What is Cisco Webex Teams?

Written by Stu

On 13th November 2018

What is Cisco Webex Teams?

Formally know as Cisco Spark, Webex Teams is an app for continuous teamwork with video meetings, group messaging, file sharing and whiteboarding. Webex Teams makes it easy to work anytime, on any device, with anyone, in one place.

It’s not a new concept, but its simplicity makes it easy to get to grips with. You’ll be up and running in no time.

You can sign up for the free version to get used to how it works. You can even send a request to friends or colleagues to join Webex Teams and your spaces. I’ve even invited my guitar tutor to my own space, so I can have lessons easier… It’s awesome!

Why do I love using Webex Teams?

So, I have been using Webex Teams for just over a year, just before it changed from Spark to Webex Teams. I’ll be honest, at first, I was a bit dubious about it. I was used to Slack, Skype, and Jabber, I couldn’t see how much of a difference this would be but we wanted to explore its capability, so I gave it a try.

Over the first few weeks of using it, and especially as Spark became Webex Teams it started to evolve. It got better and better with each release. Just simple things like being able to move your call from your mobile to your laptop, and even to your video device if you have one is so easy and kinda cool.

It might sound far-fetched but it’s really not. I was walking my dogs, and I literally live in the middle of a field! I had a call from a colleague come through on Webex Teams and I was able to see the content she was showing me whilst I was walking home. As soon as I got in, I went to my office and moved the call to my video device, within 2 seconds the call moved from my phone to my DX80  and we carried on the conversation. All it took was two taps on my phone and we were practically face-to-face. That’s the way to get sh!t done!

Webex Teams vs Webex Meetings: What to use when?

It’s a good question and you’ll be surprised how often that question is asked. Should I have both? When do I use Webex Teams and when should I use Webex Meetings?

Simple answer… Use Webex Teams for quick, ad-hoc team or project meetings and discussions. Bring your project team into a space where you can post documents for quick reviews, start quick video meetings in the space with people you need to talk to, and those you don’t, they don’t have to join.

We use Webex Meetings for scheduled discussions or meetings. Things that may take time to look over or talk about.

What can Webex Teams actually do?

Webex Teams uses ‘spaces’ and ‘teams’ to arrange all of the digital chaos that can happen in these types of apps. I’ll go into a little more detail shortly, but in essence, it’s a nice simple way of keeping all of the work and collaboration together. It uses chat and video very well. The video experience, in my opinion, is the best on the market today. Living in the middle of a field with one of the worst upload speeds we have in the team, people can still see me pretty clearly. Once you’re in HD speeds, it’s practically pixel perfect!

You can share applications and screens whilst in the video meetings, just as you can with Webex Meetings, Skype or Zoom.

Sharing files is simple too, you upload them as you would expect to with chat, and then the files are kept in that space, so anyone can view them. If you view them within Webex Teams, you get a cool preview of the document in all its glory. If you want to download it, just download it and edit it as you see fit.

Forget me not

Another feature I love, and one I have been hoping for from Webex Teams competitor apps for a long time, is how whatever is typed or shared is seen across all devices. Apps like Jabber and Skype for Business don’t seem to carry the content over to your other devices which makes it hard to come back to the flow if you’re not sitting in front of your computer. Webex Teams has all the content on all of your devices, all of the time. Simple!

Whiteboard like a wizard… If a wizard ever whiteboarded that is?

If you have used Webex Meetings before or even other video conferencing apps, you’ll be aware of what a whiteboard is. If you haven’t then simply think back to when you were sitting in a meeting room with some colleagues and one of you had to draw or scribe on a flip chart. Whiteboarding is basically, the digital version of that.

Whiteboarding in Webex Teams is done very simply, no whistles or bells but it just works. Simply start a whiteboard from any device and you and the team can draw away. You can draw using your mouse, use your finger if you have a tablet, phone or touch-screen laptop, and if you have a Webex Board, it’s even better… I love those things.

Every whiteboard is saved within the space so if you need to come back to it at another point, it’s there. You can even add to it later too. You might be thinking, why would I need to come back to it later? I did, but you’d be surprised when you start a new project, you hash out some ideas on the whiteboard and then a couple of days later, you think, crap! What was Gary talking about the other day (Gary is a fake name btw), just go to the space, click the “Waffle” button (it really does look like a waffle grill) and click on Whiteboard, then just scroll through until you see it, then your memory will come back to what you were all talking about during that meeting.

Teams, spaces, team spaces…huh?

What the heck are these about? Well, it’s a good question and it can get confusing at first, I’m a rubbish liar so I’m not going to start with you!

So, teams can have multiple spaces within them. Let’s say you have a department, but within it there are sub-departments. Take Human Resources, for example, they have Recruitment, Learning and Development, and Payroll teams. Everybody in HR is added to the “General” space automatically, they can then choose to join the spaces that are important to them.

A space doesn’t have to be part of a Team though. You can create individual spaces without having to create a Team. So, let’s say you want to create a space just to chat with people, like a digital water cooler. Just create the space, invite people to it and call it “The Water Cooler”.  I’m in a space that’s a place to vent frustrations (we all have those moments), another where we share idea’s for marketing and a space where we talk about technology and different application uses. These are just some examples of the different spaces I’m apart of, spaces can be used for anything and everything!

Confused? don’t give up on me yet!

Read this if none of the above is making sense

Put simply, to get started just create and use spaces. Teams and team spaces can get complex to manage. If you’re going to be working on projects or short to mid-term challenges, use a space. Bring the folks in who need to be in and then get going. You can also add people who aren’t part of your organisation. So, if you need an expert to help with things it can be done with just their email address.

People can leave if they want to leave, but you’ll get people contributing pretty quickly.

You can schedule meetings from within the space too, so if you did want to have a weekly catch-up, you can do so by going to the waffle button and clicking the Meetings icon and then “Schedule a meeting”. Your invite will pop up, chose the date and time, then send. That’s it.

Webex Teams in a nutshell

That’s why I love Webex Teams. It’s simple, effortless and I use it every day. It’s easy to have a conversation with someone who isn’t in the same office, region or country as you. It lets me work with, and connect to people so easily, but it also enables us to do great work and enjoy doing the work we do. To some, it’s simplicity might be hard to grasp at first, you might think there should be more to it, but it doesn’t need more.

Yes, over the next few months and into the future, there will be some updates and features coming to Webex Teams which I can’t wait to try out! And yes, it’s not perfect (there’s no such thing). It’s missing threading in chat, reactions don’t quite hit the mark and not being able to edit your own messages is a definite pain in the backside. But it really does enable you, your team, colleagues, friends to produce excellent results. I even learned to play the guitar solely through Webex Teams – a first for my tutor! because it doesn’t get in the way of things. It just enables you!

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