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Ashlee Kittel

Improve Your Health and Your Meetings with Cisco Spark and Spark Board

Earlier this year I asked our readers to consider the idea that email has reached its apex and is spiraling toward obsolescence. Understandably the question raised some eyebrows; we are dangerously attached to our email accounts. Recent studies have shown office workers spend nearly a third of their total workday reading and responding to messages. The ramifications of our attachment to email extend beyond the realm of lost time and productivity. It’s simply bad for our health. Scientists have established a direct link between time spent on email and anxiety.

Why do we spend much of our day using a tool that has a detrimental effect on our personal and collective health? Researchers have found checking email triggers a primal instinct within our brains that behavioral psychologists call “variable rewards”. We are addicted to the act of checking email and it is causing an epidemic of anxiety in the professional world.

For this reason Cisco Spark has become an essential component of the healthy workplace. Users have the ability to collaborate, connect and share in a way that feels natural and quick eliminating the anxiety that can come with traditional workplace communication. Through Spark your team has the ability to meet, message or video call in-real time from any device regardless of physical location or time zone.

Last week we discussed the positive business outcomes that can result from supporting and establishing a remote workforce. Spark as a SaaS platform can make collaboration between your remote teams seamless and easy. As a result productivity and efficiency as well as employee satisfaction and well-being are greatly increased. Spark allows your team to collaborate in a way that helps to reduce the anxiety built up from years of email use and abuse. Think of it as digital Xanax.

In late January Cisco released Spark Board, a game changing addition to the already robust Cisco Spark toolkit. With Spark Board Cisco takes aim at bad meetings and increases the effectiveness of the overall Spark platform. When discussing the inspiration behind Spark and Spark Board Cisco’s Rowan Trollope said, “our philosophy is the best meeting is no meeting at all. People who use Cisco Spark have fewer meetings and when they do meet, it’s better.”

Spark Board is an all-in-one video and audio conferencing system and digital whiteboard. Neat-freaks and the design-obsessed can rejoice in the fact that the Board uses no visible microphones and only one cable is needed and that’s simply to plug the screen into an outlet. The functionality of Spark Board feels very similar to using an iPhone with a “home” button in the center of the bottom bezel to take users back to the main menu and touch-screen functionality. The similarities stem from the partnership between Cisco and Apple announced last year.

At its core Cisco Spark Board is three things, a presentation display, digital whiteboard and video-conferencing system. It is a full-fledged client designed specifically to run Cisco Spark and allows users to draw on the screen using either a finger or the beautifully crafted black aluminum stylus that is intended to simulate the feel of a dry-erase marker. To make things even easier when you create a whiteboard presentation the work you’ve done is automatically saved and can be accessed and worked on immediately by every member of your team and from any device.

Spark Board is another step toward what Cisco sees as a growing trend of computing that is collaborative instead of personal. In a recent review for PCMAG author Stephen Lawson explained, “The idea is that people who share workspaces and content shouldn’t have to work through computers designed for individuals. Cloud computing which powers everything the Spark Board does, at least for now, helps to make that possible.”

Jocelyn K. Glei author of Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions and Get Real Work Done, has said “Productivity is no longer about keeping up, or keeping busy, or having it all. It’s about being deliberate and being focused. It’s about spending more time deciding and less time doing. It’s about getting really clear on what matters to you and letting the rest go.” Cisco Spark and Spark Board make Glei’s vision of what it looks like to get real work done reality. If you’d like to know more about Cisco Spark and Spark Board or would like a demo leave a comment below or reach out to our Spark team at

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- Ashlee Kittel