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Don’t You (Forget about Employee Engagement)

Tonight I’m heading out for a huge slice of nostalgia. I’m going to see 1980s pop group Simple Minds. No doubt there’ll be much reminiscing and swaying of hands to classics like “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

This year Cisco has been celebrating its 30th birthday. Another recent addition to the 30-something list is the movie “The Breakfast Club.” This John Hughes classic became an icon of the time and helped make Simple Minds and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” world famous.

As a remote worker, I understand it could be easy to feel “forgotten” and become disillusioned with a lack of information and sporadic contact with your managers, peers, and co-workers. How do you, for example: Read More »

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Remember, It’s Just a Meeting

Driving the discussion of collaboration.

Today, the federal government is still heavily involved in placing people on an airplane and flying key decision makers across the world to meet in person. While face-to-face interactions are important, long-term productivity requires the flexibility and capabilities to facilitate immediate, impromptu meetings without technological restrictions. The fact is, being tethered to a desk or having to rely on transportation and conflicting time zones significantly impact communications. Further, amid shrinking budgets and fewer resources, agencies are also being asked to do more with less.

Collaboration technologies break down those boundaries, bringing the right resources to the right meeting at the right time. The value of these tools for government agencies can, at times, be stunted by the tendency to place them into silos. We must move beyond the siloed thinking of video to video, voice to voice and web-conferencing to web-conferencing to embrace a more integrated approach. In the end, the goal of every meeting is to connect people and share information. Collaboration technologies can help agencies meet this objective while lowering costs and increasing efficiency.

Collaboration: Taking a Unified Approach

The value of collaboration is seen when you move beyond the traditional tether of your desk. Collaborative environments are expanding as federal agencies no longer operate in silos. Federal agencies are complex, highly strategic environments where decision makers need to work together to improve citizen services and national security. Many programs are tapping subject matter experts (SMEs) to leverage the best talent for their technical missions—reaching across regions, silos, environments, and in multiple time zones.

By taking a unified approach with technologies, agencies are improving information sharing within and between individual departments and entire federal agencies.

Virtual training provides significant value to both trainers and trainees. A recent Govloop survey members found that 90 percent of respondents attended a virtual training in 2014. This Virtual Training Playbook outlines the benefits of hybrid training environments and offers a roadmap for arranging effective and engaging online trainings.

  • Many federal agencies have offices spread throughout the country and around the world. Cohorts from multiple locations, multiple entities, and multiple sites are using various collaboration solutions to connect interagency.
  • Key decision makers are also connecting across multiple disciplines. For instance, government agencies can connect to business leaders with niche skillsets that can help agencies accomplish their objectives. Think of it as bringing together some of the top minds in several relevant designated fields to collaborate on better solutions.
  • Managers can more effectively interacting with teleworkers face-to-face, improving relations with those employees and lessening the resistance to telework environments.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, collaboration solutions are being used to support citizen engagement and improve communication between agencies and the public. This is also helping provide new perspectives on the delivery of various government agency services.

Cisco offers a unified collaboration toolkit that provides customers with flexible solutions to meet end users’ needs regardless of the circumstance. To improve efficiency, agencies should identify the various stakeholders they communicate with and the collaboration tools that are best suited to interact with each of those groups. This enables agencies to adopt a unified approach to collaboration and build customized hybrid meeting environments. Furthermore, collaboration is helping push agencies to modernize their IT systems with architectures that serve the needs of today and help build a foundation to support the growing needs of tomorrow.

Government organizations are using collaboration solutions to enhance information sharing, boost employee productivity and increase citizen satisfaction while reducing costs and driving greater efficiencies. It’s important to remember that it’s just a meeting, and you should have access to the resources your team needs—no matter the form of collaboration—for successful business and mission outcomes.

To learn more about Cisco’s government collaboration solutions, visit http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/us_government/collaboration.html.

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Mobile Government and Telework Week 2014

rpodEach year I pledge to telework along with thousands of others for the annual Telework Week.  Today, I worked from my rpod parked in front of my house.  My rpod is my personal smart work space and provides me everything I need to work at home or on the road with secure mobility capabilities that allow me to access all my meetings, applications, and collaboration tools to do my job.

In fact, I could have worked from anywhere and have been teleworking for the past several years.

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Act) was signed into law on December 9, 2010. The objective is to achieve greater flexibility in managing the workforce through the use of telework. Telework programs  and best practices provide agencies a valuable tool to meet mission objectives while helping employees enhance work/life effectiveness to:

  • Improve Continuity of Operations to help ensure that essential Federal functions continue during emergency situations including snow storms
  • Promote management effectiveness when telework is used to target reductions in management costs and environmental impact and transit costs
  • Enhance work-life balance and allows employees to better manage their work and family obligations

This year, Telework Week 2014, was the fourth-annual global effort to encourage agencies, organizations, and individuals to pledge. A total of 163,495 pledges collectively saved $14,003,872 in commuting costs and spared the environment 9,066 tons of pollutants.

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Collaboration Solutions: Choose the Right Ones for Productive, Effective Teleworking

In one of my recent blog posts I discussed the value of video for teleworking.

blog pic teleworker hi res EspenFrom this blog I received a lot of feedback from folks wanting examples of the type of technology to use for teleworking.  Many asked, “How do you know what the right technology is to use to support remote and traveling workers without giving up on a quality experience?”  Cisco supports all aspects of telework and remote scenarios with technology that is flexible, interoperable without comprising quality or providing just a “good enough” video experience. Cisco TelePresence personal solutions and video desk phones consistently offer high definition video on every call.  Companies do not want to compromise quality when deploying technology for remote and teleworkers. Cisco solutions offer both high quality and flexibility to support productive, effective teleworking.

Cisco has just released a new white paper that gives an in-depth explanation of the benefits of teleworking based on business class collaboration solutions. These solutions provide organizations the key building blocks in developing and designing a strong foundation for supporting remote workers worldwide.

The closer you get to an in-person experience in meetings with remote employees and teleworkers the more productive you will be.  Today working from a remote location does not mean that you are removed from what is going on back at the office. Cisco delivers flexible high quality solutions for teleworking that bring people together whether they are across town or across the world.

How are you deploying teleworking capabilities to your workforce?

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New Bills in U.S. Government Show Commitment to Video

Being effective in your job doesn’t always mean that you need to be there.  In fact, many would argue that their productivity increases drastically when they are given the flexibility to work wherever they want as long as they can stay connected.  If that means staying off of a plane for a business trip, even better because it also saves the company money.

Enter video conferencing, the tool that enables users to be part of the discussion without being there.  But what does “there” really mean in today’s world? With mobile technologies, including video, transforming how and where we work, the concept of “there” is really anywhere you want it to be. “There” can be a traditional office that is now equipped with video technologies that enable collaboration with others across the world without having to travel in order to conduct business. It can also be working remotely and still being part of your business community with mobile video and other applications that allow users to work at home, at a coffee shop or anywhere they like.

The move to stay connected at anytime from anywhere has been engaged by many organizations including the U.S. Federal Government. To help agency’s ensure productivity while cutting travel costs the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would allow absent Congress members to vote via video conferencing. The bill allows members to cast votes remotely over video and be treated as if they were present in person at meetings.

Government members are also extending this sentiment beyond the walls of Congress as Representative Michael Fitzpatrick also introduced a new bill — H.R. 2643, the Stay In Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013 — to review agencies’ efforts to reduce travel spending and develop a plan to cut travel expenses by 50 percent through the use of video conferencing technologies.

Is it really going to make a difference? Read More »

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