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The Create 10x Better Experiences Than in Person Interactions series focuses on enabling and empowering secure inclusive experiences in real-time or anytime, with a focus on seamless collaboration and smart hybrid work experiences

The Movie is Better than the Trailer

It’s like the trailer of a great movie. If effective, a trailer will interest and excite you into watching the movie. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen films where the best part was the trailer. Sometimes we just need to dig into the story before we know if a movie is good or not. Perhaps, that’s how the concept of “10x better experiences than in-person interactions” sits with you. It sounds amazing, interesting, and even exciting, but is it possible? From my own experience, I can tell you it is.

Avoid Video Conferencing Fatigue

Before I explain, I think it’s important to acknowledge the elephant in the room: Working remotely on video or web conferencing for most of the day is an incredible change in work behavior for most. Only 34% of people worked from home 8 or more days a month prior to COVID-19. That means nearly 70% of office employees were thrown into a paradigm shift, where working from home and attending meetings over laptops became the daily reality. This shift is here to stay. Even as we return to the office, collaboration will include remote participants 98% of the time, as I talked about in my previous blog. And while some caution video conferencing fatigue, our new reality necessitates making remote participants first-class citizens. In many ways, this is our new mantra. It’s not a question of whether to use video; it’s a question of how to optimize using video. We need to avoid video conferencing fatigue the same way as we leverage best practices to avoid mental fatigue while working.

In fact, one doctor likens video conferencing fatigue to mental fatigue and discusses the reason we experience it. Essentially, when the rewards-cost tradeoff for an activity tips toward cost over reward, it creates fatigue. When there are delays in video, and the audio and video don’t sync, there is a mental struggle to stay engaged. And, it’s simply annoying!  Most people aren’t accustomed to long hours of video conferencing, which leads to many challenges on an individual level and will eventually have ripple effects into an organizational one. All of this creates a cost higher than the reward leading to fatigue.

What if we could create a simple user experience that is consistent across devices no matter what device you used and no matter where you worked? What if it provided 10x better experiences than in-person interactions? When the reward for an activity exceeds the cost, we have more energy and motivation for that task. It’s the opposite of fatigue.

Democratizing Meetings

As mentioned in the WebexOne Keynote, with every hardware and software we design is a desire for people to thrive when faced with distance. This means creating Webex devices that energize and motivate people while working. Since video is the richest media to create face-to-face interactions, we can capture the non-verbal cues needed for smooth communication. Instead of remote participants being second-class citizens to attendees packed in one conference room, meetings are now democratized giving everyone an equal opportunity for engagement. Rather than having everyone focused on the presenter at the head of the room, video layouts provide the opportunity to see body language and facial expressions from more people. And that can best be done with devices designed to meet face-to-face.

In December, we launched three new devices, creating an unprecedented desk line up. First off is the Webex Desk Camera. Packed with the intelligent features you already know from our video portfolio but in a small form factor, the Webex Desk Camera is perfect for both the home and the office. And best of all? Like the rest of the Webex Desk Devices portfolio, it has centralized management through Control Hub.  Second is the Webex Desk Hub – the sleek, smart, and powerful device made to take hot desking to the next level. Third, we introduced the Webex Desk. We liken it to the Webex Desk Pro’s little sister. The 24-inch Webex Desk transforms your experience by enabling you to connect to meetings, co-create and stay productive whether you’re at home or in the office. It is competitively priced for an all-in-one device with intelligent features users want like noise cancellation, virtual backgrounds, and facial recognition. The introduction of these three desk devices allows easy management for IT, and flexibility for the end user, making remote meetings 10x better than in-person interactions.

In addition to our new desk devices, we are investing in our software experiences through RoomOS to mirror the Webex app and democratize the video experience. Ever had the problem of being in a large meeting and desperately wanting to ask a question without interrupting the speaker? Or ever held a presentation and wanted to get live feedback without having multiple people speaking in tandem leaving nothing but an inaudible mess and loads of untangling to understand who was first? With our new Raise Hand feature, these scenarios are a thing of the past. Meeting participants can simply click the Raise Hand icon on their device, and their names will show up in a sidebar in chronological order, depending on who raised their hand first. This makes giving and receiving feedback that much easier.

colleagues in meeting using raise hand feature

The Raise Hand feature is great when it comes to giving qualitative feedback – asking questions, raising issues, and adding comments. However, not everything requires detailed spoken feedback. Sometimes, a gesture says more than a thousand words. This new feature comes out in February and allows presenters to get live feedback from their audience, making the presentation feel more interactive all without interrupting the speaker.

reaction stream include thumbs up, clapping, thumbs down, sad, surprised, celebrate, and laughing

We’re also making the experience better for the administrators with historical data now being available in the Workspaces tab in Control Hub. We announced Workspaces at Cisco Live last year revolutionizing the way IT, facilities, and HR work together. Historical data in Control Hub provides the ability to analyze over time how your workspace has changed allowing you to slice and dice the data to deliver custom insights. The dashboard natively provides a live snapshot of key data points relevant to your meeting rooms. Historical Workspace Analytics is available today and can be configured in Webex Control Hub. It can be accessed globally with EU-based customers being added in Q1 2021. This is particularly exciting for those needing visibility into different meeting rooms. If you want to learn more about how we are improving the experience for administrators, check out this guide customized for the Hybrid Workplace.

Seize the Moment

Imagine if our opportunity for evolution is to do that with 10x better experiences than in-person interactions. When done right, video democratizes meetings, builds trust and culture, and creates a global village where collaboration connects us, and technology keeps us face to face. It’s important that we seize the moment, recognize its value, and reimagine how we work.

When faced with distance, there are clear advantages over in-person interactions if we only leverage them. Webex and Webex Devices deliver that with personal, consistent experiences from anywhere. This is what I do and experience every day. And you can too.

The trailer sounds good, but it’s time to dig into the story and see for yourself

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Learn More

What’s new in Webex: January 2021

What’s So NEW about the All New Webex?

Enabling Smart Hybrid Work Experiences — For Everyone, Anywhere

Link to all of Snorre’s monthly updates

Resources

Cisco Announces Wave of Webex Innovation to Drive 10x Better Than In-Person Experiences and Much More [News Release]

Cisco Announces Three New Webex Devices To Empower the Remote Worker and Enable a Safe Return to Office [News Release]

Cisco Doubles Down on Webex Ecosystem and Accelerates Webex App Hub, Enabling a Seamless Experience Between the Platforms You Love [News Release]