices Certification Application
http://cs.co/webexcertapplication
Webex for Startups Program
http://cs.co/webexforstartups
Developer Resources
https://developer.cisco.com/site/roomdevices
https://developer.webex.com 

Resources

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How to co-edit using screen sharing

What do you most closely associate with screen sharing?

Perhaps the inescapable phrase, “Can everyone see my screen?” is the first thing to spring to mind, or maybe you recall all the slide deck walk-throughs you sat through in the past. But with the right software, screen sharing can be much more convenient and versatile than either of those associations would imply.

In a screen sharing solution, you can also synchronously coedit documents, which is a major upgrade from the old back-and-forth of exchanging emails and navigating through tracked changes. By taking advantage of the real-time collaboration features of screen sharing software, workers in and out of the office can more easily get on the same page, understand feedback, and produce an agreed-upon version of the assets in question.

How does coediting work on a screen share platform?

Screen sharing is a great opportunity for all participants in the session to see and contribute to a document at the same time. The workflow itself will vary based on the platform being used, but generally the process is pretty straightforward:

  1. The presenter pulls up a text document, spreadsheet, presentation, or other asset (e.g., a code repository) on their device.
  2. They then share it with the others in the meeting, either by sharing their entire screen or just that particular piece of content.
  3. The presenter can take feedback from viewers on what needs to be changed or added. Alternatively, multiple participants can pull up the same document, like a file in SharePoint Online or Google Drive, and work on it in parallel during the meeting.
  4. After the screen share session ends, the meeting organizer can send a recording of it to everyone. They can also re-share the edited document in a messaging channel such as Webex Teams and, with the right permissions enabled, have it open in an appropriate application for further work.

In some cases, a team may choose only to perform the fourth step, opting to do all edits outside of a dedicated meeting with a screen share session. However, there are some distinct advantages to setting up a screen share, especially as more workers begin operating outside of traditional corporate offices.

Why should you use a screen share for coediting?

Screen sharing isn’t just for presenting or lecturing. As a form of real-time collaboration, it’s also a great forum for exchanging ideas and implementing feedback. Let’s dig into some of the specific reasons for editing via a free screen share:

Fewer runarounds and delays

We mentioned emails and documents with tracked changes earlier, as both are staples of most modern editing workflows. Even when someone makes a small update to a shared Google Doc, for instance, contributors usually find out via an email. Keeping track of everything can be taxing. McKinsey & Company has estimated that professionals spend 28% of their time each week on email.

Screen sharing can simplify the editing workflow, in turn reducing the amount of email to sort through. Meeting participants can see the latest changes and suggestions being made in real time and ask questions on the spot, instead of needing to request clarification later or search their inbox for the right version to follow.

Integrated audio and video

Sometimes it can feel like you’re stuck or at a loss for how to proceed with a document, whether it’s a heavily edited version of a PDF or something like a repository of computer code in need of some big updates. This situation can lead to setting up a separate call to go through the next steps — but why not eliminate this extra stage and get direct guidance while you have your collaborators on the line?

In a screen share, you can do more than just share content. You can also interact via high-quality audio and video, allowing for more nuanced communications than email exchanges would ever enable. The integrated video, audio, and content sharing in a platform like Webex makes it easier to avoid subsequent rounds of edits and costly miscommunications.

An officelike experience from any location

Opening up a document to begin applying edits or comments, or to accept or reject someone else’s, can feel very impersonal. If you’re working remotely, it can seem like you’re on an island, far removed from what everyone else is thinking and doing.

Indeed, loneliness is a frequently cited challenge among telecommuters, being at the top of the list of remote work challenges in a 2020 Buffer survey. But with a screen share, workers can feel like they’re all together collaborating in the same space, even if they’re still physically far apart:

  • The screen share itself can simulate the feeling of a presentation or conference room discussion.
  • The high-quality audio allows participants to discuss feedback and changes as they happen.
  • Video can allow for additional clarity, for example in the form of a visual demo or simply through a presenter’s body language and reactions.

Upgrade your screen sharing experience

Screen sharing is a versatile mode of collaboration, with utility far beyond the standard slide-based presentation.

Get started with Webex for free today

Learn more

Screen sharing how-to guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

Personalize your team meetings with these top four screen sharing features

Why screen sharing works better for sales than traditional conference calls

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Healthcare and cyber security
What healthcare providers should do this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Challenges for healthcare providers

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) each year in the U.S. The 2020 edition is the 17th annual NCSAM, and although it continues a long tradition of attempting to boost public awareness of common threats — this year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart”* — it’s also an occasion unlike any of its predecessors, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The stakes for effective cybersecurity have risen dramatically as a result of the outbreak, as more day-to-day work has moved beyond traditional corporate campuses and into remote workspaces. End-users connecting to company applications from personal devices still need the robust security protections and dependable performance they got in the office, except now within the scaled-down IT environment of the home — a tricky needle to thread without solutions such as SD-WAN and secure video and audio conferencing in place.

Telework for healthcare workers

For healthcare workers in particular, the overall challenge of telework is even tougher. Applicable U.S. regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) complicate the flow of information between remote sites. Moreover, the healthcare sector as a whole has historically been slow to take up remote work due to a combination of practical considerations related to patient care, liability considerations, and technological limitations.

However, these hurdles can be overcome with the right combination of tools and strategy.

What remote work challenges do healthcare workers face?

Hospitals, physician offices, clinics, and other healthcare providers must deliver high-quality care while keeping everyone as safe as possible. That, in turn, requires mitigating a variety of risks related to remote work, including:

HIPAA compliance

As the initial pandemic grew, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights relaxed its enforcement of HIPAA noncompliance penalties* for activities such as video conferencing. Still, this was a temporary and discretionary measure. In the long term, healthcare organizations will need to balance the flexibility of remote work with the strictures of HIPAA, particularly when delivering telehealth services.

Healthcare providers must still comply with HIPAA regardless of where their workforces are actually located. In the past, organizations have been found liable for HIPAA violations related to the improper disclosure of protected health information (PHI) by remote workers, according to a Middle Tennessee State University professor interviewed by Relias Media. Avoiding these penalties requires assiduously tracking and controlling who has remote access to critical systems, which brings us to our next issue.*

Remote telehealth worker

Technology

More remote work means heavier utilization of virtual private network (VPN) licenses for secure access. All VPNs in use by a healthcare organization should be scaled to meet current usage, as well as properly updated and patched. Chances are that any existing VPN implementation will need to be greatly expanded and more carefully managed than in the past.

Likewise, the expansion of both remote work sites and temporary facilities (e.g., outdoor tent deployments) by healthcare providers means that their WANs must handle more traffic than ever before, and from a wider variety of locations and clients. Additional infrastructure and bandwidth may be needed, alongside a possible upgrade to an SD-WAN architecture that delivers performance and security far beyond what a conventional MPLS WAN offers. Check out more information on Video conference with security you can trust

Cybersecurity

Speaking of security, healthcare organizations have always been among the most common targets of cyberattacks, and the shift to telecommuting has only worsened this long-standing problem. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which sponsors NCSAM, identified the rise of advanced persistent threats* looking to harvest sensitive data from providers.

With more systems hosted in the cloud and remotely accessible via an Internet Protocol network, measures such as two-factor authentication (2FA) are pivotal. Implementing 2FA plus appropriate anti-malware and network security protections will help shield PHI from unauthorized access.

What can healthcare providers do to stay safer?

Fending off security threats while maintaining HIPAA compliance and meeting end-user needs is a complicated balancing act. But it’s not impossible. Let’s explore some concrete steps that healthcare firms can take toward safer, more scalable operations.

1) Educate and train staff

Many workers, especially in healthcare, have not routinely worked remotely in the past, meaning that they may need hands-on guidance during the transition. More specifically, it’s critical to remind everyone that regulations such HIPAA apply regardless of location and that remote work environments are prone to a unique set of cybersecurity risks.

It’s prudent to provide a detailed remote work policy with clear protocols about which video and audio conferencing services to use for telehealth and for internal communications, how to avoid common cybersecurity threats, and what to keep in mind regarding regulatory compliance (e.g., is PHI exposed on a desktop during a screen share?). Here are Best practices for clinicians using video conferencing

train healthcare staff

2) Shore up security infrastructure

While VPNs are integral to remote work security in particular, they’re not the only critical components of cybersecurity posture. Healthcare firms should also keep an eye on:

  • Identity and access management (IAM): Who is authorized to access critical resources, and in which ways? Mission-critical platforms like electronic health records solutions are often accessed beyond the provider’s main network, but must be tightly secured via IAM measures for strong authentication and role-based access.
  • Encryption: Data at rest and in transit should be encrypted as needed, both to prevent interception and to maintain HIPAA compliance. While encryption isn’t required by the HIPAA Security Rule, using it is often the most practical way to safely and compliantly transmit health information.
  • Patch management: VPNs, security software and other applications and services must be kept up to date, in order to avoid the exploitation of any known vulnerabilities.
  • SD-WAN: An SD-WAN solution can provide edge network security that connects end users to cloud applications without compromising user experience.

3) Use secure communications platforms

Video conferencing and VoIP, among other applications, play pivotal parts in enabling telehealth. Any such solution must not only provide high quality picture and sound, but also be strengthened against a variety of cybersecurity threats.

Advanced meeting controls, data encryption, and secure supporting data center infrastructure are all vital to effective remote collaboration in this context. With Webex, you can get a safe and productive experience.

Learn more by getting started with a free offer today.

Sources

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart

Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During COVID-19

APT Hackers Targeting Healthcare, Essential Services Amid COVID-19

HIPAA Compliance a Concern as Working from Home Becomes Norm

Learn more

Preparing for screen sharing: How to reduce risk when sharing your screen 

Healthcare Cybersecurity: What’s at Stake?

Securing Internet- Connected Devices in the New Era of Healthcare

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What’s new in Webex: November 2020

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Closeup of man tying on a laptop keyboard while holding on one hand a lock like transparent object. Focus is on the lock symbol meaning online information security
Preparing for screen sharing: How to reduce risk when sharing your screen

Reducing the risk of delays when sharing your screen

As more workers move outside of traditional offices, they’re also outgrowing the collaboration tools that were once staples of those environments, namely email and in-person meetings. Taking the place of those modes of communication are newer forms of teamwork, centered on real-time services for voice, video , and screen sharing.

The screen share in particular is a vital replacement for the old workflow of gathering everyone into a room and turning on a projector to walk them through a slide deck or other asset. But it’s not without its potential complications. Distractions, technical hiccups, or simply choosing confusingly designed software can waste a lot of time.

What can you do to reduce the risk of delays when sharing your screen? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options for leading a more focused session. Let’s look at some of the most dependable tips for a risk-free screen share.

Share just one window or application

Sharing your entire screen probably feels like the easiest and most practical way to lead a screen share, and in some cases, it is. For example, if you’re leading an in-depth demonstration of how to use a certain built-in feature in macOS or Microsoft Windows, then sharing the full desktop is logical, as you’ll need to walk the audience through where to find everything.

However, this type of screen sharing can also be risky, since it puts everything into public view. Watchers may be able to see what’s on your desktop, notifications from your apps, and even sensitive information like login credentials if you open your password manager.

To avoid these pitfalls, consider sharing just one application or desktop at a time. This way, you limit what can be seen while still being able to share the content you need to show. Webex Teams makes it straightforward to select which screen or app to show at any time.

Take advantage of meeting controls

Your screen share is going great — and then someone strange joins the meeting and starts talking or trying to show their own screen or video feed. Such disruptions have become more common as remote work in general and video conferencing applications in particular have both risen in popularity.

For this reason, it’s important to use built-in meeting controls to keep proceedings on track with as few distractions as possible. Some of the most important practices include:

  • Enforce password entry: Make sure to enable password requirements as needed to reduce the risk of unauthorized logins.
  • Lock the meeting once everyone is in it: Similarly, you can prevent anyone else from joining by locking the session. If you need to let legitimate attendees in later, you can unlock temporarily.
  • Control who the presenter is: As the host, you have the power to change the presenter or reclaim the role for yourself at any time.
  • Mute audio: Is someone’s excessive background noise making the screen share unbearable? Curbing it is as simple as using a mute button to silence their audio.

Turn off notifications

Notifications are important, but they can usually wait until after the screen share is over. A notification that arrives in the middle of a screen share can not only be a huge distraction, but a data leakage risk as well.

Think about all the notifications related to sensitive matters like one-time login codes and two-factor authentication, as well as online purchases, and personal messages. If they’re not turned off, you’re rolling the dice each time you lead a screen share.

Notifications can be turned off systemwide or app-by-app on all modern operating systems. Once the screen share is over, you can easily re-enable them.

Organize desktop and browser appearance

A disorganized desktop or a browser with a bunch of tabs open can be much more than an eyesore — it can also be a data security hazard, for the same reasons as unchecked notifications. A stray tab or document can divulge sensitive information. Plus, in the case of the browser, it can take a toll on system performance, too.

Consider cleaning up your desktop prior to leading a screen share. This can be as simple as using a feature like Stacks in macOS, or just creating a separate clean desktop on Windows and then presenting from there.

Fine-tune application performance

Screen sharing is a real-time process, making technical performance paramount. Software for screen sharing is usually well optimized for displaying the presenter’s screen and video, but multiple issues are still possible and can affect the presentation.

To get the best possible performance, first consider closing any unneeded applications and background processes, as the ongoing syncing of cloud services like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive can consume a lot of bandwidth. Also make sure you’re close enough to your Wi-Fi router or access point, or have an Ethernet connection set up for the most reliable connectivity.

Get started with better screen sharing in Webex

Webex provides an immersive screen sharing experience that lets you connect with as many, or as few, participants as you need to and lead them through a crystal-clear presentation.

To try it for yourself, get started for free today.

Learn More

Screen sharing how-to guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

Personalize your team meetings with these top four screen sharing features

Why screen sharing works better for sales than traditional conference calls

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The impact video has on company culture
The impact video has on company culture

Demonstrating culture with video and communication

A company’s culture plays a major role in how engaged employees are, how successful the company is, and the way in which clients or customers view the organization as a whole. But this can be challenging to build and maintain when employees and other stakeholders aren’t able to easily work together.

The key to cultivating a strong and consistent culture throughout an organization is clear communication. Every employee should have a sound understanding of the core values of their company. Further, everyone should feel connected to those values as well. See how virtual backgrounds to inspire remote work culture: the Cisco Webex artist series

But there can be many barriers to good communication throughout an organization, and succumbing to those obstacles can weaken the company culture. The use of technology that keeps everyone on the same page can help immensely when building and maintaining these values.

Video conferencing tools for company culture

Specifically, here are five ways video conferencing tools can support company culture:

  1. Connect remote workers

Remote work has been on the rise and today, even more, people are working remotely. Now, companies are planning their return-to-work models, that will likely look different any employees will continue to work remotely even after the pandemic is over; 53.9% of respondents to a survey from the Institute for Corporate Productivity said they would likely increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis.

Though remote work is becoming more popular, there are definite drawbacks to this sort of arrangement. One of the biggest challenges is loneliness, cited by 20% of respondents to Buffer’s survey. Making an effort to connect with workers through technology like video conferencing can help to bridge gaps between widely dispersed co-workers.

As remote teams become the new normal, it’s essential that companies establish processes to keep employees connected to one another. Video conferencing makes communicating with others simple, allowing them to converse about their projects and goals.

  1. Effectively collaborate on ideas

Team members must seamlessly collaborate on projects and ideas. However, discussing details of a project via email and phone can be difficult, especially when the topic at hand is visual in nature, such as slide shows, graphic design projects, and visual representations of data.

Another 20% of respondents to Buffer said collaboration is a major hurdle when working remotely. Video conferencing tools allow workers to share their screens so everyone can be on the same page. By enabling all team members to view the materials being discussed, everyone has the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion.

  1. Speak face-to-face with clients

When communicating with clients, discussions should flow smoothly. The relationship between client and vendor should be strong to continue a positive relationship. However, when obstacles like misunderstandings or difficulty connecting come up, it can be challenging to ensure the relationship is on the right track.

Video conferencing allows account managers and other stakeholders to clearly communicate with their clients. This software allows vendors to share important information such as slide shows, charts, imagery, or other data by using screen-share features.

Additionally, teams can invite all stakeholders to join discussions easily, no matter where they’re located, giving way to better cross-team collaboration. See how to share real-time data with customers through video conferencing

  1. Reduce work-related commute and travel

While much of business travel has been put on hold lately, it is something that has an impact on culture. Business travel often involves coordinating with various stakeholders, paying for transportation, lodging, and food, plus dedicating many hours to the requirements of traveling: waiting in line at an airport, renting a vehicle, and finding the way to a hotel in an unknown city, to name a few.

Instead of traveling, video conferencing allows people to hold important meetings without the hassle or expense of travel. Plus, it reduces instances of people not being able to make it to a meeting due to obstacles that don’t allow them to make the trip.

Beyond the type of long-distance travel that professionals may have to engage in to meet with far-away clients or stakeholders, the everyday commute into the office can also take a toll on workers. A Robert Half survey found that nearly one-quarter of employees have quit a job because of their commute, and 21% of respondents to Buffer’s survey said not having to make the trip to the office is the biggest benefit of remote work.

Leaning on video conferencing technology allows offices to improve morale and decrease unnecessary commutes without sacrificing productivity.

  1. Promote work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for keeping employees engaged and satisfied in their jobs. That balance will differ for individual employees, who have unique home lives and priorities.

Remote work is an excellent tool for promoting a healthy work-life balance, no matter what that may look like for each unique worker. By allowing them to complete their work in their own homes, or on the road while they travel to visit loved ones or new places, they can maintain productivity during the workday and engage in their favorite activities once they sign off.

Video conferencing supports strong company culture

Organizational culture is critical to the success of a business and the happiness and productivity of employees. Being able to support worker and customer needs, such as work-life balance and ability to collaborate on important tasks, are primary components of this.

Video conferencing tools bring everyone together, no matter how far apart they are. Keeping everyone connected helps immensely in supporting a strong company culture.

Get started with a free plan on Cisco Webex today

Sources

News Release Bureau of Labor Statistics

The 2020 State of Remote Work

Nearly One-Quarter Of Workers Have Left A Job Due To A Bad Commute, According To Robert Half Survey

Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture

Learn more

Virtual backgrounds to inspire remote work culture: the Cisco Webex artist series

How to quickly create a company culture in a growing business

Screen sharing how-to-guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

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Confident Workspace
How to create a more confident and connected workplace

Truly connect with interpersonal interaction

Remote work has a significant and complicated impact on individuals and businesses.

The ability to work from home allows employees greater freedom over how they organize their days and manage their personal lives. At the same time, without a physical separation between the workplace and the rest of an employee’s day, work-life balance can begin to feel like a blurry concept that’s hard to define.

In this environment perhaps more than ever, it’s important for businesses to emphasize the human connection that ties team members together.

Instead of viewing one another as unrelated individuals quietly working by themselves to check off a string of disconnected tasks, companies need to help people come together. Learn How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Interpersonal interaction improves workforce well-being and boosts collective confidence

The answer for a more confident and connected workplace is greater interpersonal interaction.

Because of the greater flexibility provided by telework opportunities, colleagues may be based in locations far away from each other, limiting opportunities for them to chitchat in the break room, grab lunch together, or even just to say hello in the hallway.

Finding new opportunities for interpersonal interaction among geographically separated employees can lead to a wide range of positive outcomes.

Benefits for health

Summarizing a study originally published in Personality and Social Psychology Review, an article in Science Daily claimed that “health at work is determined to a large extent by our social relationships in the workplace – and, more particularly, the social groups we form there.”

The authors went on to note that health benefits seemed to be more significant when a greater number of people at the organization shared a feeling of connectedness.

This research indicates that, while one-on-one relationships are important, organizations need to do what they can to develop a greater sense of inclusion for everybody.

Improved productivity

There’s a huge difference in performance between workers who have strong connections with their colleagues and those who don’t.

It seems like common sense that greater interpersonal connection in the workplace could translate into better productivity. When people know, respect and value their colleagues, they’re naturally inclined to feel like they share responsibility and accountability with their peers. Why remote work can be more productive work

There’s evidence to support this claim.

For instance, Gallup found that people who reported having a best friend at work were “seven times more likely to be engaged.” Other positive performance indicators included better work and fewer workplace injuries.

Greater self-confidence and team morale

Feeling connected to teammates may have benefits for self-esteem and collective confidence, too.

Interacting closely with colleagues can help individuals develop greater self-confidence and improve a team’s sense of cohesion and shared accomplishment.

On the other hand, without the affirmation provided by close relationships, it can be difficult to achieve higher levels of self-esteem. Self-doubt can begin to take the place of mutual support.

The American Psychological Association highlighted a study first published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that claimed self-esteem and positive relationships go hand in hand, with one factor boosting the other. The study indicated that these results seem to hold true across a person’s life, even into advanced age.

To create this feedback loop between self-esteem and positive relationships, businesses need to cultivate greater personal interaction.

Techniques for encouraging interpersonal interaction

To achieve greater interaction between colleagues and associates, there are many strategies that businesses can use. The thoughtful application of telework technologies can help drive stronger human connection.

Promote virtual presence

Videoconferencing is a simple solution for enhanced communication. By enabling meeting participants to pick up on nonverbal cues from each other, attendees can more fully appreciate what their colleagues are saying. Using video for client meetings can also help establish a more personal connection with prospects and customers. Screen sharing tools can facilitate more thorough communication, assisting with collaboration, and allowing contributors to truly feel heard.

Another significant benefit of videoconferencing technology is the ability to record and archive demos and tutorials in their entirety. Sharing these resources can be a great way for colleagues to help keep one another informed about business operations.

Provide tools for work-life balance and interactivity

Employees feel more connected to their workplaces when they know they have the tools they need to adequately balance work responsibilities with their personal lives.

Remote work technology that enables workers to spend less time on their commute will help their personal interactions feel relaxed and natural.

Encouraging workers to use videoconferencing and collaboration tools also allow them to be more present with one another when they tackle projects together. When colleagues connect over a video chat line, their attention remains focused on the conversation at hand, not divided among other communication channels. Get the most out of work-life balance

Create digital communities

Collaboration tools and scheduled meetings are one component of a multifaceted approach to shared, community-based platforms that encourage interpersonal communication.

Standalone multifunctional groups, such as Webex Teams, enable greater interaction between colleagues and teammates. With limited outside distractions and a more relaxed atmosphere, online communities can serve as a virtual watercooler for impromptu check-ins and spontaneous chats.

There are many opportunities available from Cisco Webex to help you improve interpersonal interaction and nurture a more confident, connected workplace.

Reach out today for more information or a free trial.

Sources:

Your Friends and Your Social Well-Being

Health determined by social relationships at work

Positive Relationships Boost Self-Esteem, and Vice Versa

Creating Human Connection

Learn More

5 tips for connecting with remote colleagues

Delighting remote workers: Why user experience is important

Using technology to create work-life balance

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graphic classroom and
Bridging hybrid classrooms with the Cisco Webex Board

Easy deployment and super friendly interface

Technology can be unnecessarily complex. Whether the screen was left on the wrong video input or the camera wasn’t connected – these kinds of disruptions that take valuable time away from teaching and learning. With Cisco Webex Rooms devices, technology isn’t an inhibitor to education – it’s the conduit.

Video device

There are plenty of touch screens in the market for education, but they sacrifice the most important factor of all: communication. With hybrid learning models on the rise, we need to ensure that the distance between the teachers and students doesn’t become a barrier to learning. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian*, communication requires more than verbal interactions. It is made up of 7% of spoken words, 38% of voice and tone, and 55% of body language. If the students can’t hear or see the teacher, then some of the most important parts of the lesson can be lost. Capturing the teachers movements and tone of voice is essential to an engaging lesson.

Teachers, on the other hand, need to be certain that students can hear and see them without fault so they can focus on giving the class, not on managing the technology that enables class. The 4k camera of the Webex Board plus its 12 microphone array ensures that wherever the teacher is, they can be heard, seen, and understood.

Works with your favorite online education platform

For some time now, education has relied on digital platforms to distribute home assignments, review projects and homework, and store class material. The Webex Board can be set up with tools like Blackboard CourseSites and Canvas as Webapps so the teacher and student can interact with them directly on the Webex Board while on a call. Webex can also be integrated directly into the institution’s Learning Management System.

Annotate on all!          

In the case that the teacher feels more comfortable sharing material from their computer, Touch Redirect allows the teacher to interact with the computer as they would with a tablet by using touching the Webex Board. While using PowerPoint, for example, the teacher can go through slides by swiping their finger on the screen. When showing a 3D model, they can zoom in and rotate the model on the screen. Any content shared on the board can be annotated on by the teacher using the board or the students from their home devices. This encourages students to participate freely, while keeping their attention on the class, not on handling the tech. At the end of the class, all written notes are stored as whiteboards in spaces where teachers and students can access them.

The power of the Webex Assistant

Webex Assistant for Webex Meetings gives the teacher the option to record the lesson for future reference. Recordings may also include a transcript of the lesson and a selection of highlights. So, the teacher can help students find critical parts of the lesson faster and relate them to other lessons.

The Webex Board makes learning easy for teachings and students by providing the correct set of tools in video conferencing and interaction that modern hybrid learning requires.

Learn more about the all-in-one device for team collaboration 

Reference

Dr. Albert Mehrabian*

Learn More

Top 7 Webex Assistant Device commands to enhance your meetings!

Webex for Education: Technology for collaboration in and out of the classroom

Experience the new Webex for Education — Simple and secure out-of-the-box

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