New Cisco Return-to-Work Offerings Protect Office and Home


Most companies will likely offer employees a hybrid return-to-work option. As such, businesses will need smart solutions that help protect those in the office while ensuring home workers have secure and collaborative ways to do their jobs.

As more people get vaccinated worldwide, businesses are focusing on a safe return-to-work. Real-time systems that help with social distancing, facilities management, real-time occupancy monitoring, and more are eyed as the key to success. But complicating matters is the fact that most businesses will retain some form of their work-from-home strategies, at least for the foreseeable future.

New offerings from Cisco try to address both aspects of return to normal. They include smart solutions to ensure those in the office are safe and help businesses provide remote workers with secure access to the resources they need to do their jobs.

The combined networking, security, cloud, and collaboration portfolio supports multiple options to create a trusted workplace that helps enable a safe office-based return-to-work and enables a secure remote workforce. The offerings range from automating, securing, and scaling network connectivity to social density and proximity insights for employee health and safety, to securely bringing people together to work however and wherever they want through Webex and collaboration devices that leverage AI, sensors, and alerts.

A changing return-to-work focus

The pandemic has increased the need for many more smart, intuitive systems. Employers must provide assurances that their workers will be safe. They need real-time solutions that help monitor and enforce social distancing of their employees and room-by-room environmental health quality.

They also need visitor management systems that do more than logging a person in when they enter a facility. In many cases, visitors will need to be screened (a quick temperature check) and their movement throughout the building tracked to be sure rooms are not overcrowded.

Most companies will likely offer employees a hybrid option to return-to-work. There will be more flexibility for employees to split time between the office and home. As such, companies will need a way to enhance security for their remote workers. They also must provide a way for them to fully access all needed resources and collaborate no matter where they are located physically (in the office or at home). These latter demands have led to a rising interest in virtual collaboration.

The new Cisco return-to-work offerings aim to address these issues. The portfolio provides tools to:

  • Empower a workforce to securely work from anywhere, on any device, anytime.
  • Enable a safe return-to-office by transforming offices and facilities optimized for productivity into trusted workplaces connected for health and wellness.
  • Break down the barriers of different geographies, personality types (such as introverts and extroverts), language preferences, and tools to fully realize communication experiences where everyone is included.

Elements of Cisco’s Trusted Workplace and a Safe Return to Office include:

  • Cisco Webex collaboration devices enable a safe return to office with capabilities like wayfinding, digital signage, touchless calls, and meeting joins, room capacity alerts, environmental sensors, and more. 
  • DNA Spaces Back to Business suite of applications provides location analytics and insight into user behavior to support customers’ safe return to office strategies. With features including proximity reporting and real-time and historical density, and traffic monitoring.
  • Cisco Meraki cloud-first comprehensive platform includes MV smart cameras for reliable security monitoring to keep people, workplaces, critical infrastructure, and sensitive inventory secure. Using Meraki MV and Cisco DNA Spaces, building managers can see real-time footfall and presence, along with actionable analytics for safer, more productive spaces. New Meraki MT sensors provide more insight with real-time environmental monitoring, from temperature to humidity and leaks, to opened/closed doors and cabinets.
  • Cisco Industrial Asset Vision helps businesses simplify asset and facility monitoring with IoT sensors. To ensure workers are safe, remote monitoring provides real-time data from both IT and industrial environments and enables businesses to know workers’ locations and minimize contact. In addition, actionable data from office space and assets help to better manage network equipment performance and maintenance.
  • Workplace Zero Trust for Industrial Networks brings IT and Operational Technology (OT) security to the next level for organizations to protect operations while enabling more remote accesses and cloud applications in their industrial environments. It leverages Cisco Cyber Vision and Cisco ISE/DNA Center to create trusted production zones and ensure security policies are not disrupting industrial processes, ultimately providing consistent, identity-based, secure access to the network for users and devices.

Elements of Cisco’s Secure Remote Workforce Solutions include:

  • Cisco Secure Remote Worker is a scalable, integrated security solution to protect a remote workforce. It lets businesses verify the identity of all users before granting access to corporate applications with Cisco Secure Access by Duo; enable secure access to the enterprise network for any user, from any device, at any time, in any location with Cisco AnyConnect Mobility Client (VPN); and coordinate defense against threats with Cisco Umbrella for internet security, Cisco Secure Email for email protection and Secure Endpoint for endpoint security. This solution is part of Cisco’s cloud-native and integrated platform, SecureX.
  • Cisco Managed Remote Access from Cisco Customer Experience (CX) provides businesses with the expertise needed to ensure long-term remote or hybrid workforces are secure. With Cisco Managed Remote Access, businesses can leverage Cisco CX experts to not only build and scale up VPNs across their entire ecosystem but leverage management and oversight services handled entirely by Cisco.
  • Seamless Collaboration for Secure Remote Work solutions enable a hybrid workforce and the flex worker with seamless calling, meeting, and messaging. Organizations can empower their teams to securely communicate, ideate, and iterate. The latest advancements to Webex include Webex Assistant intelligence for real-time translation, automated note-taking, action items, and more.

Salvatore Salamone

About Salvatore Salamone

Salvatore Salamone is a physicist by training who has been writing about science and information technology for more than 30 years. During that time, he has been a senior or executive editor at many industry-leading publications including High Technology, Network World, Byte Magazine, Data Communications, LAN Times, InternetWeek, Bio-IT World, and Lightwave, The Journal of Fiber Optics. He also is the author of three business technology books.

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