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The Cisco telework program has evolved over the years from a convergence of top-down company practices with bottom-up changes in employee expectations. From our experience we have learned how several factors can make flexible work a success for everyone.

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Clear policies and company culture. Cisco has adopted a flexible policy that enables many employees to telework, based on their job requirements and their manager’s approval. Where necessary, this policy is customized to reflect country-specific laws and employee entitlements. Also important is creating a company culture of trusting employees to work responsibly, strong performance management practices and finding the right balance of autonomous and collaborative action.

But a successful teleworking program requires more.

Measuring and developing employees for job performance. Cisco has a “pay-for-performance” compensation philosophy to and strong performance management systems to evaluate employees and determine compensation. This model helps employees and managers identify specific goals and job expectations, but gives the employees significant flexibility over when, where, and how to meet them.

Technology for mobile and remote employees. Cisco employees work productively from almost anywhere by using tools such as Cisco Virtual Office, Cisco OfficeExtend, Cisco Jabber, and Cisco TelePresence solutions.

Educating managers. Some managers are initially uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to see and control their employees’ work. Additionally, it can take time for managers and employees to create a positive remote relationship. We offer training and coaching to managers about setting expectations, communicating effectively, and giving useful feedback on the job performance of remote employees.

In-person gatherings. We recognize that many remote employees miss the social interactions that can occur only in person. So we regularly sponsor events in local Cisco offices that bring together nearby employees, even if they don’t work in the same team or department. These events give employees social and networking opportunities and help to sustain their feelings of connectedness to the company.

Telework Success = Technology + Culture + Practices 

At Cisco, it’s not just the IT capabilities that enable us to work flexibly; it’s also company culture and management practices. Which factors do you think are important for a successful telework program?

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