The trend towards remote working continues to increase globally, bringing new challenges and frustrations to businesses and individuals alike.
A recent Cisco WebEx survey found that 15% of those surveyed intend to work remotely 36 days or more a year. The survey also found that respondents prefer working remotely to avoid hassles and inconveniences often associated with traditional office meetings.
In addition, the biggest frustrations sighted by those surveyed were in-person meetings running longer than planned (29%), and being hard to organise because of conflicting schedules (25%). Almost one-fourth (23%) of the respondents say their companies rely on telecommuting, and more than one in 10 (13%) reimburse employees when they buy laptops, mobile phones or tablets.
Cisco has recently announced a set of solutions and developments designed for remote workers, making it easier for business people in South Africa to collaborate anywhere, anytime and on any device. The new solutions are focused on unified communication, a next generation of online meetings and social collaboration.
A new Cisco Unified Communications (UC) Manager feature called Extend and Connect works with Cisco Jabber and is designed to bring any third-party phone – including phones at hotels, airports, convention centres, or even far-flung places like offshore oil rigs into the Cisco UC environment.
With Extend and Connect, telecommuters and business travelers can simply input the phone number of their preferred voice device into a Jabber client running on their Windows PC, and Cisco UC Manager will route all voice traffic directly to that phone number.
This allows the worker to use any third-party phone – old or new, analogue, digital or IP – but get the experience of using a full-featured enterprise phone, so they can enjoy all the communications services they have at the office while they’re on the road.
Next Generation Cisco WebEx Meetings give workers an easy way to collaborate directly from Web applications they use every day. The enhanced Cisco WebEx Meetings Spaces help users manage the complete meeting lifecycle, including preparations, conducting and following up on meetings.
This includes easily accessing and collaborating on files and presentations in the cloud from their PC or mobile device in realtime, scheduling meetings and share agendas, notes, action items, recordings and any other relevant documents at anytime.
There is also an integrated instant messaging client as well as two-way HD video and voice over IP (VoIP) on mobile devices. WebEx Meeting Spaces are delivered through the Cisco WebEx cloud with Enterprise-grade security, as well as high availability and scalability levels.
Cisco WebEx Meetings have been downloaded for mobile devices more than three million times, and on average 31-million people attend a WebEx meeting per month.
Cisco recently announced that it was extending the reach and appeal of WebEx Meetings by introducing a free version, which supports up to three attendees in a meeting. WebEx Meetings runs on most popular computing devices, including Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets.
Social collaboration is bringing social capabilities, well known from the consumer world, to the devices and applications – including e-mail and business productivity applications – that workers use most often. Cisco WebEx Social (formerly known as Cisco Quad) helps employees share knowledge, find experts and information and form effective virtual work teams.
WebEx Social unifies social and realtime collaboration solutions – like video, voice, instant messaging (IM), presence and Web conferencing, into a single, integrated user experience. With this release of WebEx Social, Cisco is introducing new browser-based video calling, where people can seamlessly escalate to a high-definition (HD) video conferencing session, without going to a separate application.
These sessions are compatible with a wide variety of video endpoints, including Cisco TelePresence, IP video phones, mobile and soft clients.
“In today’s supply-chain driven economy, communication and collaboration across teams and companies are key,” says Conrad Steyn, collaboration product sales specialist at Cisco South Africa.
“Mobility is becoming even more important for employees globally and increasingly in South Africa, who are asking for solutions for mobility and collaboration, while companies are looking for cost-efficient ways to make such technologies available.
“Our latest solutions in communication and collaboration will allow business people in South Africa to stay connected, be able to participate in meetings, and take decisions without delay, whilst also giving them the flexibility to work anywhere, from multiple devices,” he concludes.