This Week in Collaboration

September 27th, 2013 | Posted by Danielle Downs in Industry News - (0 Comments)

This-week-in-collaboration

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the weeks’ best articles surrounding collaboration. 

1. Polycom Video Solutions help keep NATO personnel ready for the next crisis, diplomatic mission or humanitarian effort

Announcement around NATO’s decision to use Polycom’s RealPresence Platform as the backbone of their video collaboration environment. By utilizing video conferencing, NATO is hoping to streamline decision making and communication as well as reducing travel costs.

2. SPAR saves time and money with video conferencing

This post showcases UK based grocery chain SPAR, and how deploying video has saved the company both time and money. Their main use case was around their multiple executive meetings that they hold and how winter weather was consistently disrupting those meetings.

3. Videoconferencing Options Expand

Analysis around the growth of video conferencing and the wide range of options now available. It details options including the videoconference room, software-only model, and cloud based options.

4. Businesses look to collaborate with UC

This piece focuses on how collaboration, specifically document and screen sharing, helps to significantly increase efficiency. It speaks to both screen sharing with audio conference calls as well as collaboration with video conferencing.

5. Video Conferencing in the 21st century classroom

Video conferencing in the classroom is opening up a plethora of possibilities around collaboration. This article outlines some of those possibilities and use cases including guest lectures, professional development workshops, and virtual field trips.

For companies looking to dive in to this mobile video craze, having a solid plan of attack is very important. Not only will it help determine the technology requirements, it ensures a consistent user experience for all participants involved.

The first step in developing a mobile video strategy is to define the organization’s video environment. This focuses on determining the following key areas:

  • End users
  • Video devices & applications
  • Meeting types
  • Current video equipment
  • Goals & objectives

Essentially, this means organizations should outline who will be using mobile video, what devices these participants will be connecting with, what types of meetings will be conducted, and the objectives mobile video is looking to accomplish.

For example, it is essential to ensure that the mobile devices being used can integrate with any room systems or infrastructure that is currently in place. If employees plan to use consumer applications, such as Skype or Google Video, then an additional outside bridging service will be necessary to provide interoperability to standards-based systems. Determining those use cases and goals will help to define what is necessary for effective implementation.

Read Part II of Developing a Mobile Video Strategy here.

Download the worksheet below to get started with planning your mobile video strategy.

I saw a news clip about the rise in telecommuting on CBS the other day and I echoed many of the sentiments from my fellow telecommuters. I also have a confession to make, what I looked forward to the most was the ability to wear sweatpants to the “office.” The first week or two I would go to my closet each morning grinning as I bi-passed my slacks and skirts en route to my sweatpants drawer.

However, I quickly learned that getting ready in the same way I would when going in to an office, was very important for my “workday” mindset. Now being fair, I can’t say that I put those nice slacks and skirts on everyday, but blouses paired with yoga pants was a definite step up.

That was just one lesson I have learned about effective telecommuting. Here are a few others:

Location Is Key:
Having a designated office, or at the very least a designated office area is imperative for productivity. Having a place that I can go to and close the door, is an effective way to keep outside distractions at bay. Creating a professional work environment also helps increase my self-discipline during office hours.

Visibility:
Being online and available during work hours is another component that is very important when telecommuting. Since I work for a collaboration company that means being online and available for instant messaging, phone, and video calls. This visibility and ability to have spontaneous or informal conversations also creates the feeling of being in an office.

Regular Communication:
Along with visibility, comes regular communication. Routinely speaking to colleagues on video mitigates the “social isolation” challenge that some remote employees feel. Communicating often, particularly via video conferencing, increases productivity by allowing me to brainstorm and collaborate face-to-face.

Earning Trust:
Regular communication, increased productivity, and consistent office hours all help in earning and maintaining my manager and coworkers’ trust. Mutual expectations between both a manager and remote employee, along with other team members, are essential for successful telecommuting.

Taking Breaks:
Another important lesson I have learned while telecommuting is the importance of taking breaks. Although I am not very good at putting this piece in to practice, getting out of the “office” and taking a lunch break or running an errand helps increase productivity by giving your brain a chance to relax. Plus, it helps reduce the feeling of never leaving your home.

These lessons have all helped me create a successful telecommuting strategy. Although working from home is not for everyone; many folks, including myself, have found increased productivity and an improved quality of life by being able to telecommute.

Collaboration means different things to different people. But at the end of the day it’s all about connecting people and giving them the ability to work together. The need for these types of connections continue to grow as workforces become more global and dispersed.

When people are connected they can share ideas, brainstorm on new initiatives, collaborate on deliverables and so much more.

We created the below infographic to highlight the many forms that collaboration can take, what some of the benefits are, where collaboration happens and the tools available.

Organizations are investing in collaboration tools and environments as the importance becomes increasingly prevalent. Not to mention, many organizations have recently started to break down walls (figuratively and literally) in offices. Companies are eliminating office spaces and creating open floor plans to facilitate interaction among colleagues.

Physical spaces, namely conference rooms, where employees can gather to work on deliverables or projects are necessary components to facilitate collaboration. However, since these rooms are shared resources, scheduling is necessary to make sure meetings don’t interrupt each other. This can be frustrating for teams who want to meet spontaneously.

With that in mind, huddle spaces or teaming rooms are being implemented in more and more organizations. What are they? Simply, a huddle space is an area within a company where a group of people can come together and collaborate; whether it is the corner of a room or open space near the cafeteria. These spaces are generally unscheduled resources and are available on a first-come first served basis.

The make-up of a huddle space varies significantly across organizations, but here are a few examples of solutions we have seen:

The Content Sharing Space:
These spaces are built around an LED TV mounted on a simple floor stand/cart. Attached to the unit is a wireless content sharing component that allows participants to attach a small device to their laptops and easily share their screen with the click of a button. Up to four participants can see their content on the screen at the same time, making it easy to compare work and collaborate on deliverables. A large professional services firm has implemented these content sharing stations in hallways and other open spaces throughout their office.

The Video Room, Everywhere:
When it comes to deploying video conferencing, a choice usually has to be made about what rooms and which employees to equip. This is due to both the cost involved and the scalability of infrastructure need to make video work. A media firm decided that they didn’t want to make an investment in higher-end video room systems and instead chose to go with desktop video software (that can be scaled to very large numbers). They simply took a small television cart and equipped each one with a PC and webcam. The result was a low cost video conferencing system that could be easily placed into any room or huddle environment.

The Web Conferencing Room
Web conferencing solutions, such as WebEx and GoToMeeting, provide functionality around content sharing, white boarding, chat, and some video conferencing. Many organizations have chosen to use web conferencing across their entire enterprise as a means of collaborating. One major manufacturer realized the importance of giving as many people as possible the power to connect, both remotely and in the same room, and implemented a web conferencing room solution. For the hundreds of meeting spaces that they have not equipped with video, they have implemented a low cost solution that allows employees to walk into a room and immediately join a web session. From there, individuals can work together in the room and connect with remote team members.

The above examples only scratch the surface of the concept of the huddle room. Ultimately, these solutions are about untethering collaboration from a finite space and making it possible for employees, both those in a local office and remote, to collaborate on an ad-hoc basis without having to schedule static resources and without a huge investment.