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So You Think You Can Telecommute?

The recent weeks of teleworking controversy has been interesting to follow for anyone passionate about collaboration technologies. There is no doubt that teleworking offers significant work/life balance benefits, as exemplified by Cisco´s own Angie Mistretta in her recent blog post. On the other hand, it is equally evident that companies that do not invest in the right tools or training for effective remote collaboration aren’t realizing the true potential and benefits of teleworking.

Being part of a leadership team with people scattered from the Russian border, through Oslo, Boston, Texas and California has made it very clear to me that a lot of innovation, time and money would have been lost if we did not have the proper collaboration tools. Simply said, bringing all the right people into the same office is generally not an option in a global operation.

In my team, the primary tool for collaboration is the Cisco TelePresence EX series personal systems; we all have endpoints on our desks at the office and at home. This is essential to us because, be it late night or early morning, the number of overlapping hours when we are in our respective offices are just too few. Personal telepresence ensures in-person communications within the team whenever we need to meet, and it also allows us to attend other meetings over telepresence at any hour ensuring we’re able to capture all of the details and have maximum impact.

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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 is Key to My Team’s Telework Success

What makes telework so successful for Cisco and its employees? For me the answer is simple and powerful: video.

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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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Telework as we know it

As I sit in my home office, surrounded by amazing technology, I’m struck by how different telework is today from just a few years ago.

A few years ago it started with a second phone line and the company VPN.  Today my laptop is plugged into a workstation connected to a Cisco router, as is my Cisco IP phone.  When someone calls my work phone it rings in multiple places at once.  And my computer monitor is huge, which makes my high-definition videoconferences all the more interesting. I can even access the corporate network with my iPad, at home or on the go.  For me, it’s all seamless.  Everything I do is connected, and easier, thanks to Cisco. Read More »

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