Putting People First with Unique ‘Distance Zero’ Approach

Mar 13, 2024 | Industry News


Cisco and Salamander unite, removing obstacles to hybrid experiences in unparalleled ways

The challenges of hybrid work run deep, and many top companies are keenly focused on addressing them for businesses, stakeholders and technology integrators in a variety of ways. Salamander Designs has the great pleasure of being part of some exceptional hybrid innovations and spaces with partners around the globe. But the close collaboration with Cisco is taking workplace systems and experiences to unprecedented heights due to a unique approach. Through key driving principals of deeper engagement, employee wellbeing and best-in-class products, the two companies have come together to empower teams to want to head back to the office.

So, what’s different about this partnership and ‘Distance Zero’ approach? To understand it, you must get a glimpse of where the two companies have excelled and how they see the workplace in similar ways. Through their united perspective and premium-grade systems, these two are uniquely positioned to change the game in the workplace worldwide.

We sat down with Chris Bottger, Leader – Hybrid Workplace Experience Strategy & GTM at Cisco to discuss the big picture of companies’ during and post pandemic and where key customer needs lie today. Specifically, how to attain an employee experience that is natural and engages people so they feel included and can be their best and most productive.


~ Chris Bottger, Leader – Hybrid Workplace Experience Strategy & GTM at Cisco

“During the pandemic, businesses shifted to a “technology” approach, granting major budgets to equip remote workers with video technology,” shared Chris. “The balance of power went to employees, and what happened? We saw the largest mass exodus of employees of all time! Now businesses are struggling with getting people back to their offices, many putting mandates on days required in and out of the office.”

A New Approach to Workspaces

“Cisco has no mandates. Why? We believe the office must be a magnate for people to want to spend time there. We’ve been honored as being the ‘Best Workplace’ many times. Now it is vital companies make the office a rich, more engaging environment where teams want to come and know they can interact in the best ways possible with people wherever they are. Especially since studies have shown 98% of meetings will at least have one or more participants being remote.”

With that in mind, Cisco has been building spaces and layouts driven to cultivate employee experiences through their next generation collaboration devices and configurations. They’ve shifted to HR being primary in designs. A room is designed with the collaboration and furniture in mind from the start and not afterwards, in order to create collaboration spaces where employees are excited and want to be.

It all starts with a ‘Distance Zero’ mission. This means that wherever employees and guests are, they can interact without anything between them. It means eliminating fatigue we all experience from audio or video disruptions. When the experience is not natural our brains have to compensate, which takes our minds off the interaction at hand. Reducing distractions and stress to create a realistic experience becomes paramount. This includes the technology setup, environment and more.

Enter Salamander Designs

At the same time, Salamander, known for best-in-class technology furniture has been designing and deploying solutions that adapt and transform customer experiences to foster personalization, deeper engagement and make the most of every technology. For example, the company offers tables in various shapes and sizes, which are all award-winning. As camera and AI technology advances, Salamander tables are designed to complement these developments, ensuring a best-in-class optimized video collaboration experience. The diverse range allows Salamander to adapt to ever-evolving technology and deliver exceptional solutions for every customer need. Salamander Mobile Stands and Carts can handle any size display yet be smoothly moved up or down to accommodate people of every size (even those seated) and collaboration of every type. It’s no secret Salamander has always lived at the intersection of workplace transformation and is always driven most by the individual user and company needs, flexibility and premium aesthetics.


Scott Srolis, SVP of Sales and Marketing, Salamander

“All of these aspects culminate in a perfect fit for us and our customers,” shared Scott Srolis, SVP Sales and Marketing for Salamander Designs. “A great example of our unique relationship is Salamander’s Infiniti™ Table. It was designed for Cisco’s Panorama to make the telepresence solution more natural. This Salamander geometric table shape assures everyone in the room and remotely, can see, hear and feel fully part of the interaction – for an unmatched experience.”

This powerful, combined system can be seen at Cisco’s Penn1 Experience Center in New York and highlights one of the most exciting human engagement solutions available.

Take a Tour: Inside Cisco’s ‘Smart Office’

Watch the Interview: Learn How Cisco + Salamander are Impacting Hybrid Workplaces Worldwide

Standardized for Today’s Elevated Experiences

Fast forward to the current landscape. We know from surveys and Human Resources that employees feel more productive and comfortable at home. We must build for office productivity, wellness and holistic experiences so they’re motivated to come back. Everything Cisco is creating is centered around this and easily managed systems to help make it happen. How employees feel is directly related to feeling connected and employee retention.

Cisco’s worldwide Experience Centers are ever evolving and open to customers, integrators, designers and enterprise stakeholders. In them, Cisco has standardized on Salamander furniture. Per Chris, “With Salamander, we can adapt. Nothing is bolted on walls, so labor and cost is reduced, while we enjoy beautiful furniture that supports our technologies. Due to the way Salamander systems work, it makes it much easier and faster to deploy, yet we’re always current thanks to this way furniture can be moved about or updated. We know rooms will change, and with Cisco Spaces we can analyze data on the where and how employees are collaborating. With this data and with Salamander, we can make any changes quickly and efficiently without major construction.”

“Salamander has both the approach and products that are perfect for what our customers are seeking,” said Chris. “The furniture has a top-level look and feel, ease of installation and the ultimate modularity. Plus, their team has great relationships with our Resellers to help put the right solutions together. Salamander is also a global company which is a match for us and removes deployment obstacles. Together, we’ve produced great innovations that enhance Cisco’s solutions even more.”

So, What’s Next Gen?

EQX is one of the newest Cisco systems. Made for medium to large conference rooms, EQX is an all-in-one video experience with built-in premium grade speakers, smart mics and more. It’s turnkey for faster, easier deployment and all one has to do is add most any display. It also fits within the ‘Distance Zero’ approach. Rather than guessing, the customer knows exactly what to expect in terms of a complete system, functionality and the quality they’ll receive. When combined with Salamander next generation Credenzas and Tables, these systems create an entire, ADA-compliant room from a customer experience perspective.

Also new, Cisco’s Campfire is a configuration of video devices and cameras in the center of a table. This provides more natural, direct eye contact with people at home, so they see the speaker straight on. New AI tools and managed systems allow businesses to have data on how and what systems are being used so they can make changes for better engagement – and ROI.

Salamander is on these same journeys, with tables and other furniture to support the new technologies out of the gate. For example, Salamander has collaborated with Cisco’s on their new EQX. A combined solution is currently installed at Cisco offices and working experience center at Penn1 Plaza in New York city. Here, the EQX is paired with an integrated mount credenza that is free standing and required no construction to put in place for real-world, everyday use.

A Crystal Ball

With the Salamander Designs and Cisco partnership, watch for additional, compelling solutions that further motivate teams to return to the office for a better work life, while businesses create greater understanding, productivity and efficiencies.

In closing Chris shared, “It used to be ok to have a standard rectangular table people gathered around. But now we’re all sharing and solving from separate places, and we must design for interaction and engagement. At home you don’t build your TV room where chairs face away from the TV. You know what you’ll be doing in the room and the tech you want. But the enjoyment of people is considered from the start. Salamander and Cisco are carefully and continually designing workplace solutions from that standpoint, creating products and furniture that make the most of every space and provide the absolute best, distance zero experience.”