Tech Talk! Collaboration Tools
All right. We're going to go ahead and get started with our next panel. We are in the same conference center as DEIA. So just naming that there's two happening at the same time. I know there's been a little confusion. So this panel, we're going to discuss technology trends for private and federal industry.
Sorry. Private and federal industry with Subject Matter Experts(SMEs) from industry and the federal government. We're going to explore topics around, about collaboration tools that eliminate barriers and enhance productivity and connection between remote, hybrid, and in person teams. So I'm going to ask each of our panelists to introduce themselves, and then we'll be off and running. Why don't we start here on the end? Hi, everybody. My name is Jeff Schultz.
I'm the chief strategy officer of security and collaboration at Cisco. And my focus area is really on the convergence of collaboration tools, security, and networking and infrastructure as it pertains to hybrid work. Good afternoon. Melvin Brown.
Deputy CIO at OPM right across the street there. I've been with OPM probably a little more than, a little more than two years now. And I'm responsible for all things IT within the department.
So I oversee about 8 million federal employees and retirees. Excited about the conversation. Good afternoon. Erika Dinnie. Associate CIO for infrastructure and operations at GSA.
And responsible for things like the service desk all the way to network operations. And in between there we are responsible for integrating these collaboration tools into our environment. Hi, everybody. Marlon Attiken. I'm a partner with IBM consulting. I've been in the digital technology landscape for a little while now specifically in real estate and facilities.
And I also have some teams at GSA implementing tools like TRIRIGA, Oasis, Reservation, was involved in smart buildings, and some of those technologies as well. Great. So this morning's conversations in the auditorium we did talk a lot about how collaboration tools are so important in this new environment that we're living in with so many hybrid and remote employees as well as those who are in person. So how does the integration of collaborative meeting tools enhance the overall office experience for your employees, your visitors, as well as your customers? Shall I give it a go? Okay. I'll kick us off.
You know, I think when I think of that, the question, the word that just jumps out to me is connections. Right? Connectedness. I think if you think about the real estate community, the north star of our community for many, many years has been how do you create connected environments.
And so these tools, collaborative tools and smart building technologies, allow us to do that. Right? It allows us to enhance our ability to create connected environments. I go back to my comment, though. This is not something new.
I mean this morning I was, I was thinking about some of the things we're going to talk about, and I reflected on an article that came out of HPR back in 2014 where it was talking about work spaces that move people. And it talked about the tight correlation between interactions, again connections, performance, and innovation. So I think all of those things really come together, and then you know really keying in on the experience I think the consumerization of IT, right, we are all consumers of IT at home, has created a standard. Right? For what people expect. So it does put pressure in the enterprise commercial environment and when we deliver work space that we've got to similarly, you know, kind of progress and provide that kind of, that similar experience. I'll piggyback on that.
I think the collaborative tools give us not just connectivity, but presence. And so one of the things that we discovered is, you know, now when we have a meeting we're looking for somebody's presence to be there, the voice that we're missing in the room. And so now it's a different conversation than it would have been in a conference room where you don't really, you don't really pay attention to who's not there. In the virtual world, the Hollywood Squares, as we like to call it, if you, if you don't see a certain square now, you know that that voice for whatever it is you're trying to do is missing. And that has helped to influence, you know, how we schedule meetings now to make sure that every voice that needs to be heard is on the agenda. And that's, that's changed as a result of the collaboration tools.
Yeah. I was going to say actually building on that one of the areas that we're very focused on is inclusivity when it comes to meetings. And I think the way we look at it is before -- you know, before the pandemic, we're all in offices. Remote workers were a bit of an outlier case.
And most of the experience is focused on the people in the room. Then we all went home and we adapted to that. Now in a hybrid world, especially as real estate is changing as we don't know if people are going to be in or out, if we were, we've hired more people that are not local. You know, the issue for us is how do we use technology to create a more inclusive experience? And that includes things like being seen and being heard which actually in some ways is harder now that people are returning to offices because you've got these large rooms and, you know, the cameras don't focus in on them. And that, if that is not a great experience for the people. It's a bad experience for the people in the room, but it's also a bad experience for the people that are now going to be remote.
And vice versa. If the people that are remote have a bad experience, then the people inside the office have a bad experience. And so, you know, we're very focused on how does, how can we apply technology, AI, other types of things like that to and device technology to really fundamentally improve that experience, but with the mindset of inclusivity and making sure every voice is heard and she said. And I would add I think it offers choice.
So I think everybody wants choice in the work space. And we have, you know, we used to come from an environment where we said, "Okay. This is the solution for the agency." And now employees can buy products with their credit card, and start to use that and implement it. And it, maybe not tested. Maybe not secure.
Things like that. So we come at it from a perspective of we want to offer employees the chance to use what works for their teams, but we also have teams that are working with customers and they say, "Can't use your solution. Doesn't work for my customer that works, you know, in that space."
So we try to offer choice where we can. And support that. And I would also add that, you know, the inclusivity, you know, just from my own experience I started interacting with team members that I probably don't interact with on a daily basis and I get to ask them questions about their project and see their work directly. And it didn't used to be that way.
So I think from that perspective it really gives folks visibility that otherwise might not have been in a visible space. So I'm thinking about, right, this is creating an employee experience. It's kind of leveling the playing field a bit. Right? We were all in the Hollywood Squares mode for a while so we were all in the same mode. Someone made a comment earlier about, you know, we all got in the habit of raising our hand, and it created a queue and what order you go in.
And so creating those sorts of habits now. So what is it that you're seeing are the latest collaboration technologies that folks are interested in or trying out in these spaces to help create this experience for employees? Okay. I'll start with this one. So from ours, certainly video conferencing. And again it goes back to choice. From our perspective, we have teams that need different, different video solutions for different reasons. So that. But I also think this virtual water cooler space I think that Melvin was alluding
to there's a sense to collaborate in a different way than email. You know, email's not necessarily a collaboration tool. So looking for those sorts of tools where we can not only collaborate, but potentially do some project management or some joint collaboration at the same time. Those sorts of tools is what we're seeing the need for.
So this, this one may surprise you, but the rise of the smart phone. And I say that because I had an experience this morning. I had to go. I had an appointment this morning, and I was able to dial into a team's call on my phone with my ear buds, with my ear buds. So I was hands free.
And driving. But I still participated in the meeting. I could listen in and then when I stop I unmute it when I need it to, but now having those collaborative apps on your phone is changing the game also because now I don't have to be stationary to participate. I can be in route. And then when I get there I can, I can finish the conversation. So it's, to your point, it's still giving me more choice.
But having that capability on my phone now has extended that choice. Yeah. I was going to say one other thing that we're finding is that, you know, obviously video collaboration and conferencing was pretty critical, has been pretty critical. As we see more organizations be more hybrid, unfortunately we don't see as many water cooler type exchanges.
And so what that means is that there are more meetings on our schedules. And so one of the things we're looking at in particular are ways to just reduce the number of meetings. One in particular is asynchronous video. And that's sort of, sort of taking the best of video, but allowing somebody to, you know, record themselves very, very easily and very easily share that with a group of people so managers can give updates to their teams or people can give a status update on a project.
They don't have to call a meeting to do it now. They can do it asynchronously, and that also helps with the issue of inclusivity if you have people in different time zones. Yeah. And I'll just I'll add one kind of side comment to the proliferation of tools. There are so many tools out there.
I mean and there's new ones coming out every day. Right? And what I've observed as a user of the tools is it can get almost overwhelming and overload. Right? I will be on meetings where we're white boarding something that sometimes you're like, "Why are we on a virtual white board? Can't we just, you know, have a quick conversation about it?" So I do, I actually think with this proliferation of tools, being very purposeful about agendas, what the intent is, is really important because the tools can almost water you down a little bit.
I hate to say it. Right? We're here talking about collaborative tools. So being really purposeful and intentional about how the tools are being used certainly is really important. Great. So this is your warning as the audience that we're going to come to you guys next for questions both virtually and in the room. So get those gears turning.
I've got one more question. Just to fall under your point, Marlon, around the proliferation of tools. Someone thinks this is really cool. It's going to make my job so much easier. Maybe nobody else uses it. Right? Or maybe everyone is going to love this one tool, but they don't have access to it.
Right? So there's all these things out there. I think during the pandemic a lot of organizations just tended to stack up the products to just make sure everyone had what they needed. So what are the metrics that you track? And what is it that you look like, look at, to help prioritize which tools are working for you and how you make those key decisions? I mean for us at IBM we heavily use net promoter score. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with that. And it's, it's all about the user.
Right? We have, we, it wasn't always like that. I can say I've been at IBM over 20 years. It was not always like that. We were fielded technology and it was just deal with it. Right? And then we went through a transformation.
Our CIO fundamentally said, "Look. We're going to, this is all about the user. Right? We're going to have personas." We have different types of ways our employees engage with our tools, with our facilities, and with each other. And so now everything is driven by feedback from us, the employees, which we've seen, I've seen a vast improvement over the past five years, 10 years. Well, no. Five years.
Sorry. I'm not going to give them that much credit. Five years we've seen a vast improvement in the technology. Just taking a very user centric approach.
But NPS has been something we are heavily using internally now. We use it externally too, but that's, you know, a way you can survey the customer and get really good candid feedback. I would agree. At GSA we are heavily invested in net promoter score, and we do not only annual, but transactional surveys, and really drill down into each tool and user experience and user feedback. And I would add we also capture anecdotal information. So if I'm in a town hall, for example, and the administrator's talking about certain topics, one of the things that we do is start to capture some of that feedback that comes in because we'll kind of cross correlate that against our survey data.
And there were some, so, for example, just survey data, you know everybody tells us our tools are great. They can work at home, have no problem with the tools. But the anecdotal data was telling us, "We really want second monitors at home. We need some keyboards, some mice, during this remote pandemic." You know, if we looked at the data, we'd say, "But the data says 90% of the people say they have all the tools they need to do their job." So we ended up going out with a pilot, for example, and 200 people.
And we tested home equipment, for example. And after that of course we surveyed those 200 people, and we had a 72% self reported increase in productivity and 82% satisfaction rate. Based on that data, we've, that's interesting. We learned something completely different than what the data tells us. So don't be afraid to look at it from a couple different perspectives, but also this pilot allowed us to invest in some technology very quickly, very inexpensive, to give us more data. So we ended up going out for, for most of our environment and offering equipment out to about 6,000 employees.
It's been very successful. So we did a similar thing at OPM. When the pandemic first kicked off we had bought ever collaborative tool known to man. And then when the CIO when I landed we decided that, hey, we needed to, you know, kind of scale this down and figure out what's going to work best for us. So we maximized our licensing and looked at what were people, the majority of people, using? And so then we turned off everything else.
And then we, so we ended up with Teams and I think Teams internally and then Zoom for externally where we had special cases. But then to your point we realized that if employees were going to be productive they needed to have the same tools at home, at work that they did at home. So we also went with a home office type of suite where we gave people the option of having two monitors, a keyboard, a laptop. Everything but a printer at home. But they would have to give up their desk space. So we wouldn't occupy two places.
And they'd have a hot spot at work. And that, that seemed to work. Our net promoter scores also, they increased.
But the other piece that we identified was that our conference rooms were inadequately configured. And so we had to re-imagine what does a collaborative conference room look like. And so we created these rolling collaboration carts, if you will, that's got a, you know, 57 inch TV that's a monitor. And then we created a document station. And so now we wheel those with a camera on it into the conference rooms. And now you've got a full experience of people being able to leverage the conference room specifically with the people that are online.
And so now that's, that's made a huge difference because now we don't have to pack a bunch of people in the conference room anymore, but they can still get the same experience of being together. And that's helped. That's awesome. On the home office thing I was going to, at Cisco we now for any hybrid worker they will get a hybrid worker kit basically as a new employee. It's no, it's not just the laptop anymore. It's a full kit with even with an access point, secure access point.
Other things like that. And I think that that's absolutely a trend. Looking forward, I do believe that new employees that are not going to be in an office all the time are going to start expecting to get that kind of kit to be more productive. Because as I said at the beginning, if you're not productive, you have a bad experience at home, that's going to create a bad experience for the people in the office. On the metrics side just the, and I agree with everything you said here. The one other thing I would add that we've spent a lot of time focusing on is metrics that allow an individual to understand their work behavior and therefore be a better teammate.
So like one thing within Webex as an example is we have a capability called personal insights. And it is personal. Your manager doesn't see it. Your other teammates don't see it. But it will tell you things like how often you, you know, come to meetings late, how often you come to meetings early. Who are the people that you're most often in meetings with? And a ton of other data that again is very personal, but the point of that is actually to help get through the chaos of all the different tools because then you start to realize, wait, I'm spending all this time collaborating with somebody that's maybe in Asia or in Singapore and I'm late to these meetings.
That's really disrespectful because like they all found times joining at very odd times. So I'm going to look for other ways to keep them updated and include them rather than just keep inviting them to meetings. And so we're finding that to be a very, very heavily adopted capability. And I think as we digitize more and more, the idea of providing the individual employee or the partner data to help them be a better teammate and be more productive is going to be really critical.
I like how you all brought up the physical space elements both at home and in the office. Yeah. It's not just about the software and those tools. It's about having the cart that you can wheel anywhere in the office and get connected even if it's the break room because you're celebrating someone's retirement. Right? And you want people who are remote to be able to be there. But really thinking about both ends of the spectrum that is not just the Teams and the Webex and the things like that, but it's also the physical space elements that are going to make people productive and be able to work. Our customers are actually asking us for like, normally they'd ask us for validated designs that say what networking products work together or what? Now they're asking us for what furniture works well with what lighting which works well with what sound reduction capabilities.
And then works well with what devices. And what we found a huge amount of interest in people just asking us, "Give us these design guidelines." Because otherwise they don't know where to start. Great. All right. You're all's turn.
Who's got a question? Back here in the back. First a comment, if I could. I really appreciate the comments. And I would say that unfortunately there's massive negative effects of COVID, but the one thing that it did do, it just absolutely propelled the workforce into a new environment, overnight. Propelled it. And to Mr Brown's comment, he said they just threw money at this.
And I think that was systemic across private, government, every industry there is just to maintain operations and keep things flowing. And I would say that thankfully we did, and we're in my opinion just now getting to what I would say is a somewhat of a steady state. But a lot of technology has been integrated into our, and there was almost zero to no training that went with it.
So it's, it's learn by the bumps. You either pick it up or you'd literally be left behind. And I think there's an age group that thankfully I got a lot of kids that helped me because I put myself in the latter age group. But so I was able to adapt, pick it up.
But I think that's an area where we have not done well by our workforce to give them the tools to, gave them the tools, but we didn't teach them how to use the tool. And the other piece I would ask Erika if I could, when GSA implements a lot of these software or the gentleman's up here for you all guarding the TRIRIGA. Transitioning to some of the tools. And he said, yeah, we're very limited on the number of licenses.
Could you all consider a model of pay as you go? So if an organization wants more licenses, they pay you for that. Before we can kind of strategize and get a better buying power like, you know, a lot of times with IBM you go, "You want 10 licenses? You want 200. I'm going to give you a price break if you get 200." I'm not picking on you, but I know that's how the industry works.
Cisco's the same way so we're [inaudible] comments. So to where we as the federal government could leverage buying power when it's wise, is that, is that something we could do as a government? Absolutely. Sure. I'll comment in two ways. I want to circle back to one of your other comments there. Absolutely a possibility. We are having those discussions now.
And in some cases we do that for some of the software we've purchased that's respective to, you know, an organization that has asked. So I would say if you're looking for licenses that you otherwise haven't been able to receive or there isn't funding for that, contact our office and we'll figure that out. But agree we are moving as a pay as you go model. One of the metrics that we do track is usage, for example. So we know who's using certain tools, and we know how much and how long and when they've last logged in, for example. And it's not something we track every day, but to your point, when we are looking at costs or licenses or renegotiating contracts, we are looking at, well, let's, let's see who's actually using it.
And that helps us, you know, a couple of different ways. Obviously shut down. You know, shut down tools. Or reinvest in other tools. And so but yes. That is an option.
We could certainly, you know, figure out pay as you go, and we're doing that in limited cases now. And then to your point about training, it's such a great point. And I would add something that GSA does, we invest in, we run it's a weekly newsletter. And in that newsletter, but I would add it's a little bit more exciting. The newsletter.
That's such a bad term, but we do little vignettes and little training and they're really 30, 60, sometimes 90 second tips. And then in those newsletters we will offer, "Hey, you can sign up for a larger course. We'll do an hour training on," you know, whatever it is.
You know, pick a, pick a collaboration tool. So we certainly do that now, but it is incumbent upon the user to receive that information, open it up, and start looking at it. But that's something that we also invested in. And I will say we have incredibly creative individuals who do these really short vignettes. They are fun.
They're exciting. I actually will look at them because it brightens my day because it's always fun and quirky. And so I know that folks really appreciate that, but that's one way that we're investing in education. Yeah. I want to pull on that thread. I want to go back to this comment about the training.
And to your point, it's an excellent point. And one of the things that we did, you know, inside of OPM was one of the strategies that we put together was if we were going to modernize, you can't just modernize the technology without modernizing the people. And I think that's something we've done in government for a long time is we keep buying a lot of tech and don't modernize the people. That's another story. But we created what we call a champion's network. And we stood up an organizational change management division within the CIO's office.
And the champion's network is what we consider to be our early adopters of the tech. And so once we train that group, they go back to their business units and they're the subject matter experts on that tech. And we created a resource page with to your point little training vignettes, quick reference guides, for people to be able to go to because again to your point modernization isn't modernization if people don't know how to use it. And so that was our way to attack the culture head on such that we can modernize around the tech. Let's be clear.
This whole COVID thing and tech, the teleworkers change was doing teleworker remote work back in 2010 when I was working on that. So this isn't new. We've been here before. We've just accelerated the obvious is all we've done.
And so I'm happy to see that we're creating a new normal around a place we probably should have been 12 years ago. Anybody else? I was going to say this is also I mentioned before at Cisco we get these when you join you get a package now in the mail with all of this new equipment. And part of the thinking behind that is actually on exactly what you just said around training because part of the problem we have is that when everybody went home we also all went to our local electronics store and bought new routers and new displays.
And everybody now has different things at home. It makes it much harder for central IT to support and manage that or to even deploy tools that help things with like connectivity and better experiences. So now we're really all left mostly to our kids figuring all this stuff out. And so the thinking behind our IT organization and bundling all this stuff together was with videos, with training, with self serve kiosks, was in fact to help standardize that so that IT centrally could help. And ultimately we think that's going to reduce the cost overall even though it sounds more expensive because we're in fact sending access points and things like that. The savings in terms of productivity and in people's time and IT running around trying to manage all of this has been significant.
Do we have a question or comment from the virtual world? Yes. We had someone write in that they were brought on during the pandemic to take on a new role in the federal government, and although they have a vast amount of experience in government and real estate arena after 35 years, it was still very difficult, as someone who's not a millennial, to learn an entirely new job virtually. She has come a long way in the three years that she's been working this way, but she notes, "I think age unfortunately does have a bit of an impact on how easy it is to adapt to working virtually." Happy to have this new option, but there are some drawbacks as like the personal interaction feels a little lost.
So they're trying to do more interactive events within their agency to bring the closeness back to the work units. She is a hands on learner and meeting people virtually doesn't exactly sit well, but as seeing people face to face in the office or just down the hall, but she's adapting. And I think that probably she speaks for many of us. Any other questions we've got? Go ahead. Well, I was going to say I think what's interesting there
and what we're seeing is that like, I mean there's certainly going to be some people that are hired that are completely remote and it's going to be hard for them to get into the office, but what we're seeing a lot of is that when people are thinking about re-configuring and modernizing their office they're thinking in terms of how the use of that office is fundamentally changing and things like more bringing teams together for collaborative meetings as opposed to individual working spaces. As you know, as an example is one of the trends we're seeing. So, in fact, really encouraging teams to bring those remote employees in on a more frequent basis, but then having to think through what does the real estate and office design look like when you're catering more to that use case as opposed to people just coming in and sitting down at a desk and doing their own thing. And just to add to your point, Jeff, we did have someone on a panel yesterday from GSA say that the number of requests for individual work spaces is markedly declining. Right? More and more wanting the office to be for people and interaction rather than just doing your head down work.
Knowing that that still has to happen. Right? Sorry, Marlon. I didn't mean to cut you off. I was just going to validate that. I mean I went to our D.C office yesterday. I don't go there frequently.
And I walked around and it, nobody was just individually sitting there at work. I think I was the only one working. I just thought, "Let me just check it out, see how things are going down at the office." Everyone was there collaborating. And there weren't a lot of people there either.
So it's really interesting. I mean I expected a much more vibrant office environment, but it was teams collaborating and not, you know, not very vibrant. It just wasn't.
Yeah. When I was, well, we've been seeing and I'll be quick. What we've been seeing is that people want to come in and have meaningful engagements, but then go home to do their individual work. So the only time they want to come in is that there really is a reason to meet face to face. They don't want to come in to sit on a Zoom or a Teams call or Webex call all day. They could have did that at home. But if they're coming in for a meaningful in person engagement, then they can go home and be productive in their individual work.
Yeah. Agree there. I think GSA has a similar experience. I wanted to add on too so the experience of being brought on in a remote environment and then in, you know, maybe you enjoy going to the office. But so something that we have done, but this was respective to GSA IT. I can't speak for other, you know, parts of the organization. We use a collaboration tool and have tried to recreate the water cooler experience.
And so, for example, we have collaboration sites that allow us to create a recognition lounge. So when we're celebrating successes, all of that goes into a recognition lounge, and we're not sharing that on a one off basis. It gets spread to everybody in GSA IT so we can see all the great work that you've done. We have things like thoughtful Thursdays, wonderful Wednesdays. You know, we have different topics that are brought up to engage employees in a different manner.
And again it goes back to that inclusivity where people are starting to interact with one another who may not otherwise have had that opportunity. They might work in different divisions. And so that's been,I wouldn't say it's definitely not a recreation of the in office, but it's certainly a way for folks to start to get to know each other and interact in different ways, introduce new people, and so that's been pretty successful for us. You know, one thing, this just sparked something in my mind. I started working from home in 2013 so I've been doing it for quite a while.
And initially I didn't,I mean now because I was given the tools that we're talking about I didn't turn off the work. Right? So all these collaboration tools are wonderful, but we also have to think about the counter side to this which is, you know, work/life balance. Right? Burnout. You know, you brought a great point. You know, the pandemic propelled everything forward rapidly. So I do think that we all as a community have to think about the human side of this as well.
It is much harder to turn off work, you know. I feel like I don't a lot of times, and I think my wife would agree with that, by the way. So it, you know, there is an other side to all this access tooling and connectedness which I think we all have to be mindful of too. I agree. Actually some of the insights that we provide our employees actually tell them when they've been working too much after hours, and we're trying to encourage people to shut down.
I will say back on the other point about the office I do think that it is to the cultural tie in to what's changing is that managers are now going to have to spend a lot more time thinking about how to create more excitement among their teams. Like be more deliberate about bringing people in. Not just allowing teams to come in to collaborate when it's a few of them, but find times to bring them in, and actually have more fun. I mean these are things that we all took for granted when we all came into the office before, but I do think the, you know, managers in the future are going to have to spend more time doing that. I would also add we are about a year away from the college freshman that spent their freshman year online learning, entering the workforce. And I, my, the feedback I'm hearing is that they are going to want to be in an office.
They're not, they are like they've had, you know, they, many of them spent their senior year and their freshman in high school, and their freshman year in college online. They adapted pretty well to that. But as they're looking at work, they want it, you know, they're going to want to be at home some of the time, but they're going to want to have a vibrant community in the office.
They want the networking. They don't want to just feel like they're sitting at their desks again. And so I do think that we have a very short amount of time as leaders to start thinking about how to make the office more fun while still maintaining the need, you know the capabilities, of hybrid work. I, as a D.C transplant, all of my adult friends I met at my first job, right.
That was the network, the way I got into a community. And so it can be so important, especially if you move or you're doing a different type of work. So what other questions do we have from the audience? Anything else? Yeah. I'm GSA, but if no other customers will ask, I'll ask one. In terms of our space, so the federal, you know, the flex space, coworking, having more hybrid environments, a lot of the barriers we're getting from customers is that just cultural and even like in terms of their agency culture.
And even really technology barriers, especially from those with more sensitive type information systems. So has there been more talk about how to just from a government standpoint as a whole, marry technology that can be really flexible in itself from a security standpoint and dispersed out to those agencies? Meaning I wouldn't expect DOJ to have the same IT platform as GSA, but it would be really nice for them to be able to flex in our space, especially for non sensitive type things like an HR group or a budget group or what have you. So when you're coming together, you're likely not going to be in a sensitive environment, but the tech doesn't really interface back. So is there a thought of how to even with universal booking or just what have you to make that a more seamless process to marry to the space? Because I feel like if you don't have that, the flex space idea is great, but if it's hard to really get people and I know upstairs they have place OS and you can do that, and it's seamless to an extent, but it takes multiple steps to get an account. So the more clicks you have, the less seamless it is.
So is there any thought about how to make that a more seamless experience? And just to clarify, you mean multi agency in flex space? Yeah. If you have federal space for all the government like we do upstairs to come in, is there a way to make that even more seamless not just from a booking system standpoint, but like stuff like the Cisco boards where you can integrate different teams' apps? I think that's a great start. Is there something even more, even more so when that person brings their laptop? Like that laptop can actually work in the space versus having firewalls that might exist. Well, I mean I, obviously I'm not the government, but I can say that when we've, IBM, when we've pre-pandemic we did have a partnership with WeWork. Right? And WeWork is not a secure environment by any means. Right? You have anybody and everyone rolling into WeWork.
So I do think that our security was very intentional about, you know, our security policy is security is security. Right? It didn't change. It allowed us to work in spaces like that.
But I mean some of it comes down to conduct. Right? And understanding conduct guidelines as an employee at work, you know, as a government, as government personnel and responsibility around maintaining security. So I think it was a little, you know, the security necessarily didn't change. Right? We could bring our technology into WeWork space, use all of our portable technology. Just like being at home.
Right? But, being smart about where you're having conversations. Are you in private spaces, public spaces? What's shareable? What's not shareable? That really came down to the individual. And we do make sure that everyone goes through conduct guidelines every year. I mean that is paramount. Right? So that we can maintain integrity in how we do business. I think you are pointing out a need for significant information in the security space.
I mean that is something that I know we at Cisco are looking at. And the problem being that traditionally organizations have looked at securing a building based on the perimeter. Like through a firewall.
Perimeter defenses. But more so and then what's happening now is you move, not only are different types of people coming into buildings with different security requirements, but you have different types of applications that they're accessing, you know, either on prim, in the cloud. And then there's different ways of accessing all those applications. You know, some of them are just on the native network.
Some of them you need to VPN to another network, etcetera. And what we've done is we've put this huge burden on the user to have to figure that out. And that gets them to not even want to try or it gets them to make mistakes. And so what we're seeing and what we're frankly, what we're working on is sort of more of a convergence where you definitely still need to have perimeter defenses in a building or in a branch type office, but then also more security tied to identity and tied to the device itself so that when you bring a device into a different location, it is network aware and knows what it can and can't do. Similarly for an individual. And the intent is to move to a world where you don't have to do lots of different things depending on what application you're trying to access.
And so I know that's something that the security world is absolutely working on and is playing a little bit of catch up right now. Yeah. And I think what I'm hearing you say, there are two issues. One is the ease of use of the booking app, I believe. And then the second is secure access, you know, via network for agencies that come in and use our space. I think those are the two issues. And the first, you know, I mentioned we certainly engage in pilots and the place OS is certainly part of a pilot now.
And so all of those issues that you brought up are, you know, conversations that we have a lot of around how do we, okay. One, what did we learn from this? And then how do we correct that for future? And then the second piece. So and Jeff hit on this.
So, you know, as we move security to the end point, and all agencies will eventually will be, have to do this over time. Most of us are there now that will create a different environment. I think there's some change management that needs to happen for, you know, Melvin hit on this in terms of, you know, educating some of the employees.
But also as we at GSA are modernizing our network and our WiFi capability, we will, we're starting to create spaces where we have organizations that connect in a secure manner off the GSA network. So I think that that capability will be there within the year. And that in alignment with the secure end point, sorry, the security at the end point I think will be in a different space. So we've heard a lot right now.
We've referred to the future several times here. Right? We're working on security aspects. We're thinking about the next generation that will join the workforce, putting six generations, I believe, working at the same time. Right? So different people, different needs.
So what do you all see? What does your fortune telling abilities tell you is the future of collaborative technologies? And how can organizations stay ahead of the curve as technology continues to evolve so quickly? I'll just hit that really quickly from a tech, purely tech, perspective. And I'm saying this from an agnostic perspective. I'm not wedded to one particular technology.
I think you're going to see just consolidation of capabilities, where we as users are not going to have to go to 20 different collaborative tools to do a function. Right? That what we're going to see from the vendor landscape is either through acquisition consolidation or feature and function roll out is that we're going to be able to go to single providers that can provide us all the capabilities we need with the discrete things that we do from a collaborative perspective. So I think we'll see more and more consolidation and capability in the tech stacks that are out there.
And I guess I would go back to I think this hybrid environment is different than before pandemic when the majority of us were in office. And it's different than pandemic when the majority of us were at home. And it is a unique environment.
So and I do think that in office space is so vital. It's being used differently. And so I think recreating our spaces to encourage that experience in the office where people can team, get together, celebrate, and redesigning work spaces around that engagement will be a little bit where we're focused on in the future. And I'm going to take just a slightly different lens and I'm going to say agencies or organizations or companies want to get ahead, if you will. I would envision that they should focus on the culture, not the tech. I think technology's going to always be emerging.
We're always going to have new tools, always going to, but the one constant that's going to not change is our people and our mission. And I think if companies want to be innovative or want to get out in front it's that they not try to go back to yesterday, and truly re-imagine what tomorrow can look like in this new normal. We flipped it. So now, now more people are at home than they were in the office whereas they were in the office more than they were at home. That's the, that's the new normal.
Let's try to re-imagine what culture we can create from that going forward. I really think tomorrow's going to be a cultural challenge and not so much a technological challenge, if I, that's all right. I agree. I agree with all of the previous comments. I guess if I were to talk about one thing that I really hasn't come up all that much yet, but AI. And I think that the application of AI in the collaborative space is going to be really, really interesting.
And not so distant future. I mean I kind of hinted at some of it already with like noise and video and things like that where we can -- we've been doing that for a long time. And we can, we can create great experiences. What I think we're going to start to see, especially as more and more interactions happen digitally, things like transcripts of those interactions exist.
And, you know, highly secure, highly private, but we all know like these things are now within our capability of tracking. You know, having a historical log of everything that's going on at meetings, that gives us an opportunity to take another major step forward in helping people be productive. Imagine a world where, you know, you're out on vacation for a week and you come back and you'd basically walk up to your computer and say, "Tell me what happened last week." And it gives you a very highly personalized review of all the key meetings you missed, times your name was mentioned, action items that might have been assigned to you, things like that. Think about how many meetings you would normally have to have when you came back from vacation or how many emails you would need to read to get back up to speed.
And I think we are very, very close to seeing that happen. Now there are huge, you know, it's a can of worms. Huge amount of issues that need to be resolved associated with that, but I think that the way we fundamentally interact with our technology is going, is going to change pretty massively in the not so distant future. Great. So we talked about those, you know things, the direction, the tech collaborative tools and where things are headed. And I love that you brought up culture.
So as part of that, and to the point about training and adoption, how do you make that part of a learning culture where everyone is continuing to and expected to, to continue to learn and use these tools? Is there any recommendations you have for organizations as they start looking at different tools and bringing in new people? So one way we've looked at it is, and, by the way, I couldn't agree more. The cultural issues associated with this, and especially what leaders and managers of the future are going to have to deal with, is completely different. And we need to get on that. I think one of the things that we encourage our teams to do is establish norms.
It's almost like what are your new norms as a team. And, and what we're going to find, Cisco, 80,000 people. You're not going to do that across an organization that big, but we're encouraging individual teams and the leaders to get together and talk about these issues.
Like when should we have meetings? How often should the team meet? Do you have, do you go to more of an agile type thing and do stand up meetings? Do you use video, async video, more often than not now to keep teams updated? There are things like that that each, we would encourage each individual team to start looking at and come to an agreement among themselves on how to do that. And I think that that's a huge first step in getting people aligned. I'll say there's a couple of, there's like probably three strategies that I'll say that we used to address culture. One was we stood up an organizational change management division. So we wanted to attack culture head on.
Within that, we established an employee engagement committee. And so their job was to come up with ideas and activities. So we played virtual Jeopardy. They've had virtual name that tune. So they've done, they've done all this virtually. And what it allowed them to do, though, was to use the tool.
And so because they established those games, they were able to create break rooms for name that tune and so they, they had a chance to play in a way that helped them to pick up more of the tools and techniques that we're going to teach. And so that, that helped to continue to create that culture. The other thing that we do is that we've got a monthly virtual project review.
We've got about 160 projects that we manage, you know, at any one time. And so having each division brief out virtually on the status of those projects to the larger enterprise has created a sense of collaboration and synergy that you, it helped people to communicate in a way that they wouldn't have done virtually because if they would have been in the office they would have had those conversations. Now we're having those conversations on a monthly basis. I didn't know you were working on that.
Let's get together. So that's another way where, you know, we're addressing culture head on and we're encouraging that. And then the last thing that I'll say that I didn't think about, but it has been a huge, a huge collaborative tool with us. We've implemented Kanban as a strategy to manage our priorities. You know, we just took the simple agile framework and said, "Hey, you know, if we create a Kanban board, people can go in and see their priorities, and then we can keep up with where things are."
It's, it's been a huge success for us. We're using planner, I think it is, for the tool because we already owned it. But just the Kanban strategy of making work visible has helped us, you know, in an immense way.
Yeah. I think for us one is I referenced this earlier about a virtual water cooler experience. And so if you know, where you can, you might want to think about how that could be implemented in your environment. And I see success. When I see other people asking like, "Hey, I need to run a query and I need some help in this system. Does anybody have experience?" And to me that's like this is working. This is really great because, you know, they're getting, and they're also getting help from people again that they wouldn't otherwise know or ordinarily interact with.
And second we often have a lot of meetings in D.C. This is where we come. Most of us are based here. When we have to travel to a region or any other remote location, one of the things we do is we send out an all hands. If anybody's in the area and wants to join and come to get together, it doesn't matter if you're related to this project or not, let's get together and we'll have a conversation. And we typically pick something generic. Give us some feedback about the organization.
But we've, you know, you'd be surprised. We always say, "We'll do it virtually too. You don't have to show up."
But we get people traveling from 60 miles to come in and just say, "Hello." And so there's certainly a need to do that. And again you're meeting people.
Ordinarily we would just travel, do our, do what we need to do, and then get back out. And now we're creating experiences wherever we go. So this is not so much a response, but I would just say something that we should continue to look at which will be interesting is there is a backlash to hybrid work. Right? In the corporate environment. We've seen, you know, Google's put out things they're doing. Obviously, you know, Tesla.
I mean there's companies that are saying, "Look. This is not for us. You, you come back to work. You know, that's how it's going to be."
So I think organizations regardless are going to look at productivity. Right? And, you know, are teams working well together and are they being productive? So I do think that there will be more selective application of hybrid. Right? Down the line. You know? We've tried that, I know, internally where there's certain groups that we highly feel like need to be in the office. So those groups have been told to be in the office. Right? So, you know, how do you manage that from a policy, governance? You know, teams that are in, teams that are out.
You know, things like that. You know, I don't have answers for it, but I think this will be interesting to see how this evolves as well, especially since there is this small undercurrent of backlash to remote work right now. >> Great. So, so contracting at the team level, bringing people together in fun ways
to use the technology, learn it in different ways, make them use it, and bringing them together in unexpected ways so that they can meet new faces, new people, and be together. We have a few minutes left. Do we have any questions out in the universe? If I can make a comment. Yeah. One of the things that I would, that I encouraged us to do was to change our language around work.
And, and the thing that we talked about as work is something you do and not a place you go to. And so we stopped telling people to come back to work and started asking people to come to the office because employees found that insulting to say, "Come back to work" when they've been working at home for the last three years probably harder than they were when they were in the office. And so we changed that to say, "We want you to come back into the office so that we can collaborate." And so that's, if there is one thing I would ask you to consider, it's changing the language around defining work because it is the outputs that we should be looking for, and not a butt in the seat. Thank you. Any other comments, questions? Here. Hi. Rob D'Onofrio from DHS.
Just tying to our conversation, we had a conversation this morning on utilization of space. And being real estate professionals here in the room, just tying to the conversation this afternoon, and we touched on usage of tools and metrics and those types of things. What we're trying to do at DHS is understand our utilization of space that will inform our policy and space metrics going forward. So and we have a great challenge of the fact that our mission set is so diverse. And it's not just administrative spaces.
It's, you know, 70% of our workforce is out in the field doing what they do. And so tracking actually how they use the space and what spaces they use at what frequency is really our next challenge and we're trying to grapple with that and understanding what tools are out there to do that. So my question is, you know, what conversations are you guys having and any comments on that? Yeah. I would say I think that's a huge issue. And on top of that I think flexibility is key because I think what you're going to find and what we found in some of our offices is that spatialization is changing over time. And, you know, one moment people want collab spaces. The next moment they may want to come back and have more individual spaces that -- you know, we've found situations where like the individual, individual rooms, you know, based on whether they're pre-booked or not pre-booked become, you know, interesting utilization changes.
And so I think flexibility is key. I do think that this, we, that this is where the sort of convergence between IT and OT is playing a major role because I know with, for instance with Cisco collaboration devices, we do provide an enormous amount of data back to facilities managers to help them understand the utilization within each individual space. So like how many people. And again there's lots of privacy considerations that we obviously take into account. But how many people are, on average, huddled around this, you know, this board in this particular huddle space? And providing that kind of data then allows facilities managers to see that both in real time interactively, but then also over time see how that utilization has changed. So it's all about providing the data and converging the data signals that are coming in from both the devices, the network, other sensors.