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Telework: A Manager’s Perspective

The benefits of teleworking—better work/life balance and more flexibility—sure sound great from an employee’s point of view. But from a manager’s perspective, is telework really successful for getting work done? Can a team really be effective if many of the members never work together in person?

Yes, if you create the right policies and environment and give employees the tools they need in order to work productively and be full contributors to their team. Read More »

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Video: Diving Into the Technology Behind Cisco Telecommuting

For any tech buffs wanting to know the details behind Cisco’s telecommuting (telepresence) technology this latest video is for you! Jawahar Sivasankaran, one of our distinguished engineers, recently sat down with David Iacobacci, lead architect for Cisco Virtual Office. He provides a deep dive into the architecture and technical components of a large scale, global deployment of telecommuting with a focus on management and security, and describes how Cisco Virtual Office technology is leading us into the new mobile era.  Check out the short video.

Telecommuting — Architecture and Technology

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Teleworking with Cisco Virtual Office: What’s New

In my last blog I described how Cisco employees have adopted teleworking, using either a software VPN client, or a hardware VPN solution called Cisco Virtual Office (CVO).  Cisco employees who telework on a regular basis prefer CVO over software VPN because the connection tends to be more stable and Cisco Virtual Office saves them the trouble of constantly logging back in. In addition, CVO provides QoS (quality of service) for voice and video which is critical to a high quality audio and video experience.

The preference for CVO is reflected in the fact that our employees who use the software VPN client work a little over 1 day per week from home while the 21,000 employees who use CVO report that they telework an average 2.5 days per week.

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What We’ve Learned About Telework at Cisco

In late September 2010, a Cisco employee somewhere in the world became the 20,000th to begin using Cisco Virtual Office at home.  Cisco Virtual Office, which combines a small business router and IP phone, extends the enterprise wired and wireless network right into our homes. Telework is optional in most cases at Cisco, so the 20,000 milestone underscores the fact that our workforce and the company see the value of telework, and that we have the tools to make it work.

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Mighty Stephen Hawking, CVO and Hedging Your Bets

Stephen Hawking, a brilliant author and physicist, earlier this year explained that the human race’s sole hope for long term survival is for us to spread our bets by colonizing space, thus eliminating a potential single point of failure (Earth) which could be the end of us all. Smart guy. When we build networks, best practices dictate not having single points of failure, so why not architect the survival of the species in a similar way?

A bit extreme, arguably requiring some technology that doesn’t exist yet, but similar things can be said about businesses. Replace the planet with an office and Stephen Hawking’s theories start to fit.

Let me explain.

Here at Cisco, we not only believe in teleworking, or working from home, but we also manufacture equipment to support such efforts, such as our Cisco Virtual Office package. Just like humanity with all of our eggs in the Earth basket, in the past, businesses used to place all of their eggs in the office basket. No office, no work, no company. Fire? Blizzard? Flood? Pandemic? Sorry, you are down, perhaps out of business.

Solutions like the Cisco Virtual Office (CVO), where the teleworker has wireless data, IP telephony and video protected with encryption and QoS, allow businesses to provide employees with the bonus of being able to work from home.  This is a competitive differentiator from the HR perspective, but it also allows companies to hedge their bets and put the company in a far stronger disaster recovery/risk management/business continuity position by ensuring that no single event outside of a comet strike or a nuclear war would completely shut the business down because the people doing the work are geographically dispersed, safe, sound and able to work from home.

Professor Hawking (who by the way, is said to have enjoyed not only appearing on the Simpsons but also his rap alter ego the MC “Mighty Stephen” Hawking) is a smart guy.  He worries about things like dinosaur killer comets. The rest of us may be tempted to leave the big thinking to others, but winter is coming and brings snow storms and bad weather. Remember swine flu? Sure, the world is unlikely to end tomorrow, but how unlikely is a flood, a blizzard or a bad flu variant this month, this winter or next year?

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