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Is your agency ready for H1N1?

September 15, 2009 at 9:01 am PST

Imagine that it’s mid-January and the reality of an H1N1 flu pandemic is upon us. No less than half of your team has been diagnosed with some strain of the flu, and some of those that aren’t sick are in the vulnerable populations of pregnant women, asthmatics or diabetics. The CDC recommends that during an influenza pandemic, all sick people should stay away from the workplace.

Your company has put guidelines in place guidelines for those who are sick to stay at home. But, the reality is that there will always be someone who shows up sick, potentially contaminating the entire office.

As we look ahead to this possibility, it is a good time to assess your agency’s capabilities to keep your workforce engaged and meeting critical deadlines during a pandemic. Ensuring that you have a thorough and thoughtful strategy for employees and management to telework is essential. Adding video conferencing to the mix is a consideration to ensure that managers can meet face-to-face with employees, particularly since there could be extended absences and high stress levels during an outbreak.

TANDBERG has begun scheduling sessions with agencies, schools, healthcare providers and others to share best practices on ways to add mobility to existing video communication strategies. Truly mobile video communications are here but questions remain for many: How does my agency incorporate mobility into my existing communications infrastructure? How can I easily and efficiently mass deploy endpoints? How do I ensure that the technology will be utilized?

These are obviously big questions. We can share some suggestions with you, along with some best practices and hands-on experience on what works and what doesn’t.

User Stories – Vemun

In the first of our weekly User Stories video blog series, which will touch on the more personal impact video conferencing and telepresence technology can have on users, Vemun describes how technology allowed him to stay connected to loved ones from thousands of miles away.

Virginia telework day successful — pass it on

September 10, 2009 at 10:26 am PST

Virginia’s recent Telework Day proved successful, with more than 4,000 federal, state or private sector employees participating. Sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Telework Exchange, the event was designed as a “low-risk” way for agencies and organizations to experiment with telework and to help break down the psychological barriers that many organizations have against telework.

Some of the findings included that 22 percent of event participants had not previously teleworked, while 25 percent had worked remotely on occasion. Seventy eight percent of participants did not encounter any problems during the experience, and the experience convinced 91 percent of participants to consider working remotely in the future.

As the federal government looks to possibly hire more than 250,000 workers to replace those retiring over the next three years, it would be prudent for them to consider telework as they move forward. Telework not only can make the government a more attractive employer, but it also increases productivity and efficiency, and supports work/life balance, a cleaner environment, business stability, retention and relief on the roadways.

Taking telework to the next level is the next step – by adding video conferencing into the mix, employers and employees get the added bonus of face-to-face time with each other no matter where the employee works. Face-to-face communications eliminates the miscues and misunderstandings that can come from regular phone or email communication.

Do you telework? What benefits do you experience from it?

Teachers hot for professional development — via video

September 8, 2009 at 4:19 pm PST

Video conferencing is fast becoming the standard delivery method for professional development in schools across the country and around the world. This is helpful, given that teachers are expected to attend professional development courses and workshops to maintain their certifications.

In a recent article, the professional development division of Cooperating School Districts in St. Louis pointed out that teachers who have been in the classroom all day are often expected to drive in heavy traffic to attend certification courses. Using video conferencing technology that is already in place in many schools has alleviated that added time and stress. Instead of driving across town to attend a session, teachers can join from the comfort of their campus, school or even their own classroom.

Organizations that conduct professional development workshops on topics ranging from learning disabilities to making math fun are delivering the sessions over video conferencing more frequently – making it easier and less time-consuming for educators to access the programs they need for their own development.

In fact, professional development courses over video have become so popular with providers and schools that the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) has implemented a Professional Development Marketplace, giving teachers and administrators a resource to find programs that are delivered over video.

What types of professional development does your agency offer? Can you access it through video conferencing?

Will Any Webcam Do?

High definition mobile video for business

High definition mobile video for business

If you use any computer-based video conferencing system, when it comes to a webcam, there are 2 standard options: the camera embedded in the computer, or an external USB device.  For most consumer applications, either option is perfectly acceptable.  The question becomes: “What if I use my webcam for business?”

As video becomes an increasingly prolific business application, spanning telepresence,  high definition room-based systems, desktop video and mobile PC solutions, maintaining high quality video across all end-points is an important consideration.  Imagine being in a high definition telepresence meeting with everyone represented in crystal clear resolution, accept for the one guy that dialed in from a hotel room with low resolution, grainy video. You can’t tell if he is smiling, wincing or just had a bad burrito.  It’s a distraction, and ultimately not how you want your business to be represented.

This is exactly why business users of video need to be discerning in their choice of video camera.  The right webcam must:

  • Enable high definition video, to provide the most natural experience possible.
  • Be optimized for a wide range of standard and high definition resolutions regardless of the endpoint it’s dialed in to.
  • Be plug and play, straight out of the box, eliminating the need to load software or drivers
  • Optimized for business applications like Microsoft Office Communicator and TANDBERG Movi.

Ultimately, a quality webcam, with the right bandwidth will provide an experience comparable, if not indistinguishable from that of its room-based counterpart.