How Not Where Is What Matters Most in a Collaborative Work Environment
There’s been a lot of buzz in the news and social media this week about working in the office vs. working remotely. While each company has to make decisions that are most appropriate for their own organization, Cisco has a very clear point of view on how and where employees can work – we support employees who work remotely or in the office. Central to this philosophy is our own technology which enables our global team to connect, communicate, collaborate and learn from wherever we are around the world – be it Japan, India, France, Canada and almost 200 other countries.
We are a diverse organization with 72,360 employees. Our success depends on our ability to collaborate effectively from different locations – including from a home office. That isn’t to say that employees aren’t expected to be productive. We have strict rules that drive accountability, output and results. Results are what we focus on – not where you elect to work. And using our technology, employees have the option to work from wherever they are – at the airport, on an airplane, at your kids’ soccer games, at the office or from home. This is largely a result of combining mobile, social and video capabilities.
Here are some interesting statistics about the global Cisco workforce:
- 89% telecommute at least once a week
- 32% are classified as mobile workers, though 43% work that way
- 6% work in a fully remote manner
- 41% of employees work outside the U.S.
- 38% work in a different location than their manager
- 47% collaborate with colleagues in different time zones
- 25% are workstation anchored
With more of the Millennial generation entering the workforce, we expect that the number of fully remote workers will rise over time. And consider that four generations are in the workforce today. With that level of diversity, you have to be able to allow for some flexibility and choice – again, how you work becomes more important than where you work. At Cisco, we see this as a distinct competitive advantage.
How do we measure productivity? Here are some compelling facts:
- Incremental productivity is gained by aligning employee work preferences. An average of 79 hours per employee is saved each year in commute avoidance, with 5.5 million hours a year across Cisco.
- Incremental productivity is achieved by using collaboration technology to avoid travel time while at work (that is, moving between buildings on Cisco’s campuses). This results in 4.5 million hours a year, and 65 hours a year per employee.
- Mobile and remote workers also have higher performance ratings – higher than traditional workers.
As noted above, Cisco offers a strong portfolio of products that enable collaboration and communication as well as a flexible work environment. Cisco Virtual Office is our product solution for full-time remote workers. We offer Cisco AnyConnect VPN which grants us access to the Cisco network from any global location to our laptops, smart phones and tablets. Our BYOD policy allows employees to choose their own smartphone and/or tablet and connect to the Cisco network, using the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE).
WebEx Conferencing, WebEx Social, Jabber, TelePresence and Virtual Events all enable us to connect and communicate easily and effectively. We provide all forms of pervasive video, including immersive TelePresence and high definition video within WebEx and TelePresence.
In addition we have perfected the virtual event experience. All major company meetings are held virtually, with as many as 19,000 employees connected at one time in as many as 88 international locations, offering streamed moderated Q&A and chat with colleagues around the world. What’s more, in the very near future, we’ll offer employees the ability to join virtual meetings from their mobile devices – including the same streamed experience (chat and Q&A).
Can remote workers innovate? We think the answer is “yes.” Consider this example involving the use of our collaboration platform, WebEx Social. One of our engineers who worked remotely in Australia had an idea for a new business. Using Cisco’s collaborative tools and processes he was able to connect to the right people and resources within the company to test his idea and then develop it – and fairly rapidly. The result was the genesis of a significant new business. So, WebEx Social enabled one remote worker to deliver growth, speed product time to market and identify innovation.
And our customers agree: Virgin Media, the UK’s leading entertainment and digital communications company, recently deployed Cisco’s WebEx Social, Cisco WebEx® and Cisco Unified Communications to its people. The solutions are being rolled out as part of Virgin Media’s Flexible Working Initiative and are enabling thousands of employees to collaborate and work remotely with video calls and shared documents, all easily accessible via PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
Cisco believes a blended working environment is optimal for a number of reasons. The virtual experience is unlikely to replace the value of true in-person collaboration and fostering relationships with colleagues. Certain types of work will require direct in-person communication from time to time.
But work styles have evolved. By 2015, it’s been estimated that there will be 1.3 billion mobile workers across the globe. We at Cisco believe our technology will help enable this vision – to connect, communicate, collaborate and learn, regardless of where you are.