If you’ve been working long enough to remember upgrading from a desktop computer to a laptop, or even from a wired connection to Wi-Fi, then you won’t need me to point out that the way we work is changing.
The office workplace has transformed from rows of cubicles that we occupied for set hours each day to a more agile environment. Today’s workplace is less of a physical place. It’s much more flexible and far less location-specific.
At Cisco, we like to lead by example. Our collaboration marketing team is truly global. We have people all around the world. Technology has made the world smaller and our roles have greater global reach. We benefit from sourcing talent from the widest pool possible. And we use Cisco technology to make the miles between us feel like a matter of steps.
A lot of my role – and the work I do with my team– is sparked by creativity. I firmly believe that creativity is rooted in people’s ability to share ideas, brainstorm, and collaborate. And there’s plenty of research to back me up.
For many people, collaboration means getting together around a whiteboard, sharing thoughts, and piecing together slivers of bright ideas to build something greater than the sum of its parts.
But these days, people aren’t always all in the same place. And attaining the kind of diversity needed for great creative collaboration is a challenge. It helps to have perspectives from people with different backgrounds who might be in different locations. It’s simply not realistic to fly people in for every meeting or brainstorm session.
Increased diversity leads us to a broader, more openly collaborative approach to work. In practice, this means:
- a breakdown of silos
- more open flows of information
- greater experimentation
- a desire to learn on an iterative basis
Anywhere, Any Place (Any Device), Any Time
Email and conference calls aren’t enough to support creative collaboration. You need a more human connection to get the most from everyone on a project. It’s one thing to hear someone’s idea. It’s another to look each other in the eye and collaborate in real time.
My team at Cisco is used to being “video first.” It’s rare that I join a call without video. Whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or a bigger group, we’ll jump on Webex to quickly discuss and resolve an issue. Today’s technology empowers us to take our collaborative efforts to a new level: With the touch of a single green button, we can connect with our team, no matter where people are. It’s about making things easier by removing the frustrations that people associate with meetings so we can focus on the task at hand.
Where people once replaced meetings with a phone call, video conferencing provides the personal element of meeting in person. This benefit comes without the extra time, energy, and cost that come with having to travel across an ocean or even from one building to another.
And in using video in our calls and meetings, we recreate that trusting collaborative environment associated with being face-to-face, which I consider a key ingredient of business success.
Along the way, we’re saving time and money by eliminating the cost, energy, and inconvenience of travel. Anyone who’s spent hours making their way to attend a meeting that lasts only 15 minutes will relate. With easy access to communication tools like Webex, there’s less need to travel – freeing you up to be more productive with your time.
In other instances, it’s about the ability to make the most of your time when it’s necessary to be on the move. Our collaboration tools account for that. You can use them just as easily from a traditional or home office as a hotel room. They’re designed to accommodate the flexibility of people’s preferred working styles.
A One-Stop Solution
When we were developing the updates we’ve made to our Webex tools, we learned from your experiences with collaboration technology.
When we speak with people about their workplace experiences, they often repeat the same frustrations: It’s confusing or laborious to have multiple communication tools with different processes or logins to learn. And it’s particularly challenging when you add compatibility issues.
Similarly, when we talk to IT managers about what will make life easier, they want a solution that keeps their organizations’ employees happy. And they want us to help them prove the benefits.
Happily, one solution is just to share what we’ve achieved as a team ourselves and inviting them to try a simple, one-stop communication shop for themselves. Once they see the benefits – and ease – of staying continuously connected with calling, meetings, and video conferencing, the future of how we work doesn’t seem so distant or alien after all.