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What I’ve Learned as a Teleworking Employee and Manager

My journey as a teleworking mom started almost ten years ago after I had my older son. I was coming back to work and in the process of changing roles at Cisco Systems. I live in North Carolina and had a job opportunity for a leader based in California. She knew that I wasn’t in a position to move and given we were already on opposite sides of the country, was supportive of my working from home. Thus my journey started as an individual contributor, working for a manager who based the decision to provide me flexibility on my track record of contribution at Cisco and her trust in my ability to do the job outside of an office.

Since then, I’ve been a part of the dramatic changes that have place in the workplace. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article on flexible work practices, the mobile worker population will be approximately 1.3 billion by 2015. At Cisco, almost 50% of our employees are collaborating with peers in other time zones and almost 90% telecommute at least one day per week. In many of our emerging countries, employees view flexibility as a right that is expected, versus a privilege that is earned.

My life has evolved as well. I’ve had another child and become a manager of a virtual team, with responsibility for a number of HR processes, including flexible work practices at Cisco. My experiences have offered me a few insights on how to be effective in our increasingly virtual world of work. Let me share these with you.

From an employee perspective, I have three tips that I think have been important toward my success. Read More »

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Sneak peek of the Exhibit Booths at the Cisco Virtual Forum for Education Leaders

March 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm PST

This quarter, I had the privilege to work on a stretch assignment in the Education Marketing Team, to manage the Exhibit Booth and the dashboard for the Virtual Event Forum for Education Leaders, 2013.  It will be held on March 19 (Americas, and EMEA) and March 20 (Asia-Pacific), and will feature sessions with nineteen education thought leaders and innovators who  transforming education today.

I didn’t know what I was signing up for other than my colleague, Gary Serda, telling me it was going to be easy.  From bi-weekly, weekly, daily meetings, planning an event is anything but easy.  However, it’s been a very rewarding experience being able to work with colleagues in the Field, Sales, Events and so many others to learn about their passion and commitment to Education.  Read More »

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Leading Modern Law in Australia with Cisco Collaboration

Johnson Winter & Slattery (JWS), a 60-partner corporate law firm in Australia, has announced it is rolling out Cisco video and collaboration solutions across its five offices. The law firm has partnered with Cisco to deploy an integrated collaboration suite including Cisco WebEx, Cisco Jabber, Cisco TelePresence and Cisco Show & Share.

The comprehensive collaboration suite delivers benefits externally from a client management point of view, as well as internally in terms of professional development and training.

Corporate law is a complex domain. Clients engage law firms because the matter requires collaboration, time and face-to-face discussions. Given the sheer distance between capital cities in Australia, face-to-face discussions are often substituted for phone calls. Cisco TelePresence allows clients to tap into the experience of multiple lawyers across different cities in a realistic, face-to-face environment. This enables greater mutual understanding and better problem solving for these complex issues.

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HOW WELL DOES TELEWORKING TRANSLATE?

Teleworking in emerging markets is on the increase. It’s helping businesses across Emerging countries to work and collaborate effectively, and be more productive wherever they are located.

In South Africa, 85% of companies offer flexible working*, which is a much higher proportion than some European countries. The next generation of workers in the Middle-East and Africa are expecting to have the option to work at home. In fact, only 9% think they’ll be in the office full time*, which suggests the days of a fixed workplace and 9-to-5 working are over.

At Cisco, we’re committed to offering choice to our workforce. We think this is fundamental to a positive and engaging employee experience. Teleworking here is encouraged and let me offer you a personal story from this week.

We had an Emerging Theatre ‘All Hands’ hosted by my boss and myself via WebEx. Let’s consider the numbers: we set this up giving our teams just 10 days’ notice; and we brought together over 500 of our colleagues from their desktops, workplaces and home offices to educate and inspire them using video collaboration: presentations, webcam and a Q&A via chat, text, email and audio.  This was one of the largest assemblies of our team this year and it took place across 12 timezones for 90 minutes.

Those numbers are quite staggering, even more so when you begin to consider the wider benefits: minimal disruption, maximum attendance, no additional travel arrangements, venues, (catering, flights, taxis, or hotels) and the bonus for employees is minimal impact on their private lives. The value for us is not merely in having the capability and flexibility to host this kind of event but also the level of participation and commitment from our teams.

What employees need – as well as choice -- is sensitivity to their circumstances and flexible workspaces that match their needs. For companies, not only does finding the right solution help to maintain productivity levels, it can also motivate existing staff and help you attract talent from the next generation who expect teleworking to be an option throughout their careers.

On a daily basis the power of our teleworking is bringing our talented people from across the whole of Emerging closer together at Cisco and the effects of teleworking on our productivity at work and our quality of life cannot be underestimated. We look forward to seeing you on a screen near us soon!

*Regus, 2011, global research report based on responses from 17,000 businesses across 80 countries

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ACE Network: How Cisco Jabber for iPad Enables our Tech-Savvy Sales Force to Stay in Touch

As a sales team manager, I need to be available by phone or instant messaging (IM) in multiple places every day. So it’s no surprise to find me using the new Cisco Jabber for iPad client while I’m traveling because it provides the IM, voice calling, presence, messaging, and video calling capabilities that are exactly what I need to stay connected with my team, customers, partners, and colleagues.

When I’m in the office, working from my Cisco laptop, my Cisco 9971 desk phone, and Cisco TelePresence EX 90 desktop video endpoint – I have full-featured communications and application access. But when I’m out of the office, I can use the Single Number Reach (SNR) feature to move transparently to the Jabber client, which means people can dial a single number to reach me on both endpoints simultaneously while also making it easy for me to receive calls and messages wherever I go.

T.J. Hyne, one of my consulting system engineers, shares how he used the Cisco Jabber for iPad client to connect remote participants into a video call during a customer meeting, over the customer’s wireless network. The ease of the video call was an unexpected surprise for the customer, and it helped to illustrate the value of video for meaningful communication in real-time.

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