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Ensuring Secure Telepresence for the Mobile Federal Worker

November 7, 2011 at 6:35 am PST

The General Services Administration (GSA) has had its telework initiative in the pipeline for some time now, but it recently became official: the vast majority of GSA employees are now eligible to telework, and managers need to implement policies that support remote workers.

The GSA telework mandate is an exciting step forward, leading the way for other federal agencies to realize the benefits of telework, which include increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Empower teleworkers with collaboration technologies like telepresence and they enjoy the best of both worlds—no commute, but the same collegiality and interaction with co-workers and supervisors they would have if they worked in a building together. 

There is one more factor that plays into fine-tuning the telework machine, however. GSA and other agencies can face challenges in determining their technology protocols. As mobile technology takes over, and as people express personal preferences for particular smartphones and tablets, agencies have to weigh employee ease and comfort against potential security risks. The “Bring Your Own Device” to work movement has momentum and merit; it simply requires careful planning. Read More »

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Telepresence A Must for the Virtual Worker

November 7, 2011 at 6:34 am PST

I already passed along some tips for making conference calls more productive and pleasant using telepresence… so I thought I’d share with you an example of the successful video conference call in action.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Sarah Max reported on CUNA Mutual Group, a financial services provider with an 80-person sales force spread throughout the country—and in large part working remotely. CUNA relies on video technology for regular meetings, including their annual cocktail reception. Employees enjoy drinks and refreshments they provide for themselves at home, but through video still interact and get to know each other personally. No uncomfortable heels or last-minute shoe shines required in order to impress! Read More »

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The New Era of the Virtual Worker

Telecommuting isn’t really anything new -- people have been doing it for many years. One thing that has changed, however, is the dramatic gain in popularity. More people than ever seem to be embracing the option of working remotely, and it’s setting the standard for the new in-demand work environment, writes Mashable Business’s Amy-Mae Elliott. Working parents like the telework option to balance work and personal life; metro area employees enjoy the break from hectic commutes; and, younger employees appreciate the workplace flexibility, according to the article.  Question is, are organizations ready to embrace the spike in demand for this growing trend?

Read More »

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Generation Telepresence: Putting Video in the Palms of Students’ Hands

November 4, 2011 at 5:31 am PST

Put tablets, laptops, netbooks, among other devices, in the hands of grade- school students, and it’s only minutes before they’re innovating, creating, and communicating.

From the time they’re aware of the world around them, today’s children see and use technology. I’ve written before about the ubiquity of technology in the classrooms of our youngest learners, and as noted in a recent Education Week article, schools continue to experiment with available technology to determine the right tools to maximize their students’ learning. Read More »

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Guilford meets Nairobi

It does not matter whether you are in Guildford or in Nairobi, it seems that it is never hard to get 10 and 11 year-old girls to chat. Recently I met about 30 of them over TelePresence, (Cisco’s high definition video conferencing). The aim of the meeting was to inspire them to consider careers in IT in the future and was designed to be a question and answer session. Having introduced myself and explained how I got into the IT industry many moons ago, the floor was all theirs.

 

Questions came flooding at me and the pressure was on to make a good impression. Despite the distance between them, I was immediately struck by the similarities of the girls – all in their smart school uniform, all  smiling at me and a few girls gave me a little wave. Their respective teachers introduced the schools and that was where the similarity ended. The girls in Nairobi were from a deprived slum area whilst the girls from Guildford were mainly middle class. The questions they asked however were very different. Yes I was asked the usual questions such as “How did I get into IT?” “Do I like my job?” “What do I do?” etc .  However the girls in Nairobi wanted to know how I got work, how long did it take me to get there, how many hours did I work and then they asked me probably the most poignant question of the session. “Does your technology help people in drug rehabilitation centres?”  Wow, that question was so telling on many levels! By the way I didn’t know the answer but was able to explain how our technology Healthpresence is enabling doctors and hospitals to see more patients remotely and is extending the reach of healthcare..  The question was also in stark contrast from one of the Guildford girls  who wanted to know  what was the colour of my toothbrush! The last question asked was “ What was my most prized possession?” No prizes for guessing which school asked this one but I hope both schools took a few minutes to think about my response. I said “ it is not a possession as such but my answer is my HEALTH”. 

I then left the meeting so the girls could get to know each other better. I felt very privileged to have taken part and very humbled by the girls in Nairobi. I cannot really imagine what their lives are like on a daily basis or whether or not I inspired them but I hope they left the session with something constructive to talk about! The meeting has certainly left it’s footprint on me, more so than I expected. The children were so similar in their openness, friendliness and willingness to participate. However the use of the Cisco office would have sheltered the girls from Guildford from the harsh reality their new friends from Nairobi face each day and would have made it difficult for them to really comprehend their differences. Hopefully this would have been a good thing – the real understanding that we are not that different from each other after all!

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