Cisco’s Video IP Deskphone Built for Hybrid Work
On Thursday, Cisco announced a new video desktop phone designed for a hybrid workforce. The new Cisco 8875 Video Phone, which looks like an enterprise desktop phone with a large 7-inch touchscreen, will allow employees to show up at a “hot desk” and quickly initiate high-quality video calls.
Hot desking, in which work desks are used by different people at different times, is becoming a go-to strategy for companies trying to accommodate a workforce that expects to spend a lot of time working remotely. . A survey published last month by WFH Research found that employers plan to allow an average of 2.3 days a week of working from home. As part of this shift in work culture, new products like those from Cisco may well help normalize a shift in office videophones.
When a hybrid employee visits an office workspace with Cisco Video Phone 8875, they can show the desk phone a Webex QR code from their smartphone to view their Webex account profile, settings, and meeting schedule . They can then press a button to join Webex meetings. The phone has a camera that can be physically hidden for more privacy during meetings.
The phone also uses sound intelligence through Webex Calling, which analyzes call audio and eliminates distracting background noise (a common cause of fatigue during video conferences, according to Cisco). During the demo, someone from Cisco shook candy wrappers loudly near the microphone as she spoke; I heard the sound disappear almost completely when she activated the function.
Cisco thinks the 8875 will also provide some respite for worker laptops. “They use their laptop for everything, it’s a lot of computing power,” says Lorrissa Horton, vice president and general manager of Webex calling and online operations. Horton says moving video conferencing to a dedicated device will improve sound and video quality.
Functional video phones were first produced by AT&T’s Bell Labs in the 1960s, but video calling has certainly not become the norm, either for individuals or within businesses. Over the decades, people have been inclined to opt for modes of electronic communication that involve less personal exposure. For simple or quick missives, a text or email will often suffice, while the face-to-face interaction of a video call can feel like overkill.
But Horton thinks the pandemic could have changed those biases. She says that, out of necessity, we have become much more comfortable with video communications and people now expect to have this readily available – and high quality – option to get the job done.
Cisco, which has already sold 100 million phones, plans to sell the 8875 to enterprises for their growing ranks of shared office workers; while some of the phones will end up in home offices (the device doesn’t require any special broadband connections, Horton says). The phone will also be used by essential or frontline workers who need to be in the office or on a job site every day, but who could benefit from video calls with colleagues who work remotely, such as technicians or people from support.
Cisco says the 8875 will retail for $725 and be available in August. The company plans to update the 8875 to support Zoom calling and Microsoft Teams in 2023.