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Workplace Evolution Emphasizes Agility and Collaboration

Although the mass transition to remote work began as an exercise in crisis management, it has led to a fundamental rethinking of how, when and where we work. Technologies and processes implemented on an emergency basis have proven so successful that most organizations anticipate a permanent shift to a hybrid workplace in which employees can split time between home and the office.

Many even question the value of the traditional office environment in which every employee has an assigned office, cubicle or desk. Nearly nine in 10 executives in a recent PwC survey say they expect to change their real estate strategy over the next year with an eye toward consolidating office space, retrofitting offices to accommodate flex-work, and shifting to smaller satellite locations.

For decades, commercial real estate design focused on creating high-density environments that maximized the number of workers per square foot. Now, however, companies are looking to prioritize social distancing with open floor plans and fewer workstations that can be used by multiple flex workers.

Becoming Agile

Some are supporting this trend by repurposing large conference rooms. In the post-COVID world, there is little enthusiasm for gatherings of dozens of people sitting elbow-to-elbow. Instead, that space can be broken up into multiple huddle rooms, smaller conference rooms used for informal meetings and rapid collaboration. These rooms are typically outfitted with high-quality audio visual and unified communications (UC) technologies.

Huddle rooms are more practical and more cost-effective than conventional conference rooms. They make more efficient use of office real estate, and they don’t require the formal trappings. They won’t need fancy chairs and tables, special lighting, acoustic treatments or cable management systems. Most important, desktop-based systems provide all the required collaboration functionality without the price tag of room-based video conferencing systems.

Hoteling and hot-desking are other models for making the best use of desks, workspaces and offices in a hybrid work environment. Both are alternatives to the traditional practice of having permanently assigned seating for all employees.

In hoteling, employees reserve a desk or workspace for a specific time when they plan to be in the office. Upon arrival, they check in through a central booking agent or application. Hot-desking is less structured, with workspaces available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cognitive Collaboration

Cisco has been supporting the workforce evolution for years through its Webex product portfolio, including multiple video conferencing and team collaboration solutions. Webex Desk Pro is particularly useful for emerging hybrid work environments.

Purpose-built for desktops and shared spaces, Desk Pro features a 27-inch 4K display, a wide-angle HD camera and advanced audio hardware to enhance the conferencing experience. With a USB-C connection, Desk Pro can serve as an all-in-one docking station and primary monitor. It provides direct access into Webex Meetings and Webex Teams collaboration services, although it supports the collaboration and video-conferencing software of your choice.

Desk Pro’s cognitive collaboration features are particularly noteworthy. Using a variety of artificial intelligence disciplines such as machine learning, natural language processing and text analytics, Desk Pro gives users a more intuitive experience. For example, Webex Assistant is an integrated digital assistant that enables users to start or join meetings, call colleagues, access reports, manage calendars or share files with simple voice commands.

Integrated facial recognition provides important contextual information by identifying all participants in a video meeting and creating name labels for everyone. Automatic noise detection and suppression ensures the meeting is free of distracting background noise.

Remote work was already moving toward mainstream status, but the health crisis dramatically accelerated the transition. Now, more companies are looking to make it a permanent option. Cisco’s Webex conferencing and collaboration solutions can help streamline the transition. Give us call to learn how we can help you leverage these solutions to support your remote operations.

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